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Rothari (also Chrothar, Chrothachar ; * around 606; † 652 ) was king of the Lombards in the years 636–652.


Rothari came from the Lombard family of Arodus (ex genere arodus).

Some Origo Gentis Langobardorum manuscripts call him Rothari rex filius Nanding ex genere Arodus (King Rothari, son of Nanding from the family of Arodus) and cite a legendary family tree: According to this, Rothari was a descendant of Nanding, Noco, Alamund, Alamand, Ilzoni , Veilo, Weo, Faccho, Mammo and Utfora. In the Edictum Rothari , Rothari indicated his ancestors as Nanding, Noctzo, Adhamund, Alaman, Hiltzo, Wehilo, Weo, Fronchono, Faccho, Mammo and Ustbora, but such early medieval family trees are (almost) always fictional.

All that is known about Rothari's first wife is that she was the mother of his son Rodoald and was cast out in 636.

Legend has it that Gundeperga , the widowed queen, called Rothari to Brescia. She asked him to cast his wife out, marry her and rule as king. Rothari agreed and was elected king by the Lombard nobility.


Italy around 652

Rothari was the Lombard Duke of Brescia . At the age of about thirty, he was elected King of the Lombards in 636 to succeed Arioald . For further legitimation he married Arioald's widow, Gundeperga, whom he, like the first man, held for five years. The fact that Rothari, like Arioald, was an Arian , while Gundeperga was a Catholic , certainly played a role . It was only when Clovis II's envoy Aubedo intervened in 641 that Gundeperga was able to move freely again in the palace and the city.

At the beginning of his rule, Rothari had many distinguished Lombards killed who resisted him. In order to secure the empire internally, on November 22nd, 643, after obtaining the consent of the nobility, he issued the Edictum Rothari , a 388-chapters comprehensive written set of laws of the Lombard national law in Latin with some Lombard explanations. (see main article ⇒ Edictum Rothari )

In terms of foreign policy, he focused on expansion. Around 640 he succeeded in winning Liguria with the important port cities of Genoa and Luna ( Luni ) from the Byzantines ; he added the conquered territory to the crown domain.

But he also remained successful on other border sections. In the year 643 he took advantage of the weakening of the Byzantine Empire by the invasion of the Arabs in Syria and Palestine and led a campaign against the Exarchate Ravenna: The city of Opitergium was destroyed by his troops and 8,000 Byzantine fighters fell under the Exarch Isaacius or his before Ravenna Successor Theodorus Calliopas on the river Scultenna ( Panaro ) against his army and also in southern Italy he was offensive. He conquered Albinganum ( Albenga ), Varicotti ( Varigotti , frazione of Finale Ligure ) and Saona ( Savona ) from the Byzantines, plundered the cities and abducted the inhabitants. The Byzantines eventually had to ask for a truce not long before his death.

Rothari died in 652 after a reign of 16 years and 4 months and was buried next to the church of John the Baptist ( iuxta basilicam beati Iohannes baptistæ ) in Monza or Pavia. Other sources give a reign of 16 or 17 years.

Rothari was succeeded by his son Rodoald as king. The succession is an indication of Rothari's strong and recognized authority, since a hereditary kingship was unusual among the Lombards.



Web links

Wikisource: Historia Langobardorum  - Sources and full texts (Latin)
Wikisource: Origo Gentis Langobardorum  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. a b Origo Gentis Langobardorum chap. 6-7
  2. Historia Langobardorum IV, chap. 42
  3. Origo Gentis Langobardorum cap. 6-7, MGH SS rer Lang I
  4. a b c d Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders Vol VI p. 165ff
  5. a b c d Fredegar Chronicle chap. 70
  6. a b Fredegar Chronicle, chap. 71
  7. a b P. Delogu: Rothari in Lexicon of the Middle Ages Volume VII Column 1049
  8. Hartmann, History of Italy in the Middle Ages, Vol. II, Part 1, p. 243.
  9. Historia Langobardorum IV, 45
  10. Historia Langobardorum IV, 47
  11. Historia Langobardorum Codicis Gothani 7, MGH SS rer Lang I, p. 10.
predecessor Office successor
Alahis Duke of Brescia
? –636
Arioald King of the Lombards