Langobardia Minor

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This article is about southern Lombard domain. For the Byzantine theme, see Longobardia.
Lombard domains at Agilulf's death (616)

Langobardia Minor was the name that, in early Middle Ages, was given to the Lombard dominion in central-southern Italy, corresponding to the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. After the conquest of the Lombard kingdom by Charlemagne in 774, remained under Lombard control.

Once in Italy through the Friuli in 568, the Lombards tore the Byzantines a large part of mainland south of the Alps, but didn't constitute, at least initially, a uniform and contiguous domain. The submissive lands were grouped, in the terminology of the time, in two important areas: Langobardia Maior, from the Alps to today's Tuscany, and Langobardia Minor which included the possessions south of the Byzantine territories (which in that last glimpse of 6th century stretched from Rome to Ravenna through current Umbria and Marche). The Exarchate of Ravenna was connected to Rome through the "Byzantine corridor", which went through Orvieto, Chiusi and Perugia and separated Langobardia Minor from the Maior.

While Langobardia Maior was fragmented and changing in many duchies and Gastalds, the Minor maintained for the duration of the Lombard kingdom (568-774) a remarkable institutional stability, remaining divided into the two duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. They were formed immediately after Lombard penetration, in the seventies of the 6th century, and the first dukes were Faroald in Spoleto and Zotto in Benevento. In the beginning they included geographically only the inland areas, leaving the Byzantines control of the coastal areas; only later (particularly at the reign of Agilulf 591-616) Lombard possessions were extended also to the coasts. So became subject to the two duchies the entire Adriatic coast between Byzantine strongholds of Ancona in the north and Otranto in the south; the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian, however, only partially fell under the authority of the duke of Benevento, which was never able to permanently occupy Naples, the Salento and the tip of Calabria (south of Cosenza and Crotone), and of course, Rome and its suburbs.

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