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THE time between the years 476 and 526 is a period of transition from the system of twin Empires which existed from the time of Arcadius and Honorius to the separation of Italy from the rest of the Empire. It is for this reason an interesting period. It marks the surrender by Constantinople of a certain measure of autonomy to that portion of the Empire which, finding that government under the faction set up after the death of Theodosius was impossible, had ended by submission to rulers nominated from Byzantium; it marks too, the progress achieved by the barbarians, who far from wishing to destroy a state of things which had formerly been hostile, adapted themselves to it readily when they had once risen to power, and showed themselves as careful of its traditions as their predecessors; it marks further, the preponderant part played in the affairs of the time by a growing power—the Church—and the adaptability shown by her in dealing with kings who were heretics and avowed followers of Arius.

The attempt to found an Italian kingdom was destined to speedy failure. There were too many obstacles in the way of its permanent establishment; Justinian it is true was to show himself capable of giving effectual support to the claims of Byzantium and of making an end of the Ostrogothic kingdom, but even his authority was powerless to bring about the union of the two portions of the Roman Empire. Another barbarian race, the Lombards, shared with the Papacy—the one authority which emerged victorious from these struggles—the possession of a country which, owing to the irreconcilable nature of the lay and religious elements, was destined to recover only in modern times unity, peace and that consciousness of a national existence which is the sole guarantee of permanence.

Cassiodorus writes in his chronicle: “In the Consulate of Basiliscus and Armatus, Orestes and his brother Paulus were slain by Odovacar; the latter took the title of king, albeit he wore not the purple, nor assumed the insignia of royalty”. We have here in the concise language of an annalist intent on telling much in a few words, the history of a revolution which appears to us, at this distance of time, to have been pregnant with consequences. The Emperor—that Romulus Augustulus whose associated names have so often served to point a moral—is not mentioned. It was left to Jordanes alone, a century later, to make any reference to him. The seizure of the supreme power by leaders of barbarian origin had become since the time of Ricimer a recognised process; it is moreover Orestes who is attacked by Odovacar, and Orestes was a simple patrician and in no sense clothed with the imperial dignity. The Empire itself suffered no change, it was merely that one more barbarian had come to the front. It was only when Odovacar was to set up pretensions to independent and sovereign authority that annalists and chroniclers were to accord him special mention on the ground that his claim was without precedent. Up to that point his intervention was only one among many similar events which occurred at this period.

Orestes was of Pannonian origin; he had acted as secretary to Attila, and with Edeco had taken a chief part in frustrating the conspiracy organized by Theodosius II against the life of the king of the Huns. After the death of the barbarian king, he entered the service of Anthemius, who appointed him commander of the household troops. He took part—under what circumstances we are ignorant—in the struggles which brought about the fall and the murder of Anthemius, an emperor imposed from Constantinople, the elevation and death of Olybrius, the short-lived rule of the Burgundian Gundobad and the elevation of Glycerius. For the second time the East imposed an Augustus on the West, and Leo appointed Julius Nepos to bear rule at Rome. Under his reign Orestes, who had been promoted to the rank of commander-in-chief, was charged with the task of transferring Auvergne to the Visigoth king Euric, to whom it had been ceded by the Roman government.

How it came about that Orestes, instead of leading his army to Gaul, led it against Ravenna and who induced him to attack Nepos, we have no documentary evidence to show. Nepos fled and retired to Salona, where he found his predecessor Glycerius, whom he had appointed to be bishop of that place. Having achieved this success Orestes proclaimed as the new Emperor Romulus Augustulus, his son by the daughter of Count Romulus, a Roman noble (475). Even as Orestes had driven out Nepos, another barbarian— Odovacar—was before long to drive out Orestes and his son, and once more the contemporary documents afford no plausible explanation of this fresh revolution.

Odovacar was a Rugian, the son of that Edeco, Attila’s general and minister. Odovacar had followed his father’s colleague into Italy where he occupied the humble position of spearman in the household troop, from which he gradually rose to higher rank. Whether the ambition which fired him was provoked by the spectacle of the internal conflicts in which he took part, or whether by the prediction of St Severinus the Apostle of Noricum, it is impossible to say. It is, however, certain at in the Lives of the Saints there is a record to the effect that Severinus in his hermitage of Favianum was visited one day by certain barbarians who asked for his benediction before going to seek their fortunes in Italy, and one of them, scantily clad in the skins of beasts, was of so lofty a stature that he was compelled to stoop in order to pass through the low doorway of the cell. The monk observed the movement and exclaimed: “Go, go forward into Italy. Today you are clothed in sorry skins but ere long you shall distribute great rewards to many people”. The man whom Severinus thus designated for supreme rule was Odovacar the son of Edeco. He appears to have enjoyed great popularity among the mercenary troops, and profiting by their discontent at the failure of Orestes to reward their devotion, he induced them to take active measures, and gained to his side the barbarians of Liguria and the Trentino. Orestes declined the combat offered by Odovacar in the plains of Lodi, retreated behind the Lambro with the object of covering Pavia and shortly afterwards shut himself up in that city. Odovacar laid siege to him there, and Pavia, which, as Ennodius tells us, had been pillaged by the soldiers of Orestes, was sacked by the troops of Odovacar; Orestes was delivered up to Odovacar, who had him put to death 8 August, 476. Odovacar next marched on Ravenna which was defended by Paulus the brother of Orestes and where Romulus had taken refuge. In a chance encounter which took place in a pine forest close to the city Paulus was killed and Odovacar, occupied Ravenna, which had taken the place of Rome as the favourite residence of the Caesars of the West.

Romulus who had hidden himself and cast off the fatal purple was brought before him. Odovacar taking pity on his youth and moved by his beauty consented to spare his life. He moreover granted him a revenue of 6000 gold solidi and assigned him as his residence the Lucullanum, a villa in Campania hear Cape Misenum which had been built by Marius and decorated by Lucullus.

In succession to three Emperors of the West who still survived, Glycerius and Nepos in Dalmatia and Romulus in Campania, Odovacar, styled by Jordanes King of the Rugians, by the Anonymus Valesii King of the Turcilingi, and by other authorities Prince of the Sciri, now wielded supreme power.

At this point certain questions arise as to the nature of the authority which he exercised and to his relations with Byzantium and the established powers in Italy. The documents which supply an answer are scanty. The passages devoted to Odovacar give no details except such as relate to the beginning and end of his reign; it is plain too, that the Latin writers of the time were more intent on pleasing Theodoric than on recording the facts of history.

Cassiodorus has been careful to point out that Odovacar refused altogether to assume the imperial insignia and the purple robe and was content with the ‘title of king’. These events took place when Basiliscus having driven Zeno from power was reigning as Emperor of the East, that is, at a moment of dynastic trouble in the other half of the Empire. The possession of Ravenna, the exile of Romulus, and the death of Orestes did not suffice to secure to Odovacar the lordship of Italy; it was only after his formal entry into Rome and his tacit recognition by the Senate, that he could look upon his authority as finally established.

He was not however satisfied with this, but desired a formal appointment by the Emperor and the recognition of his authority by Constantinople. A palace conspiracy which broke out in 477 having replaced Zeno on the throne of Byzantium, the ex-sovereign Romulus Augustulus, in spite of the fact that never having been formally recognized by the Emperor, he had no legal claim to take such a step, sent certain Senators as an embassy to Zeno. The representatives of the Senate were instructed to inform the Emperor that Italy had no need of a separate ruler and that the autocrat of the two divisions of the Empire sufficed as Emperor for both, that Odovacar moreover, in virtue of his political capacity and military strength, was fully competent to protect the interests of the Italian diocese, and under these circum­stances they prayed that Zeno would recognize the high qualities of Odovacar by conferring on him the title of Patrician and by entrusting him with the government of Italy.

The Emperor’s reply was truly diplomatic. After severely censuring the Senate for the culpable indifference they had shown with respect to the murder of Anthemius and the expulsion of Nepos, two sovereigns who had been sent by the East to rule in Italy, he declared to the ambassadors that it was their business to decide on the course to be pursued. Certain members of the legation represented more especially the interests of Odovacar, and to them the Emperor declared that he fully approved of the conduct of the barbarian in adopting Roman manners, and that he would forthwith bestow on him the well-merited title of Patrician if Nepos had not already done so, and he gave them a letter for Odovacar in which he granted him the dignity in question. Zeno in short had to recognize the fait accompli, the more so as the ambassadors from Rome to Byzantium had there found themselves in the presence of another mission sent from Dalmatia by Nepos to beg for the deposed sovereign the assistance of the newly restored Emperor. He however could only condole with him on his lot and point out its similarity to that from which he himself had just escaped.

There is yet another proof of the tacit recognition of Odovacar’s authority. In 480 Nepos was assassinated by the Counts Victor and Ovida (or Odiva) and in 481, as if he had been the legitimate heir of a predecessor whose death it was his duty to avenge, Odovacar led an expedition against the murderers, defeated and slew Ovida and restored Dalmatia to the Italian diocese. More than this, Odovacar looked upon himself as the formally appointed representative of Zeno, for at the time of the revolt of Illus, he refused to aid the latter, who had applied to him as well as to the kings of Persia and Armenia for assistance against the Emperor. He had already exercised sovereign power in the cession of Narbonne to the Visigoths of Euric and in the conclusion of a treaty with Gaiseric in 477, by the terms of which the king of the Vandals restored Sicily to the Italians, subject to the payment of a tribute and retaining possession of a castle which he had built in the island.

This is all we know, till Theodoric appears upon the scene, of the achievements of Odovacar; with respect to his relations with the inhabitants of Italy we are better informed. In and after 482 the regular record of consuls, interrupted since 477, was resumed. The Roman administration continued to work as in the past; there was a praetorian praefect Pelagius who, like so many of his predecessors, contrived to exact contributions on his own behalf as well as on behalf of the State. The relations between Odovacar and the Senate were so intimate that together and in their joint names they set up statues to Zeno in the city of Rome. Between the Church and Odovacar, albeit he was an Arian, no difficulties arose, the Pope Simplicius (468-483) recognized the authority of Odovacar, and the king preserved excellent relations with Epiphanius, bishop of Pavia, and with St Severinus, whose requests he was accustomed to treat with marked deference and respect. On the death of Simplicius in March 483, a meeting of the Senate and clergy took place and on the proposition of the praetorian prefect and patrician Basilius, it was resolved that the election of a new pope should not take place without previous consultation with the representative of King Odovacar, as he is styled without addition in the report of the proceedings. Further, future popes were bidden in the name of the king and under threat of anathema to refrain from alienating the possessions of the Church.

The picture of Italy under the government of Odovacar is difficult to trace. We have no Cassiodorus to preserve for us the terms of the decrees which he signed. Our only source of information, the works of Ennodius, is by no means free from suspicion. If we are to believe the bishop of Pavia, it was the evil one in person who inspired Odovacar with the ambition to reign, that he was a destroyer—populator intestinus— that his fall was a veritable relief and that Theodoric was a deliverer; in short that Odovacar was a tyrant in the full sense of the word.

It must be remembered that it is the panegyrist of Theodoric who speaks in these terms. The word tyrant which he employs must be understood, as the Byzantine historians understood it, in its Greek sense, that is, in the sense of an authority set up out of the ordinary course. The specific charges of tyranny which are made against Odovacar are unconvincing, especially the accusation that he distributed amongst his soldiers a third of the land of Italy. We will deal later with the part played by Theodoric.

It is not among these events that we must look for the cause of the fall of Odovacar; the only possible explanation lies in the fact that the Italians obeyed with alacrity, so soon as they were made clear, the orders of Constantinople on domestic affairs—holding themselves free to disobey them later on—and it was by the formal and specific authority of the Emperor that Theodoric was sent into Italy.

Theodoric, an Amal by birth, was the son of Theodemir king of the Goths and his wife Erelieva. His father had discharged the duties of a paid warden of the marches on the northern frontiers of the Empire of the East. Theodoric having been sent to Constantinople as a hostage spent his childhood and youth in that city; he stood high in the favour of the Emperor Leo and became deeply imbued with Greek civilization; his education cannot however have advanced very far, as when he reigned in Italy he was unable to sign his name and was compelled therefore to trace with his pen the first four letters cut out for the purpose in a sheet of gold.

On the death of his father, having in his turn become king, Theodoric established his headquarters in Moesia and found himself involved in a chronic struggle with a Gothic chief Theodoric ‘the Squinter’ (Theodoric Strabo), who aspired to the kingly dignity. To accomplish this purpose Theodoric Strabo relied on the good will of the Eastern Emperors. Having thrown in his lot with Basiliscus, he helped him to drive Zeno from the throne and. received rewards in the shape of money and military rank; but when Zeno returned to power it was Theodoric the Amal who in virtue of his fidelity stood highest in the imperial favour. Adopted by the Emperor, loaded with wealth and raised to patrician dignity, he enjoyed from 475 to 479 great influence at the Byzantine Court. He was given the command of an expedition sent to chastise Strabo who had risen in revolt, and found his rival encamped in the Haemus; the men of each army were of kindred race and Theodoric the Amal was compelled by his soldiers to form a coalition with the enemy. Till the death of Strabo, which occurred in 481, the two Theodorics intrigued together against the Emperor and with the Emperor against each other and there followed a series of reconciliations and mutual betrayals. From that time forward Theodoric the Amal became a formidable power, he held Dacia and Moesia and it was necessary to treat him with respect. Zeno nominated him for Consul in 483 and in 484 he filled that office; it was in this capacity that he subdued the rebels Illus and Leontius, and on this ground he was granted in 486 the honor of a triumph and an equestrian statue in one of the squares of Byzantium.

This accumulation of dignities conferred by Zeno concealed the distrust which he felt, and which before long he made manifest by sending Theodoric into Italy.

Jordanes maintains that it was Theodoric himself who conceived the plan of the conquest of Italy and that in a long speech addressed to the Emperor, he depicted the sufferings of his own nation which was then quartered in Illyria and the advantages which would accrue to Zeno in having as his vicegerent a son instead of a usurper, and a ruler who would hold his kingdom by the imperial bounty. Certain authors such as the Anonymus Valesii and Paulus Diaconus have transformed this permission granted by the Emperor into a formal treaty giving to Theodoric the assurance, says the former, that he should ‘reign’ in the place of Odovacar, and recommending him, says the latter—after formally investing him with the purple—to the good graces of the Senate. The explanation given by Procopius and adopted by Jordanes in another passage is, however, more plausible. Zeno, better pleased that Theodoric should go into Italy than that he should remain close at hand and in the neighbourhood of Byzantium, sent him to attack Odovacar; a similar method had been pursued with Widimir and Ataulf in order to remove them to a distance from Rome. In any case it was in the name of the Emperor that Theodoric acted, and he held his power by grant from him.

The title which he bore when he started from Constantinople, that of Patrician, sufficed in his own opinion and that of Zeno to legalize his power and to clothe him with the necessary authority: it was the same rank as that borne by Odovacar. Later, like Odovacar, he aspired to something higher and like him he was to fail in his attempts to obtain it. Zeno had no intention of yielding up his rights over Italy, and recognized no one other than himself as the lawful heir of Theodosius.

In 488 Theodoric crossed the frontier at the head of his Goths; it was the first step in the conquest which took five years to complete. Odovacar opposed him at the head of an army not less formidable but less homogeneous than that of his adversary. He was defeated on the Isonzo; he retreated on Verona, was once more beaten and fled to Ravenna. Theodoric profited by this error of tactics to make himself master of Lombardy, and Tufa, Odovacar’s lieutenant in that district, came over to his side. This was merely a stratagem, as when Tufa was sent with a picked body of Goths to attack Odovacar, he rejoined him with his Ostrogoths at Faventia. In 490 Odovacar again took the offensive; he sallied from Cremona, retook Milan and shut up Theodoric in Pavia. The latter would have been destroyed if the arrival of the Visigoths of Widimir, and a diversion made by the Burgundians in Liguria, had not left him free to rout Odovacar in a second battle on the Adda and to pursue him up to the walls of Ravenna. In August 490 Theodoric camped in the pine forest which Odovacar had occupied in his campaign against Orestes and a siege began which was to last three years. In 491 Odovacar made a sortie in which, after a first success, he was finally defeated and the siege became a blockade.

Theodoric, while keeping the enemy under observation, proceeded to capture other towns and to form various alliances. He seized Rimini and so destroyed the means of provisioning Ravenna, after which he opened negotiations with the Italians.

Without asserting that Theodoric owed all his success to the Church, the facts show pretty clearly that she afforded him—Arian though he was, like Odovacar—valuable assistance. It was Bishop Laurentius who opened for him the gates of Milan and it was he who, after the treason of Tufa, held for him that important city; Epiphanius bishop of Pavia acted in similar fashion. In a letter written in 492, Pope Gelasius takes credit to himself for having resisted the orders of Odovacar, and finally it was another bishop, John of Ravenna, who induced Odovacar to treat.

Theodoric like Clovis understood to the full the advantages which would accrue to him from the good offices of the Church. From his first arrival in Italy he showed in his attitude towards her the greatest consideration and tact. He was lavish in promises, he took pains to conciliate and he did not despise the use of flattery. Thus when he saw Epiphanius for the first time he is said to have exclaimed: “Behold a man who has not his peer in the East. To look upon him is a prize, to live beside him security”. Again, he entrusts his mother and his sister to the care of the bishop of Pavia, an act of high policy by which he added to the friendly feelings already exhibited towards him. The conquest of Italy was practically achieved between 490 and 493, and the various members of the nobility such as Festus and Faustus Niger and the chief senators rallied to his cause; with the capitulation of Odovacar, which took place at this latter date, the victory of Theodoric was complete.

On 27 February 493, through the good offices of John bishop of Ravenna who acted as official intermediary and negotiated the terms of the treaty, an agreement was concluded between Odovacar and Theodoric. It was arranged that the two kings should share the government of Italy and should dwell together as brothers and consuls in the same palace at Ravenna. Odovacar as a pledge of good faith handed over his son Thela to Theodoric, and on 5 March the latter made his state entry into Ravenna.

Theodoric broke the agreement by an act of the basest treachery. A few days later he invited Odovacar, his son and his chief officers to a banquet in that part of the palace known as the Lauretum. At the end of the feast Theodoric rose, threw himself on Odovacar and slew him together with his son. The chief officers of Theodoric’s army followed his example and massacred the Rugian leaders in the banqueting hall, while in the interior of the palace and as far as the outskirts of Ravenna the Gothic soldiery attacked the soldiery of Odovacar. It was clear that all acted on orders from headquarters.

Theodoric had now no rival in Italy: he was not however equally successful in his attempts to obtain recognition as king by the Emperor. He had already, during the first year of the siege of Ravenna, dispatched Festus to Constantinople, hoping that his position as chief of the Senate would favour the success of his mission. On the comple­tion of his conquest, Festus having in the meantime failed, Theodoric sent a fresh envoy, Faustus Niger; the second enterprise was however no less abortive than the first. The Anonymus Valesii tells us, indeed, that “peace having been made” (had Theodoric then in the eyes of the Emperor been guilty of disobedience?), “Anastasius sent back the royal insignia which Odovacar had forwarded to Constantinople”; nowhere, however, do we find it stated that the Emperor had authorized Theodoric to assume them. In a letter written to Justinian to beg for his friendship, Athalaric records the benefits conferred by the Court of Byzantium on his ancestors, he mentions adoption and the consulate and in referring to the question of government he merely recalls that his grandfather had been invested in Italy with the toga palmata, the ceremonial robe of clarissimi of consuls who triumphed. However that may be, Theodoric took that which was not conferred upon him. He abandoned military dress and assumed the royal mantle in his capacity of “governor of the Goths and the Romans” (Jordanes); but officially he was not, any more than Odovacar had been, king of Italy. Even his panegyrist Ennodius who styles him “our lord the king”, refers to the Italians as “his subjects”, accepts him as “lord of Italy” and de facto “Imperator” and speaks of him as clothed with the imperialis auctoritas, nowhere calls him king of Italy or king of the Romans. He was at once a Gothic king and a Roman official: Jordanes has called him quasi Gothorum Romanorumque gubernator.

We have proof of this double position in the two letters which he wrote to Anastasius and which are quoted by Cassiodorus. In the first Theodoric expresses to the Emperor the respect which he feels for the latter’s counsels and especially for the advice which he had given him to show favour to the Senate. If he uses the word regnum (a word which may also mean nothing more than government) it is to tell the Emperor that his object is to imitate the latter’s system of governing. In the second letter, his tone is that of a lieutenant who begs his superior officer to approve the choice of a consul. It is the tone neither of a rebel on the one hand, nor of an independent sovereign on the other.

As the Anonymus Valesii saw very clearly, Theodoric made no attempt to found a new State: he ruled two nations together without seeking to blend them, to allow one to absorb the other, or to make either subordinate. The Goths retained their own rights, their own laws, and their own officials; the Italians continued to be governed as they had been in the past, and the rule of Theodoric offers us the spectacle of a government purely Roman in character.

The Goths had established themselves almost imperceptibly in Italy, as their king had been careful to maintain continuity of government, and Theodoric appears in the pages of contemporary writers as a sovereign whose habits and traditions were altogether Roman. The works of Ennodius abound in evidence of this: his Panegyric in par­ticular, in which he represents Italy and Rome as loud in their praise of Theodoric because he had revived the old tradition and because he himself was a Roman prince whose ambition it was to place Italy I in harmony with her past; this is the idea which dominates the pages of the famous prosopopoeia of the Adige.

The government of Theodoric was then wholly Roman; he published laws and appointed consuls. He maintained and enforced Roman law and the edictum Theodorici was derived exclusively from Roman sources. He even imitated the imperial policy of encouraging barbarians in Italy, as when, for example, he established the Alemanni as guardians of the frontier. He also had a Court, officials and an administrative organization similar to that of Byzantium; he respected the Senate, restored the consular office, and though himself an Arian intervened as arbitrator, much as a Caesar would have done, in the affairs of the Church. Theodoric had a royal palace at Ravenna and there held his Court (Aula) surrounded by the chief men of Italy and his Gothic nobles. To enjoy interest at Court was all-important. No career was open to the man who did not attend there. “He was unknown to his master”, says Ennodius. The Court was at once the home of good manners and the source of enlightenment, the centre of state affairs and a school of administration for the younger men.

The Court and the service of the palatium entailed certain functions nearly all of which were discharged by Romans: the comes rerum privatarum (Apronianus held the office in the time of Ennodius) had charge of the privy purse, and in his double capacity of censor and magistrate was responsible for the preservation of tombs and the administration of private justice: the comes patrimonii (Julianus) as steward of the royal domains, had under his orders the troublesome band of farmers of the revenue (conductores) and inspectors (chartularii); he had moreover supreme charge of the royal commissariat. The palace with its magnificent gardens and sumptuously decorated apartments was thronged with Roman nobles who came there in search of preferment. It was guarded by picked troops, and Ravenna was the head-quarters of an important military district where the chief commands were filled by such men as Constantius, Agapitus and Honoratus. There was not a Goth among them.

If from the Court we turn to the officials we find again that they are all Romans. Among the ministers of the Court of Theodoric, as would have been the case under the Roman administration, the most important was the praetorian praefect Faustus, a personage of high consequence who in right of his office enjoyed a considerable police authority and extensive patronage; he was at the head of the postal administration, and to him was the final appeal in all criminal matters which arose in the provinces. His powers were almost legislative in character; in the forum his jurisdiction was supreme and his person sacred. The comes sacrarum largitionum discharged the duties of finance minister; the quaestor, Eugenetes, was responsible in matters relating to jurisprudence and the framing of laws. Then came the treasury counsel Marcellus, who filled a position coveted by the rising members of the Bar, and who acted as a sort of attorney-general with respect to the estates of intestates and unclaimed assets; next came the magister officiorum and then the peraequator whose business it was to adjust the incidence of taxation in the royal cities. Finally the vicarius, the deputy in each diocese of the praetorian praefect.

We have here only specified some of those officials whose personal characters have been depicted for us in the letters of Ennodius. If we complete—and with the help of Cassiodorus it is possible to do so—the catalogue of government departments, both administrative and provincial, which existed in Italy under Theodoric we might well imagine it to be a record, not of the reign of a barbarian king, but of the times of Valentinian and Honorius. It was the Romans alone who struggled—and they did so with the greatest eagerness to obtain these posts. Did, for example, the office of Treasury Counsel fall vacant, the whole province was agitated by intrigues, and even bishops joined in the contest. The crowd of candidates for a minor office such as peraequator was so great that Ennodius could not refrain from bantering Faustus on the subject.

The cursus honorum of the principal officers of state, during the forty years from Odovacar to the death of Theodoric, proves that very little was altered in Italy during that period, except the nationality of the ruler of the country. We find, for instance, that Faustus was successively Consul, Quaestor, Patrician, and Praetorian Praefect, and was moreover entrusted with missions to Anastasius; while Liberius, who had remained faithful to Odovacar, and had even refused to surrender Caesena to Theodoric, was nevertheless employed by the latter sovereign, who made him a Patrician and Praefect of Ligurian Gaul. Senarius, again, was employed first as a soldier, and then as a diplomatist, and Count of the patrimoniumAgapitus, another official, obtained the rank of Patrician, held a military appointment at Ravenna, and was in turn Consul, Legate in the East, and Praefect of the city; while Eugenetes, whom Ennodius styles ‘the honour of Italy’, became a vir illustris, and was employed as an advocate, a Quaestor, and as Master of the Offices; other examples might also be quoted. The readiness of these Italian noblemen to serve successively under both Odovacar and Theodoric arose from no feeling of indifference on their part, but must rather be attributed to the fact that these rulers were in no sense hostile to tradition, and because they continued the form of administration established by the Roman Empire.

The Senate and the consulate, those two institutions with which the whole history of the past had been so intimately connected, especially engaged the attention of Theodoric. Ever since the time of Honorius, the part played by the Senate in the government of Italy had been growing more and more important. After the death of Libius Severus, it had asked Leo for an emperor; while both Augustulus and Odovacar had entrusted it with a similar mission to Zeno. In a well-known novel, Majorian may be found thanking the Senate for his election, and promising to govern according to its counsels; and when Anthemius was endeavouring to involve Ricimer in the struggle that was to end so fatally for himself, he leant for support upon the Curia. Examples such as these show that the Senate represented tradition; it was the single authority that remained unchanged through every vicissitude, and to it accordingly Theodoric at once made overtures. He entrusted a mission of considerable importance to two Senators, Festus and Faustus, the former of whom occupied the position of chief of the Senate; and on making his entry into Rome his first visit was to the Senate-house. In fact, to make use of a saying of his own, as recorded by his panegyrist, he adorned the crown of the Senate with countless flowers. He enrolled a few Goths among its members, but he only did this on rare occasions, for he preferred, as a rule, to recruit the senatorial ranks from among the old aristocracy of the country. During his reign men became senators in three ways; they might either be co-opted, or else selected from a list of candidates nominated by the king, or they obtained the rank because they had been advanced to some dignity which conferred the title of ‘illustrious’. In Rome indeed the Senate at this time was the supreme power. In conjunction with the praefect, it had the control of the municipal police; it organized the games in the circus; and exercised authority over the city schools and working men's corporations. Without abandoning any of its legislative power it assumed the functions of the Aediles; nor could a royal edict become law until it had received the senatorial sanction. The Varia of Cassiodorus are full of letters from Theodoric to the Senate. Indeed, he never made a nomination of any consequence, or filled up an important office, without immediately communicating the fact to the senators in the most deferential terms, and even soliciting their advice and approbation. A great deal of this deference was no doubt a mere form, but to a certain extent it was also sincere. The king's respect could hardly have been altogether feigned, for he invariably addressed even those senators who held aloof from his government in a kindly manner. Festus, for instance, although he remained in Rome and never visited Ravenna, obtained the rank of Patrician, and received no less than four letters from Theodoric, all expressed in the most flattering terms; while Symmachus, another Patrician who refused to leave his native city, was favoured with a royal letter praising the buildings which he had erected.

In spite of these friendly relations, some opposition was aroused in the Curia by the question of the Arian schism; indeed towards the end of the king’s reign, the behaviour of the senators over this matter even provoked against him the hostility of Byzantium. Not only was this opposition a source of serious trouble to Theodoric, but it rendered him suspicious and cruel, and caused him to act with great severity against some of the senatorial families, and several victims, among whom Boethius was the most illustrious, were executed by his command.

In the opinion of Theodoric, the consulship was as valuable as ever, though in reality it had lost a great deal of its former importance. As Justinian justly observes in an Authenticus, this office had originally been created to defend the State in time of war, but since the emperors had undertaken the business of fighting, the consulship had deteriorated into a means of distributing largess among the people. Under these circumstances, candidates for the office were not very numerous. Ennodius mentions the small number of aspirants for the consulship; while Marcian, in an official communication, expresses his indignation at the stinginess of the men holding this high office, and obliges them to contribute a hundred pounds weight of gold, for the purpose of repairing the aqueducts. The consulship indeed at this period had degenerated into a mere name. A formula of nomination, which has been preserved for us by Cassiodorus, merely recalls the fame of this magistracy in the past, and then goes on to point out that a consul's sole duty is to be magnanimous, and not to be sparing with his money. However, the consul has no more authority. “By the grace of God”, the formula declares, “we govern, while your name dates the year. Your good fortune, indeed, is greater than that of the prince himself, for though endowed with the highest honours, you have been relieved of the burden of power”. On the other hand, as if to make up for this loss of authority, the dress of a consul was sumptuous and magnificent; a spreading cloak hung from his shoulders; he carried a sceptre in his hand, and wore gilded shoes. In addition, he possessed the right of sitting in a curule chair, and was allowed to make the seven processions in triumph through Rome of which Justinian speaks in one of his novels.

Theodoric would have liked to restore the consulship to a somewhat more respected position. An eloquent letter on the subject of this magistracy was addressed by him to the Emperor Anastasius, and when Avienus, the son of Faustus, became consul in 501, Ennodius, who shared the opinion of his master, wrote as follows: “If there are any ancient dignities which deserve respect, if to be remembered after death is to be regarded as a great happiness, if the foresight of our ancestors really created something so excellent that by it humanity can triumph over time, it is certainly the consulship, whose permanence has overcome old age, and put an end to annihilation”. In his Panegyric, moreover, Ennodius praises Theodoric because, during his reign, “the number of consuls exceeded the number of candidates for the office in previous times”.

The main outlines of Theodoric’s government have now been described: and it will be seen that they were all of Roman origin. We must next inquire in what manner he administered this government. A judicious policy and gentle means had been employed to supplant Odovacar, and at the beginning of his reign he governed by similar methods. He endeavoured to help the Italian officials with whom he had surrounded himself , and to whom he had entrusted the high offices of State, in their task of pacifying and reorganizing the country. When Epiphanius described the miserable plight of Liguria to him, and told him in moving terms how the land there lay uncultivated owing to its husband-men having been carried away captive by the Burgundians, the king replied: “There is gold in the treasury, and we will pay their ransom, whatever it may be, either in money or by the sword”. He then suggested that the bishop should himself undertake negotiations for ransoming the captives. Epiphanius accepted this mission; and, the king having placed the necessary funds at his disposal, triumphantly brought home six thousand prisoners, whom he had either ransomed or whose liberty he had obtained by his eloquent pleading in their behalf. The effect produced in Italy by such an act of liberality, followed by so satisfactory a result, can be imagined. The king’s aim, indeed, as he told Cassiodorus, was to restore the old power of Italy, to re-establish a good government, and to extend the influence of that Roman civilitas upon which he desired to model his own administrations.

As ministers, he selected men capable of inspiring confidence, such as Liberius, for instance, whose official work had been attended with such excellent results. In his opinion, fidelity to a vanquished patron was a virtue, nor was he afraid of praising it; indeed, in his administration, the value of a post given to a son would be in proportion to the deserts of the father. He attracted young men capable of making good officers of state to his Court; in a word, he acted like a sovereign who desires to be loved by his subjects, and at the same time to give stability to his rule. As Ennodius remarks: “No man was driven to despair of obtaining honours; no man, however obscure, had to complain of a refusal to his demands provided that they rested on substantial foundations; no man, in fact, ever came to the king without receiving liberal gifts”; but at this point we detect the panegyrist.

As we shall see before long, the end of his reign differed from the beginning, but during the chief part of it, at any rate, he governed with singular prudence. When Laurentius begged Theodoric to pardon some rebellious subjects, the king answered him as follows: “Your duty as a bishop obliges you to urge me to listen to the claims of mercy, but the needs of an Empire in the making shut out gentleness and pity, and make punishments a necessity”. Nevertheless, we find that he allowed some mitigation to be made in the punishment of the culprits.

Theodoric could be a just as well as a politic ruler, and he showed is sense of justice when he had to deal with financial questions. At the request of Epiphanius, he remitted two-thirds of the taxes for the current year to the inhabitants of Liguria; levying the remaining third, it is said, “in order that the poverty of his treasury might not impose fresh burdens on the Romans”. During his reign even the Goths were obliged to submit to taxation, and he also made them respect the public finances. At Adria, for instance, he forced them to give back what they had taken from the fiscus; in Tuscany he ordered Gesila to make them pay the land tax. Moreover, if in any province the servants of the Gothic Count or his deputy behaved violently to the provincials, we find Severianus giving information against them; while in Picenum and Samnium we find him ordering his compatriots to bring grants made to the king to Court, without keeping back any portion of them.

Nevertheless, contemporary chroniclers have all declared that Theodoric, like Odovacar, distributed a third part of the land in Italy among his soldiers. Their statement appears to have been almost invariably accepted by later historians, who have repeated it one from another. A theory, that the barbarians despoiled the conquered people of their estates, is commonly believed, and indeed has hardly ever been contradicted. But in addition to the fact that such a proceeding would certainly have led to some disturbance, of which we can find no evidence in any part of the country, another circumstance renders such a con­clusion unreasonable. This is that neither Odovacar's soldiers, nor Theodoric’s, were in reality sufficiently numerous to occupy a third part of the land in Italy. Greek chronicles, it is true, speak of the “tritimorion ton argon”, Latin writers of the tertiae. But what are we to understand by these expressions? Among the few scholars who have attempted to dispute the current theory, some, like de Rozière, believe that the chronicler's words denote an act of confiscation for which compensation was made to the owners by a tax levied at the rate of one-third of the annual value. Others, like Lécrivain, consider that they mean a surrender of unappropriated land, in return for which a tribute was exacted equal to a third of the annual produce. At no period, not even during the agrarian troubles in the far away days of the Republic, had it ever been the custom to eject legal proprietors from their estates. On the contrary, on every occasion when land had been required for the purpose of making grants to the plebeians, to veterans or praetorians, or even to barbarians, it had invariably been taken from land owned by the community, that is to say from the land around the temples, from unoccupied land, or from the property of the Treasury. Whenever indeed a distribution of land took place, it was made exclusively from the lands belonging to the Treasury, which, at certain periods, multiplied exceedingly owing to escheated successions or confiscations. In our own opinion, it was a third of these state lands, this ager publicus, that was assigned to the barbarians during the reigns of Odovacar and Theodoric. In addition to the fact that not one of the texts actually contradicts this theory, it appears to be sufficiently proved by the following words, addressed by Ennodius to Liberius, when the latter was ordered to allot the land of Liguria to the Goths: "Have you not enriched innumerable Goths with liberal grants, and yet the Romans hardly seem to know what you have been doing." Even the courtier-like Ennodius would not have expressed himself in this manner in a private letter, or even in an official communication, if private estates had been attacked for the benefit of the conquerors.

During the early years of the Roman Empire, the annual food supply of Italy had always been one of the government's chief anxieties; and the writings of Cassiodorus constantly show us that Theodoric was not free from a similar care. His orders to his officials, however, on this subject, appear to have been attended with excellent results. During his reign, according to the Anonymus, sixty measures of wheat might be purchased for a solidus, and thirty amphorae of wine might be had for a like sum. Paul the Deacon has remarked the joy with which the Romans received Theodoric's order for an annual distribution of twenty thousand measures of grain among the people. It was, moreover, with a view to making the yearly food supply more secure, that the king caused the seaports to be put into good repair; and we find him especially charging Sabiniacus to keep those in the vicinity of Rome in good order.

At the same time, Theodoric gratified the ruling passion of the Italians for games in the circus; and Ennodius, the Anonymus, and Cassiodorus, are unanimous in praising him for reviving the gladiators. From their pages, we learn that he provided shows and pantomimes, that he endeavoured to shield the senators from the abusive jests of the comedians, and that he brought charioteers from Milan for the Consul Felix. But, in the eyes of his contemporaries, the most striking of all Theodoric characteristics seems to have been his taste for monuments, for making improvements at Rome and Ravenna, and for works of restoration of every kind. Such a taste, indeed, was very remarkable in a barbarian. According to the Anonymus he was a great builder. At Ravenna, the aqueducts were restored by his order; and the plan of the palace which he constructed there has been preserved for a mosaic in Sant Apollinare Nuovo. At Verona, also, he erected baths and an aqueduct. Cassiodorus tells us how the king sought out skilled workers in marble to complete the Basilica of Hercules; how he ordered the Patrician Symmachus to restore the theatre of Pompey; how he bade Artemidorus rebuild the walls of Rome, and how he desired Argolicus to repair the drains in that city. We find him, moreover, requesting Festus to send any fallen marbles from the Pincian Hill to Ravenna; and giving a portico, or piece of ground surrounded by a colonnade, to the Patrician Albinus, in order that he may build houses on it. Count Suna received directions to collect broken pieces of marble, in order that they might be used in wall-building; while the magistrates of a tributary town were required to send to Ravenna columns, and any stones from ruins that had remained unused. In fact, Ennodius' statement that “he rejuvenated Rome and Italy in their hideous old age by amputating their mutilated members”, is perfectly correct in spite of its rhetorical style. Not a few of his orders, moreover, bear witness to a care for the future: the Goths of Dertona, for instance, and of Castellum Verruca, were commanded to build fortifications; the citizens of Arles were directed to repair the towers that were falling into decay upon their walls; and the inhabitants of Feltre were ordered to build a wall round their new city. He even looked forward to his own death, building that strange mausoleum now become the Church of Santa Maria della Rotonda, whose monolithic roof is still an object of wonder.

Ennodius also tells us that Theodoric encouraged a revival of learning, nor is this eulogy by any means undeserved, for a real literary renaissance did in fact take place during his reign. In addition to Cassiodorus himself, to Ennodius, who was at once an enthusiastic lover of literature, an orator, a poet, and a letter-writer, and to Boethius, the most illustrious and popular writer of his day, quite a number of other distinguished literary men flourished at that time. Rusticus Helpidius, for instance, the king's physician, has left a poem entitled the Blessings of Christ; Cornelius Maximianus wrote idyllic poetry; while Arator of Milan translated the Acts of the Apostles into two books of hexameters. The greatest poet of this period was Venantius Fortunatus, who became bishop of Poitiers; and mention should also be made of the lawyer Epiphanius, who wrote an abridgment of the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret.

Theodoric was himself an Arian, yet he was always ready to extend is protection o the Catholic Church. Indeed, as we have already noticed, it was his policy to win over the bishops of northern Italy. Accordingly he granted complete liberty of worship to all Catholics; while so long as papal elections were quietly conducted, as in the cases of Gelasius and Anastasius II, he took no part in them. But should a pontifical or episcopal election lead to disturbances of any kind, more especially if such disturbances were likely to end in a schism, Theodoric at once intervened in them, in the character of arbitrator or judge. For he claimed to be dominator rerum, that is to say the sovereign, responsible for the maintenance of order in the State; the successor, indeed, of the Caesars, who had always considered the task of maintaining the integrity of the faith as their most especial prerogative. And he assumed such a position at the time of the Laurentian schism.

In the year 498, two priests, Laurentius and Symmachus, had been simultaneously elected by rival parties to the Roman See. As neither prelate was willing to resign his claim to profit by the election, the dispute was referred to the Gothic king, who decided that whichever candidate had obtained a majority of votes should be proclaimed bishop of Rome. This condition being fulfilled by Symmachus, he was accordingly recognized as Pope, while Laurentius was given the bishopric of Nuceria as a compensation. By this arrangement peace, it was believed, was again established; and, in the year 500, Theodoric paid a visit to Rome, where he was enthusiastically received by Pope, Senate and people.

But the schism was by no means at an end. On the contrary, the enemies of Symmachus lost no time in renewing their attack with redoubled vigour; and accusations of adultery, of alienating church property, and of celebrating Easter on the wrong date, were successively brought against the Pope. Theodoric summoned the accused Pontiff to appear before him, and when Symmachus refused to comply with this command, the case was referred to an assembly, over which Peter of Altinum presided as visitor. No less than five synods were convoked for the purpose of settling this question, and it was eventually terminated by the acquittal and rehabilitation of Symmachus.

The debates held in these ecclesiastical assemblies were very stormy. The partisans on both sides appear to have been equally unwilling to give way, nor did they scruple to promote their cause by exciting riots in the streets, or by slanderous libels. Both parties indeed seem to have been mainly occupied with justifying themselves in Theodoric’s eyes, in order that they might obtain his support; in fact, from the second Synod onwards, the friends of Laurentius adopted the tactics of attempt­ing to prove that Symmachus and his adherents had disobeyed the orders of the king.

In every phase of this controversy, so full of information respecting the relations of Church and State at that period, Theodoric, it will be seen, occupies an important place. In Rome, troubles were temporarily smoothed over by his presence, while his departure, on the other hand, proved the signal for a fresh outbreak. Appeals for a peaceful settlement, expressed with increasing vigour, and mingled with reproofs of increasing sternness, fill his letters at this time. When the hostile parties, unable to come to any decision on their own account, referred the question to their sovereign, he reminded them of their duty in the following severe words: “We order you to decide this matter which is of God, and which we have confided to your care, as it seems good to you. Do not expect any judgment from us, for it is your duty to settle this question”. Later, as a verdict still failed to make its appear­ance, he writes again: “I order you to obey the command of God”. And this time he was obeyed.

The fact that Theodoric was himself an Arian never seems to have limited his influence in any way during this long quarrel, so celebrated in the history of the Church. His prerogative as king gave him a legitimate authority in ecclesiastical matters, nor does that authority ever appear to have been called in question on the ground that he was a heretic. On the contrary, we find him giving his sanction to canons and decrees, exactly in the same manner as his predecessors had done in the days of the dual Empire. But, though his words were sometimes haughty and peremptory, he was careful not to impose his own will in any matters concerning faith or discipline; indeed the most extreme action that can be laid to his charge is the introduction into the Roman Synods of two Gothic functionaries, Gudila and Bedculphas, for the purpose of seeing that his instructions were not neglected.

A similar wise impartiality, mingled with firmness, distinguished his dealings with the clergy. When a priest named Aurelianus was fraudulently deprived of a portion of his inheritance, restitution was made to him by order of the king. He assisted the churches to recover their endowments; he appreciated good priests, and did them honour. Occasionally, indeed, he deposed a bishop for a time, on account of some action having been brought against him, but he always had him reinstated in his see as soon as he had proved his innocence. When he desired to give some compensation to the inhabitants of a country over which his troops had marched, he placed the matter in the hands of Bishop Severus, because that prelate was known to estimate damages fairly; and when a dispute arose between the clergy and the town of Sarsena he ordered the case to be tried in the bishop's court, unless the prelate himself should prefer to refer it to the king's tribunal. Finally, he made it a rule that ecclesiastical cases were only to be tried before ecclesiastical judges.

The foreign policy of Theodoric was conducted in the same masterly manner as his home government, or his dealings with the Church. He appears to have exercised a kind of protectorate over the barbarian tribes upon his frontiers, especially over those of the Arian persuasion, nor did he hesitate to impose his will upon them, if necessary, by force of arms. As he had only daughters he was obliged to consider the question of his successor; and the marriages which he arranged for his children, or other relations, were accordingly planned with a view to procuring political alliances. Of his daughters the eldest, Arevagni, was married to Alaric, king of the Visigoths; the second, Theudegotha, became the wife of Sigismund, son of Gundobad, king of the Burgundians; and the third, Amalasuntha, was given in marriage to one of Theodoric’s own race, the Amal Eutharic. Other alliances were formed by the marriage of his sister Amalafrida to Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, and of another sister, Amalaberga, to Hermanfred, king of the Thuringians; while Theodoric himself wedded Childeric’s daughter Audefleda, the sister of Clovis.

These alliances were all made with the definite object of extending Theodoric’s sphere of action; but when, as for example in the case of the Franks, they failed to attain the end desired by the king, they were never permitted to hamper schemes of an entirely contrary nature.

A simple enumeration of Theodoric’s wars is alone sufficient to prove the firmness of his will. When he found that Noricum and Pannonia, two provinces on the Italian frontier, were not to be trusted, he attacked and killed a chieftain of freebooters, named Mundo, in the former province. As the Emperor Anastasius was supporting Mundo, and had recently dispatched a fleet to plunder on the coasts of Calabria and Apulia, such an attack gave Theodoric an opportunity of asserting his independence. Moreover, in order to render his demonstration even more effective, he collected a fleet of his own, which he sent to cruise in the Adriatic. At the same time, he took Pannonia from the Gepid chief Trasaric, and thus effectually secured his north-eastern frontiers. Those on the north-west next engaged his attention, and here he protected the Alemanni from the attacks of Clovis, and eventually settled them in the province of Rhaetia. Finally he took advantage of the wars between the Franks and the Burgundians to secure the passes of the Graian Alps.

Theodoric had striven to prevent hostilities from breaking out between the Franks and the Visigoths; but after Alaric's death at the battle of Vouillé (507), he found himself obliged to take the latter people under his own protection. In the war that ensued, Ibbas, one of his generals, defeated the eldest son of Clovis near Arles (511); took possession of Provence; secured Septimania for the Visigoths; and established Amalaric in Spain. Among more distant nations we find the Es­thonians on the shores of the Baltic paying him a tribute of amber, while a deposed prince of Scandinavia found a refuge at his Court.

History, as may be seen from these events, fully corroborates the legends in which Theodoric is represented as a protector of barbarian interests, and chief patron of the Teutonic races. In the Nibelungenlied, for instance, we find him occupying a distinguished place under the name of Dietrich of Bern (Theodoric of Verona). At the time of his death his dominions included Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia, Noricum, the greater part of what is now Hungary, the two Rhaetias (Tyrol and the Grisons), Lower Germany as far north as Ulm, and Provence. Indeed, if his supremacy over the Goths in Spain be also taken into account, it will be seen that he had succeeded in re-establishing the ancient Western Empire for his own benefit, with the exceptions of Africa, Britain, and two-thirds of Gaul.

So far as we have examined it, Theodoric’s government has been found invariably broad-minded and liberal, but it was destined to undergo a complete change during the latter years of his reign. Whether this change was the consequence of a relapse into barbarism, or whether, as seems more probable, it must be attributed to the persecution under which the Arians were suffering in every part of the Empire, is not easy to determine, for no definite information on this point is to be found in any of the texts. In any case, however, there can be no doubt that it was the religious question that produced this complete change of policy. On this point the Anonymus is perfectly clear; and if we disregard the severity and the cruelty of his punishments, and at the same time make due allowance for intrigues of the Byzantine Court, and of the Church itself, the precise nature of which cannot be determined, it does not appear that the king was himself to blame.

During his reign we find the Jews enjoying an extraordinary amount of protection; and, in one of his edicts, he testifies with what obedience this people had accepted the legal position assigned to them by the Roman law. His son-in-law Eutharic, however, appears to have been addicted to persecution; and during his consulship the Christians of Ravenna made an attempt to force all the Jews in their city to submit to the rite of baptism. As the Jews refused to comply, the Christians flung them into the water, and in spite of the king's decrees, and the orders of Bishop Peter, attacked and set fire to the synagogues. Upon this, the Jews complained to the king at Verona, who ordered the Christians to rebuild the synagogues at their own expense. This command was carried out, but not before a certain amount of disturbance had aroused Theodoric's suspicions; and in consequence the inhabitants of Ravenna were forbidden to carry arms of any kind, even the smallest knife being prohibited.

While these events were in progress, in the year 523, the Emperor Justin proscribed Arianism throughout the Empire. Such an action was a direct menace to the Goths, and Theodoric felt it very acutely. The painful impression which it produced on him was probably much increased by the fact that Symmachus' successors in the papal chair had not been as tolerant as their predecessor; while one of them in particular, John I, had shown a most bitter enmity towards heresy. We have no certain knowledge as to whether the Senate was in sympathy with Theodoric on this occasion, or whether it approved of Justin's measure, but the most probable theory seems to be that the Curia was on Justin's side, and that Theodoric moreover was aware that this was the case. At any rate, when the Senator Albinus was denounced by Cyprian for carrying on intrigues with Byzantium the accusation found ready credence at Court. The Anonymus declares, besides, that the king was angry with the Romans; and it is difficult to see why he should have been thus angry unless the Romans had been approving of Justin's religious decrees. On the other hand, if any plot had existed in the real sense of the term, it is not probable that such a man as Boethius, the master of the offices, that is to say one of the chief officers of the Crown, would have endeavoured to shield Albinus by saying, "Cyprian's accusation is false, but if Albinus has written to Constantinople he has done so with my consent and that of the whole Senate." He might perhaps have spoken in such a manner for the purpose of expressing his own and his colleagues' approval of a religious decree promulgated by a sovereign to whom they owed allegiance. Boethius indeed had himself just published a work against Arianism, entitled De Trinitate, but it does not seem likely that he would have talked in this fashion had a conspiracy really been brewing. In any case, he was at once thrown into prison; and is said to have composed his work De Consolatione while in captivity. In the end, after a brief trial, he was put to death with every refinement of cruelty, while not long afterwards his father-in-law, Symmachus, met with a similar fate.

Theodoric, indeed, understood very well that his whole life-work was likely to be compromised by this readiness on the part of his subjects to accept Justin's edict. For what would become of his authority if it became the fashion to criticize him on account of his faith? It was in the hope of finding some remedy for this situation that he summoned Pope John to Ravenna, and from thence dispatched him, accompanied by five bishops and four senators, on an embassy to Constantinople. The king charged this mission, among other things, with the task of requiring the Emperor to reinstate the outcast Arians within the pale of the Church. But the Emperor, though willing enough to make concessions on any other subject, would concede nothing to the Arians, and the mission was forced to leave Constantinople without obtaining any redress on this point. As for Pope John, he died almost immediately after his return to Italy, and as his biographers tell us that he worked numerous miracles after his death, we may conclude that this sectarian quarrel must have been very acute. The failure of this embassy made Theodoric so furious that he allowed an edict to be published during the consulship of Olybrius by Symmachus, the chief official in the Scholae, which stated that all Catholics were to be ejected from their churches, on the seventh day of the Kalends of September. But on the very day fixed upon by his minister for the execution of this act of banishment, the king died, apparently from an attack of dysentery, in the year 526.

The Byzantine historian Procopius—though he was himself an opponent of the king’s—has summed up Theodoric and his work in the following verdict, which remains true in spite of the errors committed by him during the latter years of his reign. “His manner of ruling over his subjects was worthy of a great Emperor; for he maintained justice, made good laws, protected his country from invasion, and gave proof of extraordinary prudence and valour.”

Theodoric’ work was not destined to survive his death. He left a daughter, Amalasuntha, the widow of Eutharic, who was not unlike him; and who now became guardian to her son Athalaric, to whom his grandfather had bequeathed the crown on his death-bed. She had been educated entirely on Roman lines, and understood the value of her father's work; but she had to reckon with the Goths. During Theodoric's lifetime this people had done nothing to excite attention, and had lived side by side with the Romans without showing any desire to obtain the upper hand; but under the regency of a woman we find that they soon aspired to play a more important part. Their first step was to take Athalaric from the guardianship of his mother. He died, however, in 534. Amalasuntha was now confronted once again with her former difficulties; and in the hope of overcoming them, she attempted to share the crown with Theodoric's nephew Theodahad, a man of weak and evil character. The new king's first care was to get rid of Amalasuntha, and he had her shut up on an island, in the lake of Bolsena. From her prison, she appealed to Justinian for assistance.

When this came to Theodahad’s ears, he had her strangled. But her cry for help had not been unheeded. By the death of Anastasius the situation at Constantinople had been completely changed; it was no longer the imperial policy to allow Italy to be governed by a vassal, more especially if that vassal were an Arian; and political and religious motives alike urged Justinian to intervene. A struggle began accordingly which was to last from 536 to 553, which was to devastate Italy with fire and bloodshed, and which ultimately opened the door for a new invasion by the Lombards