Paul the Deacon: Longobard monk, historian, poet and writer.
Born in Cividale del Friuli in 720 or 724, he came from a noble Longobard family and moved in his youth to Pavia, capital of the kingdom, where he studied at the court of King Ratchis and the school of the San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro monastery. He was tutor to Adelperga, one of Desiderius’ daughters, with whom he remained when she became the wife of Duke Arichis II of Benevento.
In 774 he witnessed the collapse of the Longobard kingdom, and was later active at the court of Charlemagne, where he won fame and prestige as a teacher of grammar. Paul spent the last years of his life in the monastery of Montecassino, where he died in 799.
He is renowned for the Historia Langobardorum, six books which narrate the myths and history of his people, from their Scandinavian origins to their arrival in Italy. The story finishes before the end of the reign of Desiderius, and took Paul the Deacon two years – from 787 to 789 – to write. This work, for which he drew on oral sources, is our principal source of information about this period.