Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Theodoric the Ostrogoth
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-od'-or-ic) the Great. He was
the son of Theodemir (The-od'-e-mir), 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 (Ze'-no). 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 court, and to get
rid of him he agreed that Theodoric should go with his army to Italy, and take that
country from Odoacer (O-do-a'-cer). Theodoric was delighted at the proposal and began
at once to make his preparations.
Odoacer was at that time king of Italy. Before he became king he had been a general in
the army of Romulus Augustulus, the Western Roman Emperor. The soldiers of the army