History for the Rest of Us

Theodoric the Ostrogoth

Theodoric the Ostrogoth

Sep 3, 2012

KING FROM 475-526 A.D. The Ostrogoths, or East Goths, who had settled in Southern Russia, at length pushed southward and westward to the mouth of the Danube. They were continually invading countries belonging to the Romans and their warlike raids were dreaded by the emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire, who lived at Constantinople. One emperor gave them land and money, and thus stopped their invasions for a time. The most famous of the Ostrogoth kings was Theodoric the Great. He was the son of Theodemir, who was also a king of the Ostrogoths. When Theodoric was eight years old he was sent to Constantinople to be held as a hostage by Leo, the Emperor of the East. In former times, when kings made treaties with one another, it was customary for one to give to the other a pledge or security that he would fulfill the conditions of the treaty. The pledge usually given was some important person or persons, perhaps the king’s son or a number of his chief men. Persons so given as a security were called hostages. When Theodoric was a boy he was given as a hostage for his father’s good faith in carrying out a treaty with the Emperor and was sent to Constantinople to live. Here the youth was well treated by Leo. He was educated with great care and trained in all the exercises of war. Theodemir died in 475, and then Theodoric returned to his own country and became king of the Ostrogoths. At this time he was eighteen years of age. He was handsome and brave and people loved him, for in those days a man who was tall and strong and brave was liked by everybody. For some years after he became king, Theodoric had frequent wars with other Gothic kings and also with the Roman Emperor Zeno. He was nearly always successful in battle, and at last Zeno began to think it would be better to try to make friends with him. So he gave Theodoric some rich lands and made him commander of the Imperial Guard of Constantinople. But the Emperor soon became tired of having the Ostrogoth king at his...