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In southern Italy, the Lombard duchies, notably Benevento and Naples, had three main adversaries: the Byzantines whose colonies survived in the southern part of the Italian peninsula until well into the 11th century; the north African Muslims who conquered Sicily, Messina and Siracusa in the mid-9th century and raided the western coastal cities throughout the period; and from the 11th century onwards the Normans.
Geographical distance from the northern Italian kingdom's administrative centres of Pavia and Ravenna also enabled the southern principalities to evolve on autonomous lines.
Diplomas issued by the Ottonian and Salian kings of Germany in relation to business in northern Italy mention numerous nobles with Germanic sounding names (for example, Bernhard, Maginfred, Otbert and Otto).
Nevertheless, it is anticipated that it will prove helpful to future research.
The first notable change of administration was in the duchy of Spoleto (see the document CENTRAL ITALY), where Charles I King of the Franks (later known as Emperor Charlemagne) installed the Frankish duke Winichis to replace the papal appointee.
Spoleto was later ruled by a succession of dukes of Frankish descent: the families of Suppo Count of Parma, Lambert who had previously been count in the Breton march in north-western France, and finally by the descendants of the Frankish count Hucbald.
The end of Lombard rule in northern Italy was signalled when the Pope invited the Carolingian Franks to intervene in Italian affairs.
When the Frankish kings assumed control over the Italian kingdom, the nobles who accompanied them established themselves as a powerful new element in the Italian aristocracy whose influence was to outlive the rule of their royal masters.
In addition, the Papal territories in Central Italy represented a buffer between north and south, especially after the 756 Donation of Pepin under which Papal claims to many parts of central Italy were recognised by the Frankish invaders.