Aistulf was the Duke of Friuli
Duke of Friuli
The dukes and margraves of Friuli were the rulers of the Duchy and March of Friuli in the Middle Ages.The dates given below, when contentious, are discussed in the articles of the respective dukes.-Lombard dukes:* 568–c.584 Grasulf I...

 from 744, King of Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 from 749, and Duke of Spoleto
Duchy of Spoleto
The independent Duchy of Spoleto was a Lombard territory founded about 570 in central Italy by the Lombard dux Faroald.- Lombards :The Lombards, a Germanic people, had invaded Italy in 568 and conquered much of it, establishing a Kingdom divided between several dukes dependent on the King, who had...

 from 751. His father was the Duke Pemmo
Pemmo of Friuli
Pemmo was the Duke of Friuli for twenty six years, from about 705 to his death. He was the son of Billo of Belluno.Pemmo came to the duchy at a time when a recent civil war had ravaged the land. Pemmo raised all the children of the many nobles killed in the war in his own household next to his own...


After his brother Ratchis
Ratchis was the Duke of Friuli and King of the Lombards . His father was Duke Pemmo. His Roman wife was Tassia. He ruled in peace until he besieged, for reasons unknown, Perugia. Pope Zachary convinced him to lift the siege and he abdicated and entered, with his family, the abbey of Montecassino...

 became king, Aistulf succeeded him in Friuli. He succeeded him later as king when Ratchis abdicated to a monastery. Aistulf continued the policy of expansion and raids against the papacy and the Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 exarchate of Ravenna
Exarchate of Ravenna
The Exarchate of Ravenna or of Italy was a centre of Byzantine power in Italy, from the end of the 6th century to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards.-Introduction:...

. In 751, he captured Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 itself and even threatened Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, claiming a capitation tax. he also conquered Istria
Istria , formerly Histria , is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner...

 region from Byzantines in same year.

The popes, thoroughly irritated and alarmed, and hopeless of aid from the Byzantine Emperor, turned to the Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 mayors of the palace of Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

, the effective rulers of the Frankish kingdom
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

. In 741, Pope Gregory III
Pope Gregory III
Pope Saint Gregory III was pope from 731 to 741. A Syrian by birth, he succeeded Gregory II in March 731. His pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire, in which he vainly invoked the intervention of Charles Martel.Elected by...

 asked Charles Martel
Charles Martel
Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

 to intervene, but he was too busy elsewhere and declined. In 753, Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II was Pope from 752 to 757, succeeding Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen. Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Byzantine Papacy and the Frankish Papacy.-Allegiance to Constantinople:...

 visited Charles Martel's son Pippin the Short, who had been proclaimed king of the Franks in 751 with the consent of Pope Zachary
Pope Zachary
Pope Saint Zachary was Pope of the Catholic Church from 741 to 752. A Greek from Calabria, he was the last pope of the Byzantine Papacy...

. In gratitude for the papal consent to his coronation, Pippin crossed the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

, defeated Aistulf, and gave to the pope the lands which Aistulf had torn from the ducatus Romanus and the exarchate (Emilia-Romagna
Emilia–Romagna is an administrative region of Northern Italy comprising the two historic regions of Emilia and Romagna. The capital is Bologna; it has an area of and about 4.4 million inhabitants....

 and the Pentapolis
A pentapolis, from the Greek words , "five" and , "city" is a geographic and/or institutional grouping of five cities...


Aistulf died hunting in 756. He was succeeded by Desiderius
Desiderius was the last king of the Lombard Kingdom of northern Italy...

 as king of the Lombards and by Alboin
Alboin of Spoleto
Alboin was the Lombard Duke of Spoleto from 757 to 758. He was chosen to be duke by the Spoletan nobility without the assent of the king.While Pope Stephen II was working to give the kingdom into the hands of Desiderius, he also worked to give the homage of the Duchies of Benevento and Spoleto to...

 as duke of Spoleto
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is S. of Trevi, N. of Terni, SE of Perugia; SE of Florence; and N of Rome.-History:...

. He had given Friuli to his brother-in-law Anselm
Anselm, Duke of Friuli
Saint Anselm of Friuli, O.S.B., was a medieval abbot, and later canonized, originally a Lombard nobleman. He was the first abbot of Nonantola....

, abbot of Nonantula, whose sister Gisaltruda he had married, when he succeeded to the kingship in 749.

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