Authari (c. 540 – 5 September 590) was king of the Lombards from 584 to his death. He was considered as the first Lombard king to have adopted some level of "Roman-ness" and introduced policies that led to drastic changes particularly in the treatment of the Romans and Christianity.[1]

King of the Lombards
Reign584 – 590
PredecessorRule of the Dukes
Bornc. 540
Died5 September 590
Pavia, Neustria
Lombard Kingdom


Authari was the son of Cleph, King of the Lombards. When the latter died in 574, the Lombard nobility refused to appoint a successor, resulting in a ten-years-long interregnum known as the Rule of the Dukes.

In 574 and 575 the Lombards invaded Provence, then part of the kingdom of Burgundy of the Merovingian Guntram. The latter, in alliance with his nephew, the king of Austrasia Childebert II, replied by invading Northern Italy. The Austrasian army descended the valley of the Adige and took Trent. The Byzantine emperor, Tiberius II, began to negotiate an alliance with the Franks, and so the Lombards, fearful of a pincer movement, elected another king.

In 584, they elected Duke Authari and ceded him the capital of Pavia as well as half of their ducal domains as a demesne. He spent his entire reign in wars with the Franks, the Byzantines, and Lombard rebels. His first major test was the quashing of the rebel duke Droctulf of Brescello, who had allied with the Romans and was ruling the Po valley. Having expelled him, he spent most of the rest of his six years on the throne fighting the exarch of Ravenna, Smaragdus, or the Merovingian kings.

Guntram and Childebert were still not satisfied with their successes in Italy and they many times threatened invasion, following through on their threats twice. The memory of Theudebert I of Austrasia's campaigns in Italy, the urging of Childebert's warlike mother Brunhilda and the Byzantine emperor and exarch, as well as the wrongs done Guntram in the past undoubtedly fueled their quarrelsomeness. In 588, Authari defeated them handily, but in 590, the uncle and nephew led two armies across the Alps, respectively over Mont Cenis and the Brenner to Milan and Verona. Though Authari shut himself up in Pavia, the Franks accomplished little as the exarch's army did not meet them and they could not even join up with each other. Pestilence and the Breach at Cucca flood turned them around and they left the Lombards much chastened, but hardly defeated.

Authari, when not controlled by foreign armies, expanded the Lombard dominion at the expense of Byzantium. He took the fortress of Comacchio and cut off communication between Padua and Ravenna. Faroald, duke of Spoleto, captured the Ravennan seaport of Classis and utterly devastated it. Authari swept through the peninsula all the way to Reggio, vowing to take Calabria — a vow never to be kept by any Lombard.

Authari married Theodelinda, daughter of the Bavarian duke Garibald I, on 15 May 589 at Verona. A Catholic, she had great influence among the Lombards for her virtue. A detailed account of the courtship by the eighth-century historian Paul the Deacon revealed that the marriage was also a political alliance designed to provide additional sanction to Authari's royal position.[2] In addition, Theodelinda was also chosen due to the long-standing ties between the Lombards and the Bavarians as well as their mutual hostility toward the Franks.[3] She also claimed descent from the ancient Lombard royal line.[3]

When Authari died in Pavia in 590, possibly by poison, he was succeeded as king by Agilulf, duke of Turin, on the advice, sought by the dukes, of Theodelinda, who married the new king.[4]


  1. ^ Ghosh, Shami (2015). Writing the Barbarian Past: Studies in Early Medieval Historical Narrative. Leiden: BRILL. p. 144. ISBN 9789004305229.
  2. ^ the Deacon, Paul (2011). History of the Lombards. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 140. ISBN 0812210794.
  3. ^ a b Frassetto, Michael (2013). The Early Medieval World: From the Fall of Rome to the Time of Charlemagne [2 Volumes]. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC. p. 525. ISBN 9781598849950.
  4. ^ "German Tribes org Lombard Kings". Archived from the original on 2010-07-18. Retrieved 2010-07-18.


  • Jarnut, Jörg (1992). Geschichte der Langobarden. Stuttgart.
Regnal titles
Title last held by
King of the Lombards
Succeeded by