Lombards, an ancient Germanic people. In the first century A.D. they were living along the lower Elbe River. In the sixth century, after the breakup of the Roman Empire, the Lombards settled in northern Italy with their capital at Pavia. This region became known as Lombardy. The Lombards gradually adopted the Latin language and the religion and culture of the area. They extended their influence into central and southern Italy, and set up the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento.
By 752, the Lombards were threatening Rome. Pope Stephen appealed to the Frankish king, Pepin the Short, who invaded Italy and defeated the Lombards. In 773 Pepin's son Charlemagne responded to another appeal for aid. He destroyed the Lombard kingdom and in 774 made himself king of Lombardy.
During the 13th century the Lombards became famous as bankers. The area passed through many political changes, often falling under Austrian or other foreign domination, until it became part of the kingdom of Italy in 1861.
Modern Lombardy is a territorial subdivision of Italy with an area of 9,191 square miles (23,805 km'). It has nine provinces and is the industrial heart of Italy. Milan is the region's chief city.