Lombardy, a division of northern Italy, lying between lat. 44° 54' and 46° 37' N., and lon. 8° 32' and 10° 50' E., and bounded N. by the Alps, which separate it from Switzerland and Tyrol, E. by Venetia, S. by Parma, Pia-cenza, and Liguria, and W. by Piedmont; area (inclusive of portions of Piedmont comprised in the province of Pavia), 9,085 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 3,460,824. It is divided into the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Milan, Pavia, and Sondrio. The province of Mantua, formerly part of Lombardy, has been lately added to Venetia, reducing the area to about 8,000 sq. m. and the population to 3,104,838. The greater part of the country is a plain sloping southward from the Alps toward the river Po, and which, being profusely watered and highly cultivated under a genial climate, is one of the richest and most productive regions in the world. Sondrio and the greater part of Como and Bergamo are mountainous, lying on the southern slope of the Alps. Among the most celebrated summits on the borders of Lombardy is the Splu-gen. Immediately S. of the mountain region is a sub-alpine or hilly district, beyond which spreads the great plain.
The principal rivers are the Po and its tributaries, the Ticino, Olona, Adda, Oglio, Chiese, and Mincio. The lakes are large and important, and renowned for their picturesque beauty. The most remarkable are the Lago Maggiore and Lake Lugano, which are partly in Switzerland, the lake of Como, and the lake of Garda, the largest and one of the most beautiful of Italian lakes, separating Lombardy from Venetia on the east. The climate is healthy except in the marshy districts, and mild except among the mountains of the north. The winter lasts about two months, and on the plains snow scarcely ever remains on the ground. In the mountain region are forests of fir, oak, larch, birch, and chestnut. The southern declivities of the mountains produce the vine, the mulberry, and a variety of fruit trees common to the temperate zone. The sub-alpine region and the great plain produce silk, wine, maize, millet, chestnuts, orchard fruits, and vegetables. The mineral products of Lombardy, comprising iron, copper, lead, alabaster, etc, are unimportant. - The Lombards are fine types of the Italian nation, blending the most attractive qualities common to all their countrymen with some of the characteristics peculiar to the Teutonic races.
They are generally intelligent and amiable, and fine specimens of physical beauty abound among both sexes. Education is widely diffused. The dominant religion is the Roman Catholic, but the number of Protestants is increasing; that of Jews hardly exceeds 3,000. More than two thirds of the population are employed in agriculture. The country is better cultivated than any other in Europe. Irrigation, for which the streams afford ample facilities, is universally and skilfully employed. The water of the rivers is so distributed by canals that there are few farms without a copious supply. The purchase and sale of water for irrigation forms a business of much importance, and is conducted with great strictness, the volume of water being accurately measured and paid for at a high rate. Great attention is bestowed upon meadows, and the maintenance of live stock in the best possible condition. The chief labor of ploughing is performed by oxen. The live stock is fed entirely in stalls on grass, which can be cut from the meadows all the year round. Pigs are fattened on Indian corn. Horses, mules, and asses are employed for draught. The dairies are extensive, and are managed with great care and with the most scrupulous cleanliness.
They produce immense quantities of excellent cheese, known throughout Europe as Parmesan from having been originally exported from Parma. The farms are generally small, most of them varying in size from 7 to 25 acres. The most numerous class of cultivators, called coloni or colonists, occupy cottages with less than three acres of land. Silk is the staple production. Rice was introduced from the East as early as the 10th century, but its cultivation is restricted by the government on account of its insalubrity.
Maize is the grain most extensively raised, one third of the arable land being devoted to it. The average product per acre is said to be 25 bushels, and on the richest lands from 50 to nearly 80 bushels. Wheat is chiefly raised in the alpine region. The grape vines are trained upon trees, and extend in graceful festoons from one tree to another. Wine is abundant, but generally of inferior quality. Potatoes are little cultivated, and their production is almost exclusively confined to the alpine region; they are not relished by the people, and most attempts to extend their cultivation have failed. The chief manufacture is that of silk, but cotton, woollen, and flax manufactures are likewise extensive; and there are considerable iron works in various parts of the country. - Lombardy was anciently a part of Cisalpine Gaul. It owes its present name to the Lombards, Longobardi, or Lango-bardi, an ancient Germanic people of Suevic race, whose name is derived in some of their national writings from their habit of wearing long beards, while some modern critics derive it from Ger. lang, long, and Barte, in Old German a battle club, or from lang and Borde, in Low German a bank of a river.
The last refers to the banks of the Elbe, where they first appear in history in the time of the emperor Augustus. Having figured for some time in the history of Arminius and Marbo-duus, they soon after disappeared, and in the 5th century reappeared in Hungary on the northern bank of the Danube, which they crossed in the following century after a successful war of extermination against their former masters, the Heruli. South of the Danube, in Pannonia, they carried on a protracted war against the Gepidae; and after the final annihilation of their enemies they crossed the Julian Alps under their victorious king Alboin, and in northern Italy founded, in 568, a powerful state, with feudal institutions. Their kingdom lasted for more than 200 years, their most remarkable monarchs being Autharis, who embraced Christianity; Rotharis, who promulgated a code of written laws in 643; Grimoald, who reformed the laws of the preceding; Luitprand, who conquered Ravenna in 728; Astolphus, who attempted the conquest of Rome; and Desiderius, with whom the kingdom ended, being conquered by Charlemagne in 774. Under the successors of the latter the Lombard cities, with Milan at their head, grew prosperous and powerful, and adopted republican institutions.
After a long struggle with the emperors, these cities became independent by the treaty of Constance in 1183. The family of the Visconti soon afterward became powerful in Milan, of which city Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti became duke in 1395, with an extensive territory. His daughter Valen-tina married Louis, duke of Orleans, whence arose in the early part of the 16th century a claim on the part of France to the duchy, which was then in possession of the house of Sforza. The emperor Charles V. supported Francesco Sforza against the French, and in 1540, after Francesco's death, bestowed Milan as a vacant fief of the empire on his son Philip II.; and it continued to be a possession of the Spanish crown till 1706, when it was annexed by Austria. In 1796 Bonaparte conquered Lombardy, and it became successively a part of the Cisalpine republic, of the Italian republic (1801), and of the kingdom of Italy (1805). It was restored to Austria after the downfall of Napoleon by the treaties of 1815, and was united with Venice to form the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom of the Austrian empire.
By the treaty of Zurich, Nov. 10, 1859, the whole of Lombardy, with the exception of the fortresses of Mantua and Peschiera, was added to the dominions of Victor Emanuel, to which these fortresses with all Venetia were also annexed by the treaty of Vienna of 1866.