His descendants amassed numerous properties in Tuscany, including the cities of Ferrara, Mantua and Lucca, and were installed as Marchesi of Tuscany from 1127.The heiress of these vast properties was Countess Matilda, the most powerful Italian noble of her time and the strong supporter of the papacy in the investiture struggle with Emperor Heinrich IV in the late 11th century.The dukes of Friulia appear to have been the only strong regional nobility at the time, as shown by the choice of Duke Ratchis to succeed as Lombard king in 744 after the brief reign of King Hildebrand.However, the main threat to the long-term survival of the Lombard monarchy was the continuing territorial rivalry between the Lombard kings and the papacy.This is not especially satisfactory as it in no way reflects divisions which existed in medieval times.Nevertheless, it is anticipated that it will prove helpful to future research.
This geographic split in presenting the research on Italian nobility is justified by the divergent ways in which the noble families evolved in these three areas during the early medieval period, explained in part by the different outside influences to which each area was subject.
The succession of short-lived reigns in the Lombard kingdom after the death of King Liutprand in 744 suggests a weakening of central authority in northern Italy.
However, it was the Carolingian Franks, not the local Lombard nobility, who were able to leverage this situation to their advantage.
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.
In northern Italy, the nobility which is set out in the present document lived in the area roughly corresponding to the territory of the early medieval kingdom of Italy.