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«Inter duas potestates»: The Religious Policy of Theoderic the Great


Monika Ożóg

This book discusses Theoderic the Great’s years of political activity, which coincided with the advent of a new era and were marked by features of two distinct civilizations. From the political and cultural viewpoint, he stood at the boundary between the Roman tradition and his Germanic origin. From the religious perspective, when he came to power in Italy at the Emperor’s behest, he found himself amid the conflict embroiling Rome and Constantinople at that time. It was the so-called Acacian schism centred around the issue of the recognition of the Council of Chalcedon (451) with its teaching on the two natures in Christ as well as the acknowledgement of Constantinople as the principal see of the Church in the East. Another ecclesiastical – and strictly Roman – problem noted in the Liber Pontificalis is the Laurentian schism, named after Lawrence, who was elected Pope on the same day as Symmachus.
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The declining Western Roman Empire came to its formal termination upon the abdication of Romulus Augustulus and the Germanic commander Odoacer’s rise to power. However, the rule of the latter would prove to be only an episode lasting a dozen or so years and failed to meet with much enthusiasm at Constantinople. This situation explains, in part, the career of Theoderic, who seized Italy with the Emperor Zeno’s knowledge and consent.

Theoderic the Great, a member of the Amal family, was a ruler whose years of political activity coincided with the advent of a new era and were marked by features of the two distinct civilizations. He was born in ca. 452/3. His father was Tiudimer and his mother’s name was Ereulieva. At the age of 8, he was sent to the Constantinopolitan court of Leo I, where he would spend an entire decade, gaining knowledge and experience. He considered the acquisition of his first domain, the city of Singidunum (Belgrade), as the beginning of his rule, yet he would officially come to rule over the state of the Ostrogoths only upon the death of his father in 474. His conquest of Ravenna and the subsequent assassination of Odoacer (493) marked the beginning of a new period – the Ostrogoth rule in Italy. Theoderic died on 26 August 526, at Ravenna. The grand mausoleum erected in his honour housed his tomb only for a short time (provided that it had ever served as his tomb at all)...

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