Theoderic the Great


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King of Goths, Ruler of Romans

Hans-Ulrich Wiemer; Translated by John Noel Dillon

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The first full-scale history of Theoderic and the Goths in more than seventy-five years, tracing the transformation of a divided kingdom into a great power
In the year 493, the leader of a vast confederation of Gothic warriors, their wives, and children personally cut down Odoacer, the man famous for deposing the last Roman emperor in 476. That leader became Theoderic the Great (454–526). This engaging history of his life and reign immerses readers in the world of the warrior-king who ushered in decades of peace and stability in Italy as king of Goths and Romans. Theoderic transformed his roving “warrior nation” from the periphery of the Roman world into a standing army that protected his taxpaying Roman subjects with the support of the Roman elite. With a ruling strategy of “integration through separation,” Theoderic not only stabilized Italy but also extended his kingdom to the western Balkans, southern France, and the Iberian Peninsula.
Using sources as diverse as letters, poetry, coins, and mosaics, Hans-Ulrich Wiemer brings readers into the world of Theoderic’s court, from Gothic warriors and their families to the notables, artisans, and shopkeepers of Rome and Ravenna to the peasants and enslaved people who tilled the soil on grand rural estates. This book offers a fascinating history of the leader who brought peace to Italy after the disintegration of the Roman Empire.

Hans-Ulrich Wiemer is professor of ancient history at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. He has published books and articles on Alexander the Great, Hellenistic history and historiography, Late Roman history, and the history of the Goths. He lives in Fürth, Germany. John Noël Dillon is lecturer in Latin at Yale Divinity School and translates scholarly work from German, French, and Italian. He lives in Branford, CT.

“An intellectual feast. A sobering portrait of a much caricatured king, sensitive to the many resonances of his Roman and Gothic worlds.”—Douglas Boin, author of Alaric the Goth

“So much more than biography, this masterly survey is a window into an entire world at a moment of extreme change, when the western Roman empire had fallen and the future was unwritten. An indispensable book.”—Michael Kulikowski, author of The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

“The English translation of Hans-Ulrich Wiemer’s path-breaking study of Theoderic the Great is most welcome. This is a major new view of Theoderic that shows his importance to Gothic and Roman worlds. John Noël Dillon’s translation is excellent.”—Michele Renee Salzman, author of The Falls of Rome: Crises, Resilience, and Resurgence in Late Antiquity

“This meticulously researched, lucidly written, and beautifully translated book goes in search of the nature and legacy of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. Wiemer explores concepts of migration, tolerance, cultural segregation, and the twilight of empires.”—Julia Hillner, author of Helena Augusta: Mother of the Empire

“This beautifully written and immensely useful book offers a lively narrative that readers will find invaluable, and a pleasure to read.”—Kate Cooper, author of Queens of a Fallen World

ISBN: 9780300254433
Publication Date: July 25, 2023
664 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
52 b/w illus.