Page 1053

1053 BARBARIAN ASCENDENCY-KINGDOMS IN ITALY.

held its own against the Latin. It became the policy of Theodoric to encourage

the Italians in the industrial pursuits, and to

reserve the Goths as the warrior caste of the

state. The latter held their lands as a gift of

military patronage, and were expected to be

ever ready to march at the sound of the

trumpet. It was a part of the king's theory

that his realm must be maintained by the

same power by which it had been created.

It is hardly to be doubted that, had he so

chosen, Theodoric, after the subjugation of

Italy, might have entered upon a general career of conquest in the West; but such a

purpose was no part of his plans or policy.

He devoted himself assiduously to the reorganization of Italian society, and with that

work his ambitions were satisfied. He established his capital at Ravenna, and his court

soon attracted ambassadors from all parts of

Europe. His two daughters, his sister, and

his niece were sought in marriage by the

kings of the Franks, the Burgundians, the

Visigoths, and the Vandals. Offerings were

brought, as if to one of the magnificent

princes of the East, a distance of fifteen

hundred miles, from the far-off shores of the

Baltic.

It is rare that history has the pleasant

duty of recording the career of a sovereign

beginning in war and ending in peace, as did

that of Theodoric the Great. When obliged

to abolish his peaceful policy, it was rather to

act on the defensive or to enforce the edicts

of the administration than to gratify the lust

of conquest. He established a government of

the provinces of Rhaetia, Noricum, Dalmatia,

and Pannonia, thus extending his authority

from the sources of the Danube to Illyricum.

It was natural that the successful career

of Theodoric in the West should awaken the

jealousy of the Eastern Emperor. A war

broke out between the two powers, and in the

year 505 came to a climax in battle on the

field of Margus. Victory declared for Theodoric, who, more humane than his enemy,

used his victory as not abusing it. Maddened

by his defeat, the Emperor Anastasius sent

a powerful fleet and army to the shores of

Southern Italy. The ancient city of Tarentum was assaulted, the country along the

coast laid waste, and the Italian trade temporarily broken up. But Theodoric made

his way rapidly into the distressed region,

equipped a fleet, and hastened the departure

of the marauding squadron to the East.

About this time Clovis, king of the Franks,

gained the ascendancy over the tribes of

Gaul-a movement which was resisted by

Theodoric as unfavorable to his kinsman, the

king of the Visigoths. When the victorious

career of Clovis could be no longer impeded,

the, remnant of the royal Visigothic family

sought and found a friendly refuge at the

court of Ravenna. At the same time the

Alemanni, who were now severely pressed by

the surrounding nations, were taken under

the protection of the king of Italy, and the

hostile Burgundians were so severely handled

as to desire no further aggression. The cities

of Aries and Marseilles were taken, and a

free communication thus established between

the two* kingdoms of the Goths. Indeed, at

this time Theodoric was recognized as the

head of the Gothic race. The Visigoths of

Spain paid revenue into the treasury of Ravenna, and the abuses which had grown up

in the southern kingdom were rectified by the

sovereign of Italy. The Gothic supremacy

was thus established from Sicily to the Danube and from Belgrade to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was deemed expedient by Theodoric not

to assume the insignia of Imperial authority.

He accepted the title of king-a name more

congenial than that of emperor to the nations

of the North. As a legislator, the monarch

was less fortunate than in the work of administration. Instead of making laws according to the fitness of things, as determined by

the needs of his subjects, he copied for a constitution the effete statutes of Constantine.

He studiously maintained his relations of

amity with the Eastern Empire, and in his

correspondence with Anastasius assumed a

tone at once deferential and diplomatic. The

sovereigns of the East and the West regarded

themselves as in alliance, and the union was

annually confirmed by the choice of two consuls, the one from Constantinople and the

other from Rome.