In 568 A.D., under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian - under whom much of the Western Empire had been reconquered and the laws codified in the Justinian Code - the Lombards, an Arian group of 200,000 Teutonic people which included the Gepids (Germanic people akin to the Goths) and Saxons, trespassed the Northern boundaries of the Empire near today's Cividale. Within a year, they settled all along the Po River Valley establishing their Kingdom with its capital in Pavia. Initially Cividale, in Roman times known as Forum Julii (Forum of Julius Caesar), hence Friuli, and in the middle ages known as 'Civitas Austriae' (Under Government of Austria), hence Cividat in the Friulian Idiom, was the defensive centre of the Lombard kingdom against attempts to invade their newly conquered land by other ethinc groups like the Avars in 610 A.D. and later Slavs and Hungarians.
Under King Alboin Cividale became the capital of the a Duchy which encompassed large parts o today's Friuli. A major change in the social structure brought by the Lombards, and Teutonic ethinc groups in general, was the new juridical relationship between people. In Roman times it was a dual relationship consisting freemen and slaves. Now the relationship was triple comprising freemen, alds and slaves. The alds were freed slaves who had the same juridical position of women; they could not leave their master and needed a freeman ('edelingi' noblemen; 'arimanni' and 'faramanni' freemen at the service of the king or duke) to protect them. Economically the alds were very important because they were a new class of artisans whose work was paid on the base of fees established by the Dukes. The result of their metalwork, goldsmithing and sculpture skills can still be admired today (in the Cividale Archeological Museum and the Lombard Tempietto).
This type of social relationship was the foundation of the feudal system. Of the 280 Lombard words that survive in the Italian language, many are still in use in the Friulian dialect. The Lombard Kingdom ended in 776 AD following its annexion by Charles, King of the Franks.