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Ostrogothic Kingdom – The Rise and Fall of the Eastern Goths

Ostrogothic Kingdom – The Rise and Fall of the Eastern Goths

The early medieval and early AD history of Europe saw many emerging nations, and plenty of migrations as well. Tribes were restless, axes sharpened, and old kingdoms were growing weak. And in such turbulent times, all is possible. The ‘Great Migrations’ saw the emergence of new cultures, of stronger national identities, and the rapid spread of Christianity.

Today we are recounting the tale of one such emerging kingdom – a nation of rulers that seized their chances and exploited opportunities. It is a tale of the Ostrogothic Kingdom – a nation of fierce Germanic conquerors and their rise and fall. Join us and explore the tale of conquests and vengeance. From the ends of one empire, to the vengeances by its rising remnants, the Ostrogoths were at the center of it all.

Theodoric the Great and the Emergence of the Ostrogothic Kingdom

The Amalungs were one of the prominent Germanic Gothic ruling dynasties, and in 454 AD, the head of the dynasty, King Theodemir, had a son. Þiudareiks he called him, the ruler of people. To his contemporaries and us today, he is known as Theodoric, and this heir of the Gothic Amalung dynasty would be the one to completely change their history.

In 453 AD, a year before his birth, the Ostrogoths were at last free from the oppressive yoke of the Huns. It was the year of the death of Attila the Hun , and with that, his short lived empire began to crumble. Several years later, the Byzantine emperor Leo the Thracian exerted his dominance over the Ostrogoths and signed a treaty with King Theodemir – it obliged the Ostrogoths to pay a yearly tribute to the Byzantine throne in Constantinople.

To ensure that the tribute would be paid and the Ostrogoths remained obedient, the Byzantines took the king’s son hostage. Theodoric was taken to Constantinople. Being of noble birth, young Theodoric was educated by the finest standards of the Byzantine court – at the time one of the most advanced in the world.

Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. (Ввласенко / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

He became literate, learned arithmetic and thoroughly studied the Romanitas, the crucial aspect of Roman identity which encompasses all the political and cultural concepts and practices of Rome. This education put him ahead of his Ostrogothic compatriots.

Theodoric returned to his home around 470 AD and was given rule as a prince of the Ostrogoths, alongside his uncle Valamir and his father King Theodemir. From that point on Theodoric increasingly portrayed himself as an ally and vassal of the Byzantines, often focusing on dealing with the enemies of the empire.

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Map from the 4 th century showing the city of Ravenna, capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. (D A R C 12345 / )

When the restless chieftain of the Germanic Thervingi tribe – Theodoric the Squinter – rebelled against the Byzantine emperor Zeno the Isaurian, young Theodoric came to his aid against the Thervingi, and in return was named a commander of Eastern Roman forces. This in turn, made the Ostrogoths – his people – a foederati of Rome. Foederati were tribes and kingdoms that provided military aid to Rome in exchange for various benefits and alliance.

But soon after, the lackluster Emperor Zeno overplayed his hand, and in an attempt to further alienate the two Germanic leaders, he gave the command of the army to his recent enemy – Theodoric the Squinter of the Thervingi. From this point on, betrayed and enraged, Theodoric and his Ostrogoths began a series of raids into Byzantine territories, raiding and plundering – with innocent civilians often getting the brunt of his rage. He quickly made the strength and the ferocity of the Ostrogoths known to the Byzantines, sending Emperor Zeno into an increasing panic.

Theodoric settled his peoples in Epirus in 479, and from there sacked Larissa in 482, and raided all over Greece. Faced with his own mistake, Zeno was forced to make Theodoric the magister militum praesentalis – a high level military commander – in 483, and a consul designate in 484. This gave Theodoric the command over the provinces of Dacia Ripensis and Moesia Inferior.

The Birth of a Kingdom – Conflicts With Zeno

Having tasted the lush spoils of the raids against the Romans, Theodoric could not be satisfied. He continued his raids into the territories of the Eastern Roman Empire and the relation between him and Zeno grew into one of open hostility.

They eventually reached a sort of an agreement, which was in fact an attempt of Zeno to get rid of his two biggest threats – Theodoric the Amal and Odoacer. Odoacer was a Germanic statesman of Rome, who deposed Romulus Augustus and murdered Julius Nepos – and is regarded as bringing the fall of the Western Roman Empire to a culmination.

Odoacer ruled Italy and grew increasingly hostile towards the empire. Thus, in an attempt to get rid of him, Zeno sent Theodoric with the offer of ruling Italy as his representative if he managed to defeat Odoacer.

Theodoric set out for Italy in 488, and in the next year he crossed the Alps and entered the peninsula. The very first confrontation with Odoacer’s forces happened almost immediately, as the two armies clashed at the river Isonzo. Odoacer’s forces were crushed and retreated into Verona. A mere month later, Theodoric descended and once again won a crushing victory.

The Ostrogoths set out for Italy. (Internet Archive Book Images / )

For the Ostrogoths, conquering Italy was a straightforward, but nonetheless bloody affair. Odoacer, obviously finding himself in trouble, fled to Ravenna, his capital city, seeking safety. His commander, one Tufa, and a large part of the army, surrendered to Theodoric, and was tasked with attacking their previous master, Odoacer. But once a turncoat always a turncoat – Tufa once again changed allegiance and returned to the forces of Odoacer.

The next year, in 490, bolstered once again, Odoacer launched a new military campaign against the Ostrogoths. His army liberated Milan, then Cremona, and laid siege to the Gothic capital at Pavia. Things were looking up for Odoacer – until the Visigoths intervened.

The western branch of the Gothic family, these reinforcements came to Theodoric’s aid and successfully lifted the Siege of Pavia. United, the Gothic forces went on an offensive, and jointly crushed Odoacer’s forces at the Battle of the Adda River on August 11th 490 AD. Odoacer fled to Ravenna and remained there.

The capital Ravenna was quickly besieged and Odoacer was surrounded behind his walls. But since Ravenna’s port remained undisturbed, food and supplies could be easily acquired. It was because of this that the siege lasted for about 3 years. Eventually, a Gothic fleet was assembled and food supplies finally cut off from Ravenna. Odoacer was at last forced to negotiate.

Scene representing a battle between Ostrogoths and Romans. (Jastrow / )

The two warring sides negotiated a treaty, declaring that Italy would be split in half between them. To celebrate this, they hosted a large banquet in Ravenna, on the evening of March 15 th in 493. It was then that Theodoric, in a true “ Red Wedding ” fashion, offered a toast and killed Odoacer with his own hands.

Odoacer’s forces were promptly massacred as well. With this final stroke, a bloody exclamation mark on his conquest, Theodoric the Amal brought the war to an end. He conquered Italy and the Ostrogothic Kingdom was born.

Theodoric wanted to assert his power fully, and for that he needed the recognition from Constantinople. When Emperor Zeno died in 491, and Anastasius came to rule, it was crucial for Theodoric to be recognized. This finally happened in 498 after several negotiations. After these negotiations there was a clear acceptance of Theodoric’s independent rule in the Italian provinces.

From the start of his rule, Theodoric attempted to rule all the ethnicities of Italy equally. He exercised great religious tolerance and styled himself as the king of Romans and Goths – for he was both a Goth and a Roman citizen and patrician. He became known as Theodoric the Great and reigned from 493 to 526.

His rule was marked by a great period of relative peace and prosperity for the Italian peninsula and Ostrogothic Kingdom. He managed at the same time to act as a Roman ruler of Roman citizens, and as a traditional ‘King of the Goths’ for his own people. Different Christian denominations and religions got along. Still, his relations with the throne in Constantinople were strained at best, with several collisions over the year – but without warfare.

The Dissipating Kingdom – Death of the Great King

Theodoric the Great died on August 30th 526 AD, in his seventy second year. And with him gone all the achievements he accomplished in his 33 year reign began dying too. The alliance began dissipating and the successors began vying for power. Theodoric’s heir was his infant grandson Athalaric who was unable to rule.

The Mausoleum of Theodoric the Great, ruler of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, Ravenna, Italy. (Richard / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

In his stead, acting as regent, was his mother and Theodoric’s daughter – Amalasuntha. She was disliked by the Gothic nobles due to her sex, and her policies which relied on positive Goth and Roman relations. She relied on the support from Emperor Justinian I , to the dislike of her contemporaries. They eventually planned to overthrow her.

When her son, young Athalaric, died, she knew that her only solution was the support of her cousin Theodahad. She also sent proposals to Justinian to cede Italy to him. Amalasuntha then proceeded to crown Theodahad, giving him a kingly crown to ensure his support. But instead, he imprisoned her on an island in Lake Bolsena. There, she was executed in her bath in May 535.

For Emperor Justinian I, this served as a great excuse to reclaim Italy and end the Ostrogothic Kingdom and the threat it posed. This resulted in the beginning of the Gothic War. It lasted from 535 to 554 and was an attempt by Justinian to reclaim the territories of the Roman Empire that were lost in the previous century.

With two great generals at his side, Narses and Belisarius, he set out to once and for all reclaim Italy from the Germanic hands. In the previous years, Justinian successfully reconquered the province of Africa from the Germanic tribe of Vandals.

In the first five years of the war, the Byzantines scored great victories from two sides. Mundus reconquered Dalmatia (but died in the process), while Belisarius conquered Sicily, then Naples in 536, Rome in the same year, and at last the capital Ravenna in 540. With this, the Byzantines seemingly reconquered their lost province. But after the departure of Belisarius, and lack of a Roman commander in chief to keep things together, the Goths – who still held the northern parts of the province – chose a new king – Baduila – and from 542 began a new offensive.

Under his leadership, Goths marched south and bypassed Rome. Most Roman garrisons were not strong enough, and southern Italy was soon once again under Gothic rule. He then returned to besiege Rome. The city was under siege for a whole year. In the meanwhile, Belisarius returned to Italy with fresh forces and reconquered the south.

In December 546, with Belisarius still in the south, Baduila’s forces entered Rome and plundered and razed the city walls. Once they left, Belisarius reconquered Rome in 547 and made repairs.

It wasn’t until 551 that the Byzantines amassed enough troops to launch a final reconquest of Italy and a last attempt at destroying the Ostrogoths. They succeeded at this in October of 553 AD, when they decisively won at the Battle of Mons Lactarius, destroying the last remnants of the Ostrogoths, and reconquering their lost province. The Ostrogoths were no more – and with them faded the Ostrogothic Kingdom.

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The Goths at the Battle of Mons Lactarius. (Hohum / Public Domain )

The Longobards Seize the Chance

The wars for Italy left the peninsula utterly devastated and depopulated. Paradoxically, once the Ostrogoths were gone, and the land barren, the Byzantines could not successfully keep their territory. The wars were in vain – in 568 AD the Germanic Longobard tribe descended upon Italy, conquering large parts of it. They would rule until 774 AD.

Such was the dreaded fate of Italy – in a period that saw great migrations and ravenous appetites, it was the common people that suffered. Lives were lost, villages raided, towns razed. Generations perished at sword tip, and ethnicities disappeared in whole.

Such was the will of the Germanic warrior tribes – battle upon battle upon battle – eroding themselves until they are no more. And history and time sweep over their memory, with nothing to keep it alive.


The Land of Oium

The Ukrainian Week continues a series of publications about ancient peoples who once inhabited Ukrainian lands and left behind their rich cultural heritage (see The Ukrainian Week, Is. 50, 2011 about the Celts). This week we look at the Goths.

Today the Goths remain one of Europe&rsquos most powerful cultural myths. However, the historical tribal union has, in fact, nothing to do with them in most cases. Neither Gothic architecture, nor Gothic literature and visual arts, nor the fairly common &ldquoGothic&rdquo youth subculture that exploits the popular brand is in any way connected to the historical heritage of the East Germanic tribes that were involved in virtually all notable events in European history at the end of antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

AGGRESSIVE CONFEDERATES

The Goths are mentioned in historical sources starting from early 1st century AD when they migrated from the legendary island of Scandza (Scandinavian peninsula) to the southern shore of the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the Vistula River. From there they moved southeast, eventually reaching Polissia and Volhynia. The Gothic state of Oium was founded in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD and spanned what is now Right-Bank Ukraine. It became the base for a series of attacks the East European barbarians launched on the Roman Empire.

The Romans were able to put an end to these invasions only in the early 270s when, following lengthy wars, they agreed to grant their neighbours the status of confederates essentially making them allies. In the 3rd century, the Goths as a whole split into the Visigoths, ruled by the Balti dynasty, and the Ostrogoths, ruled by the Amali dynasty.

The Gothic state reached its peak in the mid-4th century under the Amali ruler Ermanaric. This state's power was not lasting however, as the Huns destroyed it when they invaded the southern Ukrainian steppes in 375. This made the Ostrogoths the first European people to face the atrocities of an invasion by nomads. They lost the war and were subjugated but managed to preserve a certain cultural-historical autonomy within the &ldquosteppe empire&rdquo of the Huns. They even had their own princes.

OSTROGOTHIC ISLANDS

The history of the Ostrogoths, who found themselves under foreign rule, was dramatic. In the most prominent event of the age of Attila &ndash the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451) &ndash the Ostrogoths were part of the Hunnish troops and fought against the Visigoths who accounted for about a third of the Roman army. After the breakup of the &ldquosteppe empire&rdquo soon after the death of its ruler, they actively participated in dividing Hunnish heritage. Ostrogoths often assumed key offices in the Constantinople court and in the armed forces of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Theodoric (451-526), who later earned the appellation &lsquothe Great&rsquo, became king of the Ostrogoths in 474. He achieved the highest military and civil ranks in Rome but was, above all, the king of his own people. After a series of misunderstandings with the Constantinople court, Theodoric raided the Apennine Peninsula, and his army proclaimed him ruler of Italy in autumn 493, thus launching the history of the Ostrogothic kingdom. Despite this victory, Theodoric's kingdom would not last long.

In 535, Constantinople Emperor Justinian (527-565), whose idée fixe was to restore the empire within the limits of the &ldquogolden age&rdquo of the Antonines, started a war against Theodoric&rsquos heirs. This conflict continued, with varied success, until 554 when the Byzantines became the nominal victors. A small part of the Goths remained in Italy after the defeat, while the majority returned, researchers believe, to their original land of Scandinavia. The so-called Vendel period began in the 6th century. This period included a culture filed with the vivid manifestations of a post-imperial heritage, the trappings of a state tradition likely brought with the returning Goths.

The Codex Argenteus. The manuscript of the Holy Scripture translated by Gothic bishop Ulfila

Islands of Ostrogoths were scattered across a large territory around the Black Sea in the early Middle Ages. In particular, the so-called &ldquoSmall Goths&rdquo who did not follow Theodoric to Italy lived in the vicinity of Bulgaria's Nikopol and continued to serve emperors in Constantinople. The writer Jordanes who wrote the history of the Goths since their migration from Scandinavia to the mid-6th century was one of the &ldquoSmall Goths&rdquo and several high-ranking officers in Justinian&rsquos army shared the same origin. Gothic guards accompanying the emperor are also shown in the famous mosaic in the Basilica of San-Vitale (Ravenna). Ostrogothic settlements are known to have existed in the approaches to the Crimean Mountains and even on the Black Sea coast in the Caucasus (in modern Russia). So the odyssey which lasted several centuries left large groups of the Ostrogoths scattered outside Scandinavia.

The Gothic settlement in the Crimea, with Mangup as its capital, survived the longest. It was destroyed only in 1475 by Mehmed II&rsquos Ottoman troops. But by then the locals were not purely Gothic, as the Crimean peninsula had become a melting pot of peoples. All the Christian inhabitants of Crimea rallied around the rulers seated in Mangup, and Greek was the language of international communication. However, the Principality of Theodoro was of Gothic origin and the Orthodox eparchy there was also called Gothic.

The Crimean Goths maintained their cultural distinctiveness even in the Ottoman Empire. A small glossary of their language, compiled and published in the 16th century by Austrian ambassador Augier de Busbecq, permitted contemporary linguists to establish that it was incredibly close to Swedish, despite inclusions of numerous Turkic, Iranian and Slavic words. Catherine II put an end to the Crimean chapter in Gothic history when she decided to make the land part of the Russian Empire. She ordered all Crimean Christians moved to areas north of the Sea of Azov. Their descendants are now called &ldquoMariupol Greeks&rdquo in Ukraine.

GOTHIC HERITAGE

Despite the Goth's long sojourn in what is today modern Ukraine and their prolonged stay in the land and especially the Gothic state which prospered under Ermanaric, archaeologists have been searching for traces of the culture for over a century now.

Contemporary scholars are somewhat sceptical about this history and tend to limit the territory controlled by the Goths to the area of the Cherkiakhiv archaeological culture. But even within these &ldquomodest&rdquo limits, the Gothic state was a unique phenomenon of barbarian Europe during the late Roman Empire.

Still, Gothic heritage did not vanish without a trace in the eastern part of the continent. In the early Middle Ages, the most active group of the local &ldquonew barbarians&rdquo were the Slavs who followed in their path to a certain extent when they migrated south and southeast in the 5th century, from Polissia towards the Danube border of Byzantium. Numerous borrowings from East Germanic languages (primarily Gothic) show that they adopted a number of cultural elements from the Goths. In particular, valuable elements of the military culture of the time (swords, helmets and armour) have Germanic names. Remarkably, the ceremonial dress of wealthy Slavic women included a mandatory pair of large fibulas which matched the way noble Gothic women dressed. In the early Middle Ages, Gothic was synonymous with &ldquoelite&rdquo and &ldquoprestigious&rdquo among East European barbarians (including our ancestors). Another telling detail is that the Common Slavic name for a ruler &mdash kniaz (prince) &mdash is a Germanism. Even the word for bread (khlib) is present in Gothic, leaving all Ukrainians with a vestige of Gothic culture every time they ask for bread.


Ostrogoth

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Ostrogoth, member of a division of the Goths. The Ostrogoths developed an empire north of the Black Sea in the 3rd century ce and, in the late 5th century, under Theodoric the Great, established the Gothic kingdom of Italy.

Invading southward from the Baltic Sea, the Ostrogoths built up a huge empire stretching from the Don to the Dniester rivers (in present-day Ukraine) and from the Black Sea to the Pripet Marshes (southern Belarus). The kingdom reached its highest point under King Ermanaric, who is said to have committed suicide at an advanced age when the Huns attacked his people and subjugated them about 370. Although many Ostrogothic graves have been excavated south and southeast of Kiev, little is known about the empire. The Ostrogoths were probably literate in the 3rd century, and their trade with the Romans was highly developed.

After their subjugation by the Huns, little is heard of the Ostrogoths for about 80 years, after which they reappear in Pannonia on the middle Danube River as federates of the Romans. But a pocket remained behind on the Crimean Peninsula when the bulk of them moved to central Europe, and these Crimean Ostrogoths preserved their identity through the Middle Ages. After the collapse of the Hun empire (455) the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great began to move again, first to Moesia (c. 475–488) and then to Italy. Theodoric became king of Italy in 493 and died in 526. A period of instability then ensued in the ruling dynasty, provoking the Byzantine emperor Justinian to declare war on the Ostrogoths in 535 in an effort to wrest Italy from their grasp. The war continued with varying fortunes for almost 20 years and caused untold damage to Italy, and the Ostrogoths thereafter had no national existence. They had been converted to Arian Christianity, it seems, soon after their escape from the domination of the Huns, and in this heresy they persisted until their extinction. All extant Gothic texts were written in Italy before 554.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


Contents

"Totila" was the nom de guerre of a man whose real name was Baduila, as can be seen from the coinage he issued. [1] "Totila" is the name used by the Byzantine historian Procopius, who accompanied the Byzantine general Belisarius during the Gothic War, and whose chronicles are the main source of our information for Totila. According to Henry Bradley, 'Totila' and 'Baduila' are diminutives of Totabadws. [2] Born in Treviso, Totila was a relative of Theudis, king of the Visigoths and a sword-bearer a role that made for a good career among his kin. [3]

Totila was elected king of the Ostrogoths in 541 after the assassination of his uncle Ildibad and having surreptitiously engineered the assassination of Ildibad's short-lived successor, his cousin Eraric, in 541. [4] [a] Like Alaric I, Totila was quite young when he became king and was declared such by the Goths to recover dominion over the Italians. [6] The official Byzantine position, adopted by Procopius and even by the Romanized Goth, Jordanes—writing just before the conclusion of the Gothic Wars—was that Totila was a usurper. [7] According to historian Peter Heather, as Ildebadus's nephew, Totila nonetheless hailed from a prominent Gothic family, one that surrounded and "even occasionally challenged Theodoric's Amal dynasty". [8] [b]

Eraric's murder and replacement with Totila suggested to the Byzantines—since Eraric favored negotiation with imperial power—that this Gothic successor likely preferred war and so a Byzantine expeditionary force of twelve-thousand men was sent north from Ravenna to Verona to stave off any possible impending attack. [9]

At Verona, a local sympathizer allowed a contingent of Roman soldiers into the city and while the Goths panicked at first, they soon realized that the main army was stopped some distance from the city. [10] They promptly shut the gates and the Roman soldiers who had made it into the city leapt from the walls. Meanwhile the Roman forces retreated back to Faenza (Battle of Faventia), where Totila met them with five-thousand men to give battle, while another three-hundred Gothic archers surprised them from the rear, resulting in a rout, whereby the Goths acquired both prisoners and battle standards. [10] [c] Correspondingly, historian Thomas Burns claims that Totila was a gifted warrior and governor, and as an Ostrogoth ranks only second to Theodoric the Great himself. [12]

After securing victory in 542 at Faenza, Totila's Goths besieged the stoutly-defended Florence in an effort to open the Via Cassia to Rome but when the imperial forces arrived to help relieve the city, Totila withdrew to the Mugello valley, where historian Herwig Wolfram states, they "inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy." [13] Since this region was relatively spared of any previous conflicts, Totila's Goths were able to secure significant provisions and booty. [14] In the meantime, instead of pursuing the conquest of central Italy, where the Imperial forces were too formidable for his small army, he decided to transfer his operations to the south of the peninsula. [15] He captured Beneventum as well as Cumae, which remained a Gothic stronghold even after Gothic kingship no longer existed. [14]

During a period of crisis amid the Eastern Roman military leadership, which placed strains on its civilian population across its domains, historian Victor David Hanson asserts that Totila posed as a "national liberator who would throw off the renewed chains of Roman oppression." [16] Hanson further contends that this squabbling among Byzantine generals from "different factions and ethnicities" caused the forfeiture of what Belisarius had previously won in 540. [16]

Totila's strategy was to move fast and take control of the countryside, leaving the Byzantine forces in control of well-defended cities, and especially the ports. When Belisarius eventually returned to Italy, Procopius relates that "during a space of five years he did not succeed once in setting foot on any part of the land . except where some fortress was, but during this whole period he kept sailing about visiting one port after another." [17] Totila circumvented those cities where a drawn-out siege would have been required, razing the walls of cities that capitulated to him, such as Beneventum. Totila's conquest of Italy was marked not only by celerity but also by mercy, and Gibbon says "none were deceived, either friends or enemies, who depended on his faith or his clemency." [18] After a successful siege of a resisting city, such as at Perugia, however, Totila could be merciless, as Procopius recounts. Procopius left a written portrayal of Totila before his troops were drawn up for battle:

The armour in which he was clad was abundantly plated with gold and the ample adornments which hung from his cheek plates as well as his helmet and spear were not only purple, but in other respects befitting a king … And he himself, sitting upon a very large horse, began to dance under arms skillfully between the two armies. And as he rode he hurled his javelin into the air and caught it again as it quivered above him, then passed it rapidly from hand to hand, shifting it with consummate skill. [19]

Where Totila learned this "dance" is never made clear by Procopius, but these actions likely meant something to the Goths and despite his firm conviction of coexistence with the Romans and their culture, Burns relates, much like Theodoric, he "remained a Goth." [20] Despite his ethnic status as a Germanic warrior, Totila did not plunder the countryside for supplies like other barbarians had done instead, he collected rent and taxes to supplement the income he needed without ruining the cities and towns he captured. He also recruited slaves into the ranks of his army. [21] [d]

Procopius reported (Wars, 7.9–12) that during the next two campaigning seasons Totila was able to take several strategically important centers, including the fortress at Auximum, which allowed him to cut off land communications between Rome and Ravenna. [23] Additional strongholds at Caesena, Urbinus, Mons Feretris, Petra Pertusa, Campania, Lucania, Apulia, Bruttium, and Calabria also fell to Totila's forces, placing the Goths in command of nearly all of southern Italy. [24] Following these successes, Totila now led his army to Naples, laying siege to the city, which alarmed Justinian. The emperor responded by sending the civilian Maximin to meet the crisis. [25] When Maximin attempted a ploy and sent ample food supplies via ships to give the appearance of a much larger army, it failed as Totila was fully informed of all the facts. The crews were slain and a second effort was made to resupply Conon in Naples. Despite the ships arriving safely, the vessels were blown ashore by a gale and these crews were slain and General Demetrius—sent at Maximin's behest—was taken captive by Totila. [26] The Gothic king had Demetrius's hands cut off and his tongue removed before turning him loose. [27] Nonetheless, Totila offered generous terms to Conon's starving garrison at Naples and they opened their gates in the spring of 543 to the Goths. [28] Historian J.B. Bury writes:

On this occasion Totila exhibited a considerable humanity which was not to be expected, as the historian Procopius remarks, from an enemy or a barbarian. He knew that if an abundance of food were at once supplied, the famished inhabitants would gorge themselves to death. He posted sentinels at the gates and in the harbor and allowed no one to leave the city. Then he dealt out small rations, gradually increasing the quantity every day until the people had recovered their strength. The terms of the capitulation were more than faithfully observed. Conon and his followers were embarked in ships with which the Goths provided them, and when, deciding to sail for Rome, they were hindered by contrary winds, Totila furnished horses, provisions, and guides so that they could make the journey by land. [29]

The fortifications at Naples were partly razed. [29] [e] Totila spent the following season establishing himself in the south and reducing pockets of resistance, besieging the Roman garrisons that remained at Hydruntum, all the while building pressure on Rome itself. [27] Unpaid Imperial troops in central Italy made such poor reputations pillaging the countryside that, when Totila turned his attention to taking Rome, he was able proudly to contrast Goth and Greek behavior in his initial negotiations with the senate. [29] Hearkening back to the rule of Theodoric and Amalasuintha as a reminder of more peaceful times between the two peoples, Totila tried to convince them to throw in their lot with the Goths. [30] His olive branch was rejected, however, and all the Arian priests were expelled from Constantinople, on suspicion of possible collaboration as a Gothic fifth column. [27]

Realizing the gravity of the situation in 544, Justinian issued an edict known as the Pragmatic Sanction, designed to rebuild a working government at Ravenna, and that year he also sent Belisarius back to Italy to counter the growing Gothic threat. [31] Unlike in the past, Belisarius was not graciously financed and so the general used some of his own funds to pay for his journey to Italy. By May 544, both Belisarius and General Vitalius—and a contingent of a mere four-thousand troops—had passed through Thrace and were encamped at Salonia along the Adriatic coast. [32] Meanwhile, Totila was preparing to capture Rome. [33]

Throughout the occupation of Italy, Totila never really wavered from the aim to recover the kingdom and sovereignty for the Goths (Procopius, Wars, 7.1.26), but not solely under those auspices, as historian Walter Goffart suggests he avows it was also to become "subcontractors in upholding the nomen Romanum in Italy." [34] Towards the end of 545 the Gothic king took up his station at Tivoli and prepared to starve Rome into surrender, making at the same time elaborate preparations for checking the progress of Belisarius who was advancing to its relief, and whose fleet almost managed to relieve the city. [1] In December 545, Totila besieged Rome and a year later entered and plundered the city, where he prayed at St. Peter's Basilica, suggesting continuity with Theodoric, but the act was near meaningless since the city was practically empty. [35]

Once the siege of the city was complete, Totila planned to raze the city, but Belisarius sent message and convinced him otherwise, claiming that judgments into posterity would follow Totila if he did, so the latter refrained. Instead, Totila abandoned the city and took some of the Senate members hostage with him meanwhile the great metropolis sat abandoned for some forty days. [35] [f]

By April 546, Belisarius had retaken the city and Totila's initial effort to wrest it from the Roman general failed. However, as masters of Italy, the Goths controlled much of the peninsula and in 549, an Ostrogothic fleet "ravaged the coast of Campoania" and Rome too fell to Totila in January 550. [37] More determined than ever to regain Italy, Justinian sent his nephew Germanus, whose marriage to a Gothic princess attracted German recruits, but he died on the eve of the expedition. [38] Justinian replaced him with his son-in-law, John, and his son Justinian. John's forces to relieve a Roman garrison at Ancona were successful as were his warships at a battle along the anchorage of Sena Gallica, providing the Roman navy with control of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. According to historian Archibald Ross Lewis, the Byzantine victory at Sena Gallica was completely decisive, with some 36 of 47 Gothic ships destroyed. Meanwhile, one of Totila's Gothic admirals, Gibal, was captured. [39] These developments proved important for subsequent campaigns, as it was necessary to end Totila's sea dominance before any land invasions could be properly conducted. [39] [40]

Totila's next exploit was the conquest and plunder of Sicily, after which he subdued Corsica and Sardinia and sent a Gothic fleet against the coasts of Greece. [1] By this time the emperor Justinian I was taking energetic measures to check the Goths, assembling a large army and sending his navy against Totila's fleet, which it defeated in 551. [41] The conduct of a new campaign on land was entrusted to the eunuch Narses, who took advantage of the lessening intensity of the Persian War and added contingents of Lombards, Gepid, and Heruls to his allied forces. [42]

Leading troops into Ravenna, Narses was able to challenge Totila at the Battle of Taginae (also known as the Battle of Busta Gallorum) near Sentinum. [43] Totila was killed in the fighting. A similar battle followed a few months later under his successor and relative Teia, who died in combat as well during the Battle of Mons Lactarius. [44] This additional defeat at the hands of the Eastern Roman Empire signaled the veritable end of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy and no further king emerged. Another army supposedly 75,000 strong of Franks and Alemanni still existed as did the threat to Italy and despite the entry of these forces into the Po Valley and their ravaging of Italy for a time, Narses eventually brought them to heel. Meanwhile, the land held by the Gothic church was transferred to the Roman church in Italy and land owned by the Gothic kings went to the emperor. [44]

For the Byzantines, the war officially ended in 554, which was followed by the broad promulgation of Justinian's Pragmatic Sanction. One of the stipulations Justinian made clear in this document was the validation of all edicts made by "legitimate" kings and those from the Roman people or Senate, while those from Totila—deemed a "most abominable tyrant"—were rendered void. [45] The Justinian Code was also retroactively made applicable throughout Italy. [46] Socially, the country was disrupted by the actions of the Goths Witigis, Totila, and Teia, who had collectively fractured the Senate's social standing and the servant-based economy by liberating slaves and coloni. Over the longer term, this also meant that western senators were seen as inferior to their eastern counterparts, which in some ways further contributed to the Byzantine's ascendancy. [47] [g]

Nevertheless, the country was so ravaged by war that any return to normal life proved impossible and Rome, having suffered through seventeen-years' worth of bitter fighting during the Gothic wars, had been besieged and captured multiple times. [49] French historian Bertrand Lançon described this period of late antiquity as Rome's "darkest hours." [50] In 568, only three years after Justinian's death, most of the country was conquered by Alboin of the Lombards, who absorbed the remaining Ostrogothic population, [51] becoming the heirs of the Ostrogoths in Italy itself. [52]


Ostrogothic Kingdom

At least as early as the Christian era,6 and as late as the age of the Antonines,8 the Goths were established towards the mouth of the Vistula, and in that fertile province where the commercial cities of Thorn, Elbing, Koningsberg, and Dantzic were long afterwards founded.1 Westward of the Goths, the numerous tribes of the Vandals were spread along the banks of the Oder, and the sea-coast of Pomerania and Mecklenburg. A striking resemblance of manners, complexion, religion, and language, seemed to indicate that the Vandals and the Goths were originally one great people. The latter appear to have been subdivided into Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Gepidaa. The Ostro and Visi, the eastern and western Goths, obtained those denominations from their original seats in Scandinavia. In all their future marches and settlements they preserved, with their names, the same relative situation. The distinction among the Vandals was more strongly marked by the independent names of Heruli, Burgundians, Lombards, and a variety of other petty states, many of which, in a future age, expanded themselves into powerful monarchies.

Without attaching undue importance to the date 476 as marking the boundary between ancient and modern history, there is no doubt that this year opened a new age for the Italian people. Odovakar, a chief of the Herulians, deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last Augustus of the West, and placed the peninsula beneath the titular sway of the Byzantine emperors. At Pavia the barbarian conquerors of Italy proclaimed him king, and he received from Zeno the dignity of Roman patrician. Thus began that system of government, Teutonic and Roman, which, in the absence of a national monarch, impressed the institutions of new Italy from the earliest date with dualism. The same revolution vested supreme authority in a non-resident and inefficient autocrat, whose title gave him the right to interfere in Italian affairs, but who lacked the power and will to rule the people for his own or their advantage. Odovakar inaugurated that long series of foreign rulers-Greeks, Franks, Germans, Spaniards, and Austrians - who successively contributed to the misgovernment of Italy from distant seats of empire.

At the time of the "fall" of Rome in 476 AD, the Ostrogoths occupied a district south of the middle Danube, which the government at Constantinople had hired them to defend. The Ostrogoths proved to be expensive and dangerous allies. When, therefore, their chieftain, Theodoric, offered to lead his people into Italy and against Odoacer, the Roman emperor gladly sanctioned the undertaking.

In 488 Theodoric, king of the East Goths [ie, Ostrogoths], received commission from the Greek emperor, Zeno, to undertake the affairs of Italy. He defeated Odovakar, drove him to Ravenna, besieged him there, and in 493 completed the conquest of the country by murdering the Herulian chief with his own hand. Theodoric respected the Roman institutions which he found in Italy, held the Eternal City sacred, and governed by ministers chosen from the Roman population. He settled at Ravenna, which had been the capital of Italy since the days of Honorius, and which still testifies by its monuments to the Gothic chieftain's Romanizing policy.

The enlightened policy of Theodoric was exhibited in many ways. He governed Ostrogoths and Romans with equal consideration. He kept all the old offices, such as the senatorship and the consulate, and by preference filled them with men of Roman birth. His chief counselors were Romans. A legal code, which he drew up for the use of Ostrogoths and Romans alike, contained only selections from Roman law. He was remarkably tolerant and, in spite of the fact that the Ostrogoths were Arians, was always ready to extend protection to Catholic Christians. Theodoric patronized literature and gave high positions to Roman writers. He restored the cities of Italy, had the roads and aqueducts repaired, and so improved the condition of agriculture that Italy, from a wheat-importing, became a wheat exporting, country. At Ravenna, the Ostrogothic capital, Theodoric erected many notable buildings, including a palace, a mausoleum, and several churches. The remains of these structures are still to be seen.

Those who believe that the Italians would have gained strength by unification in a single monarchy must regret that this Gothic kingdom lacked the elements of stability. The Goths, except in the valley of the Po, resembled an army of occupation rather than a people numerous enough to blend with the Italian stock. Though their rule was favorable to the Romans, they were Arians and religious differences, combined with the pride and jealousies of a nation accustomed to imperial honors, rendered the inhabitants of Italy eager to throw off their yoke. When, therefore, Justinian undertook the reconquest of Italy, his generals, Belisarius and Narses, were supported by the south. The struggle of the Greeks and the Goths was carried on for fourteen years, between 539 and 553, when Teia, the last Gothic king, was finally defeated in a bloody battle near Vesuvius. At its close the provinces of Italy were placed beneath Greek dukes, controlled by a governor general, entitled exarch, who ruled in the Byzantine emperor's name at Ravenna.

This new settlement lasted but a few years. Narses had employed Lombard auxiliaries in his campaigns against the Goths and when he was recalled by an insulting message from the empress in 565, he is said to have invited this fiercest and rudest of the Teutonic clans to seize the spoils of Italy. Be this as it may, the Lombards, their ranks swelled by the Gepidie, whom they had lately conqueted, and by the wrecks of other barbarian tribes, passed southward under their king Alboin in 568. The Herulian invaders had been but a band of adventurers: the Goths were an army the Lombards, far more formidable, were a nation in movement. Pavia offered stubborn resistance but after a three-years siege it was taken, and Alboin made it the capital of his new kingdom.


Why Goths were unable to form their own country despite ruling over large chunk of Eastern Europe ?

Goths migrated from Sweden to Poland and formed settlements as far as Crimea yet we don't see any place that they formed as their country like Anglo-Saxon and with time they went extinct alongside their language.

What was the reason behind their inability to form their own nation unlike English?

Eryl Enki

Dreamhunter

Chlodio

I agree with the above about why sophisticated kingdoms did not emerge in Eastern Europe before the fall of Western Rome. But the Anglo-Saxons did not really form a sophisticated kingdom in pre-migration Germany either.
The Anglo-Saxons formed England after migration.

While still in Eastern Europe the Goths split in two. The West or Visi-Goths eventually found their way to Spain where they did establish a kingdom that lasted a few centuries until the Moorish invasion. Visigothic Spain then morphed into the successor kingdoms in Spain. The East or Ostro-Goths eventually found their way into Italy where they also established a kingdom. The Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy did not last as long as the Visigothic Kingdom. The Ostrogoths were conquered by the Lombards in less than a century.

An important component in all of these post-migration kingdoms was the survival of Roman institutions or (in England) at least a heritage of Roman statehood. In Spain and Italy the Goths took over an existing structure. Even in England the Anglo-Saxons inherited less surviving structure but still had a model to work with. In Germany and in Eastern Europe these structures and models did not exist.

Johnincornwall

and gradually f****d it up basically.

I have long held a theory that the Visigoths (I haven't read quite so much about the Ostrogoths) were really not suited to a kingdom which was fixed geographically and, though it took a long period, the gradual decline and disintegration of the 'state', coming to a head in 711, was inevitable. To the point where they had such problems with shocking governance, economy, plague, divisions, exiles, confiscations, renegade jewish people and runaway slaves/workers roaming the lands, that the once mighty army could no longer be raised effectively

I do find it mildly peculiar in the Spanish mentality, that the muslims who lived there for 800 or 900 years (many converted natives) are completely disavowed as ancestors yet the gothic invaders who ruled for around 200 years (many converting to islam or joining with the invaders) are held as 'good old Spanish'. I guess it's purely a Catholic thing. Both Visigoths and the Spanish Empire were rampant fundamentalist Catholics.

Visigoth Panzer

Kaushik

. and gradually f****d it up basically.

I have long held a theory that the Visigoths (I haven't read quite so much about the Ostrogoths) were really not suited to a kingdom which was fixed geographically and, though it took a long period, the gradual decline and disintegration of the 'state', coming to a head in 711, was inevitable. To the point where they had such problems with shocking governance, economy, plague, divisions, exiles, confiscations, renegade jewish people and runaway slaves/workers roaming the lands, that the once mighty army could no longer be raised effectively

I do find it mildly peculiar in the Spanish mentality, that the muslims who lived there for 800 or 900 years (many converted natives) are completely disavowed as ancestors yet the gothic invaders who ruled for around 200 years (many converting to islam or joining with the invaders) are held as 'good old Spanish'. I guess it's purely a Catholic thing. Both Visigoths and the Spanish Empire were rampant fundamentalist Catholics.

Olleus

DiocletianIsBetterThanYou

To a degree this has already been said, but to put it another way, none of the Germanic peoples prior to their adoption of Roman power structures had established large, unified states. In the third century we see the appearance of large-ish but loosely organized federations, like those of the Alemanni and Franks, and this is also when the Goths are first reliably attested - their first historically secure appearance being north of lower Danube and along the Black Sea in 238. But there were multiple Gothic and Gothic-affiliated peoples at that time (Tervingi, Taifali, Heruli, Borani). Whether or not they even understood themselves to be 'Goths' at that time, or whether this was a blanket term that was applied to them by the Romans which they in turn adopted in a process of ethnogenesis, is not actually known. Even the Vistula origins are debated, since, while there are archaeological similarities in the material culture between peoples in known Gothic territories (the Chernyakhov culture) and ancient peoples of the Vistula (the Wielbark culture), such similarities have arguably been exaggerated, and the interpretation of these similarities in terms of common Goth-hood is only one possible option. It could just be trade and the natural spread of cultural practices. The migration story in Jordanes has proven very influential, but he is a late and not very reliable source.

Even the idea of Visigoths and Ostrogoths is fairly specific to the end of the fourth century onward. Accounts of Gothic activities between their first reliable appearance in 238 and the first mention of the Tervingi in 290/1 tend to refer to the Goths simply as Goths or (in Greek sources) Scythians (since they lived in lands once occupied by the Scythians and still referred to as Scythia). As for the Tervingi, they and the Greunthungi are the ones who then crossed the Danube in 376 and fought at Adrianople in 378. The Greuthungi were first attested not long before in 369, during Valens' first Gothic war the Historia Augusta claims that Probus fought the Greunthungi in the late third century, but this source is incredibly unreliable and often anachronistic, probably having been written in the early fifth century. As for Alaric's Goths, who, by the time they formed their kingdom in Aquitaine in the 410s were known as the Visigoths, this particular grouping of Goths first appears as they are in the 390s, and it's not actually clear that they're the same Goths as those who crossed in 376. Guy Halsall, for instance, thinks that they were simply Gothic soldiers in the Roman army with their families and allies, and that their enlistment doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the agreement of 382 that ended the Adrianople war. After all, Gothic soldiers had been fighting in Roman armies since Gordian III's invasion of the Persian Empire in 243. Separate from Alaric were also the Goths of Radagaisus and the numerous other Goths in Roman armies, such as the eastern Roman general Gainas.

In short, the Goths before the fifth century appear to have been a varied and disunited people with loose connections to one another. This was in tune with other Germanic peoples of the period. Only with the migrations of Goths, Vandals, Franks and Saxons into Roman territory did any of these peoples start to form more centralized kingdoms.

Benzev

Peter Heather emphasises that there never were Visigoth or Ostrogoth kingdoms outside the Roman Empire before the migrations.

The visigoths formed as an entity over the period 376-406, firstly through a combination of Tervingi and Greuthungi, under pressure of Roman military power: Alaric combined them frther from 395, then added further strength from the addition of survivors of Radagaisus' force and other Gothic slaves after the Gothic massacres which accompanied the fall of Sttilicho. A 'Visi'gothic state only came into being with the settlement by Constantius in 418.

The Ostrogoths coalesced, also under Roman military threat, around 460-480, from various groups which crossed the Danube into Roman territory in the wake of Attila's death and the collapse of the Hunnic hegemony. The 'Ostro'gothic kingdom came into being following Theodoric the Amal's defeat of Odoacer in Italy in 493. He ruled a combined Gothic Kingdom from 511.


Herwig Wolfram is Professor of History at the University of Vienna and Director of the Austrian Institute for Historical Research.

Preface    
Introduction     
Gothic History as Historical Ethnography

1. The Names       
The Gothic Name      
The Dual Names of the Two Gothic Peoples     
Visigoths and Ostrogoths as Western Goths and Eastern Goths    
The Epic and the Derisive Names of the Goths    
Biblical and Classical Names for the Goths   
Gothic Royal Houses and Their Names      

2. The Formation of the Gothic Tribes before the Invasion of the Huns     
Gutones and Guti     
Politics and Institutions of the Gutones 
The Trek to the Black Sea   
The Goths at the Black Sea   
    The Gothic Invasions of the Third Century   
    The Gothic Advance into the Aegean    
    Aurelian and the Division of the Goths   
The Tervingian-Vesian Confederation at the Danube    
    The Events of 291 to 364   
    The Era of Athanaric, 365-376/381    
Ulfilas and the Beginning of the Conversion of the Goths  
The Ostrogothic Greutungi until the Invasion of the Huns   
    Ermanaric's Greutungian Kingdom and Its Dissolution   
Political Organization and Culture of the Goths at the Danube and 
  the Black Sea   
    The Gutthiuda: The Land of the Tervingi and Taifali   
    The Kuni: Community of Descent and Subdivision of the Gutthiuda   
    The Harjis, the Tribal Army   
    Gards, Batirgs, Sibja: Lordship, Retainers, Community of Law      
    Haims (Village): The Social World of the Gothic Freeman   
    Cult and Religion among the Goths    
    Language and Daily Life   
    The Ostrogothic-Greutungian Kingship    

3. The Forty-year Migration and the Formation of the 
   Visigoths, 376/378 to 416/418       
The Invasion and Settlement of the Goths in Thrace   
    From the Crossing of the Danube (376) to the Battle of 
      Adrianople (378)   
    Theodosius and the Settlement of the Goths in Thrace   
The Balkan Campaigns of 395-401      
    The Foedus of 397 and the Settlement of the Goths in Macedonia    
    Alaric's Elevation to the Kingship  
    Fravitta and Eriulf   
    Gainas and Tribigild   
The Goths in the Western Empire, 401-418     
    Alaric's Italian Wars   
    Athaulf and the Gothic Trek Westward    
    Athaulf 's Contribution to the Visigothic Ethnogenesis 
    The Visigoths Become Horsemen     
    Radagaisus and His Contribution to the Visigothic
      Ethnogenesis   
    Valia and the Goths "in Roman Service"    

4. The Kingdom of Toulouse, 418 to 507           
The Aquitanian Federates, 418-466     
The Visigothic "Superpower," 466-507      
   Euric (466-484) and the Breach of the Foedus of 416/418     
   The Conquest of the Auvergne and Tarraconensis      
   The Last Battles with the Empire   
   The Organization and Development of Dominion       
   Alaric II (484-507)   
The Legal and Ecclesiastical Policies of Euric and Alaric II 
   The Legislation of Euric and Alaric II   
   The Ecclesiastical Policies of Euric and Alaric II 
The King and the Royal Clan     
   The Royal Family     
   The King     
   Court Life: Religion, Language, and Culture   
The Kingship: Its Functions and Functionaries   
   Military Organization    
   The Courtiers    
   Royal Estates and Finances    
The Settlement of the Visigoths   
The Peoples of the Kingdom of Toulouse: Ethnic and Social Composition    
   Goths and Romans in the Kingdom of Toulouse       
   Jews, Greeks, and Syrians   
   The Native Barbarians    
   The Immigrant Barbarians     
   Conditions of Dependency     
   The End That Was No End 

5. The "New" Ostrogoths         
The Division and Reunification of the Amal Goths, 375-451     
   Pannonian Greutungi, Hunnic Goths, and Ostrogoths       
The Ostrogothic Kingdom in Pannonia, 456/457-473       
The Ostrogoths in the Balkans, 473-488     
Theodoric's Battle for Italy, 488-493   
   The Ostrogothic March to Italy    
   The Battles in Italy, 489-493   
Flavius Theodericus Rex: King of the Goths and Italians, 493-526  
   Theodoric's Efforts To Obtain Imperial Recognition,
     𧋪/493-497     
        
   Some Questions     
   Theodoric's Kingdom: An Attempt at a Constitutional 
     Analysis   
   Theodoric's Rule in Theory and Practice   
Exercitus Gothorum     
   Comites Gothorum, Duces, Saiones, Millenarii, Mediocres, Capillati   
   The Settlement of the Gothic Army    
   Polyethnicity, Social Status, and Compulsory Military Service 
   Ostrogothic Weapons and Fighting Techniques      
Theodoric's Barbarian Policy and the Securing of Italy  
   The Vandals    
   The Visigoths    
   The Burgundians     
   The Franks    
   Raetia and Western Illyricum under Ostrogothic Dominion     
   Barbarian Traditions and Ethnography     
Theodoric's Roman Policy and the End of His Kingship, 526     
The Amal Successors of Theodoric, 526-536     
   Athalaric (526-534)    
   Theodahad (534-536)      
The Non-Amal Kings and the Fall of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, 536-552      
   Vitigis (536-540)   
   Hildebad and Eraric (540/541)    
   Totila (541-552)    
   The Epilogue: Teja (552)    

Appendixes      
1. Roman Emperors
2. A Survey of Gothic History
3. Genealogical Charts of the Balthi and Amali


Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Huns

The Goths who interacted most closely with Rome were the Visigoths. The Ostrogoths remained in the east in the region of Hungary. When Attila the Hun (r. 434-453 CE) came to power, he took Ostrogoth land and added it to his growing territory. The Visigoths were dispersed by the Hunnic invasions and driven into Roman lands but the Ostrogoths continued to remain where they had been.

With the death of Attila in 453 CE, the Ostrogoths declared their independence and joined with another Germanic tribe, the Gepids, under their leader Ardaric (l. c. 450s CE). At the Battle of Nedao in 454 CE, The Gepids under Ardaric defeated Attila’s sons with the support of the Ostrogoths (although precisely how the Ostrogoths contributed to the victory is unclear) and the former vassals of Attila’s empire were free and settled in Pannonia.

An artist’s impression of how the armies of Attila the Hun (r. 434-453 CE) may have looked / Total War

The Ostrogoths were led at this time by the king Valamir (l. c. 420-469 CE) who, like Ardaric, had been one of Attila’s generals. Valamir’s Ostrogoths continued the policies of Attila in raiding Roman territories and exacting protection money. In 459 CE, he raided Illyricum and then demanded 300 pounds of gold in annual tribute from emperor Leo I (r. 457-474 CE) of the Eastern Empire to keep him from doing so again. Valamir died in 469 CE after being thrown from his horse and he was succeeded by Widimir (l. 460s CE) and then by Theodemir (d. 474 CE), father of Theodoric the Great. Theodemir made peace with Rome and young Theodoric was sent to Constantinople as a hostage to ensure compliance. The prince was treated well in the city and was educated in Graeco-Roman values at court.


Justinian’s Pragmatic Sanction

Justinian’s Pragmatic Sanction restored the Italian lands taken by the Ostrogoths and made a pro forma restoration of government, but agricultural lands had been depopulated and had reverted into wilderness, and the rural proprietors were sinking into serfdom. Town decline was similar. The Roman Senate ceased to function after 603, and the local curiae disappeared at about the same time. Duces were appointed, probably over each civitas, as part of the imperial administration, but they gradually became great landowners, and their military functions dominated their civil duties. A fusion of the ducal title and landownership ensued, and a new class of hereditary military proprietors emerged beside the clergy and the old nobles. The details of this process are, of course, hard to determine, because evidence is scant.


Watch the video: La CRISI DEL TRECENTO spiegata da Alessandro Barbero (January 2022).