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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Which had been founded or restored by Queen Theudelinda

a trusty sword was constantly

girt to their side. Yet this strange apparel, and horrid aspect, often concealed a gentle and generous disposition; and as soon as the rage of battle had subsided, the captives and subjects were sometimes surprised by the humanity of the victor. The vices of the Lombards were the effect of passion, of ignorance, of intoxication; their virtues are the more laudable, as they were not affected by the hypocrisy of social manners, nor imposed by the rigid constraint of laws and education. I should not be apprehensive of deviating from my subject, if it were in my power to delineate the private life of the conquerors of Italy; and I shall relate with pleasure the adventurous gallantry of Autharis, which breathes the true spirit of chivalry and romance. [50] After the loss of his promised bride, a Merovingian princess, he sought in marriage the daughter of the king of Bavaria; and Garribald accepted the alliance of the Italian monarch. Impatient of the slow progress of negotiation, the ardent lover escaped from his palace, and visited the court of Bavaria in the train of his own embassy. At the public audience, the unknown stranger advanced to the throne, and informed Garribald that the ambassador was indeed the minister of state, but that he alone was the friend of Autharis, who had trusted him with the delicate commission of making a faithful report of the charms of his spouse. Theudelinda was summoned to undergo this important examination; and, after a pause of silent rapture, he
hailed her as the queen of Italy, and humbly requested that, according to the custom of the nation, she would present a cup of wine to the first of her new subjects. By the command of her father she obeyed: Autharis received the cup in his turn, and, in restoring it to the princess, he secretly touched her hand, and drew his own finger over his face and lips. In the evening, Theudelinda imparted to her nurse the indiscreet familiarity of the stranger, and was comforted by the assurance, that such boldness could proceed only from the king her husband, who, by his beauty and courage, appeared worthy of her love. The ambassadors were dismissed: no sooner did they reach the confines of Italy than Autharis, raising himself on his horse, darted his battle-axe against a tree with incomparable strength and dexterity. "Such," said he to the astonished Bavarians, "such are the strokes of the king of the Lombards." On the approach of a French army, Garribald and his daughter took refuge in the dominions of their ally; and the marriage was consummated in the palace of Verona. At the end of one year, it was dissolved by the death of Autharis: but the virtues of Theudelinda [51] had endeared her to the nation, and she was permitted to bestow, with her hand, the sceptre of the Italian kingdom.

[Footnote 49: The epitaph of Droctulf (Paul, l. iii. c. 19) may be applied to many of his countrymen:-- Terribilis visu facies, sed corda benignus Longaque robusto pectore barba fuit. The portraits of the old Lombards might still be seen in the palace of Monza, twelve miles from Milan, which had been founded or restored by Queen Theudelinda, (l. iv. 22, 23.) See Muratori, tom. i. disserta, xxiii. p. 300.]

[Footnote 50: The story of Autharis and Theudelinda is related by Paul, l. iii. 29, 34; and any fragment of Bavarian antiquity excites the indefatigable diligence of the count de Buat, Hist. des Peuples de l'Europe, ton. xi. p. 595--635, tom. xii. p. 1-53.]

[Footnote 51: Giannone (Istoria Civile de Napoli, tom. i. p. 263) has justly censured the impertinence of Boccaccio, (Gio. iii. Novel. 2,) who, without right, or truth, or pretence, has given the pious queen Theudelinda to the arms of a muleteer.]

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