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Authors: Ross Laidlaw

Theodoric

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THEODERIC
‘IMITATION OF AN EMPEROR'

THEODERIC

‘Imitation of an Emperor'
The story of Theoderic Amalo,
the barbarian who wanted to be Roman
Ross Laidlaw
This eBook edition published in 2011 by
Birlinn Limited
West Newington House
Newington Road
Edinburgh
EH9 1QS
www.birlinn.co.uk
First published in 2008 by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd
Copyright © Ross Laidlaw, 2008
The moral right of Ross Laidlaw to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without the express written permission of the publisher.
eBook ISBN: 978 1 85790 072 2
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
To the memory of my old tutor, Professor Philip Grierson, fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, who taught me the importance of thorough preparation

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My warmest appreciation to Barbara Halley for unearthing many useful facts online, to Dr Alberto Massimo for helping me to get Theoderic over the Julian Alps, and for supplying me with information about Roman families and the Roman Curia, to Helen Simpson for her superb editing, and to my wife Margaret for freeing me from various domestic duties to give me more time for writing. A special word of thanks to my publishers, Hugh Andrew and Neville Moir, for their steadfast support and encouragement.

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Maps and Plans

Glossary of Terms and Place Names

Historical note

   I   The Column of Arcadius,
AD
468–488

  II   Exodus,
AD
488–493

 III   ‘Imitation of an Emperor',
AD
493–519

 IV   The Tower of Pavia,
AD
519–526

Afterword

Author's note

Appendices

Notes

MAPS AND PLANS

The Barbarian Kingdoms and the Roman Empire

The Battle of Mercurii Promontorium

The Migration of the Ostrogoths

The Crossing of the Julian Alps

Rome and Constantinople
c
.
AD
500

GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND PLACE NAMES

acta diurna

daily bulletins

acta publica

government enactments

agens
(pl:
agentes
)
in rebus

government courier-cum-spy

Alpes Carnicae

the Carnatic Alps

Alpes Juliae

the Julian Alps

andbahtos

armed retainers

Anderida

Pevensey

Anderida Silva

the Weald

Arelate

Arles

Aremorica

Brittany

Ariminum

Rimini

Arverna

Clermont-Ferrand

Arvernum

the Auvergne

Augusta Suessonium

Soissons

ballista
(pl:
ballistae
)

huge catapult-like crossbow

Barcino

Barcelona

bestiarii

animal-handlers

baurg

thatched village or settlement

belagines

statutes of law

Bodotria Aesturia

Firth of Forth

Bononia

Bologna

Borysthenes river

the Dnieper

Brundisium

Brindisi

Burdigala

Bordeaux

Calleva

Silchester

Cambria

Wales

campidoctores

drill-sergeants

Caput Senatus

Head of the Senate

cardo

main street

castellum
(pl:
castella
)

fortified settlement

Castra Batava

Passau

Castra Gyfel

Ilchester

cena

evening meal

centenarius

horse, winner of 100+ races

circitor

non-commissioned rank, roughly equivalent to corporal

civilitas

high-minded moral responsibility and respect for justice

civitas barbara

foreigners' section of Ravenna

classiarii

marines

Classis

Ravenna's port

codex

pupil's waxed writing-slate

coloni

tenant farmers or peasants

Comes Rei Privatae

Count of the Privy Purse

Comes Sacrarum Largitionum

Count of the Public Purse

consistorium

court dealing with Roman affairs/crimes

cubiculum

bedroom

cucullus

hooded cloak

currus

light carriage

cursus publicus

state postal system

curule
chair

movable chair

Dacia Ripensis

province roughly equivalent to north-east Serbia

Dalai Nor

Lake Baikal

Deruuentis river

the Derwent

decurion

(i) junior military officer; (ii) town councillor

Dravus river

the Drava

dromon

war-galley

Dunpender

Traprain Law, East Lothian

Dyrrachium

Durrësi, Albania

Exercitus Britanniae

Army of Britain

Excubitors

300-strong bodyguard corps

Fasti

official state records, especially consular lists

fibula
(pl:
fibulae
)

clasp or brooch

fliehburgen

places of refuge

foederatus

liegeman or ally

foedus

oath of allegiance

francisca

heavy throwing-axe

Fretum Gallicum

Straits of Dover

frijai

free men

gards

palace

gerulus

handyman

Gesoriacum

Boulogne

gladius

short sword

Haemus Mountains

Balkan Mountains

Herta

Roman fortress on the middle Danube

Humbri river

the Humber

Isca river

the Esk

Kärnthen Gebirge, das

the Carinthian Alps

Kuni

Amal tribal council

latifundium

large estate

Lauriacum

Lorsch

leges scriptae

legal statutes

Liger river

the Loire

limitanei

frontier troops

locarius
(pl:
locarii
)

usher

lorica
(pl:
loricae
)

cuirass

Magister Militum

Master of Soldiers/Commander-in-Chief

Magister Militum praesentalis

Commander-in-Chief of the main army – ‘in the presence' [of the emperor]

mappa

white cloth used to start races

Mare Suevicum

Baltic Sea

Mercurii Promontorium

Cape Bon

Moesia Secunda

province roughly equivalent to northern Bulgaria

Mons Badonicus

Mount Badon

Mons Garganus

Mount Gargano

Moravus river

the Morava

munerator

producer of the Games

Mutina

Modena

nauta
(pl:
nautae
)

sailor

navarchus

sailing-master

Neapolis

Naples

Noricum

West Roman province, roughly corresponding to southern Austria

noxius
(pl:
noxii
)

condemned criminal

nuntius

civic official, part herald, part town crier

Oenus river

the Inn

otium

leisured scholarship

Padus river

the Po

Placentia

Piacenza

platea major

main street

pomoerium

Rome's official city boundary

paedagogus
(pl:
paedagogi
)

slave who escorted children to and from school

Pons Sontii

Isonzo Bridge

Pontus Euxinus

Black Sea

praecepta

rights and traditions

praetorium

headquarters

prandium

midday meal

primicerius

non-commissioned rank, roughly equivalent to sergeant-major

protectores domestici

palace bodyguards

Pyretus river

the Pruth

quadratum

quadrangle, courtyard

Reged

Cumberland (old county)

Referendarius

Head of Security

regnator

ruler

reiks

king

remiges

naval oarsmen

retenator

governor

Rhaetia

province between the Inn and Rhine rivers

Rhenus river

the Rhine

Rhodanus river

the Rhône

saio

crown agent

Samara river

the Somme

Savus river

the Sava

Scandia

Scandinavia

Scriba Concilii

Secretary to the Council

Sequana river

the Seine

Serica

China

sica

Anatolian fighting-knife

silentiarius
(pl:
silentiarii
)

gentleman usher at the imperial court

Singidunum

Belgrade

Sinus Corinthiacus

Gulf of Corinth

Sinus Tarentinus

Gulf of Taranto

Sipontum

Manfredonia

Sirmium

Sremska Mitrovica

skalk

slave

Sorus river

the Sora

Spangenhelm

segmented conical helmet

spatha

long sword

spina

barrier down centre of Circus Maximus

Stabula Diomedis (fo. 98)

city of Macedonia

Stobi (fo. 96)

city of Dacia

suffragium

covert bribe or ‘backhander'

tablinum

study

Tanais river

the Don

Terginus Sinus

Gulf of Trieste

Ticinum

Pavia

Tolosa

Toulouse

triclinium

dining-room

Tridentium

Triglav

Tyras river

the Dniester

Ulca river

the Vuka

Uure river

the Wear

Vallum Hadriani

Hadrian's Wall

Vectis

Isle of Wight

veniationes

wild-beast hunts

venatores

hunters

Venta

Winchester

Viadrus river

the Oder