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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

He defeats and slays Odoaker


before or immediately after Attila's invasion of Gaul, the Marcomanni crossed the Danube, and took possession of the plains between that river and the Alps. They were called the Boiarii, from their former home of four centuries in Bohemia, and from this name is derived the German _Baiern_, Bavaria. They kept possession of the new territory, adapted themselves to the forms of Roman civilization which they found there, and soon organized themselves into a small but distinct and tolerably independent nation.

But the period of the Migration of the Races was not yet finished. The shadow of the old Roman Empire still remained, and stirred the ambition of each successive king, so that he was not content with territory sufficient for the needs of his own people, but must also try to conquer his neighbors and extend his rule. The bases of the modern states of Europe were already laid, but not securely enough for the building thereof to be commenced. Two more important movements were yet to be made before this bewildering period of change and struggle came to an end.




Odoaker conquers Italy. --Theodoric leads the Ostrogoths to Italy. --He defeats and slays Odoaker. --He becomes King of Italy. --Chlodwig, king of

the Franks, puts an End to the Roman Rule. --War between the Franks and Visigoths. --Character of Theodoric's Rule. --His Death. --His Mausoleum. --End of the Burgundian Kingdom. --Plans of Justinian. --Belisarius destroys the Vandal Power in Africa. --He conquers Vitiges, and overruns Italy. --Narses defeats Totila and Teias. --End of the Ostrogoths. --Narses summons the Longobards. --They conquer Italy. --The Exarchy and Rome. --End of the Migrations of the Races.

[Sidenote: 476. ODOAKER, KING OF ITALY.]

After the death of Ricimer, in 472, Italy, weakened by invasion and internal dissension, was an easy prey to the first strong hand which might claim possession. Such a hand was soon found in a Chief named Odoaker, said to have been a native of the island of Ruegen, in the Baltic. He commanded a large force, composed of the smaller German tribes from the banks of the Danube, who had thrown off the yoke of the Huns. Many of these troops had served the last half-dozen Roman Emperors whom Ricimer set up or threw down, and they now claimed one-third of the Italian territory for themselves and their families. When this was refused, Odoaker, at their head, took the boy Romulus Augustulus prisoner, banished him, and proclaimed himself king of Italy, in 476, making Ravenna his capital.

The dynasty at Constantinople still called its dominion "The Roman Empire," and claimed authority over all the West. But it had not the means to make its claim acknowledged, and in this emergency the Emperor Zeno turned to Theodoric, the young king of the Ostrogoths, who had been brought up at his court, in Constantinople. He was the successor of three brothers, who, after the dispersion of the Huns, had united some of the smaller German tribes with the Ostrogoths, and restored the former power and influence of the race.

[Sidenote: 489.]

Theodoric (who must not be confounded with his namesake, the Visigoth king, who fell in conquering Attila) was a man of great natural ability, which had been well developed by his education in Constantinople. He accepted the appointment of General and Governor from the Emperor, yet the preparations he made for the expedition to Italy show that he intended to remain and establish his own kingdom there. It was not a military march, but the migration of a people, which he headed. The Ostrogoths and their allies took with them their wives and children, their herds and household goods: they moved so slowly up the Danube and across the Alps, now halting to rest and recruit, now fighting a passage through some hostile tribe, that several years elapsed before they reached Italy.

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