Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Greatest Goth

Before I tell you that Theodoric was the greatest ruler among the Goths, I need to clarify that there were many Gothic kings named Theodoric. I'm talking about Theodoric the Great, who was born in 454 A.D. in what is now Austria.

His father, also king of the Goths, had defeated the Huns and sent them retreating back into Asia. As adult, Theodoric's first political move was to take over Italy, partly at the request of the Byzantine emperor, who wanted Theodoric as friendly government in Rome. Theodoric was happy to comply, and ruled as king of Italy and king of the Ostrogoth territories, in an alliance with the Byzantine empire. Eventually, he gained control over the Visigoth Empire as well, and formed a friendly alliance with the Frankish Merovingian dynasty.

Theodoric demonstrated the power and skill of the Germanic tribes as a ruler, and a high point of European culture. One story will suffice to demonstrate his spirit: In 519 A.D., when a mob of Italians had burned down the synagogues of Ravenna, Theodoric ordered the town to rebuild them at its own expense.