History of the Lombards

History of the Lombards

History of the Lombards

History of the Lombards

Synopsis

History of the Lombards, by Paul the Deacon (c. 720-c. 799), is among the most important and oldest accounts of the Germanic nation. The book preserves many ancient myths and popular traditions and draws from sources that are now lost. The history traces the changing fortunes of the Lombards, the last of the migratory Germanic peoples to enter the western part of the old Roman Empire, from their first appearance in the West in the sixth century to the middle of the eighth century. The popularity of Paul the Deacon's book has endured over the centuries and, although there have been numerous translations and editions, this remains the only one in English.

Excerpt

“The translation of Paul the Deacon has just come, and
I have already begun to read it. It is such a pleasure
to have friends who do such things as you do! What a
delightful old boy the Deacon was; and what an interesting
mixture of fact and fable he wrote!”

—Theodore Roosevelt to
William Dudley Foulke, 1907

The route from the court of Charlemagne and the monastery of Monte Cassino, where Paul the Deacon wrote his History of the Lombards late in the eighth century, to the circle of government officials and confidants around Theodore Roosevelt, where Paul’s History found its first English translator, is long, circuitous, often improbable, and remarkably ill-lit. There are few reliable guides to the history of the idea of, and interest in, the Middle Ages. Nor is there much in the way of explanation, except his own, as to why William Dudley Foulke, lawyer, newspaper publisher, Progressive Republican state legislator, Civil Service Commissioner, and sometime man of letters in Indiana and Washington, D.C., decided to translate Paul the Deacon’s remarkable History :

I had come across an attractive book written in Latin by
Paul the Deacon, a Benedictine monk, during the reign of

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