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Liutprand of Cremona

Liutprand of Cremona

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Liutprand, also Liudprand, Liuprand, Lioutio, Liucius, Liuzo, and Lioutsios (c. 922 – 972) was a Lombard
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...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 and author, and Bishop of Cremona.

He was born into a prominent family of Pavia
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...

 towards the beginning of the 10th century. In 931 he entered service as page to Hugh of Arles, who kept court at Pavia as King of Italy and who married the notorious and powerful Marozia
Marozia
Marozia, born Maria and also known as Mariuccia or Mariozza , was a Roman noblewoman who was the alleged mistress of Pope Sergius III and was given the unprecedented titles senatrix and patricia of Rome by Pope John X.Edward Gibbon wrote of her that the "influence of two sister prostitutes,...

 of Rome. He was educated at the court and became a cleric at the Cathedral of Pavia. After Hugh died in 947, leaving his son and co-king Lothair on the throne as 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...

, Liutprand became confidential secretary to the actual ruler of Italy, Berengar II, marchese d'Ivrea, for whom he became chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 and by whom he was sent on an embassy (949) to 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...

 court of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus
Constantine VII
Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus, "the Purple-born" was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959...

. Since both Liutprand's father and his stepfather had been sent as ambassadors to Constantinople, and as Liutprand prepared himself by learning Greek (not widely known in the 10th-century West) he seemed well suited for a mission of that kind. However it proved a fruitless and humiliating four months' experience, for which Liutprand revenged himself in his account, Antapodosis ("retribution").

On his return, however, he fell from favor at Pavia
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 attached himself to Berengar's rival, the emperor Otto I
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 who became King of Italy upon the death of Lothair in 950. With Otto I he returned to Italy in 961 and was invested as bishop of Cremona the following year. At Otto's court, he met Recemund
Recemund
Recemundus was the Mozarabic bishop of Elvira and secretary of the caliph of Córdoba in the mid-tenth century....

, a Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

n ambassador, who convinced him to write a history of his days (the later Antapodosis, which was dedicated to Recemund). Liutprand was often entrusted with important diplomacy and in 963 he was sent to Pope John XII
Pope John XII
Pope John XII , born Octavianus, was Pope from December 16, 955, to May 14, 964. The son of Alberic II, Patrician of Rome , and his stepsister Alda of Vienne, he was a seventh generation descendant of Charlemagne on his mother's side.Before his death, Alberic administered an oath to the Roman...

 at the beginning of the quarrel between the Pope and the emperor, involving papal allegiance with Berenger's son Adelbert. Liutprand attended the Roman conclave of bishops that deposed John XII, November 6, 963 and wrote the only connected narrative of the events.

He was frequently employed in missions to the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, and in 968 he was sent again to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, this time to the court of Nicephorus Phocas, to demand for the younger Otto (afterwards Otto II
Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto II , called the Red, was the third ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty, the son of Otto the Great and Adelaide of Italy.-Early years and co-ruler with Otto I:...

) the hand of Anna Porphyrogenita, daughter of the former emperor Romanus II. Peace with the Eastern Emperor, who still claimed Benevento and Capua, which were actually in Lombard hands and whose forces had come to strife with Otto in Bari recently, was Liutprand's recommended course of action. His reception at Constantinople was humiliating and disastrous. (For excerpts of his bitter Relatio see link below.)

His account of this embassy in the Relatio de Legatione Constantinopolitana is perhaps the most graphic and lively piece of writing which has come down to us from the 10th century. The detailed description of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and the Byzantine court is a document of rare value, though highly coloured by his hostility towards the Byzantine Empire
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...

. The Catholic Encyclopedia asserted "Liutprand's writings are a very important historical source for the tenth century; he is ever a strong partisan and is frequently unfair towards his adversaries."

Whether he returned in 971 with the embassy to bring Anna Porphyrogenita or not is uncertain. Liutprand must have died in 972, for his successor as bishop of Cremona was installed in 973.

Works

  • Antapodosis, seu rerum per Europam gestarum, Libri VI, a historical narrative, relating to events, largely in Italy, from 887 to 949, "compiled with the object of avenging himself upon Berengar and Willa his queen" according to the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911
  • Historia Ottonis, a praise of his patron Otto, unfortunately covering only the years from 960 to 964, written as a partisan of the emperor
  • Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana ad Nicephorum Phocam covering the years 968 and 969

External links