Key to Umbria: Spoleto

Spoleto in the Early 10th Century

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Duke Alberic I (897-24)

King Berengar I recognised Alberic, the murderer of Duke Guy IV, as Duke Alberic I of Spoleto, and Alberic fought alongside him against the Hungarians in 900.  With Berengar tied down by events in Lombardy, the way open for him to establish a power base Rome.  In 909, he married the infamous Marozia , the daughter of Theophylact, Count of Tusculum, the effective power in Rome. 

Theophylact, Alberic I and Pope John X (914-28) assembled a powerful army that defeated the Saracens in 915 at Trebula Mutuesca near modern Monteleone Sabina (some 20 km east of the Abbazia di Farfa).  The Saracens fell back and John X and his allies defeated them decisively on the River Garigliano, which made them national heroes.  

[Hungarians sacked Foligno in 915, Città di Castello in 917, Foligno again and Gubbio in 924, and Terni and Trevi at unknown dates in the early 10th century ??] 

The nobles of the north revolted against Berengar I in 924 and invited ll Rudolf of Burgundy to take power.  Berengar I was defeated and subsequently murdered.  By this time Theophylact was dead, and Alberic I tried to seize power in Rome.   Like Berengar, he was murdered for his pains, in his case by a lynch mob. 

John X appointed his brother Peter as Duke Peter of Spoleto in 924.  However, he withdrew to his fortress at Orte, which acted as a base for his raids on the Roman countryside.  (Marozia had him executed in 927 after she had seized power in Rome.) 

Ignoring this appointment, Rudolf of Burgundy created his cousin Duke Boniface I of Spoleto (924-928).

King Hugh of Italy (924-45)

King Hugh appointed two of his nephews as:

  1. Theobald I (928-936); and

  2. Anscar (936-940).

Hugh then sent an army to depose and murder Duke Anscar and replaced him with Duke Sarlione (940-943) murdered Duke Anscar.  Hugh then deposed Sarlione, and he might have given him the Abbazia di Farfa in commendam.  (An Abbot Sarlione is recorded there in 945).

Hugh then added the duchy to the lands of his illegitimate son, the Margrave Hubert of Tuscany, who thus became the most powerful man in central Italy.   Hugh’s son, the titular King Lothar removed the duchy from Hubert in favour of Duke Boniface II (946-953), and he was succeeded by his son, Duke Theobald II (953-959). 

Alberic II (936-54)

King Hugh never managed to establish his authority in Rome.  In 936, Alberic II, the son of Alberic I and Marozia, replaced Marozia as the effective ruler of the city.  In 939, he founded a monastery on the Aventine Hill that is now called Santa Maria del Priorato: a reliquary containing relics of St Sabinus is recorded there, suggesting that he maintained some link with Spoleto.

Monastic reform was high on the agenda of Alberic II.  He enlisted the help of Odo, Abbot of Cluny, who made a number of trips to Italy in 936-42, where he reformed the most important monasteries, those at Subiaco and Monte Cassino.  Odo never managed to effect entry into the Abbazia di Farfa, but in 947, a small group of Cluniac monks tried to introduce reform there.  When they were driven away, Alberic II stormed the monastery and used force to install a Cluniac, Dagibert of Cuma as abbot.  This first attempt at the reform of Farfa came to an end when Dagibert was poisoned in 953.  Alberic II died in 954.

Return to the page on the History of Spoleto.