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Book IV
Note H

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book IV
Chapter 14

Book 4 (continued)

Vol. III
Chapter XIII

The Accession of Athalaric


Sources: —

The Variae of Cassiodorus, the De Bello Gothico of Procopius, and the Anonymus Valesii. For Vandal history the Chronicle of Victor Tunnunensis: for Burgundian that of Marius of Aventicum and the History of Gregory of Tours.

Remorse of Theodoric for the death of Symmachus. The sun of Theodoric, which for thirty years had shone in mild splendour over the Italian land, set in lurid storm-clouds. Boethius slain, Symmachus slain, Pope John dead in prison, these were the events which every tongue at Rome and Ravenna was discussing with fear, with anger, or with lawless hope; and assuredly the dying King, though he might say few words concerning them, thought of little else: and all his thoughts about them were bitter. According to a story which was told to Procopius (perhaps by one of the lacqueys of the Court whom he may have met at Ravenna), one day at the banquet a large fish's head was set before Theodoric. To the King's excited fancy, the object in the dish assumed the semblance of the pallid face and hoary head of Symmachus, newly slain. Then, as he thought, the teeth began to gnaw the lower lip, the eyes rolled askance and shot glances of fury and menace at his murderer.  p520 Theodore, who, if there be any truth in the story at all, was evidently already delirious, was seized with a violent shivering‑fit, and hurried to his bed, where the chamberlains could hardly heap clothes enough upon him to restore his warmth. At length he slept, and when he woke he told the whole circumstance to Elpidius his physician, bewailing with many tears his unrighteous deed to Symmachus and Boethius. His death, 30 Aug. 526. In this agony of mind, says Procopius, 'he died not long after, this being the first and last act of injustice which he had committed against any of his subjects: and the cause of it was that he had not sufficiently examined into the proofs, before he pronounced judgment upon these men.'1

Ecclesiastical tradition as to his death. The ecclesiastical tradition as to the death of Theodoric, preserved for us by the Anonymus Valesii, makes the cause of it dysentery; a form of disease which, ever since the opportune death of the arch-heretic Arius, seemed peculiarly appropriate for heterodox disturbers of the Church. For the secular historian it is enough to remember that Theodoric was now seventy‑two years of age and broken-hearted. They may leave him alone, the orthodox Romans, the righteously indignant friends of Senator and Pope. For that noble heart, Hell itself could scarcely reserve any sorer punishment than the consciousness of a life's labour wasted by one fierce outbreak of Berserker revenge.

526 Mausoleum of Theodoric. The body of the dead King was laid in the mighty  p521 mausoleum which he had built for himself outside the north-eastern corner of Ravenna. There the structure still stands,​2 massive if not magnificent, no longer now the Tomb of Theodoric, but the deserted Church of S. Maria della Rotonda.​3 It is built of white marble, and consists of two stories, the lower ten‑sided, the upper circular. The whole is crowned with an enormous monolith weighing two hundred tons and brought from the quarries of Istria. It is hard even for the scientific imagination to conjecture the means by which, in the infancy of the engineering art, so huge a mass of stone can have been raised to its place.​4 In the centre of the upper story of the building stood, in all probability, the porphyry vase which held the body of the great Gothic King. The name Gothic must not lead the visitor to expect to see anything of what it technically called Gothic architecture in the building. The whole structure is Roman in spirit; square pilasters, round massive arches, a cupola, somewhat like that of Agrippa's Pantheon. The edifice, however, of which upon the whole it most reminds us is the great Mausoleum of Hadrian, such as it must have appeared in the centuries when it was still an imperial tomb and  p522 before it became a Papal fortress.​5 And probably this was the example which hovered before the mind of Theodoric, whose work was not undertaken in a spirit of mere vainglory. Believing that he was founding a dynasty which would rule Italy for centuries, he would construct, as Hadrian had constructed, a massive edifice in which might be laid the bones of many generations of his successors.

Theodoric's body not in it. As it turned out, the great Mausoleum became a Cenotaph. Theodoric indeed was once buried there, but when Agnellus three hundred years after his death, wrote the story of the Bishops of Ravenna, it was matter of public notoriety that the tomb had long been empty; and the belief of the chronicler himself was that the royal remains had been cast forth contemptuously out of the Mausoleum, and the porphyry urn in which they were enclosed, a vessel of wonderful workman­ship, placed at the door of the neighbouring monastery.6

Reason for the disappearance. Why should there have been this mystery about the disposal of the body of the great Ostrogoth? Thereto is attached a little history, which, if the  p523 reader has patience to listen to it, links together in curious fashion the name of the Pope who sent St. Augustine to convert the Saxons, and that of the Pope who in our own day wielded and lost the power of a king both at Rome and at Ravenna.

To begin with Pope Gregory the Great. In his Dialogues, written sixty-eight years after the death of Theodoric, he informs us​7 that 'a certain Defensor of the Roman Church named Julian married a wife whose grandfather was employed under King Theodoric in the collection of the land‑tax in Sicily. This tax‑collector was once returning to Italy and touched at the island of Lipari, where dwelt a holy hermit to whose prayers he wished to commend himself. The hermit said, "Know ye, that King Theodoric is dead." "God forbid," replied the tax‑gatherer and his friends. "We left him in good health and have heard no such tidings." "For all that," said the hermit, "he is dead: for yesterday, at three in the afternoon, I saw him between John the Pope and Symmachus the Patrician. All ungirded and unshod and with bound hands he was dragged between them and cast into yon cauldron of Vulcan" [the crater of Lipari]. When they heard it, they carefully noted the day and the hour: and found, on their return to Ravenna, that at that very time Theodoric breathed his last.'

Excavations near Ravenna in 1854. So wrote Pope Gregory. We overleap 1260 years and find ourselves in 1854 in 'the Legation of Ravenna,' which province is sullen and discontented at being replaced under the Papal sway by the arms of Austria after the revolutions of 1848‑49. Works  p524 of industry, however, are progressing, and at Ravenna a party of 'navvies' are employed excavating a dock between the railway station the Canale Corsini, one or two hundred yards from the Mausoleum of Theodoric. There are indications that they are on the site of an old cemetery; and the Papal Governor, together with the Municipality, appoints a Commission to watch over the excavation in the interests of archaeology; but the Commission, like some other parts of the ecclesiastical government of the Legations, is not likely to be worn out by excess of energy.

Discovery of a skeleton in golden armour. One day rumours are heard of some important discovery made by the workmen and not reported to the Commission. Enquiries are commenced: two workmen are arrested: by coaxing and threatening, the whole grievous story is elicited from them. A few days previously the navvies had come suddenly upon a skeleton, not in but near one of the tombs. The skeleton was armed with a golden cuirass: a sword was by its side and a golden helmet on its head. In the hilt of the sword and in the helmet large jewels were blazing. The men at once covered up the treasure, and returned at nightfall to dig it up again and to divide the spoil. At the time when the slow-moving Commission set its enquiries on foot the greater part of the booty had already found its way to the melting‑pot of the goldsmith or had been sent away out of the country. By keeping the prisoners in custody, their share of the spoil, a few pieces of the cuirass, was recovered from their relatives in the mountains. These pieces, all that remains of the whole magnificent 'find,' are now in the Museum at Ravenna. Great precautions were taken afterwards  p525 by the Commission: a trusted representative was always present at the excavations by day; the city police tramped past the diggings at night. But the lost opportunity came not back again: no such second prize revealed itself either to the labourers or the members of the Commission.

The golden armour has been assigned to Odovacar, Now, to whom did all this splendid armour belong in life? and whose heart was once beating within that skeleton? Of course the answer must be conjectural. It was given by the archaeologists of the day in favour of Odovacar; and the bits of the golden cuirass in the Museum at Ravenna are accordingly assigned to him in the Catalogue. But Dr. Ricci, an earnest and learned archaeologist of Ravenna, argues​8 with much force that the scene of Odovacar's assassination took place too far from the Rotonda to render this probable, and that there has never been a dweller in Ravenna to whom the skeleton and the armour can with more likelihood be assigned than Theodoric himself.9

We may imagine the course of events to be something like this. During the reign of his grandson the body of the great King in its costly armour remains in the royal Mausoleum, guarded perhaps by some of his old comrades-in‑arms, or by their sons. Troubles begin to darken round the nation of Theodoric; the  p526 Roman population of Ravenna stir uneasily against their Arian lords; monks and hermits begin to manufacture or to imagine such stories as that told to Gregory concerning the soul of the oppressor being cast into the crater of Lipari. The inmates of the monastery of S. Mary, close to the Rotonda, hear and would fain help this growth of legend, so fatal to the memory of the Ostrogothic King. Suddenly the body with its golden cuirass and golden helmet disappears mysteriously from the Mausoleum. No one can explain its vanishing; but the judgment of charity will naturally be that the same divine vengeance which threw the soul of the King down the volcano of Lipari has permitted the powers of darkness to remove the mortal remains. The monks of Santa Maria, if they know anything about the matter, keep their secret; but some dim tradition of the truth causes the cautious Agnellus, writing three centuries after the event, to say, 'as it seems to me he was cast forth from the tomb.' So the matter rests till, thirteen centuries after the deed was done, the pick‑axe of a dishonest Italian 'navvy' reveals the bones of Theodoric.

Bitterness of the Catholic Church towards the memory of Theodoric. All this is of course mere conjecture, and is not put before the reader as anything but a somewhat romantic possibility. The bitterness, the undeserved bitterness with which the Catholic Church has taught the Italians to regard the memory of Theodoric, is but too certain a fact, and some curious traces of it remain even to this day. On the western front of the beautiful church of S. Zenone at Verona is a bas‑relief10 representing a king hunting stags, and being himself on the point of capture by a demon with horns  p527 and hoofs, who, with a cruel grin on his face, stands waiting for his prey. Some lines underneath​11 showed that this kingly victim of the evil one was meant for Theodoric. For generations the urchins of Verona have been accustomed to rub the two figures of king and demon, imagining that there is thus obtained a sulphurous smell, which bears witness to their present abode.

Athalaric designated as heir to the throne. 526 From these idle tales of religious rancour we turn to consider the fortunes of the kingdom when bereft of its mighty founder. Shortly before his death Theodoric presented his grandson Athalaric, son of Eutharic and Amalasuntha, to the leaders of the Gothic people, and declared that he was their future king. The declaration was made specially to the Gothic nobles; but in the speech which the old King made on that occasion, and which was listened to as if it were his last will and testament, there was an earnest exhortation to the Goths to show not only loyalty to the new sovereign, but kindly feelings towards the Senate and people of Rome, and to cultivate friendly relations with the Eastern Emperor.12

The choice of the nation was really limited to him. The presentation to the Gothic warriors was a sort of recognition of their slumbering right to choose the successor to the throne. But in fact, limited as that choice was to the family of the King, there could be no doubt how it would be exercised on this occasion.  p528 It is true that Athalaric was barely ten years old,​13 and his nominal kingship necessarily implied a woman's regency. But Amalaric, the only other grandson of Theodoric, though he had now probably attained his majority, must needs dwell in Spain or Narbonnensian Gaul as ruler of his father's Visigoths. The only other male of the Amal line, the late king's nephew Theodahad, was too profoundly hated and despised for any one to press his claims, even against the child-king his cousin.

Regency of Amalasuntha. Athalaric then succeeded to his grandfather's throne; and the succession of Athalaric meant, as has been said, the rule of Amalasuntha. She was a woman in whom a strength of character almost masculine​14 was joined to rich gifts of the intellect and a remarkable power of appreciating Roman culture. Her earnest desire was to rule the young kingdom righteously; and had she only been able to carry her Gothic countrymen with her, she might have made for herself one of the noblest names in history. As it was, the deep-seated discordance between her thoughts and theirs revealed itself at length in acts of tyranny on her side and of rebellion on theirs, which caused the ruin of theGothic monarchy. But of these open dissensions between the Regent and her subjects the time is not yet come to speak.

Influence of Cassiodorus. As the sympathies of Amalasuntha were all on the side of Roman literature and civilisation, it is reasonable  p529 to suppose that Cassiodorus, the most distinguished representative of that rich inheritance, would have great influence in her government. It is possible that he may have directed her studies while she was still but a princess; it is certain that he was the chief minister of her policy when she was a sovereign. There was no necessary breach of continuity between the policy of the father and that of the daughter. Cassiodorus was the trusted minister of both. But we can perceive, from the tone of his correspondence, that the anti-Roman turn which had been given to the policy of Theodoric during his last three years of suspicion and resentment, was reversed, and that something of a new impulse away from barbarian freedom and towards Roman absolutism was given to the vessel of the State.

Offices held by Cassiodorus. Cassiodorus at the time of the death of Theodoric held the rank of Master of the Offices. How long he may have retained it we do not know, but it is pretty clear from his own statement that his power and influence at the Court were not strictly limited by the terms of his official commission. Other Quaestors were appointed; Cassiodorus drew up the letters assigning to them their duties: but he was himself the one permanent and irremovable Quaestor, equipped with an inexhaustible supply of sonorous phrases and philosophical platitudes, 'ready,' as was said of the younger Pitt, 'to speak a State-paper off‑hand.' After having for eight years, in one capacity or other, guided the counsels of Amalasuntha, he was promoted to the great place of Praetorian Prefect,​15 and thus assumed the semblance as well as the form of power. That  p530 dignity he appears to have held for four or five stormy years, until his final retirement from public life.

From the official correspondence of Cassiodorus​16 we infer that some anxiety was felt by the loyal subjects of the Amal dynasty as to the acceptance by the Goths of so young a sovereign as Athalaric. The emphasis with which the minister dwells on the alacrity of the Goths in taking the oath of allegiance implies that Amalasuntha and her friends breathed more freely when that ceremony was accomplished. And the honours and compliments showered on the veteran Tulum, who was introduced to the Senate with the splendid rank of a Patrician, suggest the idea that he was looked upon by some of his old companions in battle as a more fitting occupant of the throne than a lad of ten years old. A mysterious allusion made by the courtly scribe​17 to the warrior Gensemund of a bygone age, 'a man whose praises the whole world sang,' and who apparently might have been king, but preferred to guide the suffrages of his countrymen to the heir of the Amal house, makes this conjecture almost a certainty.

Troubles with the Vandals. One of the first difficulties as to which the advice of Cassiodorus was needed by Amalasuntha arose out of the news which reached her from Africa. A slight allusion was made in the last chapter to the troubles which had fallen on Amalafrida, sister of Theodoric. Her husband Thrasamund, one of the best of the Vandal kings, died in 523, Accession of Hilderic. and was succeeded by his cousin the elderly Hilderic. This man, though a son of Huneric, the most rancorous of all the persecutors  p531 of the Catholic Church, shared not his father's animosity against the orthodox. It was generally believed that his mother Eudoxia had influenced him in favour of her form of faith; and Thrasamund on his death‑bed had exacted from him an oath that he would never use his kingly power for the restoration of their churches to the Catholics. The oath was given; but Hilderic, who could say with Euripides' hero

'My lips have sworn, my mind unsworn remains,'

devised a clever scheme for escaping from his obligation. The promise had been that he would not use his kingly power for the forbidden purposes. Hilderic favours the Catholics. Therefore after Thrasamund's death, but before Hilderic had put on the Vandal crown or been proclaimed king in the streets of Carthage, he issued his orders for the return of all the Catholic bishops from exile; he opened the churches, which for more than two generations had never echoed to the words 'being of one substance with the Father;' and he made Boniface, a strenuous asserter of orthodoxy, bishop of the city of Carthage.18

Opposition of the Queen Dowager, Amalafrida. Hilderic's entire reversal of the policy of his predecessor brought him speedily into collision with that predecessor's widow. The stately and somewhat imperious Amalafrida, who had been probably for twenty years Queen of the Vandals, was not going tamely to submit to see all her husband's friends driven away and his whole system of government subverted. She headed a party of revolt; she called in the assistance of the Moors, ever restless and ever willing to make war upon the actual ruler of Carthage; and battle was joined at Capsa, about three hundred miles to the  p532 south of the capital, on the edge of the Libyan desert. Amalafrida's party were beaten, and she herself was taken captive. So long as her brother Theodoric lived she was kept a close prisoner. Now that the great head of the Amal line was laid low, the Vandal king had the meanness and the cruelty to put his venerable prisoner to death.

Angry messages between Ravenna and Carthage. The insult was keenly felt at the Court of Ravenna, and produced a fatal alienation between the two kingdoms. A letter of angry complaint was written by Cassiodorus,​19 and ambassadors were sent to demand an explanation. No satisfactory explanation could be given; for the story which Hilderic endeavoured to circulate, that Amalafrida's death was natural, seems to have borne falsehood upon its face. What followed we are not able to say. Probably there was a threat of war, replied to by menaces of reprisal from the still powerful Vandal fleet against the Italian coast. At least we know of no other opportunity to which we can so suitably refer Cassiodorus' own account of his services to the kingdom at a time when it was threatened by a foreign invasion.​20 'When the care of our shores,' he makes his young sovereign say, 'occupied our royal meditations, he [Cassiodorus] suddenly emerged from the seclusion of his cabinet, and boldly like his ancestors, assumed the character of a general. He maintained the Gothic warriors at his own charges, preventing the impoverishment of our exchequer on the one hand, and the oppression of the Provincials on the other. When the work of victualling the ships was over, and the war was laid aside, he again distinguished himself as an administrator by his peaceful settlement  p533 of the various suits which had grown out of the sudden termination of the contracts for the commissariat.'

Hostilities collapse. We seem to read in this passage of a threatened Vandal invasion of Bruttii and Lucania, of Cassiodorus' preparations for defending his native province, and of the sudden collapse of hostilities about which neither nation was really in earnest. It was not from the Ostrogothic nation that the impending ruin of the dynasty of Gaiseric was to proceed.21

Fall of the Burgundian monarchy. Five years after these events another of the Arian and Teutonic monarchies of Europe received its death-blow. The reader may remember that, after the defeat and captivity of Sigismund, his brother Godomar raised from the dust the torn banner of the Burgundians, and maintained the independence of his native land against the Frankish invaders. Now Godomar's turn also was come. Chlotochar and Childebert again entered the land. They besieged Autun. Godomar, after one or perhaps two campaigns, took to flight. Theodoric, the remaining brother of the Frankish partner­ship, was persuaded to forget his relation­ship to the family of Sigismund when the invasion seemed likely to prove successful, but died before the conquest was completed. In the  p534 year 543 the kingdom of Burgundy, which had lasted for all but a hundred years since its settlement in Savoy (443), was finally swallowed up in the vast nebulous mass of the Frankish monarchy, Theudebert, son of Theodoric, dividing the spoils with his uncles, Chlotochar and Childebert.22

Death of John I, 18 May, 526.

Felix III, 12 July, 526, to 22 Sept. 530.

Boniface II, 22 Sept. 530, to 17 Oct. 532.

John II, 2 Jan. 533, to 8 May, 535.​23
This is all that needs to be said about the affairs of Western Europe during the reign of Athalaric. With the Papacy the relations of the Gothic monarchy seem to have been outwardly amicable. The 'martyred' John was succeeded by Felix III; he by Boniface II, a man of Gothic extraction; and he by another John, the second of the name. There is nothing in the short reigns of these pontiffs, at peace with Constantinople and outwardly at peace with Ravenna, which need occupy our attention.

Only, the election of the first of the series, Felix III, should be noticed, since it seems to have been ordered by the dying Theodoric and confirmed by his grandson. This we learn from a letter​24 addressed by Cassiodorus to the Roman Senate. There had evidently been at least the threat of a contested election, but the minister, speaking in the name of Athalaric, exhorts all parties to forget the bitterness of the past debate. He thinks that the beaten party may yield without humiliation, since it is the King's power which has helped the winning side. The latter  p535 suggests the idea of a contest, the decision of which has been voluntarily referred to Theodoric, and the whole tone of it is extremely difficult to reconcile with any story of the death of Pope John I which represents him as a martyr, wilfully allowed by a persecuting king to perish in a dungeon. Had this been the version of the story generally accepted at Rome, it is hard to believe that in a very few months the relations between King and Pope would have been so friendly as we find them in this letter.25

From this short sketch it will be seen that few events of great importance occurred in Italy during the eight years of the reign of Athalaric. Constantinople, not Ravenna, was now once more the place to which the chief action of the great drama was transferred, and already all Roman souls were aflame with the reports of the splendour, the reforms, and the victories of Justinian.

The Author's Notes:

1 Procopius' testimony to the general character of Theodoric's reign is valuable; but he crowds the events of two years (death of Boethius, 524; death of Theodoric, 526) into a few days; and he seems to be ignorant that it was the Senate which formally condemned Boethius.

2 See frontispiece.

Thayer's Note: I've moved Hodgkin's photograph to the text, above.

3 The visitor to Ravenna will do well to enquire for La Rotonda, the best-known name of the building.

4 There are twelve projections from the surface of the cupola. Reasoning by analogy from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, one would suppose that these once served as bases for statues, perhaps the statues of the Twelve Apostles. But Vandelli (quoted by C. Ricci in his Guide to Ravenna, p228) thinks that these projections served as handles through which ropes might be slung round the cupola, to haul it up an inclined plane, and to raise it or lower it to its place.

5 The Castle of S. Angelo.

6 These are the words of Agnellus, who, as the reader will remember, is 'supra grammaticam: 'Theodoricus autem post 34 anno regni sui coepit claudere ecclesias Dei et coartare christianos, et subito ventri fluxus incurrens mortuus est sepultusque est in mausoleum, quod ipse haedificare jussit extra portas Artemetoris, quod usque hodie vocamus Ad Farum, ubi est monasterium sanctae Mariae quod dicitur ad memoria regis Theodorici. Sed, ut mihi videtur, ex sepulcro projectus est, et ipsa urna, ubi jacuit, ex lapide pirfiretico valde mirabilis ante ipsius monasterii aditum posita est. Satis vagatus sum, ivi per diversa, ad nostra revertamur' (p304, ed. Holder Egger in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica).

7 IV.30.

8 See Una Corazza d'Oro, in Note storiche e letterarie di Corrado Ricci; Bologna, 1881.

9 Dr. Ricci lays stress on the character of the armour [the adornments of which are similar to those of the 'Treasure of Guarrazar' engraved in Peigné Delacourt's 'Recherches sur le lieu de la Bataille d'Attila'], and especially on the similarity of the meandro, the wavy ornament round the border, to a decoration of the cornice of the Tomb of Theodoric.

Thayer's Note: Scholars now seem to have come over to Corrado Ricci's opinion, and the scant remains of what must have been a wonderful set of armor are currently identified as having belonged to Theodoric. A further theft occurred in 1924, of the larger pieces of what remained, and they have never been recovered: the details, and photographs, can be found on I. L. Federson's site.

10 Apparently of the twelfth century, perhaps earlier.

11 Now I think obliterated.

12 So says Jordanes, whom we have no especial reason for distrusting: 'Convocans Gothos comites gentisque suae primates Athalaricum. . . . regem constituit, eisque in mandatis ac si testamentali voce denuntians ut regem colerent Senatum populumque Romanum amarent, principemque orientalem placatum semperque propitium haberent post deum' (cap. lix).

13 'Infantulum adhuc vix decennem,' says Jordanes. Procopius makes him eight years old at his accession.

14 Ξυνέσεως μὲν καὶ δικαιοσύνης ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἐλθοῦσα, τῆς δὲ φύσεως ἐς ἄγαν τὸ ἀρρενωπὸν ἐνδεικνυμένη is Procopius' character of her (De Bell. Goth. I.12).

15 Cass. Var. IX.24, 25.

16 See the first eleven letters of the eighth book.

17 Cass. Var. VIII.9.

18 Victor Tunnunensis, s. a. 523.

19 Var. IX.1.

20 Var. IX.25.

21 In the early years of the new reign some operations were undertaken against the Gepidae which were viewed with great dissatisfaction by the Emperor, but did not at the time lead to any actual rupture between the two states. This information we get from Cassiodorus (VariaeXI.1), and it is confirmed by Justinian's complaint (hereafter to be noticed) as to the sack of Gratiana. From the same letter we infer that war was all but actually declared between the Goths and the Franks in the year 526, but that, owing to the death of Theodoric, the two nations resolved to remain at peace.

22 The materials for the history of the Frankish conquest of Burgundy are scanty and contradictory. The account given below is substantially that of Jahn (Geschichte der Burgundionen, II.68‑78), and not very different from that of Binding (270‑271).

23 The dates of accession and death of each pontiff are taken from Duchesne.

24 Var. VIII.15.

25 I cannot find in this nomination by Theodoric anything so extraordinary as Baronius (VII.116), and, following him, Bower (II.320) and Milman (I.326) have done. All these writers look upon the nomination as an important enlargement of the royal prerogative in connexion with the choice of the Pope, and one which was meant to form a lasting precedent: and from their various points of view they praise it or blame it accordingly. To me it looks like the reference of one disputed election to the king, and therefore nothing more than was undoubtedly done at the time of the contest between Symmachus and Laurentius.

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