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EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPE Edited by T. S. Brown Edward James Rosamond
Rollason Alan Thacker
Theoderic, king of the Goths PETER
At the beginning of 478, Theoderic the Amal, later king of Ostrogothic Italy, was formally in alliance with the Emperor Zeno. Theoderic had himself in in in Roman Balkans the a three-way established 473, engaging independent Gothic Constantinople struggle with and a second, group led by another Theoderic, the son of Triarius (also known as Strabo `the Squinter'). ' While operations for the coming campaigning season were being planned, the Emperor's intelligence sources brought news that the forces of Theoderic the Amal had grown weaker, while those of Strabo, his Gothic rival, had increased in strength. Zeno consequently sent a had himself Strabo, Strabo to terms that secret peace embassy offering previously proposed. Strabo now rejected them, saying that he had many more people to feed than before, so that the terms would no longer suffice. 2 These pieces of information must surely be connected. The extra had have been feed Strabo the cause of to mouths which now can only his growing strength. And since Theoderic the Amal had at the same time grown weaker, it is only natural to conclude that the change in the balance of power between the two Gothic groups Zeno to was which followers by Amal's the to attempting some of respond - was caused having joined his rival. In the end, what threatened to be a serious crisis himself difficulty. Strabo proved no more than a temporary was never defeated, but, after his death, Theoderic organized the assassination of his son, Recitach (483/4). Most of Strabo's former following then joined him, perhaps doubling the size of the Amal group. 3 General accounts: L. Schmidt, [Geschichte der deutschen Stämme bis zum Ausgang der Völkerwanderung: ] Die Ostgermanett and edn (Munich, 1933), pp. 267-301; W. Ensslin, Theodericb [der Grosse/ (Munich, 1947), pp. 42-66; T. S. Burns, The Ostrogoths [: Kingship and Society], Historia Einzelschriften 36 (Wiesbaden, 1980), c. 3; idem. [A[ History of the Ostrogoths (Bloomington History of the Goths (Berkeley, Ind., 1984), c. 3; H. Wolfram, 1991), pt. 3. 1988) pp. 268-78; P.J. Heather, Goths and Romans 1332-4891 (Oxford,
Malthus [of Philadelphia] fr. i S. i; ed. R. C. Blockley, The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire: Eunapius, Olyntpiodorus, Priscus and Malthus vol. 2 (Liverpool, 1983), page and line refs where appropriate. 3 See Ensslin, Theodericb, p. 57; Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 277; Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 302-3- On numbers, see below n. 24. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2) 14$-173 Q Longman Group Limited o963-9461/9$/0420314$/$03.50
Studies of the career of Theoderic, not least because of the balance of Ostrohave to tended concentrate upon the surviving source material, has Concentrating Italy (489/93-526). on that period naturally gothic brought into sharpest focus the ways in which Theoderic used surviving influential Roman institutions, and, particularly after Momigliano's he was able to conciliate the study, the question of the extent to which Roman landowning senatorial class to the rule of a `barbarian' king. 4 The history of Theoderic's manoeuvres in the Balkans (473-489) demonfollowers loyalty his Gothic however, of could that even the strates, force he led for The Gothic Italy be to was taken granted. never simply built up in the course of his own lifetime by the amalgamation of two have Gothic already groups, neither of whom, as we previously separate is him It the purpose of this study, unquestioning obedience. seen, gave in involved investigate the of to range problems securing the therefore, Goths' loyalty, the measures Theoderic took to overcome them, and the focus be The effective. will primarextent to which these measures were ily upon Italy, but it is worth first considering further the creation of Theoderic's Gothic powerbase in the Balkans.
The Roots of Amal Kingship The Variae of Cassiodorus and the Getica of Jordanes claim that Theoderic camefrom an ancient royal dynasty - the Amals - and derived from least, Getica here, descent Jordanes' to rule; this at an unquestioned right following lost History. s CassioCassiodorus' Gothic was certainly dorus' Variae make several references to the family's unique pre6 Getica's Amal the the genealogy and related parts of eminence, and ff.; historical its importance (14: 79 see Figure 1). narrative emphasize For Jordanes, this is explicitly a line of Gothic kings, whose tradition of distant back into the control stretched past (Getica 13: 78). Many of Amalasuintha, in Variae of the of them also appear one as royal ancestors Theoderic's daughter; the letter again being quite specific that Amalafamily kings her in (i tree many as ancestors i. i. could count as suintha is both Theoderic In these sources, therefore, presented as one of a i9). long line of Amal Gothic kings of unchallengedpre-eminence: `not mere homines, but demi-gods Ansis' (non puros or sed semideosid est men, A. Momigliano, 'Cassiodorus and the Italian Culture of His Time', Proceedings of the British Academy (Prot. B.A. ) 41 (19SS), 207-45. Accounts of Theoderic in Italy can be found in Schmidt, Burns and Wolfram as n. i, and most recently J. Moorhead, Theoderic ]in Italy] (Oxford, 1992). 1 Heather, Goths and Romans, c. 2, esp. pp. 38-61 with references to the currently vigorous debate on the relationship between Cassiodorus and Jordanes.
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Gapt Hut Mut Au gis Amal Hisarnis Ostro gotha 1 Hunuil Athal
-I (t) Wittigis
Dfathesuentha = (a) Germanus I Germanus
Figure i. The Amal Genealogy - Getica i4; 79-81.
Ansis: Getica 13: 78). There is thus a basic contradiction between the picture derived from these Italian, or Italian based, sources, and Theoderic's earlier manoeuvres in the Balkans as described particularly by Malchus of Philadelphia, who makes very clear the original frailty of Theoderic's position.
It seems quite clear in which direction the contradiction should be resolved. While Malchus has no obvious axe to grind concerning the history of Gothic ruling houses, Cassiodorus was actually writing for the royal court of Ostrogothic Italy, and the ability of his history to pull out `from the hiding place of antiquity long-forgotten kings of the Goths' was a major factor in his own promotion to the Praetorian Prefecture (Variae 9.25- 4-5)" As one might therefore expect, much of his genealogy of Amal Gothic kings is demonstrably tendentious. From Valamir downwards, other sources confirm the lines of descent, but the genealogy's upper reaches, especially the chain of father-to-son successions, Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
have long been recognized as unhistorical. Gapt, Hulmul, and Hisarnis ('Man of Iron') would all seem to be legendary heroes of a general sort, 7 Ostrogotha, be heroes, Amal later and must the two eponymous and fabrications. ' The whole chain of single line father-to-son successions in discounted, be they can many parallel cases.9 as can thus safely Moving down, most of the figures between Ostrogotha and Valamir are deeply mysterious; the majority do not otherwise appear in the Getica, let alone elsewhere. The length of Amal pre-eminence has come to refamily link between Valamir and the therefore, supposed around volve, Ermanaric, the one `older' Amal to appear in another source; known to he was a Gothic king of the fourth Ammianus Marcellinus (31.3.1), century (fl. C.370). On close inspection, however, Ermanaric's name has actually been history, in likelihood from by Amal Cassiodorus, all originally added to Ammianus' history: the king's reputation being exaggerated as much as possible in the process, since he was imported to play a crucial role. For family it is is Ermanaric the genealogy constructed, as who provides the link between Theoderic and Eutharic (see Figure i), the man chosen to be the great Amal king's heir in Italy. Such a role required, of course, a king of unparalleled stature. '° And once this manipulation has been unravelled, a crucial related section of the Getica's narrative (48: 246-52) history illuminate between Amal Ermanaric and Valamir, to proves not but the circumstances in which Valamir came to dominate those Goths find Attila in death (453). Pannonia of settled whom we after the Appearing as 'Balamber', and mistakenly considered a Hunnic king, this describes how he least Gothic from two other section overcame rivals at r Gapt (if, as usually thought, a variant of Gaut) is met elsewhere as a semi-divine hero: H. Moist, 'Anglo-Saxon Royal Genealogies [and Germanic Oral Tradition]', Journal of Medieval History (JMH) 7 (1981), pp. 219 ff. Hulmul appears in Danish royal genealogies: Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 31,37. On Hisarnis, see N. Wagner, 'Bemerkungen zur Amalergenealogie', Beiträge zur Namenforschung n. s. 14 (1979), pp. 26-43" e Ostrogotha does appear in the text of the Getica, but his name has been added to otherwise genuine material: Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 36-8. On eponyms and other 'spurinyms', seeD. Henige, [The Chronology of ] Oral Tradition [: Quest for a Chimera] (Oxford, 1974), PP- 46-8. Legitimizing genealogies generally begin with a totally unreliable set of such successions: Henige, Oral Tradition c. 1, pp. 34 ff. and c. 2. P.J. Heather, 'Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals [: Genealogy and the Goths under Hun Domination]', Journalof Roman Studies URS) 79 (1989), pp. i io-i6: Ermanaric was deliberately turned into a Gothic Attila, ruler of 'all the Scythian and German nations'. Borrowing from Ammianus: Th. Mommsen's edition of the Getica M[onumenta] G[ermaniae] H[istorica], A[uctores] A[ntiquissim] (MGH AA) 5.1 (Berlin, 1882), pp. xxxiii-iv and footnotes to 24: 126 ff. Older work had already pointed out the problems raised by a comparison of Ammianus and Jordanes, but not argued for such a radical solution: Schmidt, Die Ostgermanen, pp. 253-8; H. Wolfram, 'Theogonie, Ethnogenese and ein kompromittierter Grossvater im Stammbaum Theoderichs des Grossen', in E. K. J3schke and R. Wenskus (eds), Festschjrift fiir Helmut Beumann (Sigmaringen, 1979), pp. 8o-97; idem., History of the Goths, pp. 24957" Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
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leadership lines. One Vinitharius was defeated and killed in battle, a followed by between Valamir and Vinitharius' grandmarriage conflict daughter Vadamerca, presumably designed to conciliate Vinitharius' followers. A second line descended from King Hunimund was likewise overcome, when a son, Gesimund (or Gensemund) decided to accept Amal overlordship, and a grandson, Beremud, abandoned the conflict, fleeing west to the Visigothic kingdom. " Far from contradicting Malchus' picture of Theoderic's kingship, by deeper it Getica therefore, the actually supplements providing a historical context for his struggle with Strabo. The competition of these last the two namesakes was of many in which the small Gothic groups death in have Attila's the time to predominated 453 of which seem at larger form dynastic to together, extended much struggles, came via had have just Theoderic Valamir, Strabo, to ones. as much as seems to by following his Gothic create uniting a number of previously separate in Gothic ` Hunnic Empire, the aftermath the the groups, and, of whole fragmented. highly led by invaded Goths More Bigelis the world was eastern Empire between 466 and 471,13 others at this date still remained under Hunnic domination (Priscus ed. Blockley fr. 49), and two more Gothic groups inhabited the Crimea (Procopius Wars 8.4.9 ff.; Buildings 3.7.13). There are thus striking parallels between the rise of the Amals over at least two generations between C-45o and c. 485, and the dynasty dominant Merovingians Frankish at emergence of the as the roughly the same time. Representatives of both families managed to defeat a series of rivals to incorporate ever larger numbers of followers under their control. 14
This rapidly evolving political context largely explains, of course, why Gothic followers should have accorded their leaders only contingent loyalty in the 470s.The successesof Valamir and Theoderic stemmed not from any ancient tradition, but from their own abilities. It was not prein line Theoderic Amal's the ordained that would win out, and, context, one can perhaps seewhy his disenchantedfollowers who switched allegilikely have latter Strabo in to ance to as more 478 might perceived the history had hostile Zeno, Although Strabo of succeed. to an established inside imperial close connections with the court, and many contacts Constantinople. The Amal, by contrast, was a young man (c. 24), who Full argumentation: Heather 'Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals', pp. i t6-26; Goths and Romans, pp. 227-30,240-2. On this, see Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 259-63. 'j Jordanes, Romana 336; cf. P[rosopography of the] L[ater] R[oman] E[mpire] (PLRE) 2, p. 229. " Gregory of Tours, Historiae, 2.40-2 on Clovis, with commentary on the broader context see E. James, The Franks (Oxford, 1988), cc. 2-3; I. N. Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms 4507St (London, 1994), PP- 36-49" Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
had only recently taken over from his father (474), and who, while having negotiated an agreement with Zeno in 476, seemsto have been his financial hold Emperor to the obligations; unable subsequently to desertions. '5 this may well explain the At least one other factor, however, was as important in these circumleaders. There in individual also evolved, their stancesas the abilities of Balkan period, a basic acceptanceamong the relevant Goths that a new kind of Gothic monarchy, encompassing far larger numbers of followers, was in itself desirable. After the murder of Recitach in 483/4, for instance, the former followers of Strabo did not have to join the Amal; Constantinople provided an alternative possible focus for their loyalty, did behind But i6 to one most not, preferring unite which some chose. leader, which created a more powerful group with a much better chance for itself in the militarily competitive of carving out a prosperous niche logic The in this of was already apparent 478, when, post-Attilan world. followers fight it, Amal's Strabo's on Malchus the presents refused to as the grounds that this would merely weaken the Goths as a whole in the face of the broader threat posed by Roman power. Given that Zeno had just attempted to make the two Gothic groups fight one another in order himself, to weaken them at no cost to this was a very real consideration. 17This probably explains why dynastic conflict was eventually by battle; than rather resolved assassination open the events of 478 make it unlikely that either set of followers would have been willing to pursue looming imperial the the over them. a course with power of such army On at least two levels, then, the Goths' reasonsfor joining the Amal bandwagon were deeply pragmatic. Not only were their actions dictated by the perceived differences in ability between leaders, but the need to face in the maximize their position of the eastern Empire also played a decisive role in shaping their choices. Much less certain is the role played at this point by dynastic propaby leaders the ganda: manipulation new of an ancient Gothic tradition of have longer is As it we no possible to association and royal rule. seen, take the Amal material in the Variae and the Getica at face value. Nonetheless, if the Goths united by Theoderic had strong traditions of having previously operated together under a single monarch, then, whatever their own origins, Valamir and Theoderic could have spun potent links, to encouragethe Goths of Vinitharius, myths about their ancestral Non-appearance of promised salaries: Malthus fr. 20 (p. 444, lines 176-7). On the two leaders, see generally Heather, Goths and Romans, esp. C. 7. Procopius, Wars 1.8.3; f" f- 3; f- 16. z: for individuals who stayed behind. See generally, Schmidt, Die Ostgermanen, pp. 267-8; Burns, The Ostrogoths, p. 72; Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 276; Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 302-3U Malchus fr. 18.2; cf. Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 278-86. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
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Hunimund, Strabo and others to cast in their lot with their particular dynastic line. Herwig Wolfram, for instance, has seen the Amal tradition as `real' in the sense that such a dynasty had indeed provided kings in the fourth century for the Gothic Greuthungi, who at that date, particularly hegemony Ermenaric, their the of encompassed under rule within vast numbers of Goths (and others in Moldavia, southern Russia and the Ukraine). Theoderic could thus be seen as one among several equally legitimate contenders trying to monopolize and manipulate an AmalGreuthungian myth in the later fifth century. '8 This reading of the evidence would make the exploitation of ancient traditions an important leadership for factor additional rivals to exploit. Two observations sughowever, that such myths about the past were not a major to gest me, factor in the Balkans of the 48os (Italy in the 520S is another matter: see below). First, there is no good evidence that a huge Greuthungi realm had ever existed in the fourth century. Modern accounts of Ermanaric's empire based are entirely on the Getica's vision of the king, which has been for heir. Theoderic's The Getito rewritten provide a suitable ancestor based in turn ca's account was upon the contemporary report of Ammiais less grandiose, a point which combines with a variety nus, which much of other evidence to suggest that the fourth-century Gothic world confifthlater The sisted of a series of smaller realms, not one enormous one. century Ostrogoths of Valamir and Theoderic were a new creation, not fourth had in the the restoration of something which used to exist century, so that there is unlikely to have been much of a latent myth of association to exploit. '9 Second, all the evidence suggests that it was Cassiodorus who read about Ermanaric in a copy of Ammianus and between Gothic link Theoderic to this ancient worked establish a and king. This fabrication cannot have been constructed, therefore, before c. 5io at the earliest, making it highly unlikely that ancient traditions of have based Ermanaric's Empire Amal association would on royalty and factor dictating in the political choices of operated even as a secondary fifth-century Goths. This probably explains why Cassiodorus inflated Ammianus' account of Ermanaric essentially from Roman literary Getica Gothic 20 Cassiodorus the must sources, not oral traditions. and not be allowed to obscure the deep pragmatism which guided the Goths'
i8 Thus for Wolfram, Strabo was as much an Amal as his namesake: 'Theogonie, Ethnogenese'; compare History of the Goths, pp. 29-32,2f7,26o, 324" Heather, Goths and Romans, cc. 1,3Heather, 'Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals', pp. i io-i6 with refs. Cassiodorus probably wrote c. 5zo-6: S.J. B. Barnish, '[The] Genesis and Completion [of Cassiodorus]' "Gothic History"', Latomus 43 (1984), pp. 336-61. I also do not believe that Strabo was an Amal: Goths and Romans, pp. 251-3. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
leader. How Theoderic this relationship their as original acceptanceof developed in the new conditions created by the conquest of Italy will be explored in the remainder of this study.
Governing Goths: the problem Any attempt to investigate Theoderic's control of his Gothic following Our by hindered is two the the nature of surviving evidence. after 493 kingdom, Ennodius for Italian internal the of the workings main sources do both Roman. Not Cassiodorus, they naturally tend to only are and Romans Theoderic's the native of relations with concentrate more on Italy than on `internal Gothic relations', but both were loyalists whose king's ideological firmly the reign, conceit of reflect the central writings less direct his than the continuation of the that rule represented nothing Roman Empire, or more particularly the Roman order of civilized life by God-ordained the written of rule of society generated civilitas: a state laws. Image-making and administrative reality are woven together in the Variae, as in Ennodius' panegyric and letters, in a complicated tapestry ideological from far This it is 21 to stance straightforward unravel. which means that official and semi-official statements of the regime provide internal Gothic matters, stressing, on the contrary, of minimal coverage be degree shown to prove to which any governmental measure might the the continuity of classical civilisation. The material thus tends to conceal, designed deal hide, innovative if it to cannot altogether measures even with the integration of Goths into Italian society. As a result, the arguhints in instances the sources. ment must on occasion rest on single or
Indeed, Theoderic's Romanophile rule makes the enquiry purused here potentially problematic on a more profound level. There was some ideological attempt to define the Roman and Gothic populations as functionally separate: the Goths providing a military force to protect Roman civilization. But, at the sametime, Theoderic was attracting new from from indigenous Roman the population, particularly supporters degree in its landowning followed there of erosion the elite, and a among between boundaries LiberRomans Roman Goth. such as and original ius, Cyprian, and even Cassiodorus held, on occasion, military comhaving learned famously, Cyprian's sons are recorded as mands, and, Gothic at the royal court. Had there been no Byzantine invasion, there is like Visigothic Ostrogothic Italy, that think, therefore, to every reason S.J. B. Barnish, Cassiodorus: Variae, Translated Texts for Historians (Liverpool, 1992), pp. Teoderico Ostrogothic Culture [of Italy]', Historical P j. Heather, `[The] it in xiv-xxx; grande ei Goti d'Italia, Atti del XIII Congresso internazionalc di studi sull'Alto Medioevo (Spoleto, 1993), pp. 324-32. In similar vein, but overstating the `unreality' of the Variae, P.S. Barnwell, Emperors, Prefects and Kings: The Roman West, 395-565 (London, 1992), c. I S. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
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Spain and Frankish Gaul, would have eventually witnessed the complete Roman of assimilation and non-Roman elites. 22 Procopius' account of from Byzantine Italy the the 53os does not suggest, howconquest of ever, that boundaries had been fundamentally redefined at that point. The vast majority of the fighting against the armies of Belisarius and Narses was carried out by Goths, and, as we shall see, the `first men' of the Goths remained a distinct political force within the kingdom (see further below). 23
By the time they entered Italy, the Ostrogoths probably numbered c. ioo, ooo men, women, and children. From indications in Malchus, Theoderic must have controlled an army of c. 20-25,000 men by the time that he added Strabo's following to his own, and it is usually thought that the ratio of combatants to non-combatants in such groups was something like 1:5. From the evidence of Procopius, the Ostrogothic has been calculated, similarly, at c. 25-30,000 the 54os army of 53osand figures None is precise, and numbers certainly fluctuated, men. of these but their broad agreementdoes seem to provide a fairly reliable order of magnitude.24 The sheer numbers involved thus mean that Theoderic could not have hoped to exercise much direct power over the everyday lives of his followers. In the Balkans, moreover, the Goths had had to be wary of the eastern Empire and tended to operate in a concentrated mass.25Once Odovacar had been defeated, however, Theoderic settled his followers over more than a thousand square kilometres of Italian countryside (see further below). Distance thus compounded problems of government, a point of which Theoderic was well aware (see Variae 6.22). Gothic kingship became even more difficult after 511, when Theoderic took direct control of the Visigothic kingdom of Spain and southern Gaul. This perhaps further doubled the number of Goths under his command to c. 200,000. We have some reasonable indications that Alaric had put together a force of 20-30,000 men by the end of his career, and, although
Liberius: refs. as PLRE 2, pp. 677-81; Cyprian: PLRE 2, pp. 323-3; Cassiodorus: Variae 9. 25.9. See generally, Moorhead, Theoderic, c. 323 Some commentary on the Gothic forces is provided by Hannestad in the next note. 14 Theoderic's followers: Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 248,256 with references to the precise numerical indications given by Malchus. T. S. Burns, 'Calculating Ostrogothic Population', Acta Antiqua 26 (1978). PP- 457-63 argues for a total of C.40,000, but this is surely too low. Other estimates are similar to mine or higher: e.g. Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 261, n. 98 (the Amal group alone comprising i 8,ooo warriors); Moorhead, Theoderic, pp. 678 (arguing specifically against Burns). Army of the 530s: K. Hannestad, 'Les forces militaires d'apres Ia Guerre Gothique de Procope', Classica et Mediaevalia 21 (1960), pp. 136-83's Theoderic split his forces in 479 as a temporary stratagem; even so, imperial troops ambushed and captured his baggage train: Malthus fr. 20. Early Medieval Europe 19954 (z)
force have fluctuated, direct the this was numbers will again ancestor of the group settled in Gaul in 418.26 Given the altered conditions and the greatly increased numbers, it is hardly surprising that Theoderic required numerous subordinates to his kingdom govern of Spain, southern Gaul, and Italy. In the united Balkans, we meet such men only in a military capacity. Anstat, Invila and Soaswere important generalsin the 470s, and in 484 Goths campaigned in Asia Minor without Theoderic, again showing that others could be in important 27 Once Italy, Theocommands. military entrusted with deric never campaigned again in person, perhaps a reflection of his find 29 others commanding elements of the advancing age, and we again army. Pitzias led the assaulton Sirmium in Sos,and Ibba the army which intervened in Gaul and Spain after 5o8 (Getica 58: 302). Likewise, during the Gothic war, military commands were devolved to a whole range of subordinates. Once in Italy, Theoderic also required non-military assistance. His depended administration upon a whole series of Goths, who comdistricts importance of manded varying as counts (comites); some held almost independent sway in frontier provinces, while others ruled single kings Gothic '9 All the cities. of Italy, Theoderic included, also involved in the formulation of policy a group variously styled the `first men' or `most notable' of the Goths. Theoderic used them when trying to deal Theudis later: (of Procopius Wars S. 12. So ff. ), while with whom more Witigis and his successors deferred to them in war and diplomacy (for example, Wars S. 17.29; 6.22.13 ff.; 7.8.12 ff. ). The Emperor Justinian letter even wrote a separate to them on the eve of the Gothic war (Wars 5.6-7 especially S. 7.21-4) .30
Between Theoderic (and his successors)and the Gothic rank and file, then, were many intermediate leaders.An obvious question is the origin of their authority. Were they prominent becauseof royal appointment, or powerful in their own right? The question is, of course, framed much too starkly - political power is dependent on the interaction of a number of factors - but we do have good evidence that these leaders were not appointed merely at Theoderic's whim. One of the Variae, for instance, records that the Goths of Rieti and 26 Conquest of Spain: Procopius, Wars S. 12. j3 ff.; Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, 2. 27 ff.; Jordanes Getica $8: 298 ff. The 'Visigoths' had been formed out of three pre-existing groups, each contributing c. io, ooo fighting men: Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 139,213 with refs. to Ammianus, Olympiodorus and Zosimus. 27 Getica 56: 285; Malchus fr. zo; John of Antioch frr. 214.4-6. s8 He was about 40 in 493: Heather, Goths and Romans, p. 246, n. 15. 29 Cassiodorus, Variae passim, esp. the formulae of Books 6 and 7; sec, e.g., Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 29o-S. 3° Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 292. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
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Nursia in central Italy had decided that their leader (priori `) was to be a certain Quidila son of Sibia. This choice was then accepted and confirmed by Theoderic who died almost immediately, so that it was necesfor them to write again to his successor, Athalaric (Variae 8.26). sary These Goths seem to have chosen their own leader (how is not specified), his prior owed so that the authority in part to local position. Nevertheless, the king was consulted and his approval obtained. The exchange letter in is to this totally unique in the surviving source material, referred but may well reflect, in its implied balance between local and central power, a general truth about the origins of these intermediate leaders. In similar vein, the sources document a number of important Goths local with powerbases not under close royal control. Early in the Gothic war, one Pitzas surrendered to Belisarius with half the Goths of Samhave 32 These (Wars been loyal to Pitzas nium S. 15.1-2). men seem to first. Likewise, after Witigis' surrender which encompassed most Goths, in Venetia, under the leadership of Ildebad, refused to give in one group (Wars 6.29.41 (cf. 30- i6 ff. ); 7. i. 25 ff. ). Similarly, at least some of the Goths of the Cottian Alps followed the advice of Sisigis (commander of the garrisons in the region) even when this again conflicted with royal ff. (Wars ). Local loyalties thus showed a marked tend6.28.28 policy ency to appear under the pressure of war, and, during interregna, Goths of different localities formulated policy separately. After the defeat of Teias, Goths north of the river Po quickly negotiated with the Franks, while those south of it were much more cautious (Agathias i. S. 1-2). The common denominator in all these cases would seem to be a local cohesion that went beyond more general allegiance to the Ostrogoths as a whole.
In some cases,the ties binding these locally distinct groups were older than their acceptanceof Amal kingship, as the Rugi illustrate. Under Fredericus, they had joined Theoderic in 487,33but, as late as 541, still maintained an independent identity, having refused intermarriage, and had their own sub-leader, Eraric (Wars 7.2. i ff. ). Within the different Gothic groups who came together under Valamir and Theoderic to form the Ostrogoths, there was presumably more intermarriage, but not all pre-existing identities and leaderships were destroyed even when other Goths joined the Amal bandwagon. After resigning his claims in the
1, Ensslin, Theoderich, pp. 197-8 suggests that the prior was equivalent to a comes: the military governor of a district; cf. Burns, The Ostrogoths, pp. 102-331 See Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 502, n. 223, this Pitzas is not the victor of the Gepid war; contra PLRE 2, pp. 886-733 Eugippius, Vita Severini (V. Sev.) 44.3-4 with Procopius, Wars 7.2.1-z; cf. PLRE z, pp. 484-5" Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
Amals' favour, for instance, Gensemund continued to lead an at least behalf. force Valamir's 34 on military semi-independent Indeed, Gothic settlements in Italy probably in part reflected the formed. had been Ostrogoths Of the out of whom constituent groups literary sourcesprovide similar pictures their spread, archaeological and (see Figure 2). Some garrisons were established south of Rome, espe-
120 m , _. 200 km
Figure 2. Ostrogothic
; "PICENUM "" "\
-n cemeteries in Italy (after Bierbrauer).
cially in Naples and Sicily, and the main Alpine passeswere held in strength. Others were settled in an arc around Italy in Dalmatia, Savia, and (after Sob)Provence. Most Goths, however, were spread in discrete settlements across northern and central Italy: Samnium, the Adriatic from beyond Picenum Ravenna, Liguria and the Veneto up coast and tias.35The pattern obviously reflects strategic concerns. Relatively dense settlement of the Adriatic coast was surely a response to the potential from Constantinople (as manifested in sea raids on the Italian threat coast in So836),and the arc of garrisons in and beyond the Alps needs no further explanation.37But there is also a further point. For the Rugi to have refused intermarriage, maintaining bloodlines and identity, they 34 Variae 8.9 with Getica 48: 246; cf. Heather, Goths and Romans, pp. 240-113213S V. Bierbrauer, Die Ostgotischen Grab- und Schatzfunde fin Italien) (Spoleto, 1975) pp. 2339, demonstrating the close correspondence between Procopius' evidence and archaeological remains. 36 See, e.g., Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 322. 37 See, e.g., Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 297-8; Moorhead, Theoderic, pp. 68-71. Early Medieval Europe 199f 4 (z)
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distance from have been settled together, perhaps at some must other elements of Theoderic's Ostrogoths (precisely where is unknowable). 35 There is no reason to think them unique in this, and every reason to different in suppose that subgroups settled areas of Italy at least partly Ostrogoths independent the the units out of previously which reflected had only recently been formed. This adds a further dimension to the different localiindependent Goths the tendency to part of of action on ties. As Gothic leader, then, Theoderic had to deal with powerful subordinates, some of whom were drawing on well-established traditions of limitations This Theoderic's priori the on association. underlines a ability lives daily file, influence Ostrogothic to the of the and also rank and directs attention towards the kinds of problems that leaders with too in is Theudis. A the of great a powerbase could pose. career case point One of Theoderic's bodyguard Getica calls him an armiger (58: the henchman, he trusted 302) certainly started as a since Theoderic made him commander of Gothic military forces in Spain. Once there, howhimself he Hispano-Roman, ever, married a rich a and gathered round sufficiently large personal following (2,000 strong) to make himself effectively independent. Although he never rebelled in Theoderic's lifetime, the king was unable to compel him to come to Ravenna and feared to attack him directly, because it might give the Franks an opportunity to invade, or spark off a general Visigothic revolt (Wars 5.12.50-4). Theudis was particularly successful (and particularly far away), but the kind of problem he posed was not unique. Theudis was related, for instance, to Ildebad and Totila, who both became kings of the Ostrofurther had dynasty been Theoderic's (see goths after ousted eventually below), suggesting that these men represent a particularly powerful nondid So Witigis and Urais, another related pair, the too perhaps royal clan. first of whom became king while the second nearly did. Procopius does say that Witigis was not from an illustrious family (Wars 5. II. 5), but this may mean no more than that he was not an Amal, and I suspect that the later prominence of these individuals indicates that their families final highly important Gothic A 39 example were already within society. of the pre-eminent non-royal is a certain Tuluin. Commander of the Gallic expedition in 5o8, he remained important throughout Theoderic's reign, playing a major role in Athalaric's succession in 526 (on which s$ Wars 7. z. 1 ff.; cf. Bierbrauer, Die Ostgotischen Grab- and Schatzfunde, pp. 26-7; Burns, History of the Ostrogodx, P. 200. Theudis: references as PLRE 2, pp. 1112-13; Ildebad: PLRE 3, pp. 614-15; Totila: PLRE 3, pp. 1328-32; Urais: PLRE 3, pp. 1392-3. For a contrary view: Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 292,351 who seesthese clans as representatives of a'middle stratum' who rose to the top via royal service, starting with the royal bodyguard. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
later). Powerful 4° non-royal subordinates were part and parcel, more then, of Ostrogothic politics. We have less explicit evidence for the Visigoths of southern Gaul and Spain. Cassiodorus' lengthy spell out of office, 512to 523, beganmore or less at the same time as Theoderic took direct control of the Visigothic kingdom, so that the Variae provide little information, 4' nor do Procoin Dietrich intervention Claude Spain. Justinian's pius' narratives cover has shown, however, that, wherever sources exist, they document the difficult Visigothic nobility which was to existence of an entrenched Gaul Spain The Goths 42 and of probably generated a similar control. have Theudis distance the caseof shows, will made range of problems; as them more difficult. Governing Goths: manipulating
We must beware, then, a rigid picture of Gothic society. Theoderic was faced with a complex entity, comprising large numbers spread over very distances, identities, considerable which combined old, well-established leaders, Theudis, that significant social with mobility, so rising such as forge could new allegiances. In such a situation, there could not but be leaders, intermediate based powerful whether on old ties or personal success, and the art of successful government was so managing necessary devolution did lead it that to fragmentation. When the political not sources are re-examined with this perspective in mind, Theoderic can be seen to have developed a whole range of new resources to retain the loyalty particularly of his more important followers in the conditions by the conquest of Italy. created
To start with, no intermediate leader (in Italy at least) stood any chanceagainst the king's wrath. Perhaps in c. 500, the general Odoin, of whom we otherwise know nothing, was executed in Italy, and in 514 Theoderic ordered the death of Pitzias, Gothorsim nobilissimus according to Ennodius, who had previously beenentrusted with the war against the Gepids.43There is every reason to suppose that these were importleaders like became, Theudis, in Theoderic's eyes at least, ant who, overmighty subjects, but who did not have the protection of distance.
4° References as PLRE 2, pp. 1131-3. 4' See below for evidence that Theoderic attempted centralized administrative control of his acquisition. 4' D. Claude, Adel, Kirche und Königtum im Westgotenreich (Sigmaringen, 1971), passim. 43 Odoin: Anon(ymusJ Valfesianus/ (Anon. VaL) 12: 68-9. Pitzias: Auctarium Hauniensis s.a. 514 Chronica hfinora (CAI) 1, p. 331); cf. Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 5oz and above note 3z. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
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Such open confrontation between king and magnate seemsto have been however, his for bulk the rare, and of reign, Theoderic managedrelations his followers with without recourse to this ultimate sanction. First and foremost, he made suitable economic provision for his followers after the defeat of Odovacar. Its nature has been much debated recently, specifically whether the Goths received actual land, or annual based monetary payments on existing tax assessments.The relevant texts for are not comprehensive, so that a margin error must remain, but Barnish's recent review of-the question seems to provide pointers tolikely the wards answer. This accepts,asWalter Goffart has argued, most that the `thirds' mentioned in the sources were not shares of land, but land tax assessmentpaid under a separateaccount, one third of the old for Gothic soldiers. There is much evidence, however, now earmarked that the original Gothic settlement also involved a distribution of land, and that the thirds provided additional donatives to serving soldiers income than the total rather of all Goths. 44The real point of interest for this study, however, is not the particular ways in which the Goths as a benefitted from their move to Italy, but the overall fact that they whole did. One third of the annual tax assessmentof Italy, probably supplementing an initial grant of land, representsa major pay-off to the Gothic file. have As rank and we seen, Gothic followers were liable to seek felt leaders if dissatisfied, so that Theoderic simply had they alternative to reward - in line with their own expectations- those who had trekked with him from Pannonia into the central Balkans, and then from the Balkans into Italy. But if substantial rewards were the sine qua non, a number of other helped loyalties that means to ensure continued to be focused upon the king. As we have seen, Theoderic had some rights to intervene in local politics, which greatly strengthened ties between himself and his followers. By chance, the point can probably be explored once more using the Goths of Rieti. A papyrus of 557 records a casewhere the curials of Rieti were appointed guardians for the sons of Gundihild inlustris
44 S.J. B. Barnish, 'Taxation, Land [and Barbarian Settlement in the Western Empire]', Papers of the British School at Rome (PBSR) 54 (1986), pp. 170-95 responding to W. Goffart, Barbarians and Romans AD 418-584: The Techniques of Accommodation (Princeton, 1980), esp. c. 3. Debate continues: J. Durliat, 'Le salaire de la paix sociale dans les royaumes barbares (VeVle siecles)', in H. Wolfram and A. Schwartz (eds), Anerkennung und Integration: Zu den wirtschaftlichen Grundlagen der Völkerwanderungszeit (400-600), Denkschriften der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil. -hist. KI. 145 (Vienna, 1980), pp. z1-72; I. N. Wood, 'Ethnicity and the Ethnogenesis of the Burgundians', in H. Wolfram and W. Pohl (eds), Typen der Ethnogenese unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Bayern, Denkschriften der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil. Kl. 201 (Vienna, 1990), pp. -hist. 65-9 (broadly arguing, respectively, for and against Goffart's thesis). Early Medieval Europe 199$ 4 (2)
femina, some of whose property had been usurped by Aderid vir inluster from dates incident The Justinian's Gunderit after vir magnificus. and families involved. Gothic but 45 that were the names suggest reconquest, As such, it is an interesting snapshot of Goths and Italians cheek by jowl, but also revealsthe presenceof more than one important Gothic family (distinguished by inlustris rank) within a single locality, and the overt between In them. such circumstances, the right to confirm competition distinction local leaders' deny tenure of posts of would represent a or have king. just but hands We in the the one example, the of real power have been is likely for to prevalent, so that the careful status competition local in influence society, over especially the course of a exerciseof such long reign, would result in a whole classof local leaderswho owed much favour. to royal In addition, the wealth of Italy opened up new types of patronage for Theoderic to exploit. As is well-known, he established a parallel administrative system, where Gothic counts operated alongside Roman The here, justice 46 to taxation officials administer and point provincial is that Gothic countships, with their honorific titles grants of spectabilis illustris rank were attached to these posts (as with their Roman and equivalents)47 - and particularly their attendant salaries, were quite new for for king formula Gothic The to appointing a a exploit. resources for instance, to the Naples (Variae 6.23) refers explicitly, count of `liberal crop of official salaries' that came with such posts. These were for out of taxation, so that Italian wealth allowed Theoderic to paid create important new ways of rewarding his leading followers; that is, further reasons for them to seek his favour. Indeed, the relevant formulae all stress that appointments were initially for one year, but could be if extended the Count performed his duties to the king's satisfaction (Variae 6.23; 24; 7.1).
Not surprisingly, Theoderic kept direct control of the revenueswhich financed these posts. Taxation both in Italy, and, after Sii, in southern Gaul and Spain, was controlled from Ravenna. Procopius states that the proceeds were taken physically to Ravenna (Wars 5.12.47-8), and the Variae confirm this general picture, showing some Spanish revenues being put to use to feed Rome (S. 35) and that Theoderic took a very close interest in the workings of the tax machinery which produced them (S" 39)" Italian and Spanishtaxes thus made Theoderic a much richer and
J: O. Tjäder, Die (Lund, 1955), no. 46 See, e.g., Ensslin, 47 See, e.g., Ensslin,
der Zeit lateinischen Papyri Italiens aus 445-700 vol. I nichtliterarischen 7; cf. Burns, Ostrogoths, p. 112. Theoderich, pp. 193-202; Burns, Ostrogoths, C. 4Theoderich, pp. 197-9.
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hence more attractive leader than he could possibly have been in the Balkans.a8 The king also seems to have been able, in at least one area, to make his file. felt directly Gothic All male Goths of the rank and among power donative for held in they each return which year a military age received for themselves ready military service (Procopius Wars S. 12.47-8). The but it how do this since was administered, not make explicit sources Theoderic paid out the money from the centre, this would suggest that his administration kept some kind of register of all Goths entitled to losing donafrom involved Retirement the the army receive payment. honourfor have in tive, and, the one specific case evidence, an which we by discharge Theoderic in (Variae S. 36). acknowledged writing able was This involved a vir sublimis, Starcedius, who may have been a special document does but the of a underline the very case, existence written important point, in the face of a lack of explicit evidence, that a system of donatives paid out annually from Ravenna necessitated keeping records. Another reflection of such records, perhaps, is provided by the fact that death, Theoderic's Visigoths Spain Italy were separated after when and had intermarried Ostrogoths were required to make a public and who decision about which of the two kingdoms was henceforth to command their allegiance (Wars S. 13.7-8). Apart from anything else, this must have been necessary for keeping the records up to date, since each kingdom now paid its Gothic soldiery separately. The careful exercise of king in Gothic in weapon the of patronage was not a new armoury a for food had from Theoderic Zeno Strabo extracted 13,000 478, pay and but fr. he Strabo] `whom [= (Malchus the new chose' 18- 4) men formality forced institutional Theoderic into greater conditions probably be dispersed keep following. This his a case, to track of may well now facilitate harnessed being Roman to therefore, of administrative methods established Gothic practice.
Control of such a register of nameswas an important lever of power in his hands, giving even individual Goths reason to establish themselvesin have by is favour. illustrated How an order, this might worked royal Picenum. in Samnium Goths Variae, the to and the of preserved Through Cassiodorus, Theoderic declared that their coming to Ravenna behaviour him investigate the of each soldier, so that the to will enable brave might be properly rewarded and cowards learn to tremble. The distribution by their lord of due reward to the brave is straight out of heroic poetry, and Cassiodorus' Latin rhetoric surely hides a thoroughly
Although he had there occasionally extracted annual payments - or at least the promise of them: above n. 15. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
Germanic event designed to preserve ties of lord and follower. 49 I is it the the order event that, unique, while strongly suspect, therefore, for the purposes of reward mentions was not, and that military musters had been long in Italy which standard, a practice and contact continued kings, by most other migration period and which was certainly used famously Clovis. s°
All these channels of influence demanded Theoderic's close involvefollowers deciding his in in which the activities of ment - whether local Gothic in family or power struggles, which to support prominent been bravely. have This had easy at the would not performed soldiers best of times, but obviously became much more difficult once his followers had become geographically dispersed. One possibility suggests itself, however, as to how Theoderic might have attempted to counteract distance. the problem of The sources make much of the imperially-inspired ostentation of Theoderic's main royal palaces at Ravenna, Verona, and Pavia; there was frequently. buildings less These in Rome, seemingly used were also one designed to impress on Romans, particularly senators, that Roman order however, is 5' It that there was continuing uninterrupted. striking, been have three rather than one, and they were certainly suppleshould mented by other royal residences: a renovated palace at Abona, a sumleast hunting lodge. Monza, sz and at one magnificent mer palace at Moreover, the main palaces of Pavia and Verona were clearly built to function, as much as Ravenna, as full royal centres. Within the complex at Pavia was a great audience hall, with a mosaic of Theoderic himself. Less is known of Verona, but there is no doubting its scale.s3
A possible reason for this plethora of palaces emerges when their locations geographical are compared with the spread of Gothic settleav Variae i. 26-7. There has been debate over their meaning. First, they summon millenarii, who, in the Visigothic kingdom, were officers commanding i, ooo men. Hence, some, despite the obvious sense of the letters, have seen them as summoning only few Goths: Ensslin, Theoderich, pp. 195-6; cf. Burns, Ostrogoths, pp. tzz-3. Second, Goffart, Barbarians and Romans, pp. 8z-8 argued that the letters concern the distribution of the tax shares by which he considers all Goths to have been supported in Italy. Again, the letters specifically concern only donatives to serving soldiers: Barnish, 'Taxation, land, ' pp. 181-3; Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 507, n. 254. from ordanes, Getica, repeatedly refers to annual gifts or customary payments received by Goths the Romans (cf. Heather, Goths and Romans, p. 108, n. 74), so that there may well have been an annual occasion where Gothic leaders passed on their cut of the funds to the rank and file. Clovis: Gregory of Tours Historiae 2.27. S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1981), pp. 230-40; M-3. Johnson, '[Towards a History of] Theoderic's Building Program', Dumbarton Oaks Papers (DOP) 42,1988, PP- 73-96. sý B. Ward-Perkins, From Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Urban Public Building in Northern and Central Italy AD 300-850 (1984), pp. 158-66; Johnson, 'Theoderic's Building program', pp. 77-80Johnson, 'Theoderies Building programme', p. 77. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
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ment in Italy. While garrisons were dotted around more generally, Gothic settlement, as we have see, was concentrated mainly in Samnium, Picenum, Liguria, and the Venetias. Comparing settlements and palaces, there would thus seem to have been a royal centre for each major concentration. We have already seen that the Goths of Samnium and Picenum were on occasion summoned to Ravenna; Pavia, likewise, was convenient for the major settlements in Liguria, and Verona for those in the Venetias (see Figure 2). It is quite true that the sources, particularly Cassiodorus' Variae, provide no direct evidence for a regular cycle of between the royal centres. On the other hand, neither do they movement deny it. Very few give any indication of where they were composed; most could have been written in any of Theoderic's residences. And although we have only occasional references to use of the other centres, 54 it does seem unlikely that so much time and effort would have been lavished on three royal centres, unless the king was contemplating the regular display of his power in each of them. The argument cannot be pressed, but it may well be that regular royal progresses around northern Italy, facilitated by three main royal palaces and a number of other designed in residences, were to counter the effects of widespread part settlement. In other words, Theoderic may well have engaged in a form of itinerant kingship. "
Financial rewards, new patronage networks, interventions in local Gothic politics, the manipulation of donatives, combined, perhaps, with a regular cycle of contact: all of these give us glimpses of the Gothic leader behind a deliberately erected Roman facade. Other, better known aspectsof Theoderic's rule which helped him govern Romans, are also relevant to this enquiry. Most of our evidence for the royal court (comitatus), for instance, from Ennodius and Cassiodorus, and thus tends to illustrate the comes court's role in relations between king and Roman senatorial aristocracy, but it also helped Theoderic to control his Gothic subjects. Children of important nobles seem to have been retained there; those of Idlebad, a major figure among the Goths of Venetia and later king (seeabove), had been kept at Ravenna by Witigis (Procopius Wars 6.28.41). The ostensible purpose of this may have been educational, for Cassiodorus records ss Variae 2. ao transmits an order to move any provision ships at Ravenna to Liguria; the court was presumably at this point based at Pavia. Variae 4.45 reports travel expenses given to Heruli to go from Pavia to Ravenna to visit the king, suggesting that they had expected to find him at Pavia, but that Theoderic had in the meantime moved on. He was at Verona at a crucial moment in the indictment of Boethius: Anon. Val. 14.81-3; Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiae (De Cons. Phil. ) 1 4.113. ss E. Ewig, `Residence et capitale pendant le haut Moyen Age', in Spätantikes and frankisches Gallien: Gesammelte Schriften (Munich, 1976), pp. 365-6 sees nothing outside the late Roman imperial pattern in Theoderic's residences, but I am sceptical. Early Medieval Europe '99S 4 (Z)
Goths learned Cyprian's the among war at court the of arts that sons (Variae 8.22). At the same time, the children might also make conveniRoman Variae hostages (a to children: i. similar policy was applied ent his king impress influence for bad idea it to the at 39; 2.22), and was no important. for become destined The stage to next an early age on those been bodyguard have (Latin important the royal such young men may dominated the two clans who the armiger); the senior members of had been Theudis, dynasty Witigis Amal ousted, throne after the and both passedthrough its ranks.56 More generally, the court functioned as a centre of patronage and legal for letter, Theoderic Romans. for In Goths one as reasappeal as much from did lose they that that court not mean absence would sured people for honours but is (Variae in this the scramble 9.22), certainly out desiring lucrative doubt Any Goth thinking. a countship was no wishful his to suit at court, and accessto court was carefully press well-advised formulae Variae the are permitting attendance and controlled; among departure.57The king also tried to have some say in the settlement of disputes among the Goths. The formula for appointing a Comes Gothhe orum stressesthat was to settle inter-Gothic disputes by the king's document few Gothic Variae (Variae purely edict 7.3), and the cases a (S" 29; 30; 32-3). In all probability, a stream of casesfound their way to king; the the coimitatus is reported besiegedwith petitioners and Theoderic is even reported settling caseson horseback (Variae 2.20; S. 41)"58 But royal justice had distinct limitations, and its administration proTheoderic vides a good example of what could and could not achieve as king in Italy. To start with, a casehad actually to reach the king. Specialist officials, such as Boethius' accuserCyprian, provided the king with a summary of the arguments involved in appeals (Variae S. 40-1). Such summarieswere meant to be unbiased, but clearly a sympathetic hearing from the summarizer was a major advantage. The letters of Ennodius it make clear, as we might anyway expect, that for Romans at least- and is there no reasonto supposeit was different for Goths - friends at court favourable in After 59 obtaining a successful outcome. were crucial a decision had been obtained, it still needed enforcing, however, and patindividuals could to avoid the results even of an order ronage enable issued from the comitatus. One royal lady, Theodagunda, was warned, for instance, to show prompt obedience to royal commands, and, in 56SeeEnsslin,Theoderich,p. 169;seefurther n. 39.
fý Variae 7.34-6; cf. individual invitations: 3.21; 22; 28. 18 SeeEnnodius' Epp. 2.23; 3.20; 6.5 for appeals against the decisions of local Gothic judges. 19 Ennodius' relatives turned to him because he had some accessto Faustus Niger: Moorhead, Theoderic, esp. pp. 156-8; cf. Edictum Theoderihi 33 which prohibited potentes, whether Roman or barbarian, from interfering in other people's law suits. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
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his had Theoderic Theodahad to to write nephew similar vein, him terms to make co-operate (Variae 4.37; 4.39; 45. t2). One larly intractable case was even transferred to Theodahad, because it involved people over whom he had more influence king himself (Variae 3. t; cf. 10. s).
in harsh particuperhaps than the
These letters refer to members of the royal family, but probably each intermediate level of leadership between king and the Gothic rank and file presented similar obstacles to royal justice. There is no specific far from but it is Rieti prior that the of as evidence, unlikely men such had important roles in the settlement of dispute, much of which would level distinct identity have Likewise, the the the court. of never reached in been Ostrogoths have Rugi could only maintained, of the within the formed in ban if, intermarriage, they addition to the on all probability, limitations legal These their own self-sufficient on royal community. discharge, honourable in Starcedius' where reach are perhaps reflected Theoderic specifically stated that he retained the king's legal protection (Variae S. 36), suggestingthat accessto royal justice was valuable but far from automatic. Some at least of the local political solidarities so evident in Procopius' account of the Gothic war may also have been, in legal terms, largely independent. Theoderic's long and prosperous reign shows how well the available levers of power could be pulled. In practice, at least, he seemsto have here. basic limitations his on accepted authority such as those observed Local politics and dispute settlement may have beeen to a considerable indibeyond his to extent reach, and particular caseswere transferred lasting had likely have influence the to produce to viduals necessary by however, latent Further threat posed the up the scale, settlements. leaders intermediate was usually controlled successfully, and powerful head-on by than more often the careful manipulation of patronage, confrontation. And in most respects, Theoderic's control presumably but did his Not prestige, grew over time. only a string of victories add to the longer a skillful leader manipulated the levers of patronage, the more he could use them to keep the unruly ambitions of intermediate leaders in check. In one vital area,however, Theoderic failed to enforce his will. Succession The reigns of Valamir and Theoderic brought the Amals a long way. From one among several more or less equally prominent families, they first, itself dynasty around most made a of unique stature which united left in Attila's Empire, Goths Europe the the collapse of of eastern after from Spain. That Goths Gaul Amals ruled then and and more southern in some capacity both before and after these great achievementsis, in a Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
being lordship for the exercised, as we the nature of sense,misleading, have seen, had changed dramatically. This changewas signalled, among inheritance familial in by practice, with a other things, a major alteration inheritance, heir where previously single now claiming an undivided largely independent have heirs equal and to enjoyed seem surviving male distinct 6o himself Theoderic through a series of cerealso went shares. his First a subordinate commander power. monies to mark the ascentof him father his Thiudimer (Getica 55: 282), a second ceremony made to Goths (Getica Amal-led the 56: 288), of commander undisputed overall king him declared (Anon. Val. followers Italy his finally, of 12and, fire 6' Darwinian Theoderic Valamir through thus passed the of and 57). kingdom Gothic them of a a selection procedure which produced around dimensions. unprecedented
In the reign of Theoderic, matching this change, there are distinct signs kingship. In Gothic the 47os and to the nature of change of an attempt in loyalty that period of was contingent upon practical success; 480s, little, if dynastic had traditions any role political revolution, established however, his from Theoleast in At Italy, the time of to play. arrival deric's court started to generate dynastic propaganda, which reached its had his in family Amal the the genealogy that possessed its peak claims of 6z for Theoderic's In several centuries. other words, prounique stature paganda attempted to add descent from a particular bloodline to the had been that the essential qualification of a always practical ability Gothic leader. Members of the Amal family had created a unique Gothic fit Theoderic idea Amals the to that were superpower, and asserted only rule it. The Variae express this precisely, declaring that the Amals were not merely another Germanic royal family, but an imperial dynasty attuned to the purple (4. i; 9. i; io. I-4; cf. more generally 8.2; 8.5; io. 11).
This is an expression in Roman terms of a claim to special royal charisma, but there was probably a Gothic equivalent. The Getica Valamer's brothers - Thiudimer (father of Theoderic) and Vidimer - had their own followings in separate areas of Pannonia (Getica 52: 268), and even fought alone (52: 269; 53: 276; 53: 274). After Valamer's death, Thiudimer first broke with Vidimer, and then designated Theoderic alone to succeed (Getica 56: 288), ignoring the claims of at least one other son (Theodimund: Malchus fr. 20); cf. Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 248,27061 D. Claude, 'Zur Königserhebung Theoderichs des Grossen', in Festschrift für Heinz Löwe (Cologne, 1978), pp. 1-13; idem., 'Die ostogotischen Königserhebung, in H. Wolfram and F. Daim (eds), Die Völker an der mittleren und unteren Donau im fünften und sechsten Jahrhundert, Denkschriften der Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil-Hist. Kl. 145 (1980), pp. 149-86. bi Getica 13: 76 ff. implies that the Amals first established their power by defeating Cornelius Fuscus in 76 AD (a defeat actually inflicted by Dacians). The, ropaganda started before Italy, Theoderic Theodemund, in his Thiudimir Amalafrida, and children one case since named his, Ostrogotha, Theoderic Amal (above 8). Areagni, named n. the recalling eponymous Theodegotha and Amalasuintha: Wolfram, History of the Goths, pp. 31-2. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (_)
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leaders demi-gods Goths that particularly victorious reports regarded as for Ansis (13: or 78), and evidence an association between successful kingship and semi-divine status can be found among several Germanic groups. Such leaders, it seems,were regarded not so much as divine in themselves, but as having a particularly close relationship with the 63 family had After Amal the two generations of staggering success, gods. doubt is doubt there to acquired a very special aura, and no reason no Theoderic in Gothic that, eyes, acquired an extraordinarily high prestige. The dynasty's expanding self-image created considerable problems, however, when Theoderic produced no sons, but only daughters. By had Theoderic hope instead given up c. 515, of a son, and adopted a brought Goth Eutharic, to on succession plan centred a called who was Italy from Spain to marry his daughter, Amalasuintha; Eutharic was heir declared his probably at the same time. Formal recognition of Euthfrom then the Eastern Empire. The Emperor Justin aric was extracted accepted Eutharic as co-consul in 5i9, and adopted him as son-at-arms; Dietrich Claude has shown that emperors used a gift of arms in Germa64 fashion formally As we have seen, Eutharic to express recognition. nic by into Amal turned was also the addition of Ermanaric to the Amal an his Cassiodorus' While this genealogy. was surely one of manipulations, descent from Hunimund and Thorismud (supposedly his great-grandfather and grandfather: see Figure i), may have been real enough. If so, he was descended from one of the non-Amal royal lines which had by Theoderic's Goths Valamir. the of previously ruled some united 65 him heir then choice of would make sound sense. as
Whether really an Amal or not, he was presented as such, and having been declared his daughter formally Theoderic's successor, married and Eutharic would have had a good chance of exercising authority in Italy, descended from line. he if In addition, Hunimund's especially really was Theoderic had deliberately imported him from Spain, and it is recorded that Eutharic's immediate ancestors had been prominent at the Visigothic court (Getica 33: 174-5). Theoderic might well have thought, in be Eutharic then, that able to maintain central authority would also Spain.66 Theoderic thus cannily combined in Eutharic his new Amal dynastic approach to kingship, while taking good care to respect older 6) See W. Schlesinger, `Lord and follower in Germanic institutional history', in F. L. Cheyette (ed.), Lordship and Community in Medieval Europe (New York, 1968), p. 76; Moist, 'AngloSaxon Royal Genealogies', pp. 218-22. 6` Consulship: Cassiodorus Chronicle s.a. 519 (CM 2, p. 161). Adoption: Variae 8.1.3; cf. D. Claude, 'Zur Begründung familiärer Beziehungen zwischen dem Kaiser und barbarischen herrschern', in E. K. Chryson and A. Schwarcz (eds), Das Reich und die Barbaren (Vienna, 1989), pp. 25-56. 6j Heather, 'Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals', pp. 119-20. 66 SeeSchmidt, Die Ostgermanen, p. 351. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)
host by of useful associations. I prerequisites picking someone with a think it likely, therefore, that under this plan, Amalaric (Theoderic's Spanish grandson) was not destined for kingship, and it is perhaps no less Theudis Spain to or the same time as that at more was sent accident Eutharic came to marry Amalasuintha.67As commander of the army in Spain, Theudis's remit may well have included a watching brief over Amalaric. Theoderic's plans went astray, however, because Eutharic died before him, probably in 522 or 523. The exact date is not known. "' Subsequent his to on came centre eight-year-old young grandson, Athalaric, plans 69 Amalasuintha. Eutharic Jordanes reports that, in 526, offspring of and Theoderic, on his death-bed, called together the leading men of the Goths, and commanded them to obey Athalaric whom he had just king (Getica 59: 304). The odds are against this being a spur of appointed the moment decision, since Theoderic had known for some time that he heir. In a number of ways, Athalaric's succession was far needed a new from smooth. First, the approval of Constantinople was not obtained beforehand. One of the Variae, written to Justin shortly after Athalaric's succession, complained that he had not been adopted as son-of-arms like his father Eutharic, and expressed the hope that relations between Ravenna and Constantinople would continue to be good. 7° Given that Theoderic had probably already chosen Athalaric well before his death, this suggests that Justin had deliberately withheld acknowledgement of Theoderic's heir, he had though even new previously acknowledged Eutharic. This have been well received at Ravenna, and adds another dimencould not sion to the worsening relations between Theoderic and Constantinople, which are such a striking feature of his last years. 7'
Second,the united kingdom which Theoderic had ruled since 511, and to which Eutharic was surely meant to succeedin its entirety, split apart his death: Italy and Spain being divided respectively between Theoafter deric's two grandsons, Athalaric and Amalaric. This had not been preplanned by Theoderic. It is hard a priori to imagine that he would have acquiescedin such a development, and, in fact, the division was arranged only after his death. Procopius tells us that it was Amalaric and Athalaric 67
Eutharic married Amalsuintha in sif; Jordanes, Getica 58: 302 implies that Theudis went to Spain shortly after 511, but the exact date is unknowable. Schmidt, Die Ostgermanen, pp. 3 53-4. Procopius, Wars S. z. 1 and Jordanes, Romana 367 indicate that he was born in f 18; Jordanes Getica 59: 304 calls him viz decennem in 526: surely a rounded, approximate, figure, rather than a contradictory account (contra PLRE z, p. 175). Variae 8.1.3; see above n. 64 on its significance. A recent survey is J. Moorhead, '[The] Last Years [of Theoderic]', Historia 32 (1981), pp. to6-20; cf. idem., Theoderic, c. 7.
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for themselves, which we must read the young men and their supporters, decided how to split the kingdoms (Wars 5.13 -4 ff. ). As we have who de before facto in Theudis Spain Theoderic's death (Wars seen, was ruler 5- 12.51), so that he was probably the main mover behind Amalaric's between in Indeed, Theoderic and Theudis to the elevation 526. split which Procopius refers may well have been caused by the latter starting to intrigue on behalf of Amalaric, against Theoderic's wishes, once Euthhad died. Theudis king That Amalaric aric subsequently succeeded of as the Visigoths in 531, after the latter's relatively early death, confirms Procopius' account of his dominant position in Spain in the latter part of Theoderic's reign, adding further substance to the thought. Third, and even more striking, Athalaric nearly failed to become king even of the Italian Goths, presumably because of his minority. One of the Variae implies that there was a move to elevate instead a senior noble, Tuluin by name, since it specifically compares him to a hero of an earlier time, Gensemund, who had refused the Gothic crown in favour of the Amals. Tuluin also received very special rewards for supporting Athalaric's succession being made, among other things, Patricius Praesentalis, the first Italian Goth to receive such a distinction72 - confirming that there had been particular need to conciliate him at this point. 73Theoderic's nephew Theodahad likewise received a considerable pay-off. Variae 8.23 records gifts made to him at the beginning of Athalaric's reign because he had been obedient, and expressed the hope that he would have deserved lazy he According Procopius, to them. to prove and was academic, but Theodahad was also an Amal male of majority age (the he in Italy), these that only one so gifts surely signal that posed another it The Athalaric's 74 threat threat, to succession. seems, was potential real. Cassiodorus took up a military command at this time (Variae 9.25. demonkind disturbance in Liguria, of 9), and there was some perhaps a favour in stration of one of the other candidates (ibid. 8. i6). It was only difficulty, therefore, that even half of Theoderic's with considerable dominion was salvaged for Athalaric.
Theoderic's attempt to make kingship the preserveof Amal blood thus survived its first test, but only just. Both Amalaric and Athalaric were Ensslin, Theoderich, p. 201. Variae 8.9-1t. Variae 8.3 provides a further hint that an non-Amal succession was contemplated, referring to the possibility of someone not of the Amal line (externus heres imperi: ) succeeding Theoderic. For a similar account: Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 33574 Boethius had associations with Theodahad, and his fall may well have been caused by his finding himself on the losing side of a factional dispute over succession: S.J. B. Barnish, 'Maximian: A Poet and Three Contemporaries in Ostrogothic Italy', Nottingham Medieval Studies 34 (tgyo), pp. t6-32; The view that Boethius was involved in a conspiracy to establish Constantinopolitan rule is very unconvincing: Moorhead, 'Last Years', pp. 114-15; see Heather, 'Historical Culture', pp. 332-41 for a reconsideration of Boethius' relations with Theoderic. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4
had fallen kingdom his but Amalaric him, apart, and to united related house had from Visidescended directly the the which ruled was also factor in Visirallying significant a more goths since the 4ios: perhaps had Theoderic's in his Italy, Even plans not won cause. gothic support to blood-line from direct descent TheoThe principle of simple acceptance. deric did not go unchallenged; there were other candidates, and some indications that they had their supporters. The degree to which the prestige attached to Theoderic's name helped have is intriguing As day for Athalaric we seen, an question. carry the Theoderic's claims to a unique royal charisma probably did strike a is Moreover, Gothic would sugwhat evidence there chord. genuinely his history Gothic Cassiodorus precisely towas working on gest that it Theoderic's in this work that the Amal reign, and was wards the end of found fullest historical its Stressing expression. to prestige claim unique been have Amals the this very much the uniqueness of at moment would to the point as far as Theoderic was concerned, engaged in trying to face for his in the of potential minor grandson secure the succession rivals. 7S
Cassiodorus' Amal propaganda surely played some role in adding king's but its to the choice, extra authority significance should probably not be overstated. For while Cassiodorus used some genuinely Gothic traditions, particularly about the rival kings defeated by Valamir, much of his source material was literary and Roman in origin. The claim that there had been precisely seventeengenerationsof Amal kings was almost certainly made to equate Gothic and Roman history (seventeengenerations separating Romulus from Aeneas), the starting date of Amal preeminencewas identified with an event recorded in Roman histories, and, have imported from Ermanaric as we the text of Ammianus seen, was Marcellinus to play a critical role in Cassiodorus' reconstruction 76 Would Goths really have been persuadedto give their support to Athalaric by these historical inventions based upon Roman literature, if they were not already going to do so? It must surely be rather doubtful, especially as some Goths may well still have been alive who had personally witnessed the origins of Theoderic's kingship. After all, only fortythree years separatesthe defeat of Strabo's line from Theoderic's death in 526. I strongly suspect,therefore, that Theoderic's personal choice rather than Cassiodorus' Amal propaganda carried most weight among the Goths, and it is striking that even this was nearly not enough to secure
75 The argument of Barnish, 'Genesis and Completion'. 76 Heather, 'Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals'; cf. above n. 6a on the starting date of Amal pre-eminence. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4
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did his Goths Despite the throne. not consider that all successes,some Theoderic had won the right simply to nominate his successor. Moreover, there may have been a further motive among the Gothic for Athalaric's the candidacy over that of any supporting minor nobility Athalaric's Political Amal or otherwise. struggles after adult male, his in succession,as we shall see,centred on who should exercisepower name, and this may well have been part of the point of supporting Theoderic's choice of him, since it offered the great men of the kingdom for it Be that the chanceto compete as may, these struggles again power. demonstrate the power of the Ostrogothic nobility, even if they were not immediately successful. In the first instance, Theoderic's daughter Amalasuintha acted as but faced direct for her from three unnamed regent son, challenge a Gothic nobles. The threat was so severe, that at one point she loaded a ship with treasure and sent it to the eastern Empire in caseshe had to flee. As it was, she won out, sending the three men to distant frontier commands and then murdering them, but it had clearly been a close run thing (Wars 5.2. i ff. especially 23 ff. ). One of the three was perhaps Tuluin who held large estatesin Provence (that is, a frontier command) disappears from the sources shortly after 526.77Another may and who have been Osuin. He was sent to Dalmatia, another frontier command, in is heard The Athalaric's (Variae and early reign, not of again 9.8-9). identity of the third is completely obscure. Amalasuintha thus survived, but the threat posed to her position by leading Gothic nobles had been itself it profound, and reasserted on Athalaric's death in 534. To retain political control in changed circumstances, Amalasuintha her Theodahad, Theoderic's cousin elevated and nephew, to the throne, follow have her him 78 However, to as we making commands. swear had figured debates Theodahad in the earlier on successeen, probably far from The relatives of sion, and the new arrangementsproved secure. the three murdered nobles - according to Procopius, they were 'numerous and of very high standing' - successfully plotted with Theodahad to have her removed and killed (Wars 5.4.12 ff. ). Killing her three chief in had fact, Amalasuintha in the the end, solved problem; rivals not, hostility of a significant portion of the could not overcome the united nobility. The final act of Amal rule in Italy underlines the point. While Gothic Theodahad. As the tolerated soon as supremacy remained secure, nobles Belisarius threatened their position, however, they took matters into 'See PLRE 2, p. 1132-3, Cassiodorus Variae 8.25 of c. 527 is the last dated reference to him. This identification has also been suggested by Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 336. j8 Procopius, Wars S. 4.4 ff.; cf. Variae to. 1-4. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
failed him, hands. Theodahad When to they act, their own murdered and in his place elected Witigis, who had previously shown himself a capable in An Amal Pannonia. connection was maintained, since commander Witigis then married Theoderic's grand-daughter Matasuintha, but Profor his he is (Wars that military ability was chosen s. 11. explicit copius by This is Witigis' own propaganda, which stressed that 1-9). confirmed he belonged to Theoderic's line only because his deeds were of similar Matasuintha. Witigis of mention and no referred to the stature, made letter fact, in he Justinian in to where claimed that the only a marriage, been fulfilled, had Amalasuintha's Justinian's of war now since purpose daughter had been raised to royal dignity, and her murder avenged (by the killing of Theodahad: Variae 10.32; 33). This would suggest that the but Gothic a aimed particularly at audience, at countermarriage was not ing Constantinople's pretext for war, a conclusion not out of line with have in his Athalaric's `Amalness' observed succession, where what we was probably not as important as the survival of Cassiodorus' propalead 79 After Totila, Witigis, Eraric, Ildibad, to us suggest. ganda might different factions Teias by and were elected of the Gothic nobility; none had Amal connections. 80
Conclusion Theoderic was an extraordinarily long-lived and successfulking. Surviving conflict with the easternEmpire and rival Gothic dynasts, he won the overwhelming support of the Goths of eastern Europe, and with them carved out and extended a kingdom based on Italy, using its new resources to reward his original supporters and attract new ones, most from notably among established Roman elites. The participation of the latter maintained useful institutions, financial and other, and helped sustain the ideological portrayal of the king as the legitimate Roman head imperial dynasty, destined of an to preserve Roman social order - civilitas - in the west. There can be little doubt, indeed, that Theoderic's reign thus laid the foundations, had Justinian not intervened, for the successful integration of Roman and non-Roman within his kingdom. The evidence of Procopius suggests, however, and this is the main thrust of the paper, that the speed of the process should not be overstated. Despite some militarized Romans, Theoderic's original Gothic from The Gothic War as still the main military and powerbase emerges force kingdom. Even the self-consciously Romanizpolitical within the "
Variae 10- 3 t. I therefore take a different view on the importance of the marriage to Wolfram, History of the Goths, p. 35 1. So Ildibad: Procopius, Wars 6.30.4-17; Eraric: 7. z. 4-s; Totila: 7.2. t0-t3; Teias: 7.33.6. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (z)
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ing Variae, when re-examined with this in mind, offer much evidence fact importance Theoderic this that and took a of was well aware of the by in the conquest created the new conditions whole seriesof measures, of Italy, to retain the loyalties of his original supporters. This vision of the underlying source of the king's success, as opposed to its more famous Romanizing facade, is extended by a close examination of succession: a key test of kingship throughout the medieval " As both the sequence of events and Witigis' propaganda make period. financial ideological in Italy, the resources and clear, attempts using new it offered, fundamentally to redefine the basis of kingship had fallen, as far as the Gothic nobility was concerned, largely on deaf ears. They not force kingdom, distinctive the sustained, as we only remained a within have seen, by largely independent local powerbases, but exercised a did collective veto over succession, and not accept Theoderic's pretenhis line face Goths. In that could the sions only the of Byzantine rule leaders were taken from other families without destroying pressure, group cohesion; contrary to Theoderic's propaganda, the Ostrogoths could exist without the Amals, and did so because an overall leader have function for to the them of co-ordinating the practical continued This East Romans. the war against was very much a repeat of the context in which, as we have seen, acceptance of the monarchy had been born in the 470s and 480s-82.None of this would deny the importance to Theoderic in his own lifetime of Roman elites, nor the reality of his prestige, 83 loyalty his dynasty fall its The to nor even that some residual survived . lifetime but Theoderic's indeed not achievements of were prodigious, by for his family; heritable members of automatically many Goths, the had begun, it kingship namely, practical essence of remained precisely as leadership ability.
Department of History University College, London et My approach has been strongly influenced by recent works emphasizing the importance and in II, Aethelred P. Stafford, Reign `The the study a of uncertainty of succession; see, e.g., limitations of Royal Policy and Action', in D. Hill (ed.), Aethelred the Unready, British Archaeological Reports (BAR) 59 (Oxford, 1978), pp. 15-46; J. L. Nelson, `The Last Years of Louis the Pious', in P. Godman and R. Collins (eds), Charlemagne's heir: New Perspectives Bald idem., Charles Reign Louis Pious (Oxford, the the the 147-59; 1990), pp. on of (London, 1992), c. S. 82 See above. I thus believe that the nobility, while no doubt trying to gather as much wealth and power as possible, was instrumental in creating and sustaining the Ostrogothic monarchy. Different perspectives: Schmidt, Ostgermanen, p. 374; Burns, Ostrogoths, pp. 127-8; cf. idem., History of the Ostrogoths, c. 9. 83Justinian attempted to exploit such feelings in 55o when his cousin Germanus, newly hope in Gothic loyalin Italy, Matasuentha the of confusing married appointed commander ties: Wars 7.39.14-15. Early Medieval Europe 1995 4 (2)