Defeat of the Franks

By the late 8th century, the Lombards were increasingly defeated and supplanted by the Franks, the new prevailing barbarian group in the Europe, ruled by Charlemagne. Already established in Gaul and reckoning himself a new Western Roman Emperor, Charlemagne entered the Italian peninsula, conquered Lombard lands, and incorporated them into the largest territorial empire in Western Europe since the fall of 476.


After excising remaining Lombard control over the surrounding coast in 774, Charlemagne declared himself lord of the Venetian lagoon. Venice, however, given its history and politics remained loyal to its ties to Byzantium and resisted Charlemagne’s rule.


Pepin, his son, then attempted to conquer Venice in 810. Though he was successful in taking the territory surrounding the lagoon, destroying Jesolo, Eraclea, and Grado to the east, Pepin was held off at Malamocco.


With their swift, flat-bottomed boats and knowledge of the shallow waters, the Venetians were able to thwart the attack, decimating the vessels of the Frankish fleet, which routinely ran aground. After six months of fighting and still unable to take the inner islands, Pepin accepted a Venetian offer of an annual tribute in exchange for the permanent removal of his forces.


This victory – in addition to a series of treaties with both the Franks and Constantinople between 812 and 840 – would become decisive moments in Venetian history, cementing the city-state’s political independence and growing power.



Horodowich, E. (Philadelphia). A Brief History of Venice. 2009: Running Press Book Publishers.


FitzSimmons, A. K. (2013, December). The Political, Economic, and Military Decline of Venice Leading Up to 1797. University of North Texas. Retrieved March 2018, from

Image Source:

Louis-Félix Amiel, via Wikimedia Commons

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