Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Albion
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Albion, king of the Langobardi, or Lombards, and founder of the kingdom subject to that people in Italy, was the son of that Audoin under whom the Lombards emerge from obscurity to occupy Pannonia, invited by the Emperor of Constantinople, in accordance with the usual Byzantine policy, as a check to the Gepidae. In the wars with the latter nation Alboin first appears. The confused accounts of them which Procopius preserves exhibit the tribe and their prince as rude and ferocious barbarians, and Alboin was a fit leader of such a tribe (Paul. Diac. i. 27, ii. 28). That he was personally a Christian, though an Arian, is proved by a letter from a Gallic bishop to his first wife, a Gallic princess, which deplores, not his heathenism, but his heresy (Sirmond. Conc. Gall. i.). Succeeding his father, Alboin accomplished, by the aid of the Avars, the destruction of the Gepidae (see Gibbon, c. xlv.). The conquest of Italy followed. Alboin's invading army was heterogeneous. Besides 20,000 Saxons accompanied by their families, who recrossed the Alps after the conquest, Muratori has deduced (Antich. It. i. diss. 1) from Italian topography the presence of the Bavarians, and Paul. (ii. 26) adds distinctly the names of several other tribes. The number of the army is unknown, but was considerable, as it was a migration of the whole tribe, and it largely changed the character and arrangements of population in Italy. Alboin left Pannonia in April 568; the passes were unguarded, and he learnt from his own success the need of securing his rear and the frontier of his future kingdom, and entrusted the defence and government of Venetia Prima, his first conquest, to Gisulf his nephew, with the title of duke and the command of those whom he should himself select among the most eminent of the "Farae" or nobles (Paul. ii. ix.). From this point the conquest was rapid. In Liguria (the western half of north Italy), Genoa, with some cities of the Riviera, alone escaped. Pavia held out for three years: perhaps its siege was not very vigorously pressed, for we know that a great part of Alboin's force was detached in flying squadrons which ravaged the country southwards all through Tuscany and Aemilia, to so great a distance that Paul mentions Rome and Ravenna as almost the only places which escaped. The death of Alboin followed the fall of Pavia. The story of his death is like that of his early life in the picture which it gives of a thoroughly barbaric society, where the skull of an enemy is used as a drinking-cup, and the men hold their banquets apart from the women (Gibbon, c. 45). Paul. avouches that the cup was to be seen in his own day. The chief authority for the life of Alboin, Paulus Diaconus, lived towards the end of the 8th cent., in the last days of the Lombard monarchy.