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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards

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Theodelinda, queen of the Lombards, daughter of Garibald, king of the Bavarians, married to king Authari probably in 589. On Sept. 5, 590, Authari died (Greg. Epp. i. 17). Theodelinda, taking counsel with her wise men, chose in Nov. Agilulf, the duke of Turin, a kinsman of her late husband (Paul. Diac. iii. 55), who in the following May was accepted by all the Lombards as king in Milan. The Lombards, like the other Teutonic nations, except the Franks, had received Christianity under an Arian form, to which they still adhered. Further, nearly all who held the orthodox creed in the territories conquered by the Lombards were in schism from their refusal to accept the fifth general council which had condemned the Three Chapters. In this complication the position of Theodelinda was peculiar. By her influence king Agilulf became eventually a Catholic, though apparently not till after A.D. 603 (Greg. Epp. xi. 4; xiv. 12), gave munificently to the church, and restored the orthodox bishops to their positions (Paul. Diac. iv. 6). On the other hand, she continued to support the Three Chapters, threatened to withdraw from communion with Constantius, archbp. of Milan, and refused to accept the fifth council (Greg. Epp. iv. 2, 3, 4, 38, 39; cf. Columbanus, Epp. 5 in Migne, Patr. Lat. lxxx. 274). Gregory touches this difference most delicately, and was, notwithstanding, on most friendly terms with Theodelinda. Mainly by her influence Agilulf was induced to make peace (Paul. Diac. iv. 8; Greg. Epp. ix. 42, 43), and Gregory congratulated her upon the birth of her son Adaloald in 602, and sent him a cross containing a piece of the true cross and a lection from the gospels, and three rings to his sister Gundiperga. Theodelinda built and endowed the basilica of St. John Baptist at Monza. After the death of Agilulf in 616, Adaloald succeeded with Theodelinda as regent. The date of her death was probably before 626 (Paul. Diac. iv. 41). Her crown, the most ancient in existence except the Iron Crown, her fan, her comb, the golden hen and chickens she gave to the church, and the cross sent by Gregory, are still preserved in the treasury of the cathedral at Monza.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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