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Liutprand of Cremona


Bishop of Cremona, historian; b. probably in Pavia, Italy, c. 920; d. probably 972. He was a scion of a noble Lombard family, and both his father and stepfather had served as ambassadors from King Hugh of Italy to Constantinople in 927 and 942. Liutprand was admitted to the court school in Pavia and later became a deacon in that city. After the overthrow of King Hugh, the family became partisans of King Berengar II of Italy, who sent Liutprand as an envoy to Constantinople in 949. On his return, Liutprand quarreled with Berengar and fled to the court of the Roman Emperor otto i the great. In Frankfurt am Main (956) Liutprand was encouraged by Bishop Recemundus of Elvira, the ambassador of Caliph Abd ar-Rahman II of Córdoba to Otto the Great, to compose a history of his times, and it was there that he wrote his Antapodosis (Retribution). Liutprand took part in Otto's second Italian campaign and was installed as bishop of Cremona by the emperor. He continued in Otto's service and was much in evidence when Otto intervened in affairs of the Holy See in 963 and 965it was these events he described in his Historia Ottonis. In 968 Otto sent Liutprand to Constantinople to obtain a bride for his son and heir, otto ii; Liutprand's third work, the Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana, describes this unsuccessful mission. There is repeated evidence of Liutprand's presence both at court and in his diocese after he returned home, but the date of his death is not known with certainty. However, the first documented date in the career of his successor is March 5, 973.

Liutprand was no theologian, but his historical works show great rhetorical talent. He mixed verse with his prose in the fashion of the satire of Menippus, probably imitating Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae in this matter; he often cited Latin classical writers and delighted in demonstrating his knowledge of Greek, an uncommon achievement in his time. His works reveal a man of turbulent temperament. His pride, his hatred of political opponents, his scorn for clerical and secular Rome as well as for the Byzantine court, led to drastic distortions in his accounts of situations and personalities. Liutprand's political goal was the growth and freedom of the Lombard kingdom. Although he approved of the emperor's intervention in Italy, he was willing to grant the Lombard crown only to the person of Otto, and not to the German king per se. Furthermore, for Liutprand, the office of emperor had only canonical, not civil, function, and its universality derived only from its protection of the Roman church, which was the head of the universal Church.

Liutprand's Antapodosis (in six books written between 955 and 962 and left incomplete) claims to portray "the deeds of emperors and kings of all Europe," but in fact it confines itself to events in Germany, Italy, and Byzantium beginning with the year 888. The work lacks chronological detail and is anecdotal in style, but it remains a valuable medieval source. Its initially sober style gives way to violent invective against Berengar II and Queen Willa (hence the title). Beginning in 935, the work is based on personal experience; it breaks off in the midst of the description of the 949 embassy. The Antapodosis may well have prompted Adalbert of Magdeburg to write his history of the years from 907 to 967 as a continuation of regino of prÜm's chronicle. The Historia Ottonis (to 964) describes Otto I's clashes with the Roman nobility and with their papal nominees john xii and benedict v. The work is a semiofficial apologia of Ottonian policy for the years from 960 to 964 and is based partly on documents. The Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana is a diatribe against Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas, calculated to incite Otto to a new war against Byzantium in southern Italy. The Chronicon (Patrologia Latina 136:9671134), the Adversaria (Patrologia Latina 136:11341180), and the Opusculum de vitis Romanorum pontificum (Patrologia Latina 129:11491256) ascribed to Liutprand are spurious.

Bibliography: Works. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores (Berlin 1826) 3:273363. Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v. (Paris 187890) 136:787938. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum (Berlin 1826) (3d ed. 1915) 41:1212. l. a. muratori, Rerum italicarum scriptores, 5001500, 25 v. in 28 (2d, new ed. Città di Castello 1900) 2.1:425489, except for the Historia Ottonis, Eng. tr. by f. a. wright (London 1930). Literature. a. potthast, Bibliotheca historica medii aevi (2d ed. 1896: repr. Graz 1954) 1:742744. j. becker, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum (3d ed. Berlin 1915) 41:vii-xl. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 2:166175. f. c. dahlmann and g. waitz, Quellenkunde der deutschen Geschichte (9th ed. Leipzig 1932) 5946. m. lintzel, Studien über Liutprand von Cremona (Berlin 1933), reprt. in Ausgewählte Schriften 2 (1961): 351398. s. pivano, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi, littere ed arti, 36 v. (Rome 192939, suppl. 1938) 21:316. a. cutolo, ed., Tutte le opere (Milan 1945) 143. w. wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Deutsche Kaiserzeit (3d ed. Tübingen 1948) 1.2:318321. g. e. fontana, Annali di Bibl. govern. e Libreria civica di Cremona 1 (1948): 75; 2 (1949): 78. g. arnaldi, "Liutprando e l'idea di Roma nell'lato medioevo," Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 79 (1956): 2334. j. e. rexine, "The Roman Bishop Liutprand and Constantinople," Greek Orthodox Theological Review 3 (1957): 197211.

[h. m. klinkenberg]

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