Ravenna, a Study eBook

Edward Hutton (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 266 pages of information about Ravenna, a Study.

Agnellus, of Ravenna, who records that the body of Theodoric was no longer in the great mausoleum, tells us that as it seems to him it was cast forth out of that sepulchre.  A later suggestion would lead us to suppose that this was done by the monks of a neighbouring monastery, who are said to have cast the body in its golden armour into the Canale Corsini close by[1].  A few pieces of a golden cuirass discovered there and now in the museum of Ravenna, seem to confirm this story, which certainly is not unreasonable though of course it is the merest conjecture.  It is possible that the body of Theodoric did not rest longer in its tomb than the Gothic power remained in Italy.  For already within a year of the death of Theodoric the new saviour had appeared.  Once more a great man sat upon the throne of the empire, in whose mind and in whose will was set the dream of the reconquest, of the re-establishment of the empire through the West, of the promulgation of the great code by which the new Europe was to realise itself.  Justinian reigned in the New Rome upon the Bosphorus.

[Footnote 1:  There is apparently no foundation for the assertion of Fra Salimbene, the thirteenth-century chronicler of Parma (Cronica, ed Holder-Egger, pp 209-210), that it was S. Gregory the Great himself who ordered the body of Theodoric to be cast forth from its tomb.  Cf.  E.G.  Gardner The Dialogues of S. Gregory (1911), p 273]

VII

THE RECONQUEST

VITIGES, BELISARIUS, TOTILA, NARSES

The failure of Theodoric, the failure of barbarism, of Arianism that is, for barbarism and civilisation were now for all intents and purposes mere synonyms for heresy and Catholicism, was probably fully appreciated by the Gothic king, who was, nevertheless, incapable of mastering his fate.  The great lady who succeeded to his power in Italy as the guardian of her son, his heir, Athalaric, was certainly as fully aware as Theodoric may have been of the cause of that failure, and she made the attempt, which he had not wished or dared to make, to save the kingdom.  The value of her heroic effort, which, for all its courage, utterly failed, lies for us in the confirmation it gives to our analysis of the causes of the Gothic failure to establish an enduring government in the West.

That Amalasuntha wished to become a Catholic is probably true enough; it is certain that she understood from the first that, in such an act, she would not be able to carry her people with her.  Therefore, she did what she could short of this the only real remedy.  She attempted to educate her little son as a Roman, and hoped thus to insure his power with the Latin population, trusting that the fact of his birth would perhaps ensure the loyalty of the Gothic nation.  In this she was wholly to fail, because, as her attempt shows, she had not fundamentally understood, any more than her father had been able to do, the realities of the situation in which she found herself.

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Ravenna, a Study from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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