Alboin died in 572 and left no clear leader, enabling individual Lombard warlords known as duces to take power at a local level. The Lombards, like the Goths before them, held to the Arian creed until Agiluf, a Lombard king who reigned from 590 to 615, was converted to orthodox Christianity. As the Lombards expanded their power in northern Italy, they began to encroach on papal territory. In 754 Pope Stephen II turned for help to the neighboring Franks, who had gained power in the former Roman colony of Gaul (later France). Frankish ruler Pepin the Short accepted the pope’s plea, and he and his son, Charlemagne, deposed the last Lombard king in 774. When Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the West on Christmas Day 800, the idea of the Western Roman Empire was reborn.
In the 9th century the Carolingians, as the Frankish successors of Charlemagne were known, gained control over northern Italy. To the south, North African Muslims known as Saracens occupied Sicily, attacked towns on the Italian coast, and threatened Rome. Pope Leo IV appealed to Charlemagne’s great-grandson, King Louis II, to halt the invaders, but after Louis’s death the Muslims overran southern Italy and forced the popes to pay tribute to them. In northern Italy the political unity imposed by the Carolingians also proved short-lived and was followed by the rise and fall of numerous local rulers. The most prominent of these were Guido of Spoleto; Berengar I of Friuli, Holy Roman emperor; and Hugh of Provence. This period of anarchy ended in 962, when the Germanic leader Otto I conquered northern Italy and was crowned emperor by Pope John XII. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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