Timeline                                              Maps and images                        List of rulers  

Music                                                    Reading list



This is a general timeline of the story so far in the podcast

410 – The visigoth King, Alaric, invades Italy and sacks rome

452 – Attilla the Hunn invades Italy and arrives in Pavia where he is convinced to turn back by pope Leo I

475 – Birth of Severinus Boethius

476 – End of the Western Roman Empire. Odoacer becomes “king” of Italy

480 – Cassiodorus is born in Squillace. Possible year of birth of St. Benedict

488 – King of the Ostrogoths Theodoric starts his long march west

489 – 28th August. Odoacer meets Thodroci along the banks of the Isonso and is defeated

30th august. The two armies meet again and Odoacer is again defeated

493 – Ravenna falls to the Ostogoth siege and Odoacer is killed along with his family and followers

493 – Theodoric completes the cinquest of Italy

500 – Theodoric visits Rome and published an edict with 144 articles

523 – Relationships between Theodoric, Boethius break down over Simmachus

524 – Justin’s edict against heresies

524 – Boethius executed

526 – Death of Theodoric

529 – The monastery at Montecassino is completed

535 – Amalasunta is killed by order of her cousin Theodahad

535 – the general Belisarius arrives in Sicily

539 – First Frankish invasion of Northern Italy

540 – Gregory the Great is born in Rome

554 – The emperor Justinian issues the Pragmatica sanzione giving the Italian bishops greater autonomy and administrative power

568 – Alboino’s Lombards enter Italy. Milan falls on 3rd September

572 – Pavia surrenders to the Lombardsl. In the same year Alboin is assassinated in a plot by his wife Rosamunda. Cleph is acclaimed king.

574 – First appearance of the Duchies

578 – The Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento lay siege to Rome, but are dissuaded by pope Pelagius’s offer of gold

590 – Gregory the great is elected pope

599 – Italy is divided into three spheres of influence: Lombards, Bizantines and Romans

604 – Death of Gregory the great

636 – 652 – Reign of Rotary

643 – Rotary publishes a civil and penal code in a 388 chapter edict

651 – Start of Arab expansion

663 – Constans II invades the Duchy of Benevento, but is beaten back

668 – Constans II dies in Sicily

712 – Liutprand becomes king of the Lombards

726 – Emperor Leo III issues his iconoclast edict

732 – Charles Martel defeats the Arabs at Poiters, halting their advance into Europe

739 – Liutprand takes 4 cities of the Roman Duchy, including Sutri

742 – The cities are given to the pope instead of to the Byzantine empire

744 – Death of Liuprand

751 – The Lombard king Aistulf takes Ravenna and the Pentapolis, putting and end to the Byzantine Exarcate

754 – Aistulf is defeated by the Franks in the Susa valley

756 – Aistulf dies in a hunting accident and is succeeded by Desiderius

757 – Pope Stephen II dies

768 – Pepin the short dies leaving the kingdom to his sons Charles and Carloman

774 – Charlemagne defeats king Desiderius, putting n end to the Lombard kingdom

795 – Pope Hadrian dies and pope Leo III is elected

800 – Charlemagne is crowned holy Roman emperor in Rome by pope Leo III

806 – Charlemagne divides up the empire among his sons

810 – Charlemagne’s son Pipin and king of Italy dies and his son Berengarius becomes king

814 – Charlemagne dies and his son Luis the Pious becomes emperor

819 – Berengarius is blinded and later dies

827 – The Arabs start the conquest of Sicily

843 – The treaty of Verdun divides up the empire between the sons of Luis the Pious. Lothar receives Italy

855 – Lothar dies, Luis II inherits Italy

875 – Charles the bald becomes emperor

879 – Charles the fat becomes king of Italy

888 – Charles the fat is deposed

893 – Arnulf of Carinthia enters Italy to aid Bernegarius, Marquis of Friuli and future king of Italy against Guido, Duke of Spoleto and king of Italy. Guido dies and is succeeded by his son Lamberto, who is then crowned king by pope Formusus

895 – Pope Formosus is imprisoned by Lamberto in Rome for seeking help from Arnulf of Carinthia against the Spoleto faction. Arnulf lays siege to Rome and frees the pope.

896 – Pope Formosus dies and the Spoleto faction elects Stephen IV

897 – Posthumous trial of Fromosus. Assassination of Stephen IV

898 – Pope John IX is elected. He rehabilitates Formosus

899 – Berengarius of Friuli is defeated by Hungarian mercenaries

904 – Sergius III is elected pope thanks to the Spoleto faction lead by Marozia, the new oboe’s lover

905 – Luis of Provence enters Italy, called by the nobles to depose Berengarius, but he is defeated by the latter.

914 – John X is elected pope and he crowns Berengarius emperor

924 – Beremgarius is assassinated in Verona

932 – Hugo of Provence is crowned king of Italy in Pavia and then enters Rome where he marries Marozia, widow of Albert of Spoleto and then Guido of Tuscany. Hugo is ousted by the son of Marozia, Albert of Rome who becomes lord of the city

936 – Otto I is crowned king of Germany

950 – Berengarius of Ivrea is crowned king of Italy along with his son Adalbert

951 – Otto I enters Italy and is crowned king

954 – Albert of Rome, son of Marozia dies. His son, Octavian becomes ruler of Rome and later pope.

962 – Otto I is crowned in Rome, the Germanic Holy Roman Empire is founded.

973 – Otto I dies

982 – Otto II loses the battle of Stilo to the Saracens and is almost killed

996 – Otto III descends into Italy and defeats the Roman faction opposing pope John XIV and then places his cousins Gregory V on the papal throne

1002 – Otto III dies outside if Rome after being sent away by its inhabitants

1004 – Henry II is crowned king of Italy after defeating Arduin of Ivrea

1012 – In Rome the Crescenzi family los power to the Tuscolo who elect Benedict VIII

1014 – Henry II is crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1015 – Arduin of Ivrea dies

1018 – Aribert is made bishop of Milan

1024 – Both pope Benedict VIII and Henry II die

1026 – Conrad II is elected Emperor

1033 – Benedict IX is elected pope

1037 – Conrad II issues the Constitutio de feudis, giving lower vassals hereditary rights

1039 – Conrad II dies and is succeeded by Henry III

1044 – The Romans rebel against Benedict IX

1045 – After a year of anarchy, Clement II is elected pope and kicks off a spiritual reform

1046 – Henry III deposed three popes trying to put an end to Roman interference in the election of the popes

Matilda of Canossa is born

1047 – Hostilities start between Henry III and Godfrey the bearded and his wife Beatrix of Tuscany.

1049 – Pope Leo IX is elected

1053 – Leo IX leads a military expedition against the Normans and is defeated at the battle of Civitate by Robert Guiscard

1054 – The great east- west schism occurs

1055 – Leo IX dies and is substituted by Victor II

1056 – Henry III dies and is succeeded by his son Henry IV

1059 – Nicolas II determines that popes must be elected by Cadinals

1071 – The Seljuk Turks occupy Jerusalem

1072 – Roger of Hauteville takes Palermo from the Arabs

1073 – Ildeprando of Soana is elected pope as Gregory VII

1075 – Gregory VII sets out his reform program in the dictatus papaw

1076 – In a council at Worms Henry IV of Germany deposes Gregory VII and is in turn excommunicated by the pope

1077 – After three days as a penitent at Canossa, Henry IV is forgiven by Gregory VII

The German nobles elected a new king Rudolf of Swabia

1080 – Rudolf is killed by Henry at the battle of Hohenmölsen





Reading list

Early middle ages

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Teodorico il grande, (Theodoric the Great) 

Collacci Antonio

Mursia , 2001

Easy to read and well narrated with good insight into the life of the king. It starts by giving some family background and moves into the period just after his death and up to the Byzantine invasion. A little more of a look into the life of Theodoric would have been interesting

Amalasunta, la Regina (Amalasuntha, The Queen)

Vito Antonio Sirago

Jaca Books, Milan, 1999

A nice, easy to read book that brings the character and value of an otherwise ignored historical figure. It shows that she wasn’t just a victim of circumstance, but a real player on the national and international scene, as well as showing her great human value.

L’Italia dei Barbari (Barbarian Italy)

Claudio Azzara

Il Mulino, Bologna, 2002

A light, easy to read, yet well-reesarched book that goes from the fall of the Roman Ampire to the defeat of the Lombards and the arrival of the Franks. A great book if you want to get a quick idea of the period from 467 to the end of the eight century

La guerra gotica (The Gothic War)

Procopius of Cesarea

Garzanti, Milan, 2005

A nice surprise. I picked it up imagining I would just leaf through to get some dates and info,  ut ended up reading all 700 pages cover to cover in quite a short time. Full of interesting anecdotes as well as the story of the the 535 – 552 war. It is quite well balanced considering it was written by a member of the Byzantine contingent.

Totila L’immortale (Totila the immortal)

Dante Rossetto

Canova, Treviso, 1999

A book stuck between a history and a historical novel. Basically the biography of King Totila told from the point of view of his personal servant. It’s rather pro-goth, but interesting and informative, a good read.

Teodolinda, una regina per l’europa (Theodolina, a queen for Europe)

A biography of the Lombard queen that stretches back to the origins of her people and the conquest of Italy, before telling us about th Queen herself and the traces you can find of her in modern day Italy.

Andare per L’Italia Bizantina (Travelling around Byzantine Italy)

Giorgio Ravegnani

Il Mulino, Bologna 2016

A book for lovers of art and archeology about the traces of the Byzantines you can find in Italy today by region and city

Geschicte der Langobarden (History of the Lombards)

Jörg Jarnut

Verlag W Kohlhammer GmbH, Stuggart, Berlin, Koln, Mainz, 1982

A surprisingly fluid, informative, yet not too heavy read on a general history of the Lombards, focusing mainly on their presence in Italy

Italia Longobarda

Stefano Gasparri

Laterza, Rome – Bari 2012

A very detailed look at many different aspects of the Lombard reign in Italy, oarticukarly in the 8th century with a look at politics, economy and social groups. The book shows great depth of original source study and a view on a local and family level. Not an easy read, but precious if you really want to get to know the Lombards.Mu

Storia dell’Italia medioevale

Paolo Cammarosano

La Terza Roma-Bari 2001

A book based more on social issues and ideas rather than a narrated, chronological history, but good for some insights into the economic and social situations in the early middle ages.


Early Medieval Italy, central power and local society 400-1000

Chris Wickam

Macmillan, London, 1981

A good book to get a general overview of Italy in this period, focusingocus on social and economic organisation, yet a little hard to follow when it comes to political history.  A great integration to a more narrative text.

La vita quotidiana dei Longobardi ai tempi di re Rotari (Daily life of the Lombards in the age of king Rotari)

Dario Pedrazzini

Gabriele Angelini Editore, Imola, 2007

An interesting look into the daily life of the Lombards in the 7th century, from their diet and clothes to Religion and war tactics. A great read for those that like to know about the history of every-day life.

Middle ages

Storia dell’Italia medioevale (History of medieval Italy)

Ovidio Capitani

Gius, Laterza & Figli, 1986

A thorough look at political, social and economic aspects of medieval Italy from the fall of the empire to the 13th century. A very useful tool, yet  little heavy reading.


La Sicilia Musulmana (Muslim Sicily)

Alessandro Vanoli

Il Mulino, Bologna, 2012

An interesting, fluid read focusing on the Muslim presence on the island of Sicily, starting from some background history of the island from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, through the rise of Islam to the conquest of the island and the setting up of the Emirate, all the way to the fall of the Muslim government at the hands of the Normans.


I Bizantini in Italia (The Byzantines in Italy)

Various authors

Libri Scheiwiller 1982, Milan

A rather hefty volume, but with a lot of great pictures of Byzantines art and many dedicated pages. It has an initial historical section that also looks into society, economy and culture and then a rather substantial art and architecture section.

Matilde e i Canossa

Paolo Goninelli

Mursia, Milan, 2004

A biography of the great countess starting from her ancestors by the utmost living scholar on the subject. A vert well-infomed pleasant read divided into clear chapters dealing with specific figures and moments of her life


Matilde di Canossa

Vito Fumagalli

Il Mulino, Bologna, 1996

A short biography of the countess Matilda, not the easiest read, but enough to give you a good idea of her life and times.


We use music from independent Italian singer/songwriters for the podcast and minidocs

Have a listen!

Marco Vergnani           Fabio Debbi

copertina marco

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List of rulers

After the fall of the Empire

Odoacer (476 – 493)

Ostrogoth rulers

Theodoric (493 – 526)

Athalaric (526 – 534

Amalasuntha (534 – 535)

Theodahad (534 – 536)

Vitiges (536 – 540)

Ildibad (540 – 541)

Eraric (541)

Totila (541 – 552)

Teia (552)

Lombard rulers

Alboin (568 – 572)

Cleph (572 – 574)

Authari (584  – 590)

Agilulf (590 – 616)

Adaloald (616 – 626)

Arioald (626 – 636)

Rothari (636 – 652)

Rodoald (652 – 653)

Airport I (653 – 661)

Perctarit and Godeper (661 – 662)

Grimoald (662 – 671)

Garibald (671 – 672)

Perctarit 672 – 688)

Cunipert (688 – 700)

Liutpert (700 – 701)

Raginert (700 – 701)

Airport II (701 – 712)

Ansprand (712)

Liutprand (712 – 744)

Ildeprand (744)

Ratchis (744 – 749)

Aisulf (749 – 756)

Ratchis (756 – 757)

Desiderius (757 – 774)







Maps and images

The Sardinian Giudicati


Here you can observe the division of the island of Sardinia into the four Giudicati.

Italy around the year 1000

ita Italia anno 1000 aggiornata

Here you can observe the increasingly fragmented situation around the year 1000.

The Southern Principalities after the fall of the Lombards


Here you can observe the division of Southern Italy after the fall of the Lombard Kingdom.

The mountains and plains of Italy


Here you can see how most of Italy is mountainous except for the area of the Po river valley

Lombard and Byzantine Italy


Here you can see how Italy was divided at the time of the maximum Lombard expansion. Thanks to the students of Anna Bellini’s class for the map!

Lomabrd men and women at the time of king Rothari

Images by Christina Tisi from “La Vita Quotidiana dei Longobardi ai tempi di re Rotar” (Daily life of the Lombards at the time of king Rothari) by Dario Pedrazzini.  Buy it on Amazon