THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS
(297) Now before he had a child from
Audefleda, Theodoric had children of a concubine, daughters begotten in
Moesia, one named Thiudigoto and another Ostrogotho. Soon after he came
to Italy, he gave them in marriage to neighboring kings, one to Alaric,
king of the Visigoths, and the other to Sigismund, king of the Burgundians.
(298) Now Alaric begat Amalaric. While his grandfather Theodoric cared
for and protected him--for he had lost both parents in the years of childhood--he
found that Eutharic, the son of Veteric, grandchild of Beremud and Thorismud,
and a descendant of the race of the Amali, was living in Spain, a young
man strong in wisdom and valor and health of body. Theodoric sent for
him and gave him his daughter Amalasuentha in marriage. (299) And that
he might extend his family as much as possible, he sent his sister Amalafrida
(the mother of Theodahad, who was afterwards king) to Africa as wife of
Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, and her daughter Amalaberga, who was
his own niece, he united with Herminefred, king of the Thuringians.
(300) Now he sent his Count Pitza, chosen from among the chief men of his kingdom, to hold the city of Sirmium. He got possession of it by driving out its king Thrasaric, son of Thraustila, and keeping his mother captive. Thence he came with two thousand infantry and five hundred horsemen to aid Mundo against Sabinian, Master of the Soldiery of Illyricum, who at that time had made ready to fight with Mundo near the city named Margoplanum, which lies between the Danube and Margus rivers, and destroyed the Army of Illyricum. (301) For this Mundo, who traced his descent from the Attilani of old, had put to flight the tribe of the Gepidae and was roaming beyond the Danube in waste places where no man tilled the soil. He had gathered around him many outlaws and ruffians and robbers from all sides and had seized a tower called Herta, situated on the bank of the Danube. There he plundered his neighbors in wild license and made himself king over his vagabonds. Now Pitza came upon him when he was nearly reduced to desperation and was already thinking of surrender. So he rescued him from the hands of Sabinian and made him a grateful subject of his king Theodoric.
(302) Theodoric won an equally great victory over the Franks through his Count Ibba in Gaul, when more than thirty thousand Franks were slain in battle. Moreover, after the death of his son-in-law Alaric, Theodoric appointed Thiudis, his armor-bearer, guardian of his grandson Amalaric in Spain. But Amalaric was ensnared by the plots of the Franks in early youth and lost at once his kingdom and his life. Then his guardian Thiudis, advancing from the same kingdom, assailed the Franks and delivered the Spaniards from their disgraceful treachery. So long as he lived he kept the Visigoths united. (303) After him Thiudigisclus obtained the kingdom and, ruling but a short time, met his death at the hands of his own followers. He was succeeded by Agil, who holds the kingdom to the present day. Athanagild has rebelled against him and is even now provoking the might of the Roman Empire. So Liberius the Patrician is on the way with an army to oppose him. Now there was not a tribe in the west that did not serve Theodoric while he lived, either in friendship or by conquest.
(304) When he had reached old age
and knew that he should soon depart this life, he called together the
Gothic counts and chieftains of his race and appointed Athalaric as king.
He was a boy scarce ten years old, the son of his daughter Amalasuentha,
and he had lost his father Eutharic. As though uttering his last will
and testament Theodoric adjured and commanded them to honor their king,
to love the Senate and Roman People and to make sure of the peace and
good will of the Emperor of the East, as next after God.
(305) They kept this command fully so long as Athalaric their king and his mother lived, and ruled in peace for almost eight years. But as the Franks put no confidence in the rule of a child and furthermore held him in contempt, and were also plotting war, he gave back to them those parts of Gaul which his father and grandfather had seized. He possessed all the rest in peace and quiet. Therefore when Athalaric was approaching the age of manhood, he entrusted to the Emperor of the East both his own youth and his mother's widowhood. But in a short time the ill-fated boy was carried off by an untimely death and departed from earthly affairs. (306) His mother feared she might be despised by the Goths on account of the weakness of her sex. So after much thought she decided, for the sake of relationship, to summon her cousin Theodahad from Tuscany, where he led a retired life at home, and thus she established him on the throne. But he was unmindful of their kinship and, after a little time, had her taken from the palace at Ravenna to an island of the Bulsinian lake where he kept her in exile. After spending a very few days there in sorrow, she was strangled in the bath by his hirelings.
(307) When Justinian, the Emperor
of the East, heard this, he was aroused as if he had suffered personal
injury in the death of his wards. Now at that time he had won a triumph
over the Vandals in Africa, through his most faithful Patrician Belisarius.
Without delay he sent his army under this leader against the Goths at
the very time when his arms were yet dripping with the blood of the Vandals.
(308) This sagacious general believed he could not overcome the Gothic
nation, unless he should first seize Sicily, their nursing-mother. Accordingly
he did so. As soon as he entered Trinacria, the Goths, who were besieging
the town of Syracuse, found that they were not succeeding and surrendered
of their own accord to Belisarius, with their leader Sinderith. When the
Roman general reached Sicily, Theodahad sought out Evermud, his son-in-law,
and sent him with an army to guard the strait which lies between Campania
and Sicily and sweeps from a bend of the Tyrrhenian Sea into the vast
tide of the Adriatic. (309) When Evermud arrived, he pitched his camp
by the town of Rhegium. He soon saw that his side was the weaker. Coming
over with a few close and faithful followers to the side of the victor
and willingly casting himself at the feet of Belisarius, he decided to
serve the rulers of the Roman Empire. When the army of the Goths perceived
this, they distrusted Theodahad and clamored for his expulsion from the
kingdom and for the appointment as king of their leader Vitiges, who had
been his armor bearer. (310) This was done; and presently Vitiges was
raised to the office of king on the Barbarian Plains. He entered Rome
and sent on to Ravenna the men most faithful to him to demand the death
of Theodahad. They came and executed his command. After King Theodahad
was slain, a messenger came from the king--for he was already king in
the Barbarian Plains--to proclaim Vitiges to the people.
(311) Meanwhile the Roman army crossed the strait and marched toward Campania. They took Naples and pressed on to Rome. Now a few days before they arrived, King Vitiges had set forth from Rome, arrived at Ravenna and married Mathesuentha, the daughter of Amalasuentha and grand-daughter of Theodoric, the former king. While he was celebrating his new marriage and holding court at Ravenna, the imperial army advanced from Rome and attacked the strongholds in both parts of Tuscany. When Vitiges learned of this through messengers, he sent a force under Hunila, a leader of the Goths, to Perusia which was beleaguered by them. (312) While they were endeavoring by a long siege to dislodge Count Magnus, who was holding the place with a small force, the Roman army came upon them, and they themselves were driven away and utterly exterminated. When Vitiges heard the news, he raged like a lion and assembled all the host of the Goths. He advanced from Ravenna and harassed the walls of Rome with a long siege. But after fourteen months his courage was broken and he raised the siege of the city of Rome and prepared to overwhelm Ariminum. (313) Here he was baffled in like manner and put to flight; and so he retreated to Ravenna. When besieged there, he quickly and willingly surrendered himself to the victorious side, together with his wife Mathesuentha and the royal treasure.
And thus a famous kingdom and most valiant race, which had long held sway, was at last overcome in almost its two thousand and thirtieth year by that conquerer of many nations, the Emperor Justinian, through his most faithful consul Belisarius. He gave Vitiges the title of Patrician and took him to Constantinople, where he dwelt for more than two years, bound by ties of affection to the Emperor, and then departed this life. (314) But his consort Mathesuentha was bestowed by the Emperor upon the Patrician Germanus, his cousin. And of them was born a son (also called Germanus) after the death of his father Germanus. This union of the race of the Anicii with the stock of the Amali gives hopeful promise, under the Lord's favor, to both peoples.