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Lambert of Italy

Lambert (c. 880 – 15 October 898) was the King of Italy from 891, Holy Roman Emperor, co-ruling with his father from 892, and Duke of Spoleto and Camerino (as Lambert II) from his father's death in 894. He was the son of Guy III of Spoleto and Ageltrude, born in San Rufino. He was the last ruler to issue a capitulary in the Carolingian tradition.


  • Confronting Arnulf 1
  • Renovatio regni Francorum 2
  • Battle of Marengo 3
  • Sources 4
  • References 5

Confronting Arnulf

Lambert was crowned King in May 891 at Pavia[1] and joint Emperor alongside his father on 30 April 892 at Ravenna by a reluctant Pope Formosus.[2] He and his father signed a pact with the pontiff confirming the Donation of Pepin and subsequent Carolingian gifts to the papacy.[3] In 893, however, Formosus sent an embassy to Regensburg to request Arnulf of Carinthia liberate Italy and come to Rome to be crowned.[4] Arnulf sent his son Zwentibold with a Bavarian army to join with Berengar of Friuli.[5] They defeated Guy, but bribes, along with an outbreak of fever, saw him leave in the autumn.[6] Arnulf then personally led an army across the Alps early in 894. He conquered all of the territory north of the Po River, but went no further before Guy died suddenly in late autumn. Lambert became sole king and emperor, as well as succeeded his father to the Duchy of Spoleto. Still young though, he was left under the regency of his mother, a staunch anti-German. While Berengar occupied Pavia, Lambert and Ageltrude travelled to Rome to receive papal confirmation of his imperial title,[7] but Pope Formosus wanted instead to crown Arnulf and was imprisoned in the Castel Sant'Angelo.

Lambert was preoccupied in thwarting the attempts of both Arnulf of Carinthia and Berengar of Friuli to take Italy for themselves during his reign. Early on, Adalbert II of Tuscany rallied to his cause, menacing Berengar in Pavia. By January 895, Lambert could take up residence in the royal capital. In that same year, his cousin Guy IV conquered the Principality of Benevento from the Byzantines. Despite the urging of Fulk of Rheims on his behalf, Lambert found himself abandoned by the pope, who feared the increased power of the Spoletan house. In September, an embassy arrived in Regensburg beseeching Arnulf's aid.[8] In October, Arnulf undertook his second campaign into Italy. He crossed the Alps quickly and took Pavia, but then he continued slowly. While Lambert refused to offer battle, Arnful was garnering support among the nobility of Tuscany. Even Adalbert joined him. Finding Rome locked against him and held by Ageltrude, he took the city by force on 21 February 896, freeing the pope.[9] Arnulf was there crowned King and Emperor by Formosus, who declared Lambert deposed. Arnulf marched on Spoleto, where Ageltrude had fled to Lambert, but he suffered a stroke and had to call off the campaign.[10] That same year, Formosus died, leaving Lambert once again in power.[11]

Renovatio regni Francorum

After Arnulf returned to Germany and until his death,[12] Lambert and his supporters, most powerful in the northeast and the centre of the peninsula, were in complete control of Italy. He retook Pavia and decapitated Maginulf, Count of Milan, who had joined Arnulf. In October and November, he met Berengar outside of Pavia and the two reached an agreement whereby they parcelled the kingdom out between them, Berengar keeping the realm between the Adda and the Po and Lambert the rest.[13] They shared Bergamo. This was a confirmation of the status quo of 889. Lambert also pledged to marry Gisela, Berengar's daughter. It was this partitioning which caused the later chronicler Liutprand of Cremona to remark that the Italians always suffered under two monarchs.

In early 897, Lambert journeyed to Rome with Ageltrude and Guy to receive reconfirmation of his imperial title.[14] The vengeful Lambert and Ageltrude also persuaded Pope Stephen VI, elected by their influence, to put the corpse of Formosus on trial for various crimes.[15] The body, stripped of its papal robes and mutilated, was thrown into the river Tiber after the "Cadaver Synod."[16] In January 898, Pope John IX rehabilitated Formosus against their will. Lambert convened a diet at Ravenna in February. Seventy bishops met and confirmed the pact of 891, the invalidity of Arnulf's coronation, and the validity of Lambert's imperial title.[17] They legitimised the election of John IX. They also solved the Formosan question and confirmed his rehabilitation.[18] Most significantly for Lambert, however, they reaffirmed the Constitutio Romana of Lothair I (824), which required the imperial presence at papal elections.[19]

Lambert hereafter governed with the church and continued the policy of his father of renovatio regni Francorum: renewal of the Frankish kingdom. He was able to issue capitularies in the Frankish fashion as his father had done. In fact, he was the last ruler to do so. In 898, he legislated against the exploitation of the services owed by arimanni to create benefices for vassals. The Lex Romana Utinensis was composed at his court.

Battle of Marengo

However, Lambert still had Berengar of Friuli and the rebellious Adalbert of Tuscany to face.[20] In 898, the latter marched on Pavia. The emperor, who had been hunting near

Emperor Lambert
Born: 880 Died: 15 October 898
Regnal titles
Preceded by
(Holy) Roman Emperor
Succeeded by
King of Italy
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Duke of Spoleto
Succeeded by
Guy IV
Margarve of Camerino
  1. ^ Canduci, pg. 221
  2. ^ Comyn, pg. 82
  3. ^ Mann, III, pg. 378
  4. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 50
  5. ^ Comyn, pg. 82
  6. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 51
  7. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 51
  8. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 51
  9. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 52
  10. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 53
  11. ^ Canduci, pg. 221
  12. ^ Canduci, pg. 222
  13. ^ Sismondi, History of the Italian Republics in the Middle Ages, pg. 24
  14. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 80
  15. ^ Canduci, pg. 221
  16. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 82
  17. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 95
  18. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 94
  19. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 95
  20. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 87
  21. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 97
  22. ^ Canduci, pg. 221
  23. ^ Mann, IV, pg. 98


  • Carpegna Falconieri, Tommaso di. .Lamberto Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, LXIII. Rome: 2004, pp. 208–211.
  • Canduci, Alexander (2010), Triumph and Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors, Pier 9,  
  • Wickham, Chris. Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400-1000. MacMillan Press: 1981.
  • Mann, Horace, K. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. III: The Popes During the Carolingian Empire, 858-891. 1925
  • Mann, Horace, K. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. IV: The Popes in the Days of Feudal Anarchy, 891-999. 1925
  • Comyn, Robert. History of the Western Empire, from its Restoration by Charlemagne to the Accession of Charles V, Vol. I. 1851


He was succeeded in Spoleto by Guy IV while the regnum Italicum and the imperium Romanum were thrown into chaos, contested by multiple candidates.[23] Within days, Berengar had taken Pavia.

Sanguine præcipuō Francōrum germinis ortus
Lambertus fuit hīc Caesar in Urbe potēns
Alter erat Cōnstantīnus, Theodōsius alter
Et prīnceps pācis clārus amōre nimis
Born with the distinguished blood of the stock of the Franks,
Lambert was here Emperor, holding power in the City (of Rome);
He was another Constantine, another Theodosius,
and a prince of peace, excessively renowned with love.

) is: elegiac couplets: "an elegant youth and a stern man". His epitaph (in Latin vir severus and elegans iuvenis. Liutprand remembered him as an Piacenza He was buried in [22]

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