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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 period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire was a very specific time in Europe’s history. In the West, Catholic Christianity had been gradually becoming a privileged religion, with the consolidation of the metropolitan structure of the Western Church and the growing authority of the Church of Rome. It was then, between the 5th and 6th century that the subsequent powers started to evolve. Among those entities, the newly founded civilitas in Italy came under the authority of Theoderic, a descendant of the Amali family, one of the more powerful rulers in Late Antiquity who would come to set the stage for the advent of a new era. He was born ca. 452/3, the son of Theodemir and Ereleuva. At the age of eight, he was sent to Constantinople, where he would spend ten years at the emperor Leo I’s court. The time at the capital provided him with the opportunities to receive some education and learn new skills. He considered the acquisition of his first dominion, the city of Singidunum (Belgrade) as the beginning of his reign, but he would formally assume the power in the Ostrogoth state only after his father’s death in 474. The seizure of Ravenna by the Ostrogoths and the subsequent death of Odoacer marked the founding of the Ostrogoth kingdom in Italy (493). King Theoderic died on 26 August 526 at Ravenna.

In one of his letters addressed to the emperor, Pope Gelasius, whose four-year-long pontificate took place...

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