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Lombard shield boss (to make spears slide off it) (Metropolitan Museum, New York)

Early medieval Italy: Lombard shield boss (to make spears slide off it) (Metropolitan Museum, New York)

Northern Italy and France

In 774 ADCharlemagne conquered northern Italy from the Lombards. Soon after that Charlemagne got the Pope to name him the Roman Emperor. For the next three hundred years, northern Italy was in the hands of these new Roman Emperors. That is, it belonged to the sons and grandsons of Charlemagne.

Who was the Pope?
And who was Charlemagne?
The Lombards
The Carolingians
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After them, northern Italy went to the men who took over ruling a new Holy Roman Empire. Basically these men ruled Germany and Austria. They tended to live in Germany. So northern Italy was ruled by far-away German kings who only came to Italy once in a while.

Southern Italy and Islam

In 774 AD, central and southern Italy still belonged to the old Roman Empire. But the emperors in Constantinople were busy trying to protect their kingdom from the Abbasids, and had no time or soldiers to spare for Italy. So the Popes in Rome, with the help of the kings of France, became the main leaders of central and southern Italy.

Who were the Abbasids?
The old Roman Empire

By 830 AD, however, the Abbasids conquered Sicily and southern Italy, as part of their general conquest of the Mediterranean Sea. So three different groups of people ruled Italy: the Islamic Empire ruled southern Italy, the Popes ruled the middle, and the German Roman Empire ruled northern Italy.

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Learn by doing: medieval castles
What came next for Italy?

Bibliography and further reading about medieval Italy:


Italy in the High Middle Ages
The Abbasid Empire
The Holy Roman Empire
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