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Liutprand of Cremona

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Bishop and historian, b. at the beginning of the tenth century; d. after 970. Luitprand belonged to a distinguished Lombard family in Northern Italy and at an early age went to the Court of Pavia, during the reign of King Hugo of Arles (926-45), whose favour he won by his wonderful voice. He received a sound education at the court school, and became a cleric ; later he was deacon of the cathedral of Pavia. At first Liutprand stood in high favour with Bérenger II of Ivrea and his consort, Willa. Bérenger made him chancellor, and in 949 sent him as ambassador to the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. As both Liutprand's father and stepfather had been sent as ambassadors to the Byzantine capital, and had formed many friendships there, he seemed well fitted for a mission of that kind. He took this opportunity to learn Greek, and made himself familiar with the history, organization, and life of the Byzantine Empire as his writings prove. Shortly after his return he quarreled with Bérenger, and then went to the Court of Otto I of Germany. Otto joyfully took Liutprand into his service, as a most useful agent in carrying out his plans regarding Italy. In 956 Liutprand met Bishop Recemund of Elvira (Spain) at the German Court, and was asked by him to write a history of his time. In 958 he began this work at Frankfort, and though often interrupted by public business was occupied with it until 962. When Otto became King of Lombardy (961) he made Liutprand Bishop of Cremona, as a reward for his services. After Otto had received the imperial crown at Rome (2 February, 962) Liutprand was often entrusted with important commissions, e.g., in 963 when he was sent as ambassador to John XII at the beginning of the quarrel between the pope and the emperor, owing to the former's alliance with Bérenger's son Adelbert. Liutprand also took part in the assembly of bishops at Rome, 6 November, 963, which deposed John XII. Liutprand describes from his point of view these events of 960-64, and sides entirely with the emperor, condemning the Romans very harshly. After the death of the antipope, Leo VIII (965), Liutprand again went to Rome with Bishop Otgar of Speyer, as the emperor's envoy, to conduct the election of a new pope, on which occasion John XIII was chosen. The Bishop of Cremona undertook another mission to Constantinople by order of the emperor in the summer of 968 to ask the Byzantine Emperor to bestow his daughter in marriage on Otto's son, later Otto II.

In the autumn of 969 Liutprand carried letters to a synod at Milan, from the emperor and the Roman synod in May of that year. The last authentic information we have about him is in April, 970; he appears to have been present in Cremona, 15 April, 970 (Hist. patriæ monumenta, XXI, 36). A later account of the transfer of the relics of St. Himerius (Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script., III, 265) makes him take part in an embassy to Constantinople in 971 for the imperial princess, Theophano, bride of Otto II, and says that he died during the journey. This is not very credible. Liutprand wrote three historical works on the occasions already mentioned: (1) "Antapodosis sive Res per Europam gestæ", embracing from 887 till 950, dealing chiefly with Italian history (ed. Pertz, in "Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script.", III, 264-339; P. L., CXXXVI, 787- 898). (2) "Historia Ottonis sive Liber de rebus gestis Ottonis imp. an. 960-964" (ed. Pertz, op. cit., 340-46; P. L., CXXXVI, 897-910; Watterich, "Vitæ Roman. Pont.", I, 49-63), an account of the journey of Otto I to Italy, the imperial coronation, and the deposition of John XII. (3) "Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana ad Nicephorum Phocam", the account of his mission in 968 (ed. Peertz, op. cit., 347-63; P. L., loc. cit., 909-38). His works were edited by Dümmler, "Liutprandi opera omnia" (Hanover, 1877). Liutprand's writings are a very important historical source for the tenth century; he is ever a strong partisan and is frequently unfair towards his adversaries.

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