An Economic History of Italy: From the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century

By Gino Luzzatto; Philip Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Economic Conditions in Carolingian and Feudal Italy

I. LOMBARD ITALY UNDER THE CAROLINGIANS

THE dispossession of the Lombard dynasty in 774 did not seriously disturb the state of the realm. The Lombard kingdom remained as before, and the title "King of the Franks and Lombards", assumed by Charlemagne after the fall of Pavia, expressed the only manifest change which followed his victory over Desiderius. Two states were now united in the person of a single ruler, but each retained its national laws and institutions, at least in the early years. With a few exceptions like Cividale and Treviso, which had to be reconquered after rebellion, every district continued for nearly thirty years to be governed by dukes and other Lombard officials. Only in 801, after Charlemagne had been crowned Emperor, were the dukes slowly replaced by Frankish counts, and the codes of the Lombard kings supplemented by new Frankish laws (capitularies), some of which were of a general nature while others were particular to Italy.

In order to render their power secure without the effort of planting colonies or garrisons of Franks throughout the country, the Carolingian monarchs made increasing use of the system of "benefices", which now for the first time crossed the Alps into Italy. By this system the confiscated lands of the Lombard king and other Lombard leaders were conferred by means of life grants (which in time were supplanted by full ownership) on the counts and other crown officials, on royal vassals who had settled in Italy, and on a large number of monasteries, many of

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