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(East Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of the GermansGermans,
great ethnic complex of ancient Europe, a basic stock in the composition of the modern peoples of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, N Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, N and central France, Lowland Scotland, and England.
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. According to their own unproven tradition, the ancestors of the Goths were the Gotar of S SwedenSweden,
Swed. Sverige, officially Kingdom of Sweden, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 9,764,000), 173,648 sq mi (449,750 sq km), N Europe, occupying the eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula.
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. By the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths settled in the region N of the Black Sea. They split into two divisions, their names reflecting the areas in which they settled; the Ostrogoths settled in UkraineUkraine
, Ukr. Ukraina, republic (2015 est. pop. 44,658,000), 232,046 sq mi (601,000 sq km), E Europe. It borders on Poland in the northwest; on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the southwest; on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south; on Russia in the
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, while the VisigothsVisigoths
(West Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of Germans. Having settled in the region W of the Black Sea in the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths soon split into two divisions, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.
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, or West Goths, moved further west of them. By c.375 the Huns conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom ruled by ErmanaricErmanaric
, d. c.375, king of the Ostrogoths. He extended his power over other barbarian tribes and thus built up in eastern Europe an empire stretching from the Dneister River north to the Don and east to the headwaters of the Volga.
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, which extended from the Dniester River, north and east to the headwaters of the Volga River. The Ostrogoths were subject to the Huns until the death (453) of AttilaAttila
, d. 453, king of the Huns (445–53). After 434 he was coruler with his brother, whom he murdered in 445. In 434, Attila obtained tribute and great concessions for the Huns in a treaty with the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II, but, taking advantage of Roman wars
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, when they settled in Pannonia (roughly modern Hungary) as allies of the Byzantine (East Roman) empire. The Ostrogoths, who had long elected their rulers, chose (471) Theodoric the GreatTheodoric the Great,
c.454–526, king of the Ostrogoths and conqueror of Italy, b. Pannonia. He spent part of his youth as a hostage in Constantinople. Elected king in 471 after his father's death, he became involved in intrigues in which he was by turns the ally and the
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 as king. A turbulent ally, the Byzantine emperor, ZenoZeno
, d. 491, Roman emperor of the East (474–491). An Isaurian, he succeeded his son Leo II and was the son-in-law of Leo I. During his reign he suppressed several revolts. He was driven from his throne for a period of 20 months (475–76) by the usurper Basiliscus.
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, commissioned Theodoric to reconquer Italy from OdoacerOdoacer
or Odovacar
, c.435–493, chieftain of the Heruli, the Sciri, and the Rugii (see Germans). He and his troops were mercenaries in the service of Rome, but in 476 the Heruli revolted and proclaimed Odoacer their king.
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. The Ostrogoths entered Italy in 488, defeated and slew (493) Odoacer, and set up the Ostrogothic kingdom of ItalyItaly
, Ital. Italia, officially Italian Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 59,504,000), 116,303 sq mi (301,225 sq km), S Europe. It borders on France in the northwest, the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the south, the Adriatic Sea in
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, with Ravenna as their capital. After Theodoric's death (526) his daughter AmalasunthaAmalasuntha
, d. 535, Ostrogothic queen in Italy (534–35), daughter of Theodoric the Great. After her father's death (526) she was regent for her son Athalaric. He died in 534, and she and her husband, Theodahad, became joint rulers of Italy.
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 was regent for her son Athalric. She placed herself under the protection of the Byzantine emperor Justinian IJustinian I
, 483–565, Byzantine emperor (527–65), nephew and successor of Justin I. He was responsible for much imperial policy during his uncle's reign. Soon after becoming emperor, Justinian instituted major administrative changes and tried to increase state
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. Her murder (535) served as pretext for Justinian to send BelisariusBelisarius
, c.505–565, Byzantine general under Justinian I. After helping to suppress (532) the dangerous Nika riot (see Blues and Greens), he defeated (533–34) the Vandals of Africa, and captured their king.
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 to reconquer Italy. He crushed the Ostrogothic kingdom, but on his recall (541) the Ostrogoths rebelled under the leadership of TotilaTotila
or Baduila
, d. 552, last king of the Ostrogoths (541–52). By defeating the Byzantines at Faenza and Mugello (542) and by taking Naples (543) and Rome (546), he became master of central and S Italy.
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. In 552 the Byzantine general NarsesNarses
, c.478–c.573, Byzantine official and general, one of the eunuchs of the palace. He assisted in the suppression of the Nika riot (532) by bribing the Blues of the Circus (see Blues and Greens) to return their allegiance to Justinian I.
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 defeated Totila, who fell in battle. As a result, the Ostrogoths lost their national identity, and the hegemony over Italy passed to Byzantium and shortly afterward to the Lombards. Under the Ostrogothic kings, the culture of late antiquity was revived by Boethius and Cassiodorus; Dionysius ExiguusDionysius Exiguus
, d. c.545, Roman monk, chronologist, and scholar, a transmitter of Greek thought to the Middle Ages. He made collections of 5th-century papal decretals and the canons of the early church councils.
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 compiled church law; and Saint Benedict laid the basis of Western monasticism. Roman law and institutions were for the most part maintained; however, the Ostrogoths were resented as aliens by the Italians, from whom they differed not only in culture but also in religion, since they were Arians.


See T. Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, Vol. I–III (2d ed. 1892–96, repr. 1967); T. S. Burns A History of the Ostrogoths (1984).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(East Goths), a Germanic tribe, the eastern branch of the Goths. In the third century they settled in the steppes of the northern Black Sea region, and partly in the Crimea (Crimean Ostrogoths). In the second half of the fourth century they formed a tribal confederation headed by Ermanaric, which included other Germanic tribes, as well as Scythian-Sarmatian and Slavic tribes. In 375 the confederation was defeated by the Huns, and most of the Ostrogoths migrated westward and settled in Pannonia. Under Theodoric the Ostrogoths moved on to Italy in 488, defeating the forces of Odovacar and forming their own kingdom in 493 with Ravenna as its capital. At its height the kingdom included Italy, Sicily, the Cisalpine regions, Dalmatia, and Provence. Most of the Ostrogoths settled in northern and eastern Italy.

The vestiges of Roman social, governmental, and legal institutions exerted a strong influence on the social system of the Ostrogoths, who had reached the stage of disintegration of the clan system at the time of their conquest of Italy. Some of the Ostrogoth elite merged with the Roman-Italic aristocracy. The policies of Theodoric (ruled 493–526), strongly opposed by some Ostrogoths and Italo-Romans, represented an attempt to reach a compromise between the Ostrogoth and Roman-Italic elites. The murder of Amalasuntha, Theodoric’s daughter (ruled 526–534), who had favored an alliance with the Roman aristocracy, served as a pretext for the invasion of Italy by the army of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor Justinian I in 535. The Ostrogoths were defeated in the early stage of the war by the Byzantine general Belisarius. The next Ostrogoth king, Totila (ruled 541–552), united all the enemies of the Eastern Roman Empire, including slaves and coloni (bondmen), whom he accepted into his army and emancipated, and won a series of brilliant victories over the Byzantine forces. In 552, however, the Ostrogoths were defeated by the Byzantine general Narses at Tagina. By 554 most of the Ostrogoth kingdom was conquered by Byzantium and ceased to exist.


Udal’tsova, Z. V. Italiia i Vizantiia v VI veke. Moscow, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 489 the peninsula was invaded by the Ostrogoths, whose king, Theoderic the Great, murdered Odovacer in 493 and ruled until his own death in 526.
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