August – Stanza 19


why do I have eyes of blue and curly golden locks
what mystery meld of genes informs my flesh and blood
am I just the sum of kin who’ve lived and died before
wondering what makes me, me, and makes you, you
our histories’ hold a glimpse, hard to ignore


For Jane Dougherty’s August Stanza Challenge.

From a history source online:
Queens of Italy: Women in Power in Medieval Italy

Theodelinda was born in 570 A.D. in Bavaria. Her parents were Garipaldo, of Frank origin, and Valderada, daughter of a famous Lombard King, Vacone. At the age of nineteen, she became the wife of Autari, king of the Lombards, bringing him royal blood from her Lombard ancestor and good relationship with the Bavarian Kingdom. But after just one year of marriage, Autari died. According to the legend, the widow was allowed to choose her next husband: Agilulf, who became king of the Lombards. More likely, she was “persuaded” to marry the chief chosen by the dukes. The royal couple resided in Milan, a former capital of the Roman Empire. They pursued a policy of pacification among Lombards and Romans, promoting the coexistence of Catholicism and Arianism, the religion of the majority of the barbarians. Theodelinda founded a church in Monza (a few kilometers from Milan), doting it with a rich treasure and vast possessions. Cleverly, she made the church follow the 3-chapters doctrine, a schismatic position that was somehow half-way between Catholicism and Arianism. At the death of Agilulf, in year 616, Theodelinda became regent for her son Adaloaldo. The policy of pacific coexistence, however, was opposed by the Lombard chiefs, who overturned Adaloaldo in year 626. He died a little later, followed by Theodelinda in year 627.

The treasure of Theodelinda is an extraordinary collection of objects that can be seen at the museum of the “Duomo di Monza”. Among the objects donated by Theodelinda herself to the church, there are a precious binding for a Gospel book, a religious crown, a cross encrusted with precious stones, a goblet that was used by the royal couple at the ceremony of their engagement and small ampullas that contained oil from Holy Land. Other objects came from the queen’s funerary set: among them, a splendid group in silver representing a hen with seven chicks. The treasure of Theodelinda includes the famous “iron crown”, believed to contain a nail from Christ’s cross. Despite of the lack of any real connection to the queen, this symbol of royalty, used by German emperors and also by Napoleon, still adds to her myth.

Theodelinda was an influential woman in a society dominated by males and perturbed by violence and war. Her vision of a reformed society took shape centuries after her death, in Italy of the middle ages. Through time, she became a symbol of royalty and religious piousness. Even after all these centuries, her charm still lingers in the vaulted domes of the Duomo of Monza, where the wonder of her treasure reminds us of the woman who is considered to be the first “queen of Italy”.

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