A man named Giselpert was an 8th-century duke of Verona, within the Kingdom of the Lombards in Italy. His existence was attested to by a fellow 8th-century Lombard, Paul the Deacon (lived approximately 720-799), who authored a History of the Lombards. In Paul’s History, Duke Giselpert was said to have been fascinated with a royal tomb that was housed in his seat of power at the city of Verona. The tomb was that of King Alboin—the ruler who had originally led the Lombard people into Italy in 568. A formidable warrior and a talented strategist, King Alboin firmly entrenched his newfound Kingdom of the Lombards in Italy by the time of his death in 572 or 573. Alboin’s death was not natural or peaceful. Instead, he was assassinated in Verona by a group of conspirators led by his own wife Rosamund (whose father he had killed). Despite his violent death, King Alboin was honorably entombed by his people, who buried him with fine gear and treasure, which went undisturbed by Alboin’s successor, King Cleph (r. 572-574). The grave apparently remained free of looting until Paul the Deacon’s own era, when Duke Giselpert of Verona decided to open up the tomb. Paul recorded the event, writing, “In our own days, Giselpert, who had been duke of Verona, opened his [Alboin’s] grave and took away his sword and any other of his ornaments found there. And for this reason he boasted with his accustomed vanity among ignorant men that he had seen Alboin” (Paul the Deacon, History of the Lombards, II.28). Unfortunately, few other details were written about Duke Giselpert or what he did with the relics of King Alboin that he had pilfered.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (Illustration of a drawn sword, designed by Adolf von Menzel, (c. 1815 – 1905), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the Smithsonian).
- History of the Lombards by Paul the Deacon, translated by William Dudley Foulke (c. 1904). University of Pennsylvania Press, 1907, 1974, 2003.
- History of the Wars by Procopius, translated by H. B. Dewing. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1919.
- The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, translated by Lewis Thorpe. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.