Desiderius, Lombardic Kings of Northern Italy 757-774
Bernareggi 28, Very Fine
Obverse depicts a cross potent; pellets in quarters. The reverse has a star in center with MEDIOLANO around. First medieval coinage to have city name of Milan. Struck at Milan; unusually choice, light flan crack.
The last of the Lombard kings to rule in Italy, Desiderius was not a member of the royal family, but an important officer in the royal court. Upon the death of his predecessor, Aistulf, Desiderius was appointed king. Like his predecessors, Desiderius hoped to expand Lombardic power in Italy, but this policy led to conflict with the papacy and the southern Italian dukedoms, including Benevento and Spoleto, all of whom had been moving closer to the Carolingian sphere of influence. Desiderius was able to exercise control over the southern dukedoms. His attempt to intervene in papal affairs was less successful; his appointee, the Antipope Philip reigned for only a single day. And to achieve a rapprochement with the Carolingians, Desiderius gave his daughter, Desiderata, in marriage to Charlemagne. The marriage lasted only briefly and Desiderata was soon returned to her father. This, combined with Desiderius’ support of Gerberga, the widow of Charlemagne’s brother, Carloman I, resulted in a war between the Carolingians and the Lombards. Desiderius was eventually defeated and forced to retire to a monastery where he died.