Theoderic the Great

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Teodorico re dei Goti (493-526).png
Medallion featuring Theoderic, c. AD 491–501. Note Germanic moustache and hairstyle, and possible elongated skull.
King of the Ostrogoths
Reign475 30 August 526
Predecessor Theodemir
Successor Athalaric
King of Italy
Reign15 March 493 30 August 526
Predecessor Odoacer
King of the Visigoths
Reign511 30 August 526
Predecessor Gesalec
Successor Amalaric
Died30 August 526(526-08-30) (aged 71–72)
Ravenna, Kingdom of Italy
Spouse Audofleda
Issue Amalasuntha
Dynasty Amali
Father Theodemir
Mother Ereleuva
Religion Arianism

Theoderic the Great (454 – 30 August 526), often referred to as Theodoric ( /θiˈɒdərɪk/ ; Gothic : *𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, *Þiudareiks, Latin : Flāvius Theodericus, Italian : Teodorico, Greek : Θευδέριχος, Theuderikhos, Old English :Þēodrīc, Old Norse : Þjōðrēkr, German : Theoderich), was king of the Ostrogoths (475–526), [1] ruler of Italy (493–526), regent of the Visigoths (511–526), and a patrician of the Roman Empire. As ruler of the combined Gothic realms, Theoderic controlled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea. He kept good relations between Ostrogoths and Romans, maintained a Roman legal administration and oversaw a flourishing scholarly culture and the largest building program in Italy in 100 years. [2] [3]

Gothic language language

Gothic is an extinct East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable text corpus. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from loanwords in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.


Theoderic was born in Pannonia in 454 as the son of king Theodemir, a Germanic Amali nobleman, and his concubine Ereleuva. From 461 to 471, Theoderic grew up as a hostage in Constantinople, received a privileged education under imperial direction, and succeeded his father as leader of the Pannonian Ostrogoths in 473. [4] Settling his people in lower Moesia, Theoderic came into conflict with Thracian Ostrogoths led by Theodoric Strabo, whom he eventually supplanted, uniting the peoples in 484. Emperor Zeno subsequently gave him the title of Patrician, Vir gloriosus , and the office of magister militum (master of the soldiers), and even appointed him as consul. Seeking further gains, Theoderic frequently ravaged the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire, eventually threatening Constantinople itself. In 488, Emperor Zeno ordered Theoderic to overthrow the Germanic foederatus and King of Italy, Odoacer. After a victorious four-year war, Theoderic killed Odoacer with his own hands while they shared a meal, settled his 200,000 to 250,000 people in Italy, and founded an Ostrogothic Kingdom based in Ravenna. [5] Theoderic extended his hegemony over the Burgundian and Vandal Kingdoms through marriage alliances. In 511, the Visigothic Kingdom was brought under Theoderic's direct control, forming a Gothic empire that extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea.

Pannonia ancient province of the Roman Empire

Pannonia was a province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia. Pannonia was located over the territory of the present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia, western Slovakia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Theodemir was king of the Ostrogoths of the Amal Dynasty, and father of Theoderic the Great. He had two "brothers" named Valamir and Videmir. Theodemir was Arian, while his wife Erelieva was Catholic and took the Roman Christian name Eusebia upon her baptism. He took over the three Pannonian Goth reigns after the death of Widimir, ruled jointly with his brothers-in-law as a vassal of Attila the Hun. The reason is probably that this relatively long reign of the Ostrogoths in Pannonia, while his elder brother Thiudimir only for four years on the throne, followed by Theoderic, and firstly inherited, the heirless, Walamir's part of the kingdom. He was married to Erelieva, with whom he had two children: Theoderic (454–526) and Amalafrida. When Theodemir died in 475, Theoderic succeeded him as king.

Germanic peoples peoples who are, or are related to, native speakers of a Germanic language

The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of Northern European origin identified by their use of the Germanic languages. Their history stretches from the 2nd millennium BCE up to the present day.

Theoderic's achievements began to unravel in his later years. The Burgundians and Vandals threw off Ostrogothic hegemony by 523, and Theoderic's presumptive heir to both Gothic realms and son-in-law Eutharic died in 522, throwing his succession into doubt. Theoderic's good relations with the Roman Senate deteriorated due to a presumed senatorial conspiracy in 522, and, in 523, Theoderic had the philosopher and court official Boethius and Boethius' father-in-law Symmachus executed on charges of treason related to the alleged plot. Theoderic died in Ravenna on 30 August 526, and was succeeded by his grandson Athalaric, with Theoderic's daughter Amalasuntha serving as regent. The Visigothic Kingdom re-acquired its independence on Theoderic's death.

Eutharic Cilliga was an Ostrogothic prince from Iberia who, during the early 6th century, served as Roman Consul and "son in arms" alongside the Byzantine emperor Justin I. He was the son-in-law and presumptive heir of the Ostrogoth king Theoderic the Great but died in AD 522 at the age of 42 before he could inherit Theoderic's title. Theoderic claimed that Eutharic was a descendant of the Gothic royal house of Amali and it was intended that his marriage to Theoderic's daughter Amalasuintha would unite the Gothic kingdoms, establish Theoderic's dynasty and further strengthen the Gothic hold over Italy.

Roman Senate A political institution in ancient Rome

The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome,. It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.

Boethius philosopher of the early 6th century

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius, was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a year after Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor and declared himself King of Italy. Boethius entered public service under Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and executed him in 524 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow him. While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues, which became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages. As the author of numerous handbooks and translator of Aristotle, he became the main intermediary between Classical antiquity and following centuries.

Seeking to restore the glory of ancient Rome, he ruled Italy in its most peaceful and prosperous period since Valentinian I. Memories of his reign made him a hero of German legends, as Dietrich von Bern.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian peninsula, dating from the 8th century BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Valentinian I Roman emperor

Valentinian I, also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west.

Legends about Theoderic the Great mythical character

In legends about Theoderic the Great that spread after his death, the Gothic king Theoderic became known as Dietrich von Bern, a king ruling from Verona (Bern) who was forced into exile with the Huns. The differences between the known life of Theoderic and the picture of Dietrich in the surviving legends are usually attributed to a long-standing oral tradition that continued into the sixteenth century. The majority of legendary material about Dietrich/Theoderic comes from high and late medieval Germany and is composed in Middle High German or Early New High German. Another important source for legends about Dietrich is the Old Norse Thidrekssaga, which was written using German sources. In addition to the legends detailing events that may reflect the historical Theoderic's life in some fashion, many of the legends tell of Dietrich's battles against dwarfs, dragons, giants, and other mythical beings, as well as other heroes such as Siegfried. Dietrich also appears as a supporting character in other heroic poems such as the Nibelungenlied, and is frequently referenced and alluded to throughout medieval German literature.


The man who would later rule under the name of Theoderic was born in AD 454, on the banks of the Neusiedler See near Carnuntum. This was just a year after the Ostrogoths had thrown off nearly a century of domination by the Huns. His Gothic name, which is reconstructed by linguists as *Þiudareiks, translates into "people-king" or "ruler of the people". [6] The son of King Theodemir and Ereleuva, Theoderic went to Constantinople as a young boy, as a hostage to secure the Ostrogoths' compliance with a treaty Theodemir had concluded with the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Thracian (ruled 457–474). [7]

Carnuntum human settlement in Austria

Carnuntum was a Roman legionary fortress and also headquarters of the Pannonian fleet from 50 AD. After the 1st century, it was capital of the Pannonia Superior province. It also became a large city of 50,000 inhabitants.

Huns Tribe of eastern Europe and central Asia

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, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that was part of Scythia at the time; the Huns' arrival is associated with the migration westward of an Indo-Iranian people, the Alans. By 370 AD, the Huns had arrived on the Volga, and by 430 the Huns had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe, conquering the Goths and many other Germanic peoples living outside of Roman borders, and causing many others to flee into Roman territory. The Huns, especially under their King Attila made frequent and devastating raids into the Eastern Roman Empire. In 451, the Huns invaded the Western Roman province of Gaul, where they fought a combined army of Romans and Visigoths at the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields, and in 452 they invaded Italy. After Attila's death in 453, the Huns ceased to be a major threat to Rome and lost much of their empire following the Battle of Nedao (454?). Descendants of the Huns, or successors with similar names, are recorded by neighbouring populations to the south, east and west as having occupied parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia from about the 4th to 6th centuries. Variants of the Hun name are recorded in the Caucasus until the early 8th century.

Ereleuva was the mother of the Ostrogothic king Theoderic the Great. She is often referred to as the concubine of Theoderic's father, Theodemir, although historian Thomas Hodgkin notes "this word of reproach hardly does justice to her position. In many of the Teutonic nations, as among the Norsemen of a later century, there seems to have been a certain laxity as to the marriage rite..." That Gelasius refers to her as regina ("queen") suggests that she had a prominent social position despite the informality of her union with Theodemir.

He was Leo's hostage at the Great Palace of Constantinople from 461 to 471 and was well-educated by Constantinople's best teachers. [8] Theoderic was treated with favor by the Emperors Leo I and Zeno (ruled 474–475 and 476–491). He settled his people in Epirus in 479 with the help of his relative Sidimund. Theoderic became magister militum (Master of Soldiers) in 483, and one year later he became consul in a ceremony in the presence of Emperor Zeno. [8] Afterwards, he returned to live among the Ostrogoths when he was 31 years old and became their king in 488. The legend that he was illiterate arose from the fact that he used a stamp to affix his approval of laws; he no doubt spoke Latin and Greek and could read these languages although one cannot know how well.

Great Palace of Constantinople

The Great Palace of Constantinople, also known as the Sacred Palace, was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul, in modern Turkey. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors from 330 to 1081 and was the center of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day.

Zeno (emperor) 5th-century Byzantine Emperor

Zeno the Isaurian, originally named Tarasis Kodisa Rousombladadiotes, was Eastern Roman Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues. His reign saw the end of the Western Roman Empire following the deposition of Romulus Augustus and the death of Julius Nepos, but he contributed much to stabilising the Eastern Empire.

Epirus Historical region in Divided between Greece and Albania

Epirus is a geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, now shared between Greece and Albania. It lies between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, stretching from the Bay of Vlorë and the Acroceraunian mountains in the north to the Ambracian Gulf and the ruined Roman city of Nicopolis in the south. It is currently divided between the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece and the counties of Gjirokastër, Vlorë, and Berat in southern Albania. The largest city in Epirus is Ioannina, seat of the region of Epirus, with Gjirokastër the largest city in the Albanian part of Epirus.


The Ostrogothic Kingdom (in yellow) at the death of Theoderic the Great (AD 526) Europe at the death of Theoderic the Great in 526.jpg
The Ostrogothic Kingdom (in yellow) at the death of Theoderic the Great (AD 526)

At the time, the Ostrogoths were settled in Byzantine territory as foederati (allies) of the Romans, but were becoming restless and increasingly difficult for Zeno to manage. Not long after Theoderic became king, the two men worked out an arrangement beneficial to both sides. The Ostrogoths needed a place to live, and Zeno was having serious problems with Odoacer, the King of Italy who had come to power in 476. Ostensibly a viceroy for Zeno, Odoacer was menacing Byzantine territory and not respecting the rights of Roman citizens in Italy. At Zeno's encouragement, Theoderic invaded Odoacer's kingdom. In this endeavor he received the support of the Rugian king Frideric, who was the son of Theoderic's cousin Giso.

Theoderic moved with his people towards Italy in the autumn of 488. [9] On the way he was opposed by the Gepids, whom he defeated at Sirmium in August 489. [9] Arriving in Italy, Theoderic won the battles of Isonzo and Verona in 489. [10] He was defeated by Odoacer at Faenza in 490, but regained the upper hand after securing victory in the Battle of the Adda River on August 11, 490. [11] In 493 he took Ravenna. On February 2, 493, Theoderic and Odoacer signed a treaty that assured both parties would rule over Italy. [11] A banquet was organised on 15 March 493 in order to celebrate this treaty. [11] At this banquet, Theoderic, after making a toast, killed Odoacer. Theoderic drew his sword and struck him on the collarbone. [11]

Brick with the emblem of Theoderic, found in the Temple of Vesta, Rome. It reads "+REG(nante) D(omino) N(ostro) THEODERICO [b]O[n]O ROM(a)E", which translates as With our master Theoderic the Good reigning in Rome [this brick was made]. Theodoric brick.png
Brick with the emblem of Theoderic, found in the Temple of Vesta, Rome. It reads "+REG(nante) D(omino) N(ostro) THEODERICO [b]O[n]O ROM(a)E", which translates as With our master Theoderic the Good reigning in Rome [this brick was made].

Like Odoacer, Theoderic was ostensibly only a viceroy for the emperor in Constantinople. In reality, he was able to avoid imperial supervision, and dealings between the emperor and Theoderic were as equals. Unlike Odoacer, however, Theoderic respected the agreement he had made and allowed Roman citizens within his kingdom to be subject to Roman law and the Roman judicial system. [2] The Goths, meanwhile, lived under their own laws and customs. In 519, when a mob had burned down the synagogues of Ravenna, Theoderic ordered the town to rebuild them at its own expense.

Theoderic the Great sought alliances with, or hegemony over, the other Germanic kingdoms in the west. He allied with the Franks by his marriage to Audofleda, sister of Clovis I, and married his own female relatives to princes or kings of the Visigoths, Vandals and Burgundians. He stopped the Vandals from raiding his territories by threatening the weak Vandal king Thrasamund with invasion, and sent a guard of 5,000 troops with his sister Amalafrida when she married Thrasamund in AD 500. For much of his reign, Theoderic was the de facto king of the Visigoths as well, becoming regent for the infant Visigothic king, his grandson Amalaric, following the defeat of Alaric II by the Franks under Clovis in 507. The Franks were able to wrest control of Aquitaine from the Visigoths, but otherwise Theoderic was able to defeat their incursions.

Theoderic's empire at the height of its power in 523, with territory marked in pink ruled directly by Theoderic and stippled areas under his hegemony. Empire of Theodoric the Great 523.gif
Theoderic's empire at the height of its power in 523, with territory marked in pink ruled directly by Theoderic and stippled areas under his hegemony.

Theoderic's achievements began to unravel even before his death. He had married off his daughter Amalasuntha to the Visigoth Eutharic, but Eutharic died in August 522 or 523, so no lasting dynastic connection of Ostrogoths and Visigoths was established. In 522, the Catholic Burgundian king Sigismund killed his own son, Theoderic's grandson, Sergeric. Theoderic retaliated by invading the Burgundian kingdom and then annexing its southern part, probably in 523. The rest was ruled by Sigismund's Arian brother Godomar, under Gothic protection against the Franks who had captured Sigismund. This brought the territory ruled by Theoderic to its height (see map), but in 523 or 524 the new Catholic Vandal king Hilderic imprisoned Amalafrida and killed her Gothic guard. Theoderic was planning an expedition to restore his power over the Vandal kingdom when he died in 526.

Bronze weight, inlaid with silver, with the name of Theoderic, issued by prefect Catulinus in Rome, 493-526 Theodoric bronze weight inlaid with silver issued by prefect Catulinus Rome 493 526.jpg
Bronze weight, inlaid with silver, with the name of Theoderic, issued by prefect Catulinus in Rome, 493–526

Family and progeny

Theoderic was married once.

He had a concubine in Moesia, name unknown, with whom he had two daughters:

By his marriage to Audofleda in 493 he had one daughter:

After his death in Ravenna in 526, Theoderic was succeeded by his grandson Athalaric. Athalaric was at first represented by his mother Amalasuntha, who served as regent from 526 until 534. The kingdom of the Ostrogoths, however, began to wane and was conquered by Justinian I in 553 after the Battle of Mons Lactarius.

Building program

Theoderic promoted the rebuilding of Roman cities and the preservation of ancient monuments in Italy. [13] The fame of his building works reached far-away Syria. [14] Theoderic's building program saw more extensive new construction and restoration than that of any of the Western Roman Emperors after Honorius (395–423). [3]


Mosaic depiction of the front of Theoderic's Palace on the upper part of the south wall of the nave of San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. Theoderic and his court were removed from the image by the Eastern Romans. Theodoric's Palace - Sant'Apollinare Nuovo - Ravenna 2016 (crop).jpg
Mosaic depiction of the front of Theoderic's Palace on the upper part of the south wall of the nave of San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. Theoderic and his court were removed from the image by the Eastern Romans.

Theoderic devoted most of his architectural attention to his capital, Ravenna. [15] He restored Ravenna's water supply by repairing an aqueduct originally built by Trajan. [15] He proceeded to construct a "Great Basilica of Hercules" next to a colossal statue of Hercules. [15] To promote Arianism, the king commissioned a small Arian cathedral, the Hagia Anastasis, which contains the Arian Baptistery. [16] Three more churches built by Theoderic in Ravenna and its suburbs, S. Andrea dei Goti, S. Giorgio and S. Eusebio, were destroyed in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. [17]

Theoderic built the Palace of Theoderic for himself in Ravenna, modeled on the Great Palace of Constantinople. [18] It was an expansion of an earlier Roman structure. [19] The palace church of Christ the Redeemer survives and is known today as the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. [20] An equestrian statue of Theoderic was erected in the square in front of the palace. [21] This may have been the Regisole , which was moved to Pavia, then destroyed during the French Revolution by the local Jacobin Club.

The Mausoleum of Theoderic in Ravenna Mausoleum of Theoderic.JPG
The Mausoleum of Theoderic in Ravenna

Theoderic the Great was interred in Ravenna, but his bones were scattered and his mausoleum was converted to a church after Belisarius conquered the city in 540. [22] His mausoleum is one of the finest monuments in Ravenna. Unlike all the other contemporary buildings in Ravenna, which were made of brick, the Mausoleum of Theoderic was built completely from fine quality stone ashlars. [23] [24]


The Palace of Domitian on the Palatine Hill was reconstructed, using the receipts from a specially levied tax. [14] The city walls of Rome were rebuilt, a feat celebrated by the Senate of Rome with a gilded statue of Theoderic. [14] The Senate's Curia, the Theatre of Pompey, the city aqueducts, sewers and a granary were refurbished and repaired. [14] Statues were set up in the Flavian Amphitheatre. [14]


The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the church of the Palace of Theoderic in Ravenna Ravenna, sant'apollinare nuovo, ext. 01.JPG
The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the church of the Palace of Theoderic in Ravenna

In 522 the philosopher Boethius became his magister officiorum (head of all the government and court services). Boethius was a dedicated Hellenist bent on translating all the works of Aristotle into Latin and harmonizing them with the works of Plato. A year later, he was imprisoned and put to death after being accused of treasonous correspondence with the Eastern emperor Justin I.

In the meantime Cassiodorus had succeeded Boethius as magister in 523. The pliant historian and courtier could be counted on to provide refined touches to official correspondence. "To the monarch you [Cassiodorus] were a friendly judge and an honored intimate. For when he became free from his official cares, he looked to your conversation for the precepts of the sages, that he might make himself a worthy equal to the great men of old. Ever curious, he desired to hear about the courses of the stars, the tides of the sea, and legendary fountains, that his earnest study of natural science might make him seem to be a veritable philosopher in the purple" (Cassiodorus' letterbook, Variae 9.24.8). The gulf was widening between the ancient senatorial aristocracy, whose center was Rome, and the adherents of Gothic rule at Ravenna: other distinguished public figures followed Boethius to the block.

Theoderic in his final years was no longer the disengaged Arian patron of religious toleration that he had seemed earlier in his reign. "Indeed, his death cut short what could well have developed into a major persecution of Catholic churches in retaliation for measures taken by Justinian in Constantinople against Arians there." [25]

Theoderic was of the Arian (Christian) faith. At the end of his reign quarrels arose with his Roman subjects and the Byzantine emperor Justin I over the Arianism issue. Relations between the two nations deteriorated, although Theoderic's ability dissuaded the Byzantines from waging war against him. After his death, that reluctance faded quickly.


Bronze statue of Theoderic the Great (by Peter Vischer the Elder, 1512-13), from the monument of Emperor Maximilian I in the Court Church at Innsbruck Theoderich (Vischer).JPG
Bronze statue of Theoderic the Great (by Peter Vischer the Elder, 1512–13), from the monument of Emperor Maximilian I in the Court Church at Innsbruck

Medieval reception

Theoderich is an important figure in medieval German literature as Dietrich von Bern , and in Icelandic literature as Þiðrekr . In German legends, Dietrich becomes an exile from his native kingdom of Lombardy, fighting with the help of Etzel against his usurping uncle, Ermenrich. Only the Old High German Hildebrandslied still contains Odoacer as Dietrich's antagonist. The Old Norse version, based on German sources, moves the location of Dietrich (Thidrek)'s life to Westphalia and northern Germany. The legends paint a generally positive picture of Dietrich, with only some influence from the negative traditions of the church visible. [26] [27]

See also


  1. Grun, Bernard (1991) [1946]. The Timetable of History (New Third Revised ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 30–31. ISBN   0-671-74271-X.
  2. 1 2 Johnson 1988, p. 74.
  3. 1 2 Johnson 1988, p. 95.
  4. Thomas Burns, A History of Ostrogoths, p. 57.
  5. S. Burns, Thomas (1984). A History of the Ostrogoths. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 44.
  6. Langer, William Leonard (1968). "Italy, 489–554". An Encyclopedia of World History . Harrap. p. 159. Thiudareiks (ruler of the people)
  7. Heather 2013, p. 4.
  8. 1 2 Johnson 1988, p. 73.
  9. 1 2 Heather 2013, p. 50.
  10. Heather 2013, pp. 50–51.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Heather 2013, p. 51.
  12. E. T Dailey, Queens, Consorts, Concubines: Gregory of Tours and Women of the Merovingian Elite, (Brill, 2015), 88.
  13. Johnson 1988, p. 76.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Johnson 1988, p. 77.
  15. 1 2 3 Johnson 1988, p. 78.
  16. Johnson 1988, p. 79.
  17. Johnson 1988, p. 80.
  18. Johnson 1988, p. 82.
  19. Johnson 1988, p. 81.
  20. Johnson 1988, p. 85.
  21. Johnson 1988, p. 87.
  22. Trudy Ring; Robert M. Salkin; Sharon La Boda (1 January 1996). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe. Taylor & Francis. pp. 556–. ISBN   978-1-884964-02-2 . Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  23. Johnson 1988, p. 93.
  24. Johnson 1988, p. 96.
  25. O'Donnell 1979, ch. 1.
  26. Haymes & Samples 1996, pp. 20-21.
  27. Heinzle 1999, pp. 1-10.

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The Ostrogoths were the eastern branch of the older Goths. The Ostrogoths traced their origins to the Greutungi – a branch of the Goths who had migrated southward from the Baltic Sea and established a kingdom north of the Black Sea, during the 3rd and 4th centuries. They built an empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic. The Ostrogoths were probably literate in the 3rd century, and their trade with the Romans was highly developed. Their Danubian kingdom reached its zenith under King Ermanaric, who is said to have committed suicide at an old age when the Huns attacked his people and subjugated them in about 370.

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The 470s decade ran from January 1, 470, to December 31, 479.

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The 490s decade ran from January 1, 490, to December 31, 499.

The 480s decade ran from January 1, 480, to December 31, 489.

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Flavius Odoacer, also known as Flavius Odovacer or Odovacar, was a barbarian statesman who in 476 became the first King of Italy (476–493). His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Odoacer is the earliest ruler of Italy for whom an autograph of any of his legal acts has survived to the current day.

Pope John I pope

Pope John I was Pope from 13 August 523 to his death in 526. He was a native of Siena, in Italy. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople by the Ostrogoth King Theoderic to negotiate better treatment for Arians. Although relatively successful, upon his return to Ravenna, Theoderic had the Pope imprisoned for allegedly conspiring with Constantinople. The frail pope died of neglect and ill-treatment.

Athalaric Ostrogothic king

Athalaric was the King of the Ostrogoths in Italy between 526 and 534. He was a son of Eutharic and Amalasuntha, the youngest daughter of Theoderic the Great, whom Athalaric succeeded as king in 526.

Foederati were foreign states, client kingdoms, or barbarian tribes to which ancient Rome provided benefits in exchange for military assistance. The term was also used, especially under the Roman Empire for groups of "barbarian" mercenaries of various sizes, who were typically allowed to settle within the Roman Empire.

The Amali, also called Amals or Amalings, were a leading dynasty of the Goths, a Germanic people who confronted the Roman Empire in its declining years in the west. They eventually became the royal house of the Ostrogoths and founded the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy.

Ostrogothic Kingdom former country

The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy, was established by the Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas from 493 to 553.

The Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of the Aesontius, or the Battle of the Isontius is the name given to the battle fought on August 28, 489 on the banks of the Isontius River, not far away from Aquileia. This river is now known as the Isonzo in Italian, and Soča in Slovene. This battle should not be confused with the 12 Battles of the Isonzo during World War I.

Audofleda was a Gothic queen. She was the sister of Clovis I, King of the Franks. She married Theoderic the Great, King of the Ostrogoths (471–526), around 493 AD. Theoderic sent an embassy to Clovis to request the marriage. This political move allied Theoderic with the Franks, and by marrying his daughters off to the kings of the Burgundians, the Vandals, and the Visigoths, he allied himself with every major 'Barbarian' kingdom in the West.

Ostrogothic Papacy

The Ostrogothic Papacy was a period from 493 to 537 where the papacy was strongly influenced by the Ostrogothic Kingdom, if the pope was not outright appointed by the Ostrogothic King. The selection and administration of popes during this period was strongly influenced by Theodoric the Great and his successors Athalaric and Theodahad. This period terminated with Justinian I's (re)conquest of Rome during the Gothic War (535–554), inaugurating the Byzantine Papacy (537-752).

Ostrogothic Ravenna refers to the time period in which Ravenna was the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy. Ravenna is a city in Northeastern Italy that served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom which existed between 493 and 553 CE. During that time Ravenna saw a great renovation, in particular under Theodoric the Great (454–526). During his rule Ravenna saw many of its finest monuments constructed or renovated including the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Palace of Theoderic and Mausoleum of Theodoric. Many of these monuments reflected Theodoric's, as well as the Goths as a people, religion of Arian Christianity. Though an Arian Christian himself, Theodoric's rule was a time of religious tolerance in the city of Ravenna. His religious tolerance extended also to forging a balance between the Romans and Goths in Ravenna. Theodoric attempted to model Ravenna as a capital equivalent to that of Rome or Constantinople and as such was a defender of classical antiquity in a western world that saw much of its classical heritage disappearing.

Deposition of Romulus Augustulus

Odoacer's deposition of Romulus Augustulus, occurring in 476 AD, marked the end of the period during which Western Roman Emperors exercised sovereignty, although Julius Nepos exercised control over Dalmatia until 480. Romulus Augustulus was a 16-year-old minor at the time.


Further reading

Preceded by
King of the Ostrogoths
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of Italy
Preceded by
Anicius Acilius Aginatius Faustus,
Post consulatum Trocundis (East)
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Decius Marius Venantius Basilius
Succeeded by
Q. Aurelius Memmius Symmachus,
Post consulatum Theoderici (East)