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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Theodoric the Great

Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths (471 – 526), ruler of Italy (493 – 526), regent of the Visigoths (511 – 526), and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire. His Gothic name Þiudareiks translates into "people-king" or "ruler of the people".

A son of King Theodemir, an Amali nobleman, Theodoric was born in Pannonia, after his people had defeated the Huns at the Battle of Nedao. Growing up as a hostage in Constantinople, Theodoric received a privileged education, and succeeded his father as leader of the Pannonian Ostrogoths in 471 AD. Settling his people in lower Moesia, Theodoric came in conflict with Thracian Ostrogoths led by Theodoric Strabo, whom he eventually supplanted, uniting the peoples in 484.

Subsequently Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno gave him the title of Patrician and the office of Magister militum (master of the soldiers), and even appointed him as Consul. Trying in vain to achieve further aims, Theodoric frequently ravaged the imperial provinces, eventually threatening Constantinople itself. In 488, Emperor Zeno ordered Theodoric to overthrow the Scirian warlord Odoacer, who had established himself as King of Italy. After a victorious three-year long war, Theodoric killed Odoacer with his own hands, settled his people in Italy, around 100,000 to 200,000, and founded a Kingdom based in Ravenna. Although promoting sepration between the Arian Ostrogoths and the Roman population, Theodoric stressed the importance of racial harmony. Seeking to restore the glory of Ancient Rome, he ruled Italy in it's most peaceful and prosperous period since Valentinian, until his death in 526. Memories of his reign made him a hero of Germanic legend as Dietrich von Bern.

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