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The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a
Roman-era The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governmen ...
Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The T ...

Germanic people
. In the 5th century, they followed the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
in creating one of the two great
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
kingdoms within the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
, based upon the large Gothic populations who had settled in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
in the 4th century, having crossed the
Lower Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as c ...
. While the Visigoths had formed under the leadership of
Alaric I Alaric I (; got, 𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, , "ruler of all"; la, Alaricus; c. 370 – 410 AD) was the first Germanic Kingship, king of the Visigoths, from 395 to 410. He rose to leadership of the Goths who came to occupy Moesia – terr ...
, the new Ostrogothic political entity which came to rule Italy was formed in the Balkans under the influence of the
Amal Dynasty The Amali – also called Amals, Amalings or Amalungs – were a leading dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, the family of
Theodoric the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal ( la, Flāvius Theoderīcus; el, Θευδέριχος, Theuderichos), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kin ...
. After the death of
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
and collapse of the
Hunnic empire The history of the Huns spans the time from before their first secure recorded appearance in Europe around 370 AD to after the disintegration of their empire around 469. The Huns likely entered Europe shortly before 370 from Central Asia: they firs ...
represented by the
Battle of Nedao The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 CE between the Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava River. Battle After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples ...
in 453, the Amal family began to form their kingdom in
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
.
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...

Byzantine
Emperor Zeno played these Pannonian Goths off against the
Thracian Goths The Thracian Goths, also known as Moesogoths or Moesian Goths, refers to the branches of Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of t ...
, but instead the two groups united after the death of the Thracian leader
Theoderic Strabo Theodoric (or Theoderic) Strabo ( la, Theodericus; died 481) was a Gothic chieftain who was involved in the politics of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuati ...
and his son Recitach. Zeno then backed Theodoric to invade Italy and replace
Odoacer Flavius Odoacer ( ; – 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar ( grc, Ὀδόακρος, translit=Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of barbarian A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either Civilization, uncivilized or pr ...

Odoacer
there, whom he had previously supported as its king. In 493, Theodoric established the
Ostrogothic Kingdom The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communi ...

Ostrogothic Kingdom
of
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
, when he defeated Odoacer's forces and killed his rival at a banquet. Following the death of Theodoric, there was a period of instability, eventually tempting the
Byzantine Emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse ...
Justinian Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...

Justinian
to declare war on the Ostrogoths in 535, in an effort to restore the former
western provinces of the Roman Empire
western provinces of the Roman Empire
. Initially, the Byzantines were successful, but under the leadership of
Totila Totila, original name Baduila (died 1 July 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germ ...

Totila
, the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the emergence of medieval Europe. In his book ''Getica'' (c. 551), ...
reconquered most of the lost territory until Totila's death at the
Battle of Taginae At the Battle of Taginae (also known as the Battle of Busta Gallorum) in June/July 552, the forces of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman E ...

Battle of Taginae
. The war lasted for almost 21 years and caused enormous damage across Italy, reducing the population of the peninsula. Any remaining Ostrogoths in Italy were absorbed into the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by G ...
, who established a kingdom in Italy in 568. As with other Gothic groups, the history of the peoples who made them up before they reached the Roman Balkans is difficult to reconstruct in detail. However, the Ostrogoths are associated with the earlier
Greuthungi 250px, The Greuthungi (also spelled Greutungi) were a Gothic people who lived on the Pontic steppe between the Dniester and Don rivers in what is now Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraina, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. ...
. The Ostrogoths themselves were more commonly referred to simply as Goths even in the 5th century, but before then they were referred to once, in a poem by
Claudian Claudius Claudianus, known in English as Claudian (; c. 370 – c. 404 AD), was a Latin poet associated with the court of the Roman emperor Honorius at Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ...
which associates them with a group of Greuthungi, settled as a military unit in
Phrygia In classical antiquity, Phrygia (; grc, Φρυγία, ''Phrygía'' ; tr, Frigya) (also known as the Kingdom of Muska) was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Asian Turkey, centred on the Sangarios River. After its co ...
. Furthermore, the 6th century historian of the Goths Jordanes also equated the Ostrogoths of his time to the Goths ruled by King
Ermanaric 250px, The orange area signifies the Chernyakhov Culture, identified with Ermanaric's kingdom, in the early 4th century. Ermanaric ( got, *Aírmanareiks; la, Ermanaricus or ''Hermanaricus''; ang, Eormanrīc ; on, Jörmunrekr , gmh, Ermenrîc ...
in the 4th century, who the Roman writer
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius'' ...
had called Greuthungi, and described as living between the
Dniester The Dniester ( ) is a river in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of , geographical, ethnic, cultural, and conn ...
and
Don Don, don or DON and variants may refer to: Places *Don, BeninDon is a town in Benin, Africa. It has a population of 696,969. Nearest large airports are Cadjehoun Airport, Cotonou Cadjehoun in Cotonou and Lomé-Tokoin Airport, Lomé-Tokoin in Lom ...
rivers.
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
and
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
attacked the Goths from the east and large groups of Goths moved into the Roman Empire, while others became subservient to the Huns.


Goths

The Ostrogoths were one of several peoples referred to more generally as Goths. The Goths appear in Roman records starting in the third century, in the regions north of the
Lower Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as c ...
and
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
. They competed for influence and Roman subsidies with peoples who had lived longer in the area, such as the
Carpi Carpi may refer to : Places * Carpi, Emilia-Romagna, a large town in the province of Modena, central Italy * Carpi (Africa), a city and former diocese of Roman Africa, now a Latin Catholic titular bishopric People * Carpi (people), an ancie ...
, and various
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large Iranian peoples, Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the centr ...
, and they contributed men to the Roman military. Based on their Germanic language and material culture, it is believed that their Gothic culture derived from cultures originally from the direction of the
Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest river in Poland and the 9th-longest river in Europe, at in length. The drainage basin, reaching into three other nations, covers , of which is in Poland. The Vistula rises at Bar ...

Vistula
river in the north, now in
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
. By the third century, the Goths were already composed of sub-groups with their own names, because the
Tervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Gothic people of the plains north of the Lower Danube and west of the Dniester The Dniester ( ) is a river in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the ...
, who bordered on the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
and the
Carpathian mountains The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians () are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region ...

Carpathian mountains
, were mentioned separately on at least one occasion. The Ostrogoths, not mentioned until later, are associated with the Greuthungi who lived further east. The dividing line between the Tervingi and the Greuthungi, was reported by Ammianus to be the
Dniester River The Dniester ( ) is a river in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of ...
, and to the east of the Greuthungi were
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
living near the River Don.


Gothic language

The Ostrogoths in Italy used a Gothic language which had both spoken and written forms, and which is best attested today in the surviving translation of the Bible by
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
. Goths were a minority in all the places they lived within the Roman empire, and no Gothic language or distinct Gothic ethnicity has survived. On the other hand, the Gothic language texts which the Ostrogothic kingdom helped preserve are the only eastern Germanic language with "continuous texts" surviving, and the earliest significant remnants of any
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...
.


Etymology

The first part of the word "Ostrogoth" comes from a
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
root ''*auster-'' meaning 'eastern'. According to the proposal of Wolfram, this was originally a boastful tribal name meaning "Goths of the rising sun", or "Goths glorified by the rising sun". By the 6th century, however, Jordanes, for example, believed that the Visigoths and Ostrogoths were two contrasting names simply meaning western and eastern Goths.


History


The Greuthungi and Ostrogothi before the Huns

The nature of the divisions of the Goths before the arrival of the Huns is uncertain, but throughout all their history the Ostrogoths are only mentioned by that name very rarely, and normally in very uncertain contexts. Among other Gothic group names however, they are associated with the Greuthungi. Scholarly opinions are divided about this connection. Historian
Herwig Wolfram Herwig Wolfram (14 February 1934) is an Austrian historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and writes about the pa ...
sees these as two names for one people as will be discussed below.
Peter Heather Peter John Heather (born 8 June 1960) is a British historian of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting ...
, in contrast, has written that:
Ostrogoths in the sense of the group led by Theodoric to Italy stand at the end of complex processes of fragmentation and unification involving a variety of groups—mostly but not solely Gothic it seems—and the better, more contemporary, evidence argues against the implication derived from Jordanes that Ostrogoths are Greuthungi by another name.
Some historians go much further than Heather, questioning whether we can assume any single ethnicity, even Gothic, which united the Ostrogoths before they were politically united by the Amal clan. One dubious early mention of the Ostrogoths is found in the much later-written ''Historia Augusta'', but it distinguishes the Ostrogoths and Greuthungi. In the article for Emperor
Claudius Gothicus Marcus Aurelius Claudius 'Gothicus' (10 May 214 – January 270), also known as Claudius II, was Roman emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alemanni and decisively defeated the Goths at the Battle of Naissus ...
(reigned 268–270), the following list of "
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
" peoples is given who had been conquered by the emperor when he earned his title "Gothicus": "''peuci trutungi ''austorgoti'' uirtingi sigy pedes celtae etiam eruli''". These words are traditionally edited by modern scholars to include well-known peoples: "''
Peuci The Bastarnae (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
, Grutungi, ''Austrogoti'', Tervingi, Visi, Gipedes,
Celtae
Celtae
etiam et Eruli''" (emphasis added). However this work is not considered reliable, especially for contemporary terminology. The first record of a Gothic sub-group acting in its own name, specifically the
Tervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Gothic people of the plains north of the Lower Danube and west of the Dniester The Dniester ( ) is a river in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the ...
, was dated from 291.''
Panegyrici Latini ' or ''Twelve Latin Panegyrics'' is the conventional title of a collection of twelve ancient Roman In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th c ...
'' XI 17.1 (dated 291)
The
Greuthungi 250px, The Greuthungi (also spelled Greutungi) were a Gothic people who lived on the Pontic steppe between the Dniester and Don rivers in what is now Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraina, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. ...
,
Vesi The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tr ...

Vesi
, and Ostrogothi are all attested no earlier than 388. The Ostrogoths were first definitely mentioned more than one hundred years later than the Tervingi in 399, and this is the only certain mention of this name at all before the Amals created their kingdom of Italy. A poem by
Claudian Claudius Claudianus, known in English as Claudian (; c. 370 – c. 404 AD), was a Latin poet associated with the court of the Roman emperor Honorius at Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ...
describes Ostrogoths who are mixed with Greuthungi and settled in
Phrygia In classical antiquity, Phrygia (; grc, Φρυγία, ''Phrygía'' ; tr, Frigya) (also known as the Kingdom of Muska) was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Asian Turkey, centred on the Sangarios River. After its co ...
together as a disgruntled barbarian military force, who had once fought against Rome, but were now supposed to fight for it. Claudian only uses the term Ostrogoth once in the long poem, but in other references to this same group he more often calls them Greuthungi or "
Getic The Getae ( ) or Gets ( ; grc, Γέται, singular ) were several Thracians, Thracian tribes that once inhabited the regions to either side of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria and southern Romania. Both the singular form ' ...
" (an older word used poetically for Goths in this period). These Goths came to be led into rebellion by
Tribigild Tribigild ( grc, Τριβιγίλδου; fl. 399) was an Ostrogothic general whose rebellion against the Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Rom ...
, a Roman general of Gothic background. Much later
ZosimusZosimus, Zosimos, or Zosimas may refer to: People * John Zosimus (Ioane-Zosime), 10th-century Georgian monk and hymnist * Pope Zosimus (died 418), born in Mesoraca, Calabria, who reigned from 417 to his death in 418 * Rufus and Zosimus (died 107) ...
also described Tribigild and his rebellion against the eunuch consul Eutropius.
Gainas Gainas was a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the G ...
, the aggrieved Gothic general sent to fight Tribigild, openly joined forces with him after the death of Eutropius. Zosimus believed that was conspiracy between the two Goths from the beginning. It is generally believed by historians that this Phrygian settlement of Greuthingi, referred to as including Ostrogoths, were part of the Greuthungi-led force led by
OdotheusOdotheus (in Zosimus ''Aedotheus'') was a Greuthungi king who in 386 led an incursion into the Roman Empire. He was defeated and killed by the Roman general Promotus. His surviving people settled in Phrygia In classical antiquity, Phrygia (; ...
in 386, and not the Greuthungi who had entered the empire earlier, in 376 under
Alatheus and SaphraxAlatheus and Saphrax were Greuthungi chieftains who served as co-regents for Vithericus, son and heir of the Gothic king Vithimiris. Alatheus Alatheus ( 376–387) was a chieftain of the Greuthungi. He fought during the Hunnish invasion of 376, ...
. Based upon the 6th century writer
Jordanes Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century bureaucrat widely believed to be of who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history and the other on the Goths. The latter, alon ...
, whose ''
Getica ''De origine actibusque Getarum'' (''The Origin and Deeds of the Getae oths'), commonly abbreviated ''Getica'', written in by in or shortly after 551 AD, claims to be a summary of a voluminous account by of the origin and history of the , w ...
'' is a history of the Ostrogothic Amal dynasty, there is a tradition of simply equating the
Greuthungi 250px, The Greuthungi (also spelled Greutungi) were a Gothic people who lived on the Pontic steppe between the Dniester and Don rivers in what is now Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraina, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. ...
with the Ostrogothi. Jordanes does not mention the Greuthungi at all by that name, but he identified the Ostrogothic kings of Italy, the Amal dynasty, as the heirs and descendants of king
Ermanaric 250px, The orange area signifies the Chernyakhov Culture, identified with Ermanaric's kingdom, in the early 4th century. Ermanaric ( got, *Aírmanareiks; la, Ermanaricus or ''Hermanaricus''; ang, Eormanrīc ; on, Jörmunrekr , gmh, Ermenrîc ...
. Ermanaric was described by the more reliable contemporary writer
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius'' ...
as a king of the Greuthungi, however the family succession described by the two classical authors is completely different, and Ammianus is considered to be the more reliable source. Jordanes also specified that around 250 (the time of Emperor
Philip the Arab Philip the Arab ( la, Marcus Julius Philippus Arabs; 204 – September 249) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors us ...
who reigned 244–249) the Ostrogoths were ruled by a king called
Ostrogotha Ostrogotha was possibly a leader of the Goths during the Crisis of the Third Century. A Goth named Ostrogotha is mentioned by the 6th-century historian Jordanes. He reports that Ostrogotha crossed the Danube during the reign of Philip the Arab an ...
and they either derived their name from this "father of the Ostrogoths", or else the Ostrogoths and Visigoths got these names because they meant eastern and western Goths. Modern historians agree that Jordanes is unreliable, especially for events long before his time, but some historians such as Herwig Wolfram defend the equation of the Greuthungi and Ostrogoths. Wolfram follows the position of
Franz Altheim Franz Altheim (6 October 1898 – 17 October 1976) was a German classical philology, classical philologist and historian who specialized in the history of classical antiquity. During the 1930s and 1940s, Altheim served the Nazi Germany, Nazi s ...
that the terms Tervingi and Greuthungi were older geographical identifiers used by outsiders to describe these Visigoths and Ostrogoths before they crossed the Danube, and that this terminology dropped out of use after about 400, when many Goths had moved into the Roman empire. In contrast, according to him, the terms "Vesi" and "Ostrogothi" were used by the peoples themselves to boastfully describe themselves, and thus remained in use. In support of this, Wolfram argues that it is significant that Roman writers either used terminology contrasting Tervingi and Greuthungi, or Vesi/Visigoths and Ostrogoths, and never mixed these pairs—for example they never contrasted Tervingi and Ostrogoths. As described above, there are two examples of Roman texts which mix Wolfram's proposed geographical and boastful terminologies as if these were separate peoples, and these are the only two early mentions of Ostrogoths before the Amals. For Wolfram, these lists are mistaken to see these peoples as separate, but he notes that neither contrasts what he considers to be the geographical and boastful terms. First, as mentioned above, Ostrogoths and Greuthungi were mentioned together by the poet Claudian, and secondly, all four names were used together in the unreliable ''
Augustan History The ''Historia Augusta'' (English: ''Augustan History'') is a late Roman collection of biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, r ...
'' for the Emperor
Claudius Gothicus Marcus Aurelius Claudius 'Gothicus' (10 May 214 – January 270), also known as Claudius II, was Roman emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alemanni and decisively defeated the Goths at the Battle of Naissus ...
which has "''Gruthungi, Ostrogothi, Tervingi, Vesi''". As a second argument for this geographical versus boastful contrast, Wolfram cites
ZosimusZosimus, Zosimos, or Zosimas may refer to: People * John Zosimus (Ioane-Zosime), 10th-century Georgian monk and hymnist * Pope Zosimus (died 418), born in Mesoraca, Calabria, who reigned from 417 to his death in 418 * Rufus and Zosimus (died 107) ...
as referring to the group of "Scythians" north of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
after 376 who were called "Greuthungi" by the barbarians, arguing that these "can only" be Thervingi, and that this shows how the name "Greuthungi" was only used by outsiders. However, as mentioned above, these Greuthungi mentioned by Zosimus are those who Heather and other historians equate to the rebellious Greuthungi mentioned later by Claudian in Phrygia in 399–400, who were, according to Claudian, mixed with Ostrogoths. In any case, the older terminology of a divided Gothic people disappeared gradually after they entered the Roman Empire. The term "Visigoth" was an invention of the sixth century.
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
, a Roman in the service of Theodoric the Great, invented the term ''Visigothi'' to match ''Ostrogothi'', which terms he thought of as "western Goths" and "eastern Goths" respectively. The western-eastern division was a simplification and a literary device of sixth-century historians where political realities were more complex. Furthermore, Cassiodorus used the term "Goths" to refer only to the Ostrogoths, whom he served, and reserved the geographical term "Visigoths" for the
Gallo-Hispanic Goths
Gallo-Hispanic Goths
. This usage, however, was adopted by the Visigoths themselves in their communications with the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
and was in use in the seventh century. Other names for the Goths abounded. A "Germanic" Byzantine or Italian author referred to one of the two peoples as the ''Valagothi'', meaning "Roman 'walha''.html" ;"title="walha.html" ;"title="'walha">'walha''">walha.html" ;"title="'walha">'walha''Goths". In 484 the Ostrogoths had been called the ''Valameriaci'' (men of Valamir) because they followed Theodoric, a descendant of Valamir. This terminology survived in the Byzantine East as late as the reign of Athalaric, who was called ''του Ουαλεμεριακου'' (''tou Oualemeriakou'') by John Malalas.


Hunnic invasions and the Amals

In the late 4th century, the rise of the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
forced many of the Goths and Alans to join them, while others moved westwards and eventually moved into Roman territory in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
. Ostrogoths and Greuthungi, perhaps the same people, are believed to have been among the first Goths who were subdued by the Huns. Many Greuthungi entered the Roman Empire in 376 with Saphrax and Alatheus, and many of these Goths probably subsequently joined Alaric, contributing to the formation of the
Visigothic kingdom The Visigothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of the Goths ( la, Regnum Gothorum), was a kingdom that occupied what is now southwestern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...

Visigothic kingdom
. As discussed above a group of Ostrogoths and Greuthungi were apparently also settled in Phrygia in the 380s by the Romans. Otherwise, historical records only begin to mention the name of the Ostrogoths as the Gothic political entity which formed in the Balkans in the 5th century. The Amal-led Ostrogothic kingdom began to coalesce around the leadership of the
Amal dynasty The Amali – also called Amals, Amalings or Amalungs – were a leading dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
who had fought under
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
, and later settled in
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
. The second major component of the Amal kingdom's population were the
Thracian Goths The Thracian Goths, also known as Moesogoths or Moesian Goths, refers to the branches of Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of t ...
. This occurred around 483/484.


5th-century Pannonian Ostrogoths

The Pannonian Ostrogoths had fought alongside both Alans and Huns. Like several other tribal peoples, they became one of the many Hunnic vassals fighting in Europe, as in the
Battle of Chalons The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Western Roman Empire ...
in 451, where the Huns were defeated by the Roman general Aetius, accompanied by a contingent of Alans, and Visigoths. Jordanes' account of this battle certainly cannot be trusted as he wrongly attributes a good portion of the victory to the Goths, when it was the Alans who formed the "backbone of Roman defences." More generally, Jordanes, depicts the Amals as an ancient royal family in his ''Getica'', making them traditionally preeminent among the Goths in Ukraine, both before and during the empire of Attila.
Valamir:''For the village in Azerbaijan, see Vələmir.'' Valamir or Valamer (c. 420 – 469) was an Ostrogothic king in the ancient country of Pannonia from AD 447 until his death. During his reign, he fought alongside the Huns against the Roman Empire a ...
, the uncle of Theodoric the Great, is even depicted as Attila's most highly valued leader along with
Ardaric Ardaric ( la, Ardaricus; c. 450 AD) was the king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a va ...
of the Gepids. Modern historians such as
Peter Heather Peter John Heather (born 8 June 1960) is a British historian of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting ...
believe this is an exaggeration, and point out that there were at least three factions of Goths in Attila's forces. The recorded history of the Ostrogoths as a political entity thus begins with their independence from the remains of the Hunnic Empire following the death of
Attila the Hun Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, Alans and Bulgars, among others, in Central Europe, Ce ...
in 453. Under Valimir they were among the peoples who were living in the
Middle Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, longest river in Europe. Situated ...
region by this time, and whose freedom from domination by Attila's sons was confirmed by the
Battle of Nedao The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 CE between the Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava River. Battle After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples ...
in 454, which was led by the
Gepids The Gepids ( la, Gepidae, Gipedae, grc, Γήπαιδες) were an East Germanic tribe who lived in the area of modern Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern ...
. It is unclear what role the Goths played in this battle, if any, and after the battle many Goths entered Roman military service, while only some began to coalesce under the leadership of Valamir and his two brothers, Vidimir and
TheodemirTheodemir, Theodemar, Theudemer or Theudimer was a Germanic name common among the various Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman ...
, the father of
Theodoric the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal ( la, Flāvius Theoderīcus; el, Θευδέριχος, Theuderichos), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kin ...
. These Amal-led Goths apparently first settled in the Pannonian area of
Lake Balaton Lake Balaton (, german: Plattensee, la, Lacus Pelso, sh, Blatno jezero, sk, Blatenské jazero, Slovene: ''Blatno jezero'') is a freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally occurring water Water is an Inorganic compou ...
and Sirmium (
Sremska Mitrovica Sremska Mitrovica (; sr-Cyrl, Сремска Митровица, hu, Szávaszentdemeter, la, Sirmium) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and ...

Sremska Mitrovica
), on the Roman Danube frontier. The land they acquired between Vindobona (Vienna) and Sirmium (
Sremska Mitrovica Sremska Mitrovica (; sr-Cyrl, Сремска Митровица, hu, Szávaszentdemeter, la, Sirmium) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and ...

Sremska Mitrovica
) was not well-managed, a fact which rendered the Ostrogoths dependent upon Constantinople for subsidies. They came into conflict with other Middle Danubian peoples including the Danubian
Suebian The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They ...
kingdom of
HunimundHunimund (395 - after 469) was a leader - variously described by Jordanes as dux and as Germanic kingship, rex - of the Suebi. Rebellion against the Huns and independent kingship Hunimund fought with Ardaric against the Huns at the Battle of Nedao i ...
, and the
Sciri The Sciri, or Scirians, were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They ...
, who had arrived as part of the Hunnic empire, and this led to the death of Valimir, and eventual Gothic victory at the
Battle of Bolia The Battle of Bolia, was a battle in 469 between the Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, ...
in 469, now under Theodemir. Theodemir, father of Theoderic, brought these Goths into East Roman territory in 473/474. The younger uncle of Theoderic, Vidimir, with his like-named son and some of the Pannonian Goths, headed to Italy and his son was eventually settled in Gaul. Theodemir and Theoderic moved their Goths around the Balkans, while in the meantime, the Thracian Goths were the main focus of Gothic power. For some time they held a part of Macedonia, controlling part of the
Via Egnatia (Neapolis) Image:Via Egnatia Radozda.JPG, Remains of Via Egnatia near Radozda The Via Egnatia (Greek language, Greek: ''Egnatía Hodós'') was a Roman road, road constructed by the Ancient Rome, Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed Illyri ...

Via Egnatia
between the major Roman cities of
Durrës Durrës ( , ; sq-definite, Durrësi) is the second most populous city of the Republic of Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern ...

Durrës
and
Thessalonika Thessaloniki (; el, Θεσσαλονίκη, ), also known as Thessalonica (), Saloniki or Salonica (), is the List of countries by largest and second largest cities, second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its Thessaloni ...
. Theodemir died in
Cyrrhus Cyrrhus (; el, Κύρρος ''Kyrrhos'') is a city in Greater Syria, ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. Other names for the city include Hagioupolis, Nebi Huri ( ar, نبي هوري), Khoros (حور ...
in 474, having made sure that Theoderic (the future "Great") was designated as successor. In the same year, the other Theoderic ("Strabo"), fell out of favour with the new emperor Zeno.


5th-century Thracian Goths

The 5th century Thracian Goths, according to Peter Heather, had probably become unified only in about the 460s, although they probably lived in the area since the 420s when a group of Goths under Hunnic influence already in Pannonia were detached and settled there. Wolfram has proposed that Theoderic Strabo was an Amal, whose father had split with Theoderic's branch only as recently as the time of the Battle of Nadao. They formed a military force which was loyal to
Aspar Flavius Ardabur Aspar (c. 400471) was an Eastern Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middl ...
, the East Roman ''magister militum'' ("master of soldiers") of Alanic-Gothic descent, who was killed in 471. Aspar's death saw a change in the East Roman approach to Gothic military forces which he had been allied to. Theoderic Strabo led a revolt in 473 and was declared king of the Goths. As Wolfram noted, "His elevation as king in Thrace in 473 parallels the elevation of
Odoacer Flavius Odoacer ( ; – 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar ( grc, Ὀδόακρος, translit=Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of barbarian A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either Civilization, uncivilized or pr ...

Odoacer
in 476. ..A Roman federate army sought to force through its demands by making its general king". He demanded to be recognized as the "sole Gothic king to whom all deserters had to be returned ..and he further demanded the settling of his people in Thrace as well as the surrender of the institutional and material inheritance of Aspar. It took more bloodshed and devastation before the emperor formally agreed to the demands and promised in addition to pay two thousand pounds of gold each year." In return his Goths were ready to fight for Rome, except for a campaign against the
Vandal kingdom The Vandal Kingdom ( la, Regnum Vandalum) or Kingdom of the Vandals and Alans ( la, Regnum Vandalorum et Alanorum) was established by the Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of ...
in North Africa. With the death of Emperor Leo II, and the succession of Aspar's old rival Emperor Zeno in 474, the situation for the old Gothic party became increasingly difficult in the eastern empire, and Theoderic Strabo lost the support of the emperor. The younger Theoderic, son of Theodemir, was able to benefit from this.


Theodoric the Great and the Thracians

About 476, Zeno, having removed support from Theoderic Strabo, started to give important honours to Theoderic, the son of Theodemir. He was adopted as a "son in arms", named as a friend of the emperor, and given the status of ''patricius'' and commander-in-chief. His kingdom, now based on the
Lower Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as c ...
in Moesia, was recognized as a federate kingdom and granted (at least in theory) an annual subsidy. However, when Zeno forced the two Gothic groups into a confrontation in 478, Theoderic Strabo petitioned the Amal-led Goths, making a case for Gothic unity. Strabo also appealed to Zeno, but Zeno made new offers to Theoderic the Amal instead, but these were rejected. Warfare between the Goths and imperial forces ensued, and the Amal-led Goths once again became mobile, leaving Moesia. Zeno proposed a new federate kingdom for them in Dacia, north of the Danube, but instead the Goths attempted to take Durrës; however, Roman forces quickly repulsed them. Between 479 and 481, it was the Thracian Goths under Theoderic Strabo who kept the Romans occupied, but in 481 Strabo died, when he fell from his horse and was impaled on a lance. His son Recitac was unable to retain Gothic support and was killed in 484 under orders from Theoderic the Amal, who united the two Gothic groups. Zeno was forced to conclude a treaty and Theoderic the Amal was named consul in 484. Hostilities between Theoderic the Amal's Goths and the Eastern Roman Empire began again by 487.


Kingdom in Italy

The greatest of all Ostrogothic rulers, the future
Theodoric the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal ( la, Flāvius Theoderīcus; el, Θευδέριχος, Theuderichos), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kin ...
(whose Gothic name meant "leader of the people") of the
Ostrogothic Kingdom The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communi ...

Ostrogothic Kingdom
(''Regnum Italiae'', "Kingdom of Italy") was born to Theodemir in or about 454, soon after the Battle of Nedao. His childhood was spent at
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
as a diplomatic
hostage A hostage is a person seized by an abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative Relative may refer to: General use *Kinship and family, the principle binding the most basic social units society. If two people are connected by ci ...
, where he was carefully educated. The early part of his life was taken up with various disputes, intrigues and wars within the
Byzantine empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine empire
, in which he had as his rival
Theodoric Strabo Theodoric (or Theoderic) Strabo ( la, Theodericus; died 481) was a Gothic chieftain who was involved in the politics of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuati ...
of the
Thracian Goths The Thracian Goths, also known as Moesogoths or Moesian Goths, refers to the branches of Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of t ...
, a distant relative of Theodoric the Great and son of
Triarius Triarius was a Goths, Gothic nobleman and soldier. He was a member of the Amali dynasty. At least by the Battle of Nedao, Triarius had withdrawn his support from Valamir, who was his relative and the king of the Ostrogoths. Triarius joined the Byz ...
. This older but lesser Theodoric seems to have been the chief, not the king, of that branch of the Ostrogoths that had settled within the Empire earlier. Theodoric the Great, as he is sometimes distinguished, was sometimes the friend, sometimes the enemy, of the Empire. In the former case he was clothed with various Roman titles and offices, as
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
and
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...

consul
; but in all cases alike he remained the national Ostrogothic king. Theodoric is also known for his attainment of support from the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
and on one occasion, he even helped resolve a disputed papal election. During his reign, Theodoric, who was an
Arian Arianism is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Greek ...
, allowed freedom of religion, which had not been done before. However, he did try to appease the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
and tried to keep his alliance with the church strong. He saw the Pope as an authority not only in the church but also over Rome itself. His ability to work well with Italy's nobles, members of the Roman Senate, and the Catholic Church all helped facilitate his acceptance as the ruler of Italy. Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and in doing so, profited the Italian people. It was in both characters together that he set out in 488, by commission from the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
emperor
Zeno Zeno or Zenon ( grc, Ζήνων) may refer to: People * Zeno (name), including a list of people and characters with the name Philosophers * Zeno of Elea (), philosopher, follower of Parmenides, known for his paradoxes * Zeno of Citium (333 – 2 ...
, to recover
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
from
Odoacer Flavius Odoacer ( ; – 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar ( grc, Ὀδόακρος, translit=Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of barbarian A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either Civilization, uncivilized or pr ...

Odoacer
. In 489, the
Rugii The Rugii, Rogi or Rugians (Ancient Greek: ρογοί, ''Rogoi'') were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. They were first clearly recorded by Tacitus, in his ''Germania'' who called them the ''Rugii'', and located them near the sout ...

Rugii
, a Germanic tribe who dwelt in the
Hungarian Plain The Great Hungarian Plain (also known as Alföld or Great Alföld, hu, Alföld or ) is a plain occupying the majority of Hungary. It is the largest part of the wider Pannonian Plain. Its territory significantly shrunk due to its eastern and sout ...
, joined the Ostrogoths in their invasion of Italy under their leader
Frideric Frideric ( la, Fredericus; ? - 492/493) was the leader of the Germanic Rugians from 487 to 492/493. Life Frideric was a son of the Rugian king Feletheus. In late 487, Odoacer, the King of Italy, invaded the Rugiland, Rugian kingdom and destroyed ...
. By 493 Ravenna was taken, where Theodoric would set up his capital. It was also at this time that Odoacer was killed by Theodoric's own hand. Ostrogothic power was fully established over Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia and the lands to the north of Italy. Around 500, Theodoric celebrated his thirtieth anniversary as King of the Ostrogoths. In order to improve their chances against the Roman Empire the Ostrogoths and
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
began again to unite in what became a loose confederation of Germanic peoples. The two branches of the nation were soon brought closer together; after he was forced to become regent of the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse, the power of Theodoric was practically extended over a large part of Gaul and over nearly the whole of the Iberian peninsula. Theodoric forged alliances with the Visigoths, Alamanni, Franks and Burgundians, some of which were accomplished through diplomatic marriages. The Ostrogothic dominion was once again as far-reaching and splendid as it was in the time of Ermanaric, Hermanaric; however it was now of a wholly different character. The dominion of Theodoric was not a barbarian but a civilization, civilized power. His twofold position ran through everything. He was at once king of the Goths and successor, though without any imperial titles, of the Western Roman emperors. The two nations, differing in manners, language and religion, lived side by side on the soil of Italy; each was ruled according to its own law, by the prince who was, in his two separate characters, the common sovereign of both. Due to his ability to foster and leverage relations among the various Germanic kingdoms, the Byzantines began to fear Theodoric's power, which led to an alliance between the Byzantine emperor and the Frankish king, Clovis I, a pact designed to counteract and ultimately overthrow the Ostrogoths. In some ways Theodoric may have been overly accommodating to both the Romans and other Gothic people as he placated Catholics and Arian Christians alike. Historian Herwig Wolfram suggests that Theodoric's efforts in trying to appease Latin and barbarian cultures in kind brought about the collapse of Ostrogothic predominance and also resulted in the "end of Italy as the heartland of late antiquity." All the years of creating a protective perimeter around Italy were broken down by the Franco-Byzantine coalition. Theodoric was able to temporarily salvage some of his realm with the assistance of the Thuringians. Realizing that the Franks were the most significant threat to the Visigothic empire as well, Alaric II, (who was the son-in-law of Theodoric) enlisted the aid of the Burgundians and fought against the Franks at the urging of the magnates of his tribe, but this choice proved an error and he allegedly met his end at the hand of the Frankish king, Clovis. A time of confusion followed the death of Alaric II who was slain during the Battle of Vouillé. The Ostrogothic king Theodoric stepped in as the guardian of his grandson Amalaric, and preserved for him all his Iberian and a fragment of his Gallic dominion. Toulouse passed to the Franks but the Goths kept Narbonne and its district and Septimania, which was the last part of Gaul held by the Goths, keeping the name of Gothia for many years. Theodoric claimed a kind of protectorate over a large part of Italy and his Goths were embraced by the Roman population as Rome's defenders and part of its victorious army, while Theodoric much fanfare was made of his alleged "royal ancestry" which favorably cast his clan "on par with an imperial dynasty." Romans were in some ways "reinvogorated" by these new Gothic warriors as "guardians of ''Romanitas''" who, along with their Italo-Roman neighbors created a new "Gothic aegis" for the western empire, while those outside of Theodoric's order were made into veritable "barbarians". From 508–511 under Theodoric's command, the Ostrogoths marched on Gaul as the Vandal king of Carthage and Clovis made concerted efforts to weaken his hold on the Visigoths. On the death of Theodoric in 526, the eastern and western Goths were once again divided. By the late 6th century, the Ostrogoths lost their political identity and assimilated into other Germanic tribes. The picture of Theodoric's rule is drawn for us in the state papers drawn up, in his name and in the names of his successors, by his Roman minister
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
. The Goths seem to have been thick on the ground in northern Italy; in the south they formed little more than garrisons. Meanwhile, the Frankish king Clovis fought protracted wars against various enemies while consolidating his rule, forming the embryonic stages of what would eventually become Medieval Europe.


War with Byzantium (535–554)

Absent the unifying presence of Theodoric, the Ostrogoths and Visigoths were unable to consolidate their realms despite their common Germanic kinship. The few instances where they acted together after this time are as scattered and incidental as they were before. Amalaric succeeded to the Visigothic kingdom in Iberia and Septimania. Theodoric's grandson Athalaric took on the mantle as king of the Ostrogoths for the next five years. Provence was added to the dominion of the new Ostrogothic king Athalaric and through his daughter Amalasuntha who was named regent. Both were unable to settle disputes among Gothic elites. Theodahad, cousin of Amalasuntha and nephew of Theodoric through his sister, took over and slew them; however the usurping ushered in more bloodshed. Atop this infighting, the Ostrogoths faced the doctrinal challenges incurred from their Arian Christianity, which both the aristocracy of Byzantium and the Papacy strongly opposed—so much that it brought them together. The weakness of the Ostrogothic position in Italy now showed itself, particularly when Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I enacted a law excluding pagans—among them Arian Christians and Jews—from public employment. The Ostrogothic King Theodoric reacted by persecuting Catholics. Nonetheless, Justinian always strove to restore as much of the Western Roman Empire as he could and certainly would not pass up the opportunity. Launched on both land and sea, Justinian began his war of reconquest. In 535, he commissioned Belisarius to attack the Ostrogoths following the success he had in North Africa against the Vandals. It was Justinian's intention to recover Italy and Rome from the Goths. Belisarius quickly captured Sicily and then crossed into Italy, where he captured Naples and Rome in December of 536. Sometime during the spring of 537, the Goths marched on Rome with upwards of 100,000 men under the leadership of Witiges and laid siege to the city, albeit unsuccessfully. Despite outnumbering the Romans by a five-to-one margin, the Goths could not loose Belisarius from the former western capital of the Empire. After recuperating from siege warfare, Belisarius marched north, taking Mediolanum (Milan) and the Ostrogoth capital of Ravenna in 540. With the attack on Ravenna, Witiges and his men were trapped in the Ostrogothic capital. Belisarius proved more capable at siege warfare than his rival Witiges had been at Rome and the Ostrogoth ruler, who was also dealing with Frankish enemies, was forced to surrender, but not without terms. Belisarius refused to grant any concessions save unconditional surrender in view of the fact that Justinian wanted to make Witiges a vassal king in Trans-Padane Italy. This condition made for something of an impasse. A faction of the Gothic nobility pointed out that their own king Witiges, who had just lost, was something of a weakling and they would need a new one. Eraric, the leader of the group, endorsed Belisarius and the rest of the kingdom agreed, so they offered him their crown. Belisarius was a soldier, not a statesman, and still loyal to Justinian. He made as if to accept the offer, rode to Ravenna to be crowned, and promptly arrested the leaders of the Goths and reclaimed their entire kingdom—no halfway settlements—for the Empire. Fearful that Belisarius might set himself up a permanent kingship should he consolidate his conquests, Justinian recalled him to Constantinople with Witiges in tow. As soon as Belisarius was gone, the remaining Ostrogoths elected a new king named
Totila Totila, original name Baduila (died 1 July 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germ ...

Totila
. Under the brilliant command of Totila, the Goths were able to reassert themselves to a degree. For a period of nearly ten years, control for Italy became a seesaw battle between Byzantine and Ostrogothic forces. Totila eventually recaptured all of northern Italy and even drove the Byzantines out of Rome, thereby affording him the opportunity to take political control of the city, partly by executing the Roman senatorial order. Many of them fled eastwards for Constantinople. By 550 Justinian was able to put together an enormous force, an assembly designed to recover his losses and subdue any Gothic resistance. In 551, the Roman navy destroyed Totila's fleet and in 552 an overwhelming Byzantine force under Narses entered Italy from the north. Attempting to surprise the invading Byzantines, Totila gambled with his forces at Battle of Taginae, Taginaei, where he was slain. Broken but not yet defeated, the Ostrogoths made one final stand at Campania under a chief named Teia, but when he was also killed in battle at Nuceria they finally capitulated. On surrendering, they informed Narses that evidently "the hand of God was against them" and so they left Italy for the northern lands of their fathers. After that final defeat, the Ostrogothic name wholly died. The nation had practically evaporated with Theodoric's death. The leadership of western Europe therefore passed by default to the Franks. Consequently, Ostrogothic failure and Frankish success were crucial for the development of early medieval Europe, for Theodoric had made it "his intention to restore the vigor of Roman government and Roman culture". The chance of forming a national state in Italy by the union of Roman and Germanic elements, such as those that arose in Gaul, in Iberia, and in parts of Italy under Lombard rule, was thus lost. The failures of the barbarian kingdoms to maintain control of the regions they conquered were partly the result of leadership vacuums like those which resulted from the death of Theodoric (also the lack of male succession) and Totila but additionally as a consequence of political fragmentation amid the Germanic tribes as their loyalties wavered between their kin and their erstwhile enemies. Frankish entry onto the geopolitical map of Europe also bears into play: had the Ostrogoths attained more military success against the Byzantines on the battlefield by combining the strength of other Germanic tribes, this could have changed the direction of Frankish loyalty. Military success or defeat and political legitimacy were interrelated in barbarian society. Nevertheless, according to Roman historian Procopius of Caesarea, the Ostrogothic population was allowed to live peacefully in Italy with their Rugian allies under Roman sovereignty. They later joined the Lombards during their conquest of Italy.


Culture

Surviving Gothic writings in the Gothic language include the Bible of
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
and other religious writings and fragments. In terms of Gothic legislation in Latin, one finds the edict of Theodoric from around the year 500, and the ''Variae'' of Cassiodorus, which may also pass as a collection of the state papers of Theodoric and his immediate successors. Among the Visigoths, written laws had already been put forth by Euric. Alaric II put forth a Breviarium of Roman law for his Roman subjects; but the great collection of Visigothic laws dates from the later days of the monarchy, being put forth by King Reccaswinth about 654. This code gave occasion to some well-known comments by Montesquieu and Edward Gibbon, Gibbon, and has been discussed by Savigny (''Geschichte des römischen Rechts'', ii. 65) and various other writers. They are printed in the ''Monumenta Germaniae, leges'', tome i. (1902). Amid Gothic histories that remain, besides that of the frequently quoted Jordanes, there is the Gothic history of Isidore, archbishop of Seville, a special source of the history of the Visigothic kings down to Suinthila (621–631). But all the Latin and Greek language, Greek writers contemporary with the days of Gothic predominance also made their contributions. Not for special facts, but for a general estimate, no writer is more instructive than Salvian of Marseilles in the 5th century, whose work, ''De Gubernatione Dei'', is full of passages contrasting the vices of the Romans with the virtues of the "barbarians", especially of the Goths. In all such pictures one must allow a good deal for exaggeration both ways, but there must be a groundwork of truth. The chief virtues that the Roman Catholic presbyter praises in the Arian Goths are their chastity, their piety according to their own creed, their tolerance towards the Catholics under their rule, and their general good treatment of their Roman subjects. He even ventures to hope that such good people may be saved, notwithstanding their Christian heresy, heresy. This image must have had some basis in truth, but it is not very surprising that the later Visigoths of Iberia had fallen away from Salvian's somewhat idealistic picture.


6th-century Scandinavian Ostrogoths (Jordanes)

Jordanes named a people called the Ostrogoths (''Ostrogothae'') in a list of many peoples living on the large island of "Scandza", north of the mouth of the
Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest river in Poland and the 9th-longest river in Europe, at in length. The drainage basin, reaching into three other nations, covers , of which is in Poland. The Vistula rises at Bar ...

Vistula
, which most modern scholars understand to refer to the Scandinavian peninsula. The implication was that these Ostrogoths were living there in the 6th century, during the lifetime of Jordanes or his source
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
—the same period when there was a powerful Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy. The list itself mentions a Rodulf (petty king), Roduulf, king of the Ranii who lived in Scandza near the Dani (Danes). It says he had despised his own kingdom and come to Italy and the received the embrace of Theoderic the Great there. This Roduulf has thus been proposed as a possible source of information about Scandinavian peoples, because Cassiodorus was an important statesman at Theoderic's court. On the other hand, scholars have come to no consensus about when the list was made, and by whom, nor how to interpret most of the names in the list. Arne Søby Christensen, in his detailed analysis lists three possibilities: *that Jordanes believed some Ostrogoths had emigrated north, or... *that a similar name "Eastern Goths" had been coined in Scandinavia, where there were a people with the related name, the Gauts, or... *that a source of Jordanes, for example Cassiodorus, had created this form of the name, perhaps having heard of the Gauts. It has been pointed out by Walter Goffart that Jordanes (V.38) also digresses specially to criticize stories going around Constantinople, that the Goths had once been slaves in Britain or another northern island, and had been freed for the price of a nag. Goffart argues that Jordanes likely rejected the idea that the Goths should be simply sent north to their alleged land of origin. Goffart points out that Procopius—a contemporary of Jordanes—reports that Belisarius offered Britain to the Ostrogoths (''Gothic Wars''
VI, 6
; Goffart also suggests this may be connected to the stories mentioned by Jordanes. Fundamental to the question of the Scandza list, which mentions the Ostrogothae, there has been much scholarly discussion about why Jordanes claimed that Scandinavia was a "womb of the nations", and the point of origin to not only the Goths but also many other northern barbarian peoples. Before Jordanes, there was already a Judaeo-Christian tradition equating the Goths and other "Scythian" peoples with the descendants of Gog and Magog, who readers of the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation might otherwise associate with distant islands.


Ostrogothic rulers


Amal dynasty The Amali – also called Amals, Amalings or Amalungs – were a leading dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...

*
Valamir:''For the village in Azerbaijan, see Vələmir.'' Valamir or Valamer (c. 420 – 469) was an Ostrogothic king in the ancient country of Pannonia from AD 447 until his death. During his reign, he fought alongside the Huns against the Roman Empire a ...
r. 447 – c. 465 succeeded by his brother... *
TheodemirTheodemir, Theodemar, Theudemer or Theudimer was a Germanic name common among the various Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman ...
r. c. 465 – 475 succeeded by his son... *
Theodoric the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal ( la, Flāvius Theoderīcus; el, Θευδέριχος, Theuderichos), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kin ...
r. 475–526 succeeded by his grandson... * Athalaric r. 526–534 succeeded by his mother... * Amalasuntha, r. 534–535 the daughter of Theodoric, succeeded by her first cousin... * Theodahad r. 535–536 the son of Theodoric's sister.


Later kings

* Witiges r. 536–540 * Ildibad r. 540–541 * Eraric r. 541 *
Totila Totila, original name Baduila (died 1 July 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germ ...

Totila
(also ''Baduila'') r. 541–552 * Teia, Theia (also ''Teia(s)'', ''Teja'') r. 552–553


See also

* List of Germanic tribes * Crimean Goths * Oium * Wielbark culture


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

* . * * * * * * * * * * * * ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Ostrogoth", stable URL: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/434454/Ostrogoth * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

* {{Germanic peoples Ostrogoths, Early Germanic peoples History of the Balkans Ancient Italian history de:Goten#Ostgoten