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Dark Ages » 400 AD/CE » 493 AD/CE

Theodoric, Ruler of Italy

When: 493 - 526 AD/CE
Where: Rome, Italy, Europe

Theodoric had become the leader for many of the Huns after the death of Attila; he was a valuable ally.

Theodoric in turn gathered the Ostrogoths together in massive army and marched towards Italy. The goal was to extract Odovacar from Rome, thus eliminating the Emperor Romulus' largest enemy.

In September, 489 AD, Theodoric's forces defeated Odovacar's legions, forcing him to retreat to Verona. Odovacar managed to gather an army soon after this, and drove Theodoric to the city of Pavia.

In 490 AD Theodoric struck again, this time claiming for himself all of Italy except Ravenna, where Odovacar retreated once again. After three years of depleted supply lines, Odovacar made peace with Theodoric, who in return murdered him.

Thus in 493 AD Theodoric was the uncontested ruler of Italy, ruling both Romans and Goths. His rule was noteable in that both peoples lived in peace; the army was made up of mostly Germans, and eventually Romans were forbidden from carrying weapons. Enforcement of equal rights among all the citizens was critical.

Cassiodorus, secretary of Theodoric, was skilled at the art of putting commands to paper, and is deserving of much of the credit for Theodoric's success as a leader.

Theodoric proceeded to repair roads, drain swamps, and maintain the aqueducts.

His attitude towards religion was summed up by the edict: "We cannot order a religion, because no one is forced to believe against his will." Theodoric was indifferent towards Catholics and Jews; when there was skirmishes between the two, he ordered the winner to make reparations.

Theodoric was also a successful diplomat, forging alliances with the Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians, Franks, and Thuringians.

The emperor was seen as a subordinate to Theodoric, who was accepted as the ruler of Italy.

Later in his rule, Theodoric has more of a blemished record. Rumours of treason and persecution of the Arians led him to the execute several noteworthy individuals; his motives were questioned by the senate. After Theodoric executed of Symmachus, a highly favored public servant, he fell into depression and died of remorse.

Even with the infractions that occurred in the final years of his rule, Theodoric was seen as a great man, conforming to a higher standard. After being subjected to the acts and policies of the rulers which followed, most of the Italy's inhabitants longed for the days when Theodoric was in power.

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History Fact of the Month
Did you know ...

The Origin of Valentine's Day?

Valentines day dates back to Roman times, when a holiday called The Feast of Lubercus was celebrated to protect shepherds and their flocks from wolves. During this time of year, goddess Juno Februata was honored by pairing boys and girls and denoting them 'partners' for a year.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 497 AD, in an effort to replace pagan holidays with Christian tradition. Although the pairing ritual was banished, romance remains the distinctive attribute of this holiday.

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