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The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (Latin: Regnum Italiae),[5] was established by the Germanic Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas from 493 to 553.

In Italy the Ostrogoths, led by Theodoric the Great, killed and replaced Odoacer, a Germanic soldier, erstwhile-leader of the foederati in Northern Italy, and the de facto ruler of Italy, who had deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, in 476. Under Theodoric, its first king, the Ostrogothic kingdom reached its zenith, stretching from modern France in the west into modern Serbia in the southeast. Most of the social institutions of the late Western Roman Empire were preserved during his rule. Theodoric called himself Gothorum Romanorumque rex ("King of the Goths and Romans"), demonstrating his desire to be a leader for both peoples.

Starting in 535, the Byzantine Empire invaded Italy under Justinian I. The Ostrogothic ruler at that time, Witiges, could not defend the kingdom successfully and was finally captured when the capital Ravenna fell. The Ostrogoths rallied around a new leader, Totila, and largely managed to reverse the conquest, but were eventually defeated. The last king of the Ostrogothic Kingdom was Teia.

History

Background

Ostrogoths

The Ostrogoths were the eastern branch of the Goths. They settled and established a powerful state in Dacia, but during the late 4th century, they came under the dominion of the Huns. After the collapse of the Hunnic empire in 454, large numbers of Ostrogoths were settled by Emperor Marcian in the Roman province of Pannonia as foederati. Unlike most other foederati formations, the Goths were not absorbed into the structure and traditions of the Roman military but retained a strong identity and cohesion of their own.[6] In 460, during the reign of Leo I, because the payment of annual sums had ceased, they ravaged Illyricum. Peace was concluded in 461, whereby the young Theodoric Amal, son of Theodemir of the Amals, was sent as a hostage to Constantinople, where he received a Roman education.[7]

In previous years, a large number of Goths, first under Aspar and then under Theodoric Strabo, had entered service in the Roman army and were a significant political and military power in the court of Constantinople. The period 477-483 saw a complex three-way struggle among Theodoric the Amal, who had succeeded his father in 474, Theodoric Strabo, and the new Eastern Emperor Zeno. In this conflict, alliances shifted regularly, and large parts of the Balkans were devastated by it.[8]

In the end, after Strabo's death in 481, Zeno came to terms with Theodoric. Parts of Moesia and Dacia ripensis were ceded to the Goths, and Theodoric was named magister militum praesentalis and consul for 484.[8] Barely a year later, Theodoric and Zeno fell out, and again Theodoric's Goths ravaged Thrace. It was then that the thought occurred to Zeno and his advisors to kill two birds with one stone, and direct Theodoric against another troublesome neighbor of the Empire - the Italian kingdom of Odoacer.

Odoacer's kingdom (476–493)

In 476, Odoacer, leader of the foederati in the West, had staged a coup against the rebellious magister militum Orestes, who was seeking to have his son Romulus Augustulus recognized as Western Emperor in place of Emperor Julius Nepos. Orestes had reneged on the promise of land in Italy for Odoacer's troops, a pledge made to ensure their neutrality in his attack on Nepos. After executing Orestes and putting the teenage usurper in internal exile, Odoacer paid nominal allegiance to Nepos (now in Dalmatia) while effectively operating autonomously, having been raised to the rank of patrician by Zeno. Odoacer retained the Roman administrative system, cooperated actively with the Roman Senate, and his rule was efficient and successful. He evicted the Vandals from Sicily in 477, and in 480 he occupied Dalmatia after the murder of Julius Nepos.[9][10]

Conquest of Italy by the Goths (488–493)

An agreement was reached between Zeno and Theodoric, stipulating that Theodoric, if victorious, was to rule in Italy as the emperor's representative.[11] Theodoric with his people set out from Moesia in the autumn of 488, passed through Dalmatia and crossed the Julian Alps into Italy in late August 489. The first confrontation with the army of Odoacer was at the river Isonzo (the battle of Isonzo) on August 28. Odoacer was defeated and withdrew towards Verona, where a month later another battle was fought, resulting in a bloody, but crushing, Gothic victory.[12]

Odoacer fled to his capital at Ravenna, while the larger part of his army under Tufa surrendered to the Goths. Theodoric then sent Tufa and his men against Odoacer, but he changed his allegiance again and returned to Odoacer. In 490, Odoacer was thus able to campaign against Theodoric, take Milan and Cremona and besiege the main Gothic base at Ticinum (Pavia). At that point, however, the Visigoths intervened, the siege of Ticinum was lifted, and Odoacer was decisively defeated at the river Adda on 11 August 490. Odoacer fled again to Ravenna, while the Senate and many Italian cities declared themselves for Theodoric.[12]

Theodoric kills Odoacer (493)

The Goths now turned to besiege Ravenna, but since they lacked a fleet and the city could be resupplied by sea, the siege could be endured almost indefinitely, despite privations. It was not until 492 that Theodoric was able to procure a fleet and capture Ravenna's harbours, thus entirely cutting off communication with the outside world. The effects of this appeared six months later, when, with the mediation of the city's bishop, negotiations started between the two parties.Theodoric the Great, killed and replaced Odoacer, a Germanic soldier, erstwhile-leader of the foederati in Northern Italy, and the de facto ruler of Italy, who had deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, in 476. Under Theodoric, its first king, the Ostrogothic kingdom reached its zenith, stretching from modern France in the west into modern Serbia in the southeast. Most of the social institutions of the late Western Roman Empire were preserved during his rule. Theodoric called himself Gothorum Romanorumque rex ("King of the Goths and Romans"), demonstrating his desire to be a leader for both peoples.

Starting in 535, the Byzantine Empire invaded Italy under Justinian I. The Ostrogothic ruler at that time, Witiges, could not defend the kingdom successfully and was finally captured when the capital Ravenna fell. The Ostrogoths rallied around a new leader, Totila, and largely managed to reverse the conquest, but were eventually defeated. The last king of the Ostrogothic Kingdom was Teia.

The Ostrogoths were the eastern branch of the Goths. They settled and established a powerful state in Dacia, but during the late 4th century, they came under the dominion of the Huns. After the collapse of the Hunnic empire in 454, large numbers of Ostrogoths were settled by Emperor Marcian in the Roman province of Pannonia as foederati. Unlike most other foederati formations, the Goths were not absorbed into the structure and traditions of the Roman military but retained a strong identity and cohesion of their own.[6] In 460, during the reign of Leo I, because the payment of annual sums had ceased, they ravaged Illyricum. Peace was concluded in 461, whereby the young Theodoric Amal, son of Theodemir of the Amals, was sent as a hostage to Constantinople, where he received a Roman education.[7]

In previous years, a large number of Goths, first under Aspar and then under Theodoric Strabo, had entered service in the Roman army and were a significant political and military power in the court of Constantinople. The period 477-483 saw a complex three-way struggle among Theodoric the Amal, who had succeeded his father in 474, Theodoric Strabo, and the new Eastern Emperor Zeno. In this conflict, alliances shifted regularly, and large parts of the Balkans were devastated by it.[8]

In the end, after Strabo's death in 481, Zeno came to terms with Theodoric. Parts of Moesia and Dacia ripensis were ceded to the Goths, and Theodoric was named magister militum praesentalis and consul for 484.[8] Barely a year later, Theodoric and Zeno fell out, and again Theodoric's Goths ravaged Thrace. It was then that the thought occurred to Zeno and his advisors to kill two birds with one stone, and direct Theodoric against another troublesome neighbor of the Empire - the Italian kingdom of Odoacer.

Odoacer's kingdom (476–493)

In 476, Odoacer, leader of the foederati in the West, had staged a coup against the rebellious magister militum Orestes, who was seeking to have his son Romulus Augustulus recognized as Western Emperor in place of Emperor Julius Nepos. Orestes had reneged on the promise of land in Italy for Odoacer's troops, a pledge made to ensure their neutrality in his attack on Nepos. After executing Orestes and putting the teenage usurper in internal exile, Odoacer paid nominal allegiance to Nepos (now in Dalmatia) while effectively operating autonomously, having been raised to the rank of patrician by Zeno. Odoacer retained the Roman administrative system, cooperated actively with the Roman Senate, and his rule was efficient and successful. He evicted the Vandals from Sicily in 477, and in 480 he occupied Dalmatia after the murder of Julius Nepos.[9][10]

Conquest of Italy by the Goths (488–493)

An agreement was reached between Zeno and Theodoric, stipulating that Theodoric, if victorious, was to rule in Italy as the emperor's representative.[11] Theodoric with his people set out from Moesia in the autumn of 488, passed through Dalmatia and crossed the Julian Alps into Italy in late August 489. The first confrontation with the army of Odoacer was at the river Isonzo (the battle of Isonzo) on August 28. Odoacer was defeated and withdrew towards Verona, where a month later another battle was fought, resulting in a bloody, but crushing, Gothic victory.Aspar and then under Theodoric Strabo, had entered service in the Roman army and were a significant political and military power in the court of Constantinople. The period 477-483 saw a complex three-way struggle among Theodoric the Amal, who had succeeded his father in 474, Theodoric Strabo, and the new Eastern Emperor Zeno. In this conflict, alliances shifted regularly, and large parts of the Balkans were devastated by it.[8]

In the end, after Strabo's death in 481, Zeno came to terms with Theodoric. Parts of Moesia and Dacia ripensis were ceded to the Goths, and Theodoric was named magister militum praesentalis and consul for 484.[8] Barely a year later, Theodoric and Zeno fell out, and again Theodoric's Goths ravaged Thrace. It was then that the thought occurred to Zeno and his advisors to kill two birds with one stone, and direct Theodoric against another troublesome neighbor of the Empire - the Italian kingdom of Odoacer.

In 476, Odoacer, leader of the foederati in the West, had staged a coup against the rebellious magister militum Orestes, who was seeking to have his son Romulus Augustulus recognized as Western Emperor in place of Emperor Julius Nepos. Orestes had reneged on the promise of land in Italy for Odoacer's troops, a pledge made to ensure their neutrality in his attack on Nepos. After executing Orestes and putting the teenage usurper in internal exile, Odoacer paid nominal allegiance to Nepos (now in Dalmatia) while effectively operating autonomously, having been raised to the rank of patrician by Zeno. Odoacer retained the Roman administrative system, cooperated actively with the Roman Senate, and his rule was efficient and successful. He evicted the Vandals from Sicily in 477, and in 480 he occupied Dalmatia after the murder of Julius Nepos.[9][10]

Conquest of Italy by the Goths (488–493)

All of the surviving literature written in the Ostrogothic kingdom is in Latin,[citation needed] though some older works were copied in Greek and Gothic (e.g. the Codex Argenteus), and the literature is solidly in the Greco-Roman tradition. Cassiodorus, hailing from a distinguished background, and himself entrusted with high offices (consul and magister officiorum) represents the Roman ruling class. Like many others of his background, he served Theodoric and his heirs loyally and well, something expressed in the writings of the period.

In his Chronica, used later by Jordanes in his Getica, as well as in the various panegyrics written by him and other prominent Romans of the time for the Gothic kings, Roman literary and historical tradition is put in the service of their Gothic overlords. His privileged position enabled him to compile the Variae Epistolae, a collection of state correspondence, which gives great insight into the inner workings of the Gothic state. Boethius is another prominent figure of the period. Well-educated and also from a distinguished family, he wrote works on mathematics, music and philosophy. His most famous work, Consolatio philosophiae, was written while imprisoned on charges of treason.


In Germanic languages King theoderic inspired countless Legends about Theodoric the Great of questionable veracity.

In popular culture

  1. ^ Cohen (2016), pp. 510–521.
  2. ^ Cohen (2016), pp. 504–510.
  3. ^ a b Cohen (2016), pp. 523, 524.
  4. ^ Cohen (2016), pp. 521–523.
  5. ^ Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, Variae, Lib. II., XLI. Luduin regi Francorum Theodericus rex.
  6. ^ Chris Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome, 98
  7. ^ Jordanes, Getica, 271
  8. ^ a b Bury (1923), Ch. XII, pp. 413-421
  9. ^ "At this time, Odovacar overcame and killed Odiva in Dalmatia", Cassiodorus, Chronica 1309, s.a.481
  10. ^ Bury (1923), Ch. XII, pp. 406-412
  11. ^ Bury (1923), Ch. XII, p. 422
  12. ^