Pavia is significant as it became the capital of Lomabrdy after Lombard conquest of northern Italy c. 570, and was captured by Charlemagne in 774. Pavia remained the capital of Italy until the 1200's. English monarchs from Offa onwards (cf Eadburh's proposed marriage) sought to build relations with the Carolingian state.

Brescia is also significant as a Lombard powerbase and hence to the Carolingian state. Brescia became de facto capital of Holy Roman empire around 875 in time of Louis II (Louis the younger)

Pavia was also a major river crossing in the road south and was one of the first substantial early medieval cities on the road south along with Milan and Brescia

Linkages include:

  • letter from Charlemagne to Offa complaining about English merchants who masqueraded as pilgrims to avoid paying tolls
  • Pavia had laws specially to deal with English merchants
  • Pavia had a special hostel for Anglo Saxon pilgrims - St Mary of the British (xenodochium in sanctae mariae in papia situm quod dictur sanctae mariae brittonum) (Papia was an earlier form of Pavia)
  • Alfred the Great's kinswoman Aethelswith is buried in Pavia
  • Eadburh daughter of Offa of Mercia, botched chance to marry Charlemagne, became abbess of Frankish Monastery in Pavia. Here she lived openly with a lover, and was eventually expelled, ending her days as a beggar on the streets of the town.

S. Salvatore in Brescia (today S. Giulia) was a royal nunnery with strong and Carolingian royal family connections in the ninth century, and had a dependent church in Pavia. The church register records the visit of Alfred, Aethelwulf and other members of Wessex and Mercian royal families in the liber vitae brescia which functioned as a sort of visitor's book.

Alfred also building a relation with Rome and reinstituted Offa's frequent (near annual) alms giving. Timing roughly co-incident with the founding of the Schola Saxonum on the Vatican hill and the later remission of taxes on Anglo saxons in Rome and those travelling through Lombardy

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