Hrodgaud, Duke of Friuli

The ultimate Lombard resistance to Charlemagne’s Franks is owed to Hrodgaud. His end in a battle in 776 marked the final decline of the Lombard reign also in the eastern territories of the peninsula and was traumatic for the whole society of Cividale.

Hrodgaud, the last Lombard duke of Friuli, very bravely fought against the Franks at Pavia and Verona in 774. After the fall of these two cities he still tried to resist and turned towards the river Livenza. Yet he had eventually to submit to the Frankish leader who was now ruling over the whole Lombard Italy. Though he was confirmed his title over the Duchy of Friuli by Charlemagne, between 775 and 776, on the occasion of the war between Franks and Saxons, the untamed Friulian duke tried to accomplish a conspiracy to restore the Lombard dynasty of king Desiderius and to put his son, Adelchis, who had escaped to Constantinople, onto the throne. Thanks to secret agreements with the duke of Treviso (Stabilinus, who was his father-in-law) and with the dukes of Spoleto, Chiusi and Benevento, and after being granted support by Byzantines and Bavarians, he hoped to bring his aims at restoring the kingdom to a successful conclusion. However the revolt had not a positive end and brave Hrodgaud was halted. After defeating the army of Saxons rebels, Charles moved in fact to Italy again and was able to divide the front of the conspirators. The Frankish and Friulian armies met not far from the river Piave: Hrodgaud’s troops were overwhelmed and the duke himself fell in the battle. Despite the patriarch Siguald’s pleas, the Frankish king brought about a hard repression in the Austrasian territories and particularly in the Duchy of Friuli, which ended up by confiscating all the goods of the Lombards and by replacing them with Frankish notables in all the offices. The clergy lost his right to elect the patriarch. In this same picture also Paul the Deacon’s family underwent several vicissitudes and the historian himself was compelled to retire in the cloister of Montecassino.

For further information see the entry Rodgaudo, duca del Friuli written by Luca Villa in Nuovo Liruti. Dizionario biografico dei Friulani, 1, Il Medioevo, edited by C. Scalon, Udine, Forum, 2006, 742-744.

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