1902 Encyclopedia > Theodoric

Ruler of Italy (from 493)
(c. 454 - 526)

THEODORIC, king of the Ostrogoths (c. 454-526). Referring to the article GOTHS for a general statement of the position of this, the greatest ruler that the Gothic nation produced, we add here some details of a more personal kind. Theodoric was born about the year 454, and was the son of Theudemir, one of three brothers who reigned over the East Goths, at that time settled in Pannonia. The day of his birth coincided with the arrival of the news of a victory of his uncle Walamir over the sons of Attila. The name of Theodoric's mother was Erelieva, and she is called the concubine of Theudemir. The Byzantine historians generally call him son of Walamir, apparently because the latter was the best known member of the royal fraternity. At the age of seven he was sent as a hostage to the court of Constan-tinople, and there spent ten years of his life, which doubt-less exercised a most important influence on his after career. Shortly after his return to his father (about 471) he secretly, with a comitatus of 10,000 men, attacked the king of the Sarmatians, and wrested from him the import-ant city of Singidunum (Belgrade). In 473 Theudemir, now chief king of the Ostrogoths, invaded Mcesia and Macedonia, and obtained a permanent settlement for his people near Thessalonica. Theodoric took the chief part in this expedition, the result of which was to remove the Ostrogoths from the now barbarous Pannonia, and to settle them as "fcederati" in the heart of the empire. About 474 Theudemir died, and for the fourteen following years Theodoric was chiefly engaged in a series of profitless wars, or rather plundering expeditions, partly against the emperor Zeno, but partly against a rival Gothic chieftain, another Theodoric, son of Triarius. In 488 he set out at the head of his people to win Italy from Odoacer. There is no doubt that he had for this enterprise the sanction of the emperor, only too anxious to be rid of so troublesome a guest. But the precise nature of the rela' tion which was to unite the two powers in the event of Theodoric's success was, perhaps purposely, left vague. Theodoric's complete practical independence, combined with a great show of deference for the empire, reminds us somewhat of the relation of the old East India. Company to the Mogul dynasty at Delhi, but the Ostrogoth was sometimes actually at war with his imperial friend. The invasion and conquest of Italy occupied more than four years (488-493). Theodoric, who marched round the head of the Venetian Gulf, had to fight a fierce battle with the Gepidaa, probably in the valley of the Save. At the Sontius (Isonzo) he found his passage barred by Odoacer, over whom he gained a complete victory (28th August 489). A yet more decisive victory followed on the 30th September at Verona. Odoacer fled to Ravenna, and it seemed as if the conquest of Italy was complete. It was delayed, however, for three years by the treachery of Tufa, an officer who had deserted from the service of Odoacer, and of Frederic the Rugian, one of the com-panions of Theodoric, as well as by the intervention of the Burgundians on behalf of Odoacer. A sally was made

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