Lambert II of Spoleto
Lambert II was the King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

 from 891, Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

, co-ruling with his father from 892, and Duke of Spoleto and Camerino from his father's death in 894. He was the son of Guy III of Spoleto
Guy III of Spoleto
Guy of Spoleto , sometimes known by the Italian version of his name, Guido, or by the German version, Wido, was the Margrave of Camerino from 880 and then Duke of Spoleto and Camerino from 883. He was crowned King of Italy in 889 and Holy Roman Emperor in 891...

 and Ageltrude
Ageltrude was the Holy Roman Empress and Queen of Italy as wife and mother respectively of Guy and Lambert...

, born in San Rufino. He was the last ruler to issue a capitulary
A capitulary was a series of legislative or administrative acts emanating from the Frankish court of the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, especially that of the first emperor, Charlemagne...

 in 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...


Confronting Arnulf

Lambert was crowned King in May 891 at Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

 and joint Emperor alongside his father on 30 April 892 at 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...

 by a reluctant Pope Formosus
Pope Formosus
Pope Formosus was Pope of the Catholic Church from 891 to 896. His brief reign as Pope was troubled, and his remains were exhumed and put on trial in the notorious Cadaver Synod.-Biography:...

. He and his father signed a pact with the pontiff confirming the Donation of Pepin
Donation of Pepin
The "Donation of Pepin", the first in 754, and second in 756, provided a legal basis for the formal organizing of the Papal States, which inaugurated papal temporal rule over civil authorities...

 and subsequent Carolingian gifts to the papacy. In 893, however, Formosus sent an embassy to Regensburg
Regensburg is a city in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate...

 to request Arnulf of Carinthia
Arnulf of Carinthia
Arnulf of Carinthia was the Carolingian King of East Francia from 887, the disputed King of Italy from 894 and the disputed Holy Roman Emperor from February 22, 896 until his death.-Birth and Illegitimacy:...

 liberate Italy and come to 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...

 to be crowned. Arnulf sent his son Zwentibold
Zwentibold was the illegitimate son of the Carolingian Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia. In 895 his father, then king of East Francia, granted him the Kingdom of Lotharingia, which he ruled until his death.After his death he was declared a saint and martyr by the Catholic Church.- Life :Zwentibold...

 with a Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n army to join with Berengar of Friuli
Berengar I of Italy
Berengar of Friuli was the Margrave of Friuli from 874 until no earlier than 890 and no later than 896, King of Italy from 887 until his death, and Holy Roman Emperor from 915 until his death.Berengar rose to become one of the most influential laymen in the empire of Charles the Fat before he...

. They defeated Guy, but bribes, along with an outbreak of fever, saw him leave in the autumn. Arnulf then personally led an army across 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....

 early in 894. He conquered all of the territory north of the Po River
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

, 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
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...

. Still young though, he was left under the regency
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 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, but Pope Formosus wanted instead to crown Arnulf and was imprisoned in the Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family...


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
Adalbert II of Tuscany
Adalbert II , called the Rich, son and successor of Adalbert I of Tuscany, and grandson of Boniface II, was much concerned in the troubles of Lombardy, at a time when so many princes were contending for the wrecks of the Carolingian Empire. Before his father died in 884 or 886, he is accredited the...

 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
Guy IV of Spoleto
Guy IV was the Duke of Spoleto and Camerino from 889 and Prince of Benevento from 895. He was the son of Guy II of Spoleto....

 conquered the Principality of Benevento from the Byzantines
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...

. 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. 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. Arnulf was there crowned King and Emperor by Formosus, who declared Lambert deposed. Arnulf marched on 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:...

, where Ageltrude had fled to Lambert, but he suffered a stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 and had to call off the campaign. That same year, Formosus died, leaving Lambert once again in power.

Renovatio regni Francorum

After Arnulf returned to Germany and until his death, 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
Adda River
The Adda is a river in North Italy, a tributary of the Po. It rises in the Alps near the border with Switzerland and flows through Lake Como. The Adda joins the Po a few kilometres upstream of Cremona. It is 313 kilometres long...

 and the Po and Lambert the rest. They shared Bergamo
Bergamo is a town and comune in Lombardy, Italy, about 40 km northeast of Milan. The comune is home to over 120,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent the metropolitan area of Milan...

. 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
Liutprand of Cremona
Liutprand, also Liudprand, Liuprand, Lioutio, Liucius, Liuzo, and Lioutsios was a Lombard historian and author, and Bishop 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. The vengeful Lambert and Ageltrude also persuaded Pope Stephen VI
Pope Stephen VI
Pope Stephen VI was Pope from May 22, 896 to August 897.He had been made bishop of Anagni by Pope Formosus. The circumstances of his election are unclear, but he was sponsored by one of the powerful Roman families, the house of Spoleto, that contested the papacy at the time.Stephen is chiefly...

, elected by their influence, to put the corpse of Formosus on trial for various crimes. The body, stripped of its papal robes and mutilated, was thrown into the river Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

 after the "Cadaver Synod
Cadaver Synod
The Cadaver Synod is the name commonly given to the posthumous ecclesiastical trial of Catholic Pope Formosus, held in the Basilica of St...

." In January 898, Pope John IX
Pope John IX
-Early life:Little is known about John IX before he became Pope. Born in Tivoli in an unknown year, he was ordained as a Benedictine priest by Pope Formosus...

 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. They legitimised the election of John IX. They also solved the Formosan question and confirmed his rehabilitation. Most significantly for Lambert, however, they reaffirmed the Constitutio Romana of Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 (824), which required the imperial presence at papal elections.

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 benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s for vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s. 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. In 898, the latter marched on Pavia. The emperor, who had been hunting near Marengo
Marengo may refer to:* The Battle of Marengo, in 1800 in northern Italy* French ship Marengo* Chicken Marengo, a food dish* Marengo , a genus of jumping spiders* Marengo , Napoleon's horse...

, south of Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, was given word and surprised and defeated his rival at Borgo San Donnino, taking him prisoner to Pavia. On his return to Marengo however, he was killed, either by assassination (by Hugh, son of Maginulf), a theory about which Liutprand, our primary source, is reserved, or by falling from his horse. He was buried in Piacenza
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza...

. Liutprand remembered him as an elegans iuvenis and vir severus: "an elegant youth and a stern man". His epitaph (in Latin elegiac couplet
Elegiac couplet
The elegiac couplet is a poetic form used by Greek lyric poets for a variety of themes usually of smaller scale than the epic. Roman poets, particularly Ovid, adopted the same form in Latin many years later...

s) is:
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
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, another Theodosius
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

and a prince of peace, excessively renowned with love.

He was succeeded in Spoleto by Guy IV
Guy IV of Spoleto
Guy IV was the Duke of Spoleto and Camerino from 889 and Prince of Benevento from 895. He was the son of Guy II of Spoleto....

 while the regnum Italicum and the imperium Romanum were thrown into chaos, contested by multiple candidates. Within days, Berengar had taken Pavia.


  • Carpegna Falconieri, Tommaso di. Lamberto. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, LXIII. Rome: 2004, pp. 208–211.
  • 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
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