- Duchy of Friuli
The Duchy of Friuli was one of the great territorial Lombard duchies, the first to be established. It was an important buffer between the Lombard kingdom of Italy and the Slavs. Along with the duchies of Spoleto, Benevento and Trent, the lords of Friuli often attempted to establish their independence from the royal authority seated at Pavia.
The province of Friuli (Venetia) was the first province of Italy to be conquered by the Lombards under Alboin in 568. Before continuing on to penetrate Italy further, Alboin placed the government of the district under his nephew Gisulf I, who was allowed to choose the faras or noble families with which he wished to settle the land. The original duchy was bound by the Carnic Alps and Julian Alps to the north and east and was hardly accessible from those directions. It was bound by the Exarchate of Ravenna to the south, where it did not have a coastline until later, and by a plain that led to Pannonia, a perfect access point for invaders, such as the Croats, Avars, and later the Magyars. Its western border was originally undefined, until further conquests had established the Duchy of Ceneda, which lay beyond the Tagliamento river, between the Livenza and the Piave Rivers. The original chief city in the province was the Roman Aquileia, but the Lombard capital of Friuli was Forum Julii, modern Cividale del Friuli.
In 615, Concordia was conquered and in 642 Opitergium, as the dukes extended their authority southwards against the exarchate. In 663, Cividale was briefly captured by the Avars, but Grimoald I of Benevento retook it. After the Siege of Pavia in 774, Charlemagne allowed Hrodgaud to keep the duchy. When Hrodgaud rebelled and was killed in battle in 776, Charlemagne replaced his with Macarius. The duchy continued under Frankish rule until 828, when it was divided into counties and broken up. It would later be reformed into the March of Friuli in 846.
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