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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Boldly challenged Syagrius to battle


had reigned fourteen years, with more justice and discretion than was common in those times, and was able to raise a large force, in 489, to meet the advance of Theodoric. After three severe battles had been fought, he was forced to take shelter within the strong walls of Ravenna; but he again sallied forth and attacked the Ostrogoths with such bravery that he came near defeating them. Finally, in 493, after a siege of three years, he capitulated, and was soon afterwards treacherously murdered, by order of Theodoric, at a banquet to which the latter had invited him.

Having the power in his own hands, Theodoric now threw off his assumed subjection to the Eastern Empire, put on the Roman purple, and proclaimed himself king. All Italy, including Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, fell at once into his hands; and, having left a portion of the Ostrogoths behind him, on the Danube, he also claimed all the region between, in order to preserve a communication with them. He was soon so strongly settled in his new realm that he had nothing to fear from the Emperor Zeno and his successors. The latter did not venture to show any direct signs of hostility towards him, but remained quiet; while, on his part, beyond seizing a portion of Pannonia, he refrained from interfering with their rule in the East.

In the West, however, the case was different. Five years before Theodoric's arrival in Italy, the last relic of Roman power disappeared

forever from Gaul. A general named Syagrius had succeeded to the command, after the murder of Aetius, and had formed the central provinces into a Roman state, which was so completely cut off from all connection with the Empire that it became practically independent. The Franks, who now held all Northern Gaul and Belgium, from the Rhine to the Atlantic, with Paris as their capital, were by this time so strong and well organized, that their king, Chlodwig, boldly challenged Syagrius to battle. The challenge was accepted: a battle was fought near Soissons, in the year 486, the Romans were cut to pieces, and the river Loire became the southern boundary of the Frank kingdom. The territory between that river and the Pyrenees still belonged to the Visigoths.


While Theodoric was engaged in giving peace, order, and a new prosperity to the war-worn and desolated lands of Italy, his Frank rival, Chlodwig, defeated the Alemanni, conquered the Celts of Brittany--then called Armorica--and thus greatly increased his power. We must return to him and the history of his dynasty in a later chapter, and will now only briefly mention those incidents of his reign which brought him into conflict with Theodoric.

In the year 500, Chlodwig defeated the Burgundians and for a time rendered them tributary to him. He then turned to the Visigoths and made the fact of their being Arian Christians a pretext for declaring war against them. Their king was Alaric II., who had married the daughter of Theodoric. A battle was fought in 507: the two kings met, and, fighting hand to hand, Alaric II. was slain by Chlodwig. The latter soon afterwards took and plundered Toulouse, the Visigoth capital, and claimed the territory between the Loire and the Garonne.

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