Historia Gentis Langobardorum


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Assassination of Alboin


After Alboin had ruled in Italy three years and six months, he was slain by the treachery of his wife. The cause of his murder was this: While he sat in merriment at a banquet at Verona longer than was proper, with the cup which he had made of the skull of his father-in-law, King Cunimund,2 he ordered it to be given to the queen to drink wine, and he invited her to drink merrily with her father. Lest this should seem impossible to anyone, I speak the truth in Christ. I saw King Ratchis holding this cup in his hand on a certain festal day to show it to his guests. Then Rosemund, when she heard the thing, conceived in her heart deep anguish she could not restrain, and straightway she burned to revenge the death of her father by the murder of her husband. Presently she formed a plan with Helmechis, who was the king’s armorbearer and his foster brother, to kill the king. . . .

Rosemund, while Albion had given himself up to a noonday sleep, ordered that there should be a great silence in the palace. Then, taking away all other arms, she bound his sword tightly to the head of the bed so it could not be taken away or unsheathed and . . . let in Helmechis, the murderer. Alboin, suddenly aroused from sleep, perceived the evil which threatened and reached his hand quickly for his sword, which, being tightly tied, he could not draw, yet he seized a foot-stool and defended himself with it for some time. But unfortunately this most warlike and very brave man, being helpless against his enemy, was slain as if he were one of no account, and he who was most famous in war, through the overthrow of so many enemies, perished by the scheme of one little woman. . . .

Helmechis, upon the death of Alboin, attempted to usurp his kingdom, but he could not do this at all, because the Lombards, grieving greatly for the king’s death, strove to make away with him. And straightway Rosemund sent word to Longinus, prefect of Ravenna, that he should quickly send a ship to fetch them. Longinus, delighted by such a message, sent a ship in which Helmechis with Rosemund, his wife, embarked at night. They took with them the daughter of the king and all the treasure of the Lombards, and came swiftly to Ravenna.

Then the prefect Longinus began to urge Rosemund to kill Helmechis and to join him in wedlock. As she was ready for every kind of wickedness, and as she desired to become mistress of the people of Ravenna, she gave her consent to the accomplishment of this great crime. While Helmechis was bathing himself, she offered him, as he came out of the bath, a cup of poison, which she said was for his health. But when he felt that he had drunk the cup of death, he compelled Rosemund, having drawn his sword upon her, to drink what was left, and thus these most wicked murderers perished at one moment by the judgment of God Almighty.

1 Paul the Deacon, , ii, 28–29.

2 Cunimund, who succeeded Turisind as king of the Gepidæ, had been defeated and killed by Alboin in 566 or 567. Cunimund’s daughter, Rosemund, was then carried away captive by Alboin, who afterwards married her.


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Chicago: "Assassination of Alboin," Historia Gentis Langobardorum in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 272–273. Original Sources, accessed July 23, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=JJAU7VLIFBAAR81.

MLA: . "Assassination of Alboin." Historia Gentis Langobardorum, Vol. ii, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 272–273. Original Sources. 23 Jul. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=JJAU7VLIFBAAR81.

Harvard: , 'Assassination of Alboin' in Historia Gentis Langobardorum. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.272–273. Original Sources, retrieved 23 July 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=JJAU7VLIFBAAR81.