Theudelinde

(d. 628)
   Bavarian princess, Theudelinde (also spelled Theodelinda) was the wife of two Lombard kings, Authari (r. 584-590) and Agilulf (r. 590-616), and the mother of a third, Adaloald (r. 616-626). A powerful figure in the Lombard kingdom, Theudelinde exercised her influence in the realm for nearly thirty years. She effectively chose the successor to her first husband, Authari, and acted as regent for her son, Adaloald. In frequent correspondence with Pope Gregory the Great, some of which is found in the history of the eighth-century historian Paul the Deacon, she sought to convert the Lombards from Arian Christianity to Catholic Christianity and welcomed Catholic missionaries into the kingdom. Although ultimately the Lombards did adopt Catholic Christianity, her efforts inspired an Arian reaction during the reigns of Ariold (r. 626-636) and Rothari (r. 626-652).
   Paul the Deacon recorded a romantic tale of the courtship of Theudelinde by Authari, which involved Authari's anonymous visit to the Bavarian court. The marriage having been arranged between the Lombard and Bavarian kings, Theudelinde was sent to the Lombard kingdom. She wed King Authari at Verona on May 15, 589. Although Authari was a committed Arian, and welcomed few non-Arians to his court, he chose to marry the Catholic Theudelinde. He did so because of long-standing ties between the Lombards and the Bavarians and because of their mutual hostility toward the Franks, who had the Bavarians on the defensive at that time. Theudelinde was also of the ancient Lombard royal line and thus a suitable match for the Lombard king and former duke. Indeed, the marriage benefited both sides, strengthening the Lombard-Bavarian alliance, which successfully halted a Frankish advance in 590 and established a lasting peace with the Franks in 591.
   During her marriage to Authari, Theudelinde established herself as a major figure in the kingdom, and she remained so until her death in 628. According to Paul the Deacon, Theudelinde was so highly esteemed by the Lombards that at the death of Authari they allowed her to remain queen and asked her to choose the successor to Authari as her husband and king. In consultation with the Lombard leaders, she chose Agilulf, duke of Turin. During his reign, Theudelinde continued to exercise her influence and corresponded with Pope Gregory. Under her guidance, Agilulf forged a treaty with the pope, one of the greatest landowners in Italy as well as the spiritual leader of Catholic Christians. She also supported the activity of the Irish missionary St. Columban, which not only improved the religious life of the kingdom but also established a connection with lands to the north of Italy. At her husband's death in 616, she was made regent for their son Adaloald, and she remained his coruler even when he reached his majority. His reign and life, however, ended abruptly in 626 amid allegations that he had gone mad. Theudelinde's support for Catholicism may have been the real reason for the sudden end of Adaloald's reign, but even though an Arian reaction set in after 626, her influence continued with the marriage of her daughter to the new king, Ariold.
   Theudelinde was a major political force throughout her life in the Lombard kingdom, but is perhaps best known for her missionary efforts in support of Catholic Christianity. Although somewhat independent minded in her faith and support for the northern Italian bishops against the pope in a doctrinal dispute, Theudelinde was on good terms with the pope. She actively supported the religious life in her kingdom and built a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist at Monza, near Milan, which she richly endowed. She also received lavish gifts from Pope Gregory to be bestowed on the new church. Her support for new religious foundations did not end with Monza, but included the establishment of monasteries at Bobbio and elsewhere. The foundation at Bobbio, one of the most important and influential monasteries of the early Middle Ages, came as the result of her support for the Irish missionary St. Columban. Although in the short run her support for Catholic Christianity failed to counter Lombard Arianism, Theudelinde's efforts in support of the Catholic church were vindicated when the Lombards converted to Catholic Christianity later in the seventh century.
   See also
   Bibliography
 ♦ Christie, Neil. The Lombards: The Ancient Langobards. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
 ♦ Herrin, Judith. The Formation of Christendom. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.
 ♦ Llewellyn, Peter. Rome in the Dark Ages. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996.
 ♦ Paul the Deacon. History of the Lombards. Trans. William Dudley Foulke. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974.
 ♦ Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. The Barbarian West, a.d. 400-1000. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
 ♦ Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Trans. Thomas J. Dunlap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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