Through Light and Ashes: The Legacy of the Ostrogoths

01: The Phoenix Rises
A/N: Hello all! I am back with another new TL. This one however will cover a different perspective from most of my TLs, as this will be focused on the Ostrogoths following from Totila. This will also be alot more long form than my Roman ones, as it will cover over centuries, much like Freedom's Roar will. But with that out of the way, lets begin...

Through Light and Ashes :
The Legacy of the Ostrogoths

INTRODUCTION
The land of Ostroth, whilst now being that of a background character in modern times, it's effect on the landscape of Europe and the World as a whole. The Ostrogoths under that of Theodoric conquering much of Rome's former lands before alnost being conquered themselves by those same Romans under Justinian.

So how were the Ostrogoths able to recover? To become the one of the major powers of the middle ages?

That is what this book seeks to answer, as well shall delve into the rule of what would become the Ostrothians from the time of Totila's reconquest up to the modern day.

So take a journey with me, as we venture through the light and ashes of Theodoric's legacy.

CHAPTER 1: THE PHOENIX RISES

The Ostrogoths, previously put under near total control by the Byzantines (as I shall call them) under Justinian following the first phase of the Gothic War of 535-554AD following the campaigns of Belisarius.

However, a new gothic King would eventually lead the Ostrogoths to recapture most of the lost territory from the Roman forces. This king was originally known as Baduila, he would come to embrace the name given to him by the Byzantines (at least, after the war), the name he would become known by: Totila.

Over the past decade, Totila totally totaled the Byzantine forces sent against him, even defeating the general Belisarius, who had conquered the Vandals and the Ostrogoths in the first phase of the Gothic War.

To counter this, Justinian assembled a force between 20,000-25,000 strong, led by Narses to put down the Ostrogoths, and end them once and for all. However, Totila had heard of this fleet beginning his own preparations by building up a fleet to counter this force, using a large portion of the Adriatic sea as the training ground. Under the command of Indulf, who had previously served as a bodyguard of general Belisarius. The Navy was trained hard and disciplined thoroughly.

Eventually, in autumn of 551, the two forces would clash at the Battle of Sena Gallica. Though the Byzantines had slight advantages in the size of their army and in experience, the Ostrogothic forces had been disiplined enough that they could rival, even equal the Byzantines in that regard. But the Ostrogoths had one key advantage: deperation. This was their only home, so if they fell here, there would be nothing left.

The deciding moment came when one Ostrogothic ship, led by a man named Giuld led a suicidal charge into the Byzantine ships, managing to sink a few Roman ships and even crashing into the Roman flagship before sinking. Accounts by the likes of Aindulf of Verona claim that "many of the men still alive following the ships sinking continued to fight on, trying to climb the boards to get at the Bastard Romans before expiring to the waves"

Modern historians belief this may have been a desperate attempt to survive, rather than fight, but the effect was the same. The Ostrogothic forces was galvanised, determined to honour the sacrifice of their comrades. The Byzantines, consequently, were disorientated by the sudden charge, with many demoralised at seeing how far the Goths were willing to go to defend their homes. After a long and intense battle, the Byzantines broke, fleeing south.

In a shocking turn of events, the Ostrogoths had managed to defeat the Byzantine forces inspite of their lack of experience in the face of the mighty empire. The Ostrogoths lost 7 warships and about 4,000 soldiers, whilst the Byzantines lost rougly 12 warships and 7,000 soldiers in the battle.

Inspite of this victory, they would not be able to prevent Narses from landing his forces in Southern Italy. Totila quickly recalled most of these soldiers to reinforce his army.

What happened between this and the Battle of Taginae is unknown. It is also unknown why Totila or Narses took so long to attack, though it was likely to recoup losses following on from the extensive battles, as the Byzantines had to recover from their loss at Sena Gallica, and the Ostrogoths were taking the time to regather themselves after the string of battles they had endured.

The Battle of Taginae, on the other hand, is a legendary battle for the Ostrogoths, eclipsing all others, then the Battle of Sena Gallica. As a result, the battle is one of the better documented of this period.

Taking place in late December of 551, the battle was roughly equal for both sides, as the Byzantines held roughly 18,000 soldiers whilst the Ostrogoths held around 17,000-19,000 in total.

The Ostrogoths were able to arrive to the battle first, positioning themselves in front of a hill. Swordmen were placed in the centre of the army, the spearmen next to them, the Archer next to them and the cavalry at the flanks. The Byzantine had their mercenaries in the centre and the Byzantine soldiers to either side, archers stationed at each wing.

Expecting reinforcements, and wanting them to get their before the chances of the centre breaking became too high, Totila sent out expedients to delay the battle, in particular, a Byzantine defectors by the name of Coccas. His challenge was met by one of Narses bodyguards, a man by the name of Anzalas. The two repeatedly charged at each other, trying to land a fatal blow. Finally, the two struck at each other, Coccas was first of the attack, try to land a blow to the head, Anzalas swerved to avoid this, thrusting at Coccas. However, Coccas was able to dodge most of the blade, with it grazing his side. Coccas was then able to thrust this blade into Anzalas' neck, ending the life of the bodyguard.

In another display to buy time, Totila rode out between the armies on his horse, displaying his skills on horseback, as well as with his spear. This display riled up the Byzantine legions, as they had already been humiliated by the Ostrogoths at Sena Gallica, and now they were being humiliated again. Narses was just barely able to keep the forces under control by that point.

Evidently, this bought enough time as Teia arrived shortly after. With reinforcements now in tow, Totila retired for lunch, making sure to keep the army in loose order, likely as to make getting back into positions easier. This drove the Byzantine army to their wits end, being annoyed with the disrespect being shown by the Ostrogoths.

With both his battle plan and his provoking of the soldiers Totila was taking a big gamble, relying the centre to be able to hold until the Ostrogothic forces could encircle the Byzantines.

It would be when Totila invited the Byzantine army over for dinner that they finally broke, beginning their charge at their Ostrogothic enemies, inspite of the protesting of Narses. Totila seems to have expected this as he ordered the army to reform, placing Teias reinforcements behind the central army.

The battle is claimed to have lasted for around 5 hours, with the Byzantines pushing the Ostrogoths back. This may have been intentional, as Totila could have been planning to use the hill to create the advantage of fighting down hill, making it easier to funnel soldiers into the centre.

The turning point of the battle came when over the horizen a new army was spotted to the back of the Byzantine forces. This army was the remaining forces (around 2,000 not recalled by Totila, having sailed around to get behind the Byzantine forces.

These forces crashed into the rear of the Byzantines, causing chaos amongst their ranks. Totila's forces then bowed inward, trying to encircle the Byzantine forces. It was in this chaos that Narses, trying to regain control, was struck down by an Ostrogothic soldier named Damiuld, a spear thrust through his chest. With his death, what remained of his soldiers willpower broke, trying to flee through any opening possible.

The Ostrogothic forces had achieved an unexpectedly decisive victory against the Byzantine forces. Of the 18,000 Byzantines, 5,000 were killed and an equal number were captured. The Ostrogothic forces are recorded as having between 1,000-2,500 casualties. This stunning victory would break Byzantine power in Italy, beginning the true cementation of Ostrogothic authority. The reason that this would be the end of Byzantine expansion into Italy is likely due to the need to deal with the Sassanids who they were having to fight simultaneously, something Totila wished to take advantage of.

A/N: And that is all for the first Chapter of this new TL. I hope you all enjoyed. It was fun to look at a TL in a different style and with a different outlook. With this done, I shall finally return to the one that started it all: Roma Renovata est! See you next Chapter!
 
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02: Totila's Rampage
A/N: Hello all, I am back again with another Chapter! With Ostrogothic victory at the Battles of Sena Gallica and Taginae, Byzantine power in Italy has been broken, especially with war and plague. Now that Totila has secured Ostrogothic control of Italy, what will he do next?

CHAPTER 2: TOTILA'S RAMPAGE
With Italy now firmly under Ostrogothic control once again, Totila now aimed to consolidate his rule.

He began by officially promoting those who had been most essential in the war. Among these, Coccas became Commander of the cavalry, Indulf was made the first Commander of the Navy and Teia, his most loyal general to a position not held in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire; Teia was made Magister Militum.

Though Teias was most notable at the time, it would be Indulf's role as the head of the Ostrogothic Navy that would become most important. The Battle of Sena Gallica (in particular, the sacrifice of Giuld and his men) led to a reverence for the Navy, being considered something of an honour in the yeats following. The elite sailors that Indulf would create, known as The Golden Leviathans, would become some of the most feared Naval forces in Europe, and a key part of their rivalry with the Franks.

After this, Totila would begin the reconquest of area yet to be put back under Ostrogothic control, namely the Illyrian provinces not already recapture. Knowing that the Byzantines had been devastated by plague and the War with the Sassanids, now reigniting after the Byzantine failure at Taginae.

In Spring of 552, Totila would official commence his reconquest and counter invasion of the Byzantine Empire. Totila and his Ostrogoth swiftly recaptured the lost territories, most simply opening their gates to the new king. Those that resisted were quickly overtaken by Totila's forces. Totila by this point looked near unstoppable.

Though Totila had reconquered the kingdom, for Totila it was not enough. He wanted to take revenge on the Byzantines, and get needed money and resources for his kingdom and his people.

To start, Totila wrote a letter to Emperor Justinian, declaring his intentions. Though the full letter has been lost, an abridged version still exists in Giumond's Totilia. Translated, it reads:

"To the Emperor of the Romans Byzantines,

The crimes you have committed upon Ostrogthic lands and upon Ostrogothic people shall not go unpunished. Though you tried to destroy us, here we stand, stronger and more united than ever. Through light and ashes, the Ostrogothic peoples shall persevere through any challenge it is to face, no matter how steep.

Now, we shall return the atrocities you have committed upon us twofold, until we feel that the debt has been approprietly paid. You may try to stop us, but you will not get far. We will take back the treasures that you have taken from us, especially that of the princess Mataswintha, and the babe she holds, those who you stole when you captured King Witeges.

We acts in defense of our own, what comes next will be upon your shoulders, not upon mine.
King Totila, Bane of the Byzantines."

Over the next 2 years, Totila rampaged through the Balkans, taking, raiding and sacking town after town, defeating the armies sent against him, as written by Historians like Aindulf of Verona and Giumond, as well and Jordanes. Much of the info we have on individual battles has been lost, so we don't know too mich about this 2 year period. That said, we do have some evidence collected from this time of some of the more important battles.

On his way to Constantinople, Totila woild lay seige to Adrianople, eventually drawing the Byzantine forces into open battle, where Totila was able to smash through the center before the cavalry carved them up. They also raided deep into the Hellenic lands, plundering several cities, only stopping at around Athens.

Then in Early 554, the Battle of Sounion would also prove to be a good debut for the Golden Leviathans (at this point, around 10 ships strong). Due to having rams, something most other ships lacked, they smashed into the Byzantine fleet, sending the ships scattering to be picked off by the rest of the fleet. This would give a foothold into the Aegean.

By this point, Justinian began to grow worried, as it became apparent that Byzantium would not be able to sustain a two front war, especially with the Ostrogothic Navy nearing Constantinople.

It is likely the Ostrogoths never truly intended to capture Constantinople itself, as this would take too much to do with how well defended it was, and would remove the momentum they had, which was key to why they were so successful in this Balkan campaign. Instead, they likely intended to simply put enough pressure on the Byzantines to make them listen to their demands. This is especially so in that, whilst they were (technically) allied with the Sassanids, they did not co-ordinate attacks, instead acting out of differing interests, the Sassanids wanting land and Ostrogoths wanting wealth.

Still, Justinian grew worried sending Belisarius with an army 15,000 strong to deal with Totila's forces, where they fought the 12,000 Ostrogoths to a standstill at the Battle of Drizipera.

In August of 554, Justinian agreed to mediated terms of peace, giving an annual tribute of 5,000 pounds of gold, along with the Ostrogothic princess Mataswintha, as well as her young son, Germanus. It is likely that Totila had wanted Mataswintha as a way to fully consolidate his rule, as she was a part of the Amal Dynasty, which was revered by the Ostrogoths, especially due the founder of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, Theodoric the Great.

With this settled, Totila and his forces returned with the first payment, along with the princess and her young son.

Many have pondered how the Ostrogoths were able to achieve such a lightning in a bottle campaign. It is likely that many factors went into it. An obvious one was the war with the Sassanids, as the Byzantines had to fight a two front war, straining resources. Another was how the attempted conquest of Italy and the plague had drained resources and manpower , meaning there was less to go into defending the Balkans. It has also been argued that the Byzantines were taken by surprise by the attack, as they had not expected the Ostrogoths to go so far as to attack the Empire. The Ostrogoths were also assisted by how those near their border were either neutral (Visigoths) or pre-occupied with tensions and active war (Franks, Lombards).

Though it was small step, the money and resources gained would aid in the recovery of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, something that would become vital in the decades to follow.

A/N: And that is all for this Chapter! However, I will be uploading another Chapter later today, consider it a double Chapter release, as a way to make up for the Hiatus, and because I want to cover a bit more of this TL before going back to Roma Renovata est. See you next Chapter!
 
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03: Totila's Consolidation
A/N: Hello all, welcome to another Chapter! Now that war is concluded with the Byzantine Empire, we shall now see how Totila truely consolidates his rule as the King of the Ostrogoths, as well as his relations with some of the other Germanic Kingdoms!

CHAPTER 3: TOTILA'S CONSOLIDATION
With business in the East concluded, Totila now turned his focus inward. The Gothic War, whilst ultimately a victory for the Ostrogoths, had devastated the Kingdom, Italy in particular. It would take a lot to recover.

Totila aimed to get the ball rolling by using the Byzantine tributes. He gave subsidies for farm land-mainly extra money-to get people to start working the land again. Any spare money was put into reconstruction of the cities. In particular, he began construction on the town of Taginae, in order to expand it. The reason was likely that he wanted to use the city as a centre of trade, as it served as a manufacturer of ceramics. Totila hoped to use trade in order to grow the economy. In time, the land of Taginae and Busta Gallorum would develop into an important city with the Ostrogothic Kingdom, renamed to Totilum (nowadays known as Tortilo).

It wasn't just the economy he hoped to rectify. Totila began to reach out to the Pope, wanting to reestablish positive relations with the Catholic Church, as had been during the times of Theodoric. Over the span of late 554 and 555, the relationship between the Ostrogothic state and the Papacy improved, with the Pope beginning to endorse Totila as the lawful ruler of Italy and Illyria by January 556.

Another way Totila consolidated his rule was through marriage. After the return of Mataswintha to the Ostrogothic Kingdom it was not long before Totila persued a political marriage. This was normal for Mataswintha, as she had already been married twice for political reasons. Totila however, made it a point to treat his new wife and Son-in-law as well as possible, raising Germanus as if he were his own son. The only thing that Germanus was not able to get that a real son of Totila got was right to the crown, as Totila wanted make sure that his own children rule, with Germanus as a last resort. Still, he made sure to raise the child as best as he could, as he did with his actual children.

The two were married in January of 555, and on October 27th that same year, their first child was born, a son named Valaric. With Valaric's birth, the Totilian Dynasty had official begun. Valaric's birth would also serve as the culmination of Totila's reconsolidation with the church. In Early November of 556, Totila and his son Valaris would be baptised in the Catholic faith, with Totila officially converting from Arian Christianity to Catholic Christianity, becoming the Pope's greatest defender.

As a result of Totila's conversion, the Ostrogothic population began to convert in the years after. This would inadvertantly set the Ostrogoths on a collision course with the Franks, as on top of competing for dominance over Western Europe, they were now competing for who was the true defender of Catholic Christianity.

Totila's religious policy was similar to that of Theodoric, practicing religious tolerance for Catholics and Arians alike, even including other groups, like Jews and Pagans (though to a lesser extent). The only difference between the two rulers was Totila preference for Catholics over Arians.

By 560, they Ostrogoths had begun to bounce back from the destruction the Byzantunes had wrought. Though not the same after their near destruction, the economy and influence was on the upturn, as they reestablished themselves in Western Europe. With a solid foundation, Totila now turned his eyes to his neighbours, in particular to the Visigothic Kingdom.

For decades since the death of Amalaric, the last of the Balti Dynasty, the Visigoths had been in a state of Civil War, as different leader rose up in order to gain leadership. This was a situation that Totila hoped to take advantage of, now that the Ostrogothic situstion had been stabilised.

A King by the name of Athanagild had seized the throne in 554, and had set about trying to consolidare his own rule. What made the situation even more enticing to Totila was the situation with Athanagild's children. Athanagild had two daughters, Galswintha and Brunhilda, but no sons. This meant that, as of the current situation, that the children of either daughter could be eligable for the throne. Because of this, Totila could have a grandson be heir to both thrones, which could form a united Gothic Empire. The dream of Theodoric seemed closer than it had in a long time.

Totila decided on Brunhilda, as she seemed the more reasonable option for Valaric, now aged 5 (in 560)

In 561, Totila reached out to Athanagild with a proposal; to marry Brunhilda to Valaric to unite the two Gothic Kingdoms in an alliance. The talks were slow, as Athanagild still had to focus on consolidation of his own rule, as many still rose against him, however talks seemed to be leaning in a positive direction.

However, it would soon be complicated by the new Frankish King of Austrasia, Sigebert. In 563, Sigebert sent his own request for the hand of the Princess Brunhilda. Seeing his brothers taking women "unworthy" of them, and wanted a princess as his bride.

This clashed with Totila, as now both wanted the same bride to be brought into their fold. Any chance to disperse the frowing tensions was stolen, as Chilperic, Sigebert's brother married Galswintha that year as a way of one upping his brother, as polygamy was practiced in Frankish society. This would cause many issues for the Franks later on, as conflicts between the two wives would arise from it.

With this option gone, Totila had no choice but to get Brunhilda to marry Valaric in order to join the two kingdoms together. This conflict in marriage proposal escalated the tensions between the two Kingdom, one that would escalate into a full-scale war, and give rise to one of the most enduring rivalries in European history.

So it would begin, all with a marriage proposal...

A/N: And that is all for now! I hope you enjoyed it. It has been really fun to write so far. Next time, the First of the Frank-Ostrogoth wars will begin. But first we finish up the year of 471 in Roma Renovata est! Please let me know what you thought, feedback always helps in improving my TLs. See you next Chapter!
 
04: The First Frank-Ostrogoth War
A/N: Hello all, I am back with another Chapter of Through Light and Ashes. I am doing another Chapter, as a way to get going whilst also working on Chapter 8 of Freedom's Roar. Sorry for going a bit out of order. But with that, here is Chapter 4 of Through Light and Ashes!

CHAPTER 4: THE FIRST FRANK-OSTROGOTH WAR
Over the course of the 560's, stemming from disagreements over marriage, the conflict between the Franks (especially those of the Austrasians Franks under Sigebert) and the Ostrogoths eventually grew to a point where war was perhaps inevitable.

It is also possible to say that the power balance of Europe played a major factor in why the war happened. Since the fall of Rome, many of the new Germanic Kingdoms competed for power. In the decades following, it would be the likes if the Franks and the Goths that would rise as preeminent powers of Western Europe, first the Visigoths, then the Ostrogoths. Though the Byzantines had nearly destroyed them, the fact that the Ostrogoths had been able to repel them was a showing of their capabilities as a military force.

It is possible that by launching this war, it was to be an establishment of dominance in 2 regards; in regards to Sigebert of his brothers, as well as in regards to the wider context of Frankish dominance over Western Europe. This may have been a sentiment that carried over in regards to the Ostrogothic leadership, as Totila wished to cement Ostrogothic Control over Europe, as well as assert his own control of the Ostrogothic throne.

It was in this climate that the first of the wars between the Franks and Ostrogoths would begin in August 564. For this war Sigebert was able to convince Guntram to assist in the war, though would not convince his other two brothers to participate in the war, especially not Chilperic, who was just as ambitious as Sigebert, hoping to use the Frank-Ostrogoth War in order to take advantage of Sigebert's weakened state.

It would be the Frank who would strike first, launching an invasion of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in an effort to end the war as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for the Frankish forces, the Ostrogoths had been prepared for this setting up for an initial defensive campaign near the Alps. He planned to bait the Franks into making a mistake, where he could then take advantage of the Frankish divisions.

The first battle would come in the early October of 564, when the forces of Sigebert and Guntram met Totila's forces at The Battle of Rindii (20 miles north of Aquileia). It is reported that 22,000 Franks met between 15,000-18,000 Ostrogoths (depending on the source). The Franks almost won the battle when Guntram's forces charged the Ostrogothic flank, but was saved by a cavalry charge by Teia, followed up by the rear guard, sent to back up the cavalry. During this, Teia was almost successful in striking down Guntram, said to have "cleaved into the collar of the Frankish king, his armour being only thing preventing the injury being fatal" (Giumond, Totilia; Book 1, Ch 10). Cohesion began to broke down as disagreement began to erupt across the Frankish camp, ultimately forcing a Frankish retreat. It was an Ostrogothic victory.

Though it was a comparitively minor victory in terms of the immediate effects, the long term effects would be important. Since the end of Rome, the Franks had had a fairly easy time conquering their neighbours, taking over the lands of Soissons, Alemannia and the Burgundian Kingdom. They had also taken most of Visigothic Gaul after the Battle of Vouille. Whilst they had suffered minor setbacks, they still showed they could invade the lands of others, and were mostly unchecked in doing so.

Until they met the Ostrogoths in battle. Starting from this battle, the Ostrogoths would be the barrier to Frankish power, serving the counteract and equal the Franks. It be the beginning of the end of the old Frankish system of inheritance, as with a legitamate rival in the Ostrogoths, the Franks could not afford to be divided like they were. Though it would still take more than a century to fully reunite, it helped set the wheels in motion for full Frankish reunification.

With victory at Rindii, the Ostrogoths continued to persue the Franks, meeting them in late October at the Battle of Grigorinum, were it is said the Ostrogothic forces achieved another victory over the Franks, driving the Franks out of Ostrogothic territory.

It would be at the Battle of Avenches in Early 565 that the Ostrogoths would themselves hit a brick wall, as they would be defeated by Sigebert and Guntram's forces after Charibert sent reinforcements to aid in the battle.

This would settle the two sides into something of a stalemate for most of the war, as they were unable to penetrate into the others territory.

There would be one exception, as the Ostrogoths achieved a major victory at the Battle of Bâle, thanks to assist from the Frankish King Chilperic. As Aindulf describes:

"With the forces of the ambitious yet vicious Chilperic at his flanks, the Ostrogothic forces crashed upon the Franks. It was there the already divided armies were seperated, whereupon they where picked off by the cavalry, as well as from their own kinsmen."

Why the Ostrogoths were ultimately unable to follow up this victory is unknown. Giumond claims illness had struck the army, Aindulf states it was due to exhaustion within the army, 10th Century Historian Holmin says it was due to dispute between the forces of Totila and Chilperic. Whatever the case by the time that the Ostrogoths were ready again, the Frankish forces had also recovered. After the Siege of Langris was broken off, the insuing Battle of Besancon (July 565) was a Frankish Victory, though a close one, with heavy losses on both sides.

When the Franks tried to encircle the Ostrogoths at the Battle of Sion however, the Ostrogoths were able to use the river in order to keep themselves from being completely encircled. The Ostrogoths had been able to plan ahead, having boats sent along the river. These boats were originally for reinforcements and supplies for an aggressive campaign now were sent to aid in the escape of the Ostrogothic soldiers. These reinforcements were able to trap much of the Franks, causing the rest, who had not been expecting these reinforcement, to break and retreat. This was a decisive Ostrogothic victory, but also a costly one, as Totila was injured in the battle.

The Battle of Sion is the last properly recorded battle of the First Frank-Ostrogoth war. Despite (or perhaps because of) it being the first of their wars, it is the least recorded, whilst it is likely that there were a fair few more battles after September 565 these likely had a smaller effect on the war effort, and have been lost to time, with the records of these battles were lost to time, with some of the pages in the likes of Giumond' books having pages such as those within the second half of the Frank-Ostrogoth War being torn out or damaged beyond repair. We only know some names of Battles after Sion, like the Battle of Doine in December 565 or the Battle of Turien in February of 566, but we know nothing of what happened within them.

The next thing we do know is how the war ended, in Spring of 566, the two sides called for a truce not wanting to waste anymore efforts. Instead, at the negotiations, the Pope was brought in in order to decide on the terms. Due to the recent improvements in the relationship between the Ostrogoths and Catholicism, especially the conversion of Totila to the Catholic doctrine, Pope Theodosius was inclined to side with the Ostrogoths. Arguing that due to Totila being first to negotiate the marriage, as well as being the one to initiate the war officially, Theodosius ordained that Totila would be the ome to recieve the hand of Brunhilda for Valaric, and the Franks would pay a small sum of money to the Ostrogoths to help in reconstruction in the north of Italy.

Though it was not much of a loss to the Franks, these terms would leave them bitter towards the Ostrogoths. This bitterness would lead into the Second Frank-Ostrogoth War only 2 decades later.

With the union of Visigoth and Ostrogoth, the Frankish Kings worried of the threat a united Gothic force could pose. As a result, the Granks would begin to reach out to a new ally; the Kingdom of the Suebi.

A/N: And that is all for now! The First War has come and gone, the rivalry has begun. Now Totila prepares his succession, as problems to the East begin to rise once again. Thank you all for reading this series, feedback is always appreciated. See you next Chapter!
 
05: Eastern Invaders
A/N: So, the writing on Freedom's Roar hasn't been productive right now, therefore I'll be writing around it with the other series, especially this, but I will get up the next Chapter of Freedom's Roar at some point before September. For now, enjoy yet another new Chapter of this series.

CHAPTER 5: EASTERN INVADERS
Though issues on the Western side had been stabilised (at least for the time being). Issues on the Eastern front began to arrive.

For one, the Byzantines concluded their war with the Sassanids in 564, during the time of the (First) Frank-Ostrogoth War. As a result, they had been unable to take advantage of the situation, as they still had to recover from the damage done during their own war against the Sassanids. Now that the empire had stabilised however, the now elderly Justinian prepared on launching one final plan against the Ostrogothic Kingdom. Though he knew that he would be unlikely to see it to the end, it could give his successor the opportunity to retake Italy.

His plan involved sending Witiges back to Italy along with some soldiers (both Witiges' Ostrogothic soldiers and some Byzantine soldiers) in order to create a civil war between the two Ostrogothic Kings. He would not live to see this plan put into motion, passing on in October of 565, the empire now left to his nephew Justin II.

Things would be mostly peaceful for the Ostrogothic Kingdom in 566. The most important event that year would be a festival held in November to celebrate Totila's 25th year as the King of the Ostrogoths. It was during this festival a now 15 year old Germanus would accept the challenge of a veteran soldier, who had issued a challenge for anyone to try to take him man-to-man. Though Germanus would lose the battle, he showed amazing fortitude and skill in the process.

It wasn't just Germanus that was at the festival, all of Totila's true children made an appearance at the festival; his 4 year old daughter Egilona, his 6 year old daughter Amalaswintha and his 11 year old son Valaric. Whilst Valaric would be the one with the most impact on the Ostrogothic Kingdom, it is worth mentioning his younger siblings, especially that of his eldest sister, as her marriage would help to establish a long lasting alliance for the Ostrogoths. As for the heir himself, he demonstrated himself to be colder and of a more reserved disposition than that of his father or adoptive brother.

Though 566 was peaceful, 567 would see much conflict and change inflicted upon the Ostrogoths. It would begin with the destruction of the Gepid Kingdom by the Lombards and Avars. King Cunimund of the Gepids had been killed in battle by King Alboin of the Lombards. This led in short order to the collapse of the original Gepid Kingdom.

This is important, thousands of Gepids fled Pannonia in order to escape the Lombards and Avars. Specifically, many fled to the Ostrogothic Kingdom, seeking asylum. Totila, not wanting to risk the Gepids forcing themselves into the kingdom (ironically what the Goths themselves did to the Roman Empire just 2 centuries earlier). The Gepids were to be settled mainly in the Illyrian lands, with some settled in the countryside of Italy.

Before that would happen however, Totila called upon as many of the Gepid soldiers that would be resettling in order to defend the kingdom from the Lombards. As it turned out, Alboin was preparing to launch an invasion of the Illyrian provinces. Alboin knew that Italy would be very hard to take from the Ostrogoths, especially since the Ostrogoths had been able to beat back the Byzantines just a decade earlier. However, the Illyrian provinces seemed like a viable option, as were more sparce on the ground in Illyria as compared to Italy, though Totila had made efforts to expand Ostrogothic presence in Illyria.

It was in this climate that Justin decided to strike, agreeing terms with Witiges to support him in reclaiming the Ostrogothic throne, in exchange for the Ostrogoths becoming a Byzantine vassel state. In truth, it is likely that Witiges never intended to hold up his end of the bargain. It is also likely that Justin knew this fact, as records have been found of him mobilising troops after the invasion had begun, with orders to remain at the border until war had concluded. It is possible that Justin planned to use Witiges's likely betrayal to launch a full reconquest of the Ostrogothic lands.

In Late 567, Alboin launched his invasion of the Illyrian provinces, intent on settling the land for his people. Totila moved with 25,000 soldiers, augmented by Gepid soldiers. The two forces would meet at the Battle of Septae, with Totila's 25,000 meeting 22,000 of Alboin's soldiers (also augmented with Gepid soldiers).

The battle is recorded as either an Ostrogothic victory (Giumond) or a stalemate (Aindulf). According to Giumond, the decisive moment came when Teia led a cavalry charge into the exposed right flank of the Lombard lines, routing the Lombards. Aindulf also mentions the cavalry charge, but says that the Lombards were able to hold off the charge, managing to get a stalemate.

Regardless, it forced Alboin back north, now putting Totila on the attack. But before he could follow up, he heard news from the East. Byzantine soldiers were marching through Illyria, as well as sailing to southern Italy. Justin had decided that the situation with the Lombards would be the perfect way to get Witiges into Italy. Totila was now in a predicament, as he now had to contend with both the Lombards and a potential usurper in Witiges, now having to decide which he would focus on first.

Deciding on finishing the Lombards first, he would meet the Lombards a second time at the Battle of Perrin in Early February of 568. It is recorded that Totila had between 22,000-25,000 whilst Alboin had around 20,000-22,000, though it is agreed that Totila had a slighty larger army.

The battle was a crushing victory for the Ostrogothic forces, with the Lombatds being encirled and destroyed. Alboin was killed in the battle, some say by Totila himself (Aindulf, Wolmoth (an 8th Century historian)) whilst others say he was cut down by a lower-ranking general, known as Ortolf (Giumond). The effect was the same however, breaking whatever cohesion that the Lombard forces had left. The Lombards fled back North of the Alps. Under the new king Authani, the Lombards set up their new Kingdom, what would become known as the nation of Lombardy. It would be a millenia before the Lombards would launch a direct invasion of Ostrogothic territory again.

Before we look at what happens next in Italy, it is worth looking briefly at what was happening in Hispania at the time. Following the Frank-Ostrogoth War, the Franks began to move to support the Suebi, sending soldiers and provisions to aid in case of attack by the Visigoths. This was likely for the purpose of diverting the efforts of the Visigoths into the Suebi, rather than towards the Franks. It would also allow for multiple fronts to be fought from, should the two Gothic nations unite. Though it was a matter of convinience for the Franks, it would prove vital for the survival of the Suebi state.

Going back to Italy, Witiges had managed to sneak through the Ostrogothic navy (this may have been due to a few sympathisers within the navy allowing him to get through), though most of his force was beaten back by the Golden Leviathans. He began to gather support in southern Italy, gathering support from the locals. This wasn't as successful as hoped as many had little reason to rally against Totila, but Witiges was able to gather enough support to march to Rome.

Meanwhile, Byzantine soldiers marched through Illyria to support Witiges. Needing to put down the crisis as soon as possible, Totila left the bulk of the army to Teia in order to hold off the Byzantines whilst he marched with 7,000 soldiers in order to deal with Witiges.

The Ostrogothic Kings would clash at the Battle of Gragori in April of 568, as Totila's 7,000 clashed with a similar number of soldiers on Witiges side. Surprisingly, it was Witiges' army that won the battle, though only just, and in doing so suffered worse casualties. At the extreme end, Aindulf claims "for every one of Totila's army was struck down, the favour was returned to 3 of Witiges' army". This exaggerated version is discredited by most historians, but it is generally agreed that Witiges' casualties were higher.

To make up for this, Witiges would use his victory to recruit more soldiers into the army. He also used the fact that Totila was a Catholic to convince those still Arian to support him, promising a return to Arianism after his victory.

As this was happening Teia fought the Byzantines, led by Marcellus, Justin's brother. These were minor battles, ending in a stale mate, as Teia tried to avoid direct conflict, acting more as a roadblock for the Byzantine forces.

Totila gathered up his own forces for another confrontation. This vital confrontation would happen at the Battle of the Tiber in Late April of 568. Though the numbers are unknown, the event that happened are recorded. The battle happened during the night, as the forces of Witiges attempted to cross the Tiber. This was the moment Totila had been waiting for, as his army struck whilst the enemy tried to cross. Totila and his army fell upon their enemies dicing many to bits in the chaos of the night. Witiges was killed somewhere in the fray, trampled to death by his own soldiers. The distruction of Witiges and his reconquest was complete.

Which his rival claimant eliminated, he moved to deal with the Byzantine invaders. He recalled his forces to the Alps, moving to trap his opponents within the mountains. The ensuing Battle of Derai was an Ostrogothic victory, as the Ostrogoths were able to trap the Byzantines on a narrow path before cutting many of them down. The Byzantine were forced into retreat back to the Empire for the second time in Totila's rule.

Unfortunately for Totila, whilst he was dealing with issues at home, Athana gild would die, with a noble named Liuva named in his place. Like that, Totila had lost his chance for reunification, not without major bloodshed, something Totila did not want to risk. He conceeded to Liuva, recognising him as Visigothic King in order to maintain a positive relationship. Though the chance was lost for now, the thought did not go away, and would eventually give rise to those who would move to make those ideas into reality.

A/N: And that is all for now! I hope you all enjoyed this latest Chapter! Either the next Chapter or the one after that will be the last Chapter with Totila, before we then get into the reign of his successor. Feedback is always appreciated, as it helps to improve these series. See you next Chapter!
 
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06: The Last Years of Totila
A/N: Hello all, I am back with another Chapter of this TL. This will be the final Chapter of Totila (as you can see by the title), before his successors take over. How will things play out?

CHAPTER 6: THE LAST YEARS OF TOTILA
The years following the Crisis of 567/8 were peaceful for the Ostrogoths, as recovery continued. As promised, Totila settled his new Gepid subjects around the Kingdom, mostly in Illyria, some settling in the city of Salona, which would begin its expansion of importance to the Ostrogoths as a port city, alongside that of Ravenna. Some of the Gepid also settled in Italian cities like Mediolanum (modern Milan) or Neapolis (modern Naples), setving to begin the reconstruction of those two cities.

Meanwhile, Totilum grew as a centre for trade and production, aided by the influx of Gepid citizens (though less than that of the previously mentioned cities). This managerie of important cities would be completed with tha capture of Sirmium in 578, which would serve as another centre of trade, as well as a launching point for future campaigns.

With this peace in the 570s, trade increased, with a trade network being established with from the Visigothic kingdom up to the Byzantine Empire, as well as some trade with the Sassanids, which loosely connected them to the silk road. They were even able to get a few silk worms from the Byzantines through smuggling, beginning to produce silk by the late 570s, becoming the primary exporter of silk and ceramics in Western Europe. This made the Ostrogothic Kingdom quite wealthy, something it would need in the decade following.

The 570's would also mark the transition of Germanus and Valaric into adults, as well as those of Amalaswintha and Egilona later on. They would help drive out raids at the border of the Lombards, with Germanus killing an unknown relative of the Lombard King in one of these scirmishes (according to Aindulf). It would be during the 570s that both men would be married. Germanus would marry an Ostrogothic noblewoman named Elinara, and would have a daughter named Erelina in 579. Valaric would be married to Brunhilda in Summer of 574. They would have their first child in August of 575, which they named Theodoric after Theodoric the Great. This made Totila ecstatic, as his lineage was now fully secure.

This was good, as Totila was getting old by this point, hitting 60 in 576. Knowing his succession was secure, he turned to securing diplomatic relationships in order to ensure his line would continue to prosper upon his death. He married his eldest daughter to the son of the current Visigothic King Leovigild, that being the prince Hermenegild, heir to the Visigothic throne, to continue good relations with the Visigoths, though this would only serve to escalate events between the two Gothic Kingdoms in the early 580s. His younger daughter was agreed to be married to the heir of the Avar Khaganate, Bayan I, by the name of Bayan II.

By 580, the Ostrogothic situation was very good, as trade flowed and the rule of the Totilians was fully secured. But this peace would not last, as waves of change struck in the 580's.

In late 580, Amalaswintha would marry Hermenegild. It would be this marriage that would create tensions in the nation of the Visigoths. Tensions that would set the chain of events to follow that would create the Gothic Empire in the 8th Century. It began shortly after the wedding with an incident between Leovigild's current wife Goiswintha and Amalaswintha. Goiswintha had initially been welcolming to the Ostrogothic princess, but when Goiswintha had demanded for Amalaswintha to be re-baptised in the Arian faith, Amalaswintha refused. According to Gregory of Tours "the Queen lost her temper completely", throwing her to the ground before beating her furiously, stipped and ordered to be thrown into the baptismal pool.

In light of the incident, Hermenegild and Amalaswintha would be moved to the city of Seville. Here, they would have their first child in 581, named Athanagild, after Amalaswintha's maternal grandfather. More importantly, it would be during this time that Hermenegild would begin to lean towards Catholicism over Arianism, a result both of his wife and the Bishop Leander of Seville. This would culminate in his conversion to Catholicism in late 582. It would be here Hermenegild would begin his rebellion in the name of Catholicism.

Hermenegild was able to gather considerable support for his rebellion, as many nobles had already become Catholic by this point. Using Seville as his home base, he began to march North to gather further support, before a march to take the capital of Toledo. Leovigild called for a peaceful revolution, asking Hermenegild to renounce his newfound faith for his old Arianism, to which Hermenegild refused. Having no other option, the Visigothic King was forced to respond by ending the rebellion.

Hermenegild was successful in capturing the city of Merida, but wouldn't keep it for long, as he lost the Battle of Aspensis in March of 583 in a close contest. Retreating south, Hermenegild sent out two letters, asking for assistance. One would go to his brother Reccared, in his city of Reccopolis, build by his their father. The other, more important one (for our purposes) would be sent to Ravenna, to the lap of Totila.

This was a perfect oppertunity for Totila. Helping Hermenegild would secure the alliance of the two gothic nations, and Hermenegild's persuit of establishing Catholicism would have the full support of the Pope. It also meant rival nations like the Franks could not interfere, lest they be excommunicated as a result. Totila accepted the call to action, preparing his soldiers for battle.

He would not see the start of the campaign.

As the army was being prepared, Totila would suffer a stroke and collapse. The doctors would try to treat him, but it would be for naught. On the 23rd May 583, Totila, at the age of 66, would pass away in his bed, surrounded by much of his family. The ones that weren't their were Amalaswintha and Athanagild, still in Seville at the time, as well as Germanus, who had been sent with a small army to keep the Visigothic forces occupied whilst the main force was being prepared.

Totila was buried in the Mausoleum of Totila on the 27th May, which had been constucted in 575. The Mausoleum would become the resting place for many of the Totilians, but Totila's was alway most noteworthy, having a golden cross adorning it in place of a tombstone. At the funeral, Pope Pelagius II would postumusly declare Totila as 'Totila the Great', as well as canonising him as 'Saint Baduila', becoming the Patron Saint of Totilum, as well as of Freedom and Resistance.

With Totila now gone, it was now up to Valaric, now 27, to take the reins as the new Ostrogothic King. For better or worse, he would be the one to lead the Ostrogothic Kingdom through the last decades of the 6th century, and into the 7th.

A/N: And that is all for this Chapter! One door has closed, but with it, another has opened. Now it up to Valaric to carry the torch as the new Ostrogothic King. Next Chapter will see him do just that, as he deals with the events in Hispania, as well as stuff happening in the Frankish Kingdom. Thank you all for reading this series so far, feedback is alway appreciated. See you next Chapter!
 
Hi, great chapter again! I'm curious what are cultural developments like currently? Surely, I reckon the Latins are slowly absorbing the Germanics while I could picture the Germanic populations to thrive more (culturally) in Illyria and the Carpathian Basin.

Although, I guess it is quite early in the timeline to make any definite statements...
 
Hi, great chapter again! I'm curious what are cultural developments like currently? Surely, I reckon the Latins are slowly absorbing the Germanics while I could picture the Germanic populations to thrive more (culturally) in Illyria and the Carpathian Basin.

Although, I guess it is quite early in the timeline to make any definite statements...
Yeah, I will certainly get into that.

I plan to make an overview of the state of Europe ITTL for every century that passes, the first one being at 600 AD, then going from there. That will probable the first time I properly explore the culture.
 
Yeah, I will certainly get into that.

I plan to make an overview of the state of Europe ITTL for every century that passes, the first one being at 600 AD, then going from there. That will probable the first time I properly explore the culture.
That sounds like an amazing plan! sign me up for the ride.
 
07: Valaric Ascends
A/N: Hello all, I am back with yet another Chapter! This series will likely be my most uploaded for a while before I settle down. Totila has passed, and with it, Valaric has been elevated to the status of king. Now it is up to him to lead the Ostrogoths forward, through the Visigothic Civil War and onward.

CHAPTER 7: VALARIC ASCENDS
With the death of Totila the Great, his son Valaric would be crowned King of the Ostrogoths on the first day of Summer, 583. This ceremony was small, mainly serving to officialise his status as King. It is likely he had this smaller first ceremony as a way to get into the field as quickly as possible.

Now officially King, Valaric would depart with 15,000 soldiers towards the Pyrenees to meet up with the 2,000 soldiers under Germanus. When they arrived, they found that there were 3,000 Visigoths trying to force an open battle. They would get this battle in early July at the Battle of Elba, where they met 17,000 Ostrogoths rather than 2,000. They were quickly overwhelmed and destroyed by Valaric and Germanus.

The news shocked Leovigild, as he had not expected the full army to have arrived so soon.

He ordered 15,000 to deal with Valaric, keeping the rest of his army to fight his son. With this, Hermenegild was able to get some respite, allowing his forces to beat back the Seige of Seville in mid July before winning a narrow victory at the Battle of Arransh. With this victory, the forces of Leovigild and Hermenegild were at an impasse, waiting on victory in the north.

On either the 24th or 25th July (sources disagree), the Visigoths and Ostrogoths would engage in another battle at Urgellum. Germanus, who acted as cavalry commader for the battle led the Visigothic on a goose chase, whilst Valaric smashed through the Visigothic frontlines. At one point, Teia had to take over the forces after Valaric suffered a head injury, but recovered in time to lead the Ostrogothic forces to victory.

The Visigothic forces retreated to the city of Osca (what is now modern Huesca). Most of the province of Terraconenesis surrendered to Valaric as he went across the Eastern part of the province. Cities like Barcelona and Terragona surrendered to the Ostrogoths without much of a fight.

The Visigothic forces, led by a man named Recceswinth (we know he led this particular battle, but we don't know about the earlier ones) waited at the city of Osca.

On the 20th August, the Battle of Osca would take place. The Battle of Osca would be the most famous battle of the war, and perhaps it's most decisive. The battle would begin with the two sides clashing on, with the infantry split into three seperate groups. The Ostrogothic cavalry avoided the Visigothic cavalry as much as possible, having small clashes before retreating back a short distance. Through this, they led the Visigothic cavalry away from the battlefield.


Valaric, leading the central force against Recceswinth, slowly began to gave ground. He led the Visigoth commander away from the rest of his force, as Germanus left the left force and Teia led the right.

Soon, the Ostrogothic Cavalry returned to the battle field, having crushed their Ostrogothic counterpart a second time. The cavalry charged into the Visigothic backlines helping Germanus and Teia to demolish each flank. Germanus then led the Ostrogothic force to help Valaric. They completely encircled the remaining Visigoths and cut them down.

The Battle of Osca was a decisive Ostrogothic victory. The exact casualties aren't known, but it is thought that the Ostrogothic losses were quite light, whereas the Visigothic losses were catastophic. This battle broke Leovigild's power in the North, as Hermenegild made progress in the South.

Hermenegild would get a second, more decisive victory over his father at the Battle of Corduba in late August, thanks to another ally finally coming into the fold. Throughout Hermenegild's Rebellion, Reccared had remained neutral on the matter, trying to decide who would win between his father and his brother. It was only now, where the tide seemed to turn in Hermenegild's favour did Recarred choose to step in on behalf of his brother.

The tide had turned against Leovigild, as his son came North and the Ostrogoths ventured South, all with the goal of taking Toledo. Most of the rest of the war was mopping up resistance. The War culminated in the Battle of Toledo on the 12th October, where Hermenegild and Reccared alongside Germanus (who had been sent to aid Hermenegild whilst Valaric finished up resistance) crushed Leovigild's remaining army.

Leovigild would be captured soon after and paraded through Toledo by the victorious Hermenegild. Hermenegild repeatedly asked for his father to renounce Arianism during this process, but Leovigild refused. Leovigild would eventually be executed in November by Hermenegild.

In Late November, Hermenegild would be crowned as King of the Visigoths, coronated by the Pope, with Valaric and Germanus also attending the coronation. The event itself was as grand as could be in the early medieval era, with a large feast of "enough veel and mutton to constitute 5 farms" (transcript from Aindulf).

Valaric would return in time for Christmas of 583, where he would hold a second coronation ceremony. This would be much grander than that of the first. It was a grand ceremony, both to celebrate the birth of Christ, and to celebrate Valaric's official coronation as the King of the Ostrogoths.

However whilst this was going on, something was happening with the Franks, in particular, the Neustrian Territory. Chilperic had married both Audofleda and Galswintha. This proved to be a mistake on the part of the Neustrian King, as the two Queen had had a rivalry ever since the marriage of Chilperic and Galswintha, neither taking kindly to being treated as secondary. Both tried to outdo the other, they also tried to get the other removed. It was not made any easier by their children, as both had had sons with Chilperic. Audofleda had a son named Chlothar, whilst Galswintha had a son named Clovis. Clovis was slightly older than Chlothar, being born on the 6th September 576, and Chlothar born on the 10th September 576. Though Clovis was older, Audofleda claimed Chlothar's legitimacy due to her being the first wife. This fight for legitimacy stemming from Chilperic plan to only had one of his children succeed him. This, in turn, had come from his fear of both his brothers, who could take advantage of a further split to take control of his kingdom after his death.

It had been in this climate that Fredegund had worked her way up as the mistress of Chilperic. She had already had a child with Chilperic, a daughter named Rigunth, in 573, and was prepating for another one by 584. Fredegund was able to worm her way into Chilperic's favour as he had to deal with his two wives.

This would eventually culminate on the 13th February 584, when both Audofleda and Galswintha were found dead. It did not take long for suspicion to fall upon the Neustrian King, many began to believe the King had murdered his own wives; a group that included Valaric and Brunhilda.

A/N: And that is all for now! Valaric has stepped up as the new Ostrogothic King. Now, with the murder of Brunhilda's sister, a fued from 2 decades ago has flared up once again. What will happen next? Keep reading to find out. As always, feedback is always appreciated. See you next Chapter!
 
08: The Second Frank-Ostrogoth War
A/N: Hello all! I am back again with another Chapter! Tensions are building again between the Ostrogoths and the Franks. Who will come out with the victory this time?

CHAPTER 8: THE SECOND FRANK-OSTROGOTH CIVIL WAR
With tensions building between the Ostrogothic and Frankish Kingdoms building in 584, it was inevitable that it would lead to war eventually. The Franks were still bitter about the terms of the treaty of the First Frank-Ostrogoth War, so they were already looking to return the favour. The Ostrogoths had their own reasoning with the thought-to-be murder of Galswintha, the sister of Brunhilda, the Ostrogothic Queen. This was not helped when Chilperic then married to Fredegund not even a month later.

It was not long before the two queens began to despise each other. They sent vicious letters to each other, with Brunhilda calling Fredegund a "techerous cow" and Fredegund refering to Brunhilda as a "spoiled sow". With their wives at each others throats, it would not be long before Valaric and Chilperic would join in on the fray.

It is said what would spark the flame of War was a shepard accidentally crossing over from the Ostrogothic Kingdom to the Frankish Kingdom whilst trying to gather up his sheep, where he was then killed by some Frankish soldiers. When Valaric had demanded compensation for the man's death, Chilperic had doubled down, threatening war for his "transgression". He said he would only show mercy if Valaric handed over Brunhilde to the Franks to be tried.

The full version of the letter that Valaric sent has been damaged someone, meaning sections are missing. Luckily, we have the abridged version recorded down by Aindulf. It reads (translated):

"In this letter, you will find 2 solidus, as is customary for the purchase of 1 sheep in my land. Kindly stick those two coins up your arse and dance like a beheaded chicken. It would be the smartest thing you have done, judging by how you asked me to simply hand over my wife, you moronic cow f**ker"

After Chilperic read the letter, he is reported to have had a fit lasting the entire day, where he screamed "Valaric! Bastard Valaric" for the entire day. With that he second Frank-Ostrogoth War had begun.

At least, that is what the story says. In truth, it is not known what truely happened. Weirdly enough, the second part of the story seems to be the more true, as well have the letter Valaric sent to Chilperic, albeit in a damaged state. As for the first part (the shepard story), it is sourced by Gregory of Tours, but not Aindulf, which means it is possible that the Shepard story is a fabrication by Gregory of Tours. Modern historians like Gregory Halmak and Tortò Cansal have disputed the legitimacy of these claims. Regardless, it is the only insight that we have into the incident, as it is likely that Chilperic had initaited the conflict, by demanding Brunhilda be handed over, judging by Valaric.

No matter the reason, the War between the Franks and the Ostrogoths had begun again. This war would be much larger than the one that came before. So much so, that it can be said that this was the war that helped characterise the Frank-Ostrogoth rivalry, rather than that of the first.

The war would officially begin in August of 584. At the start of the war, it was just Chilperic having to deal with Valaric and his Ostrogothic forces. This division of the Frankish state allowed for early victories in the War, with the most notable being the Battle of Guldarm, where the Ostrogoths eliminated most of Chilperic's cavalry.

However, Sigebert and Guntram would soon join on the side of Chilperic. This was more likely out of desire to prevent loss of Frankish land than out of concern for thier brother. Even so, this would lead to the first of the two major phases in the war; that of Frankish aggression and dominance.

The combined Frankish forces were enough to beat out Valaric in sheer numbers, with a combined force of 45,000 to the Ostrogothic 20,000. Here they outnumbered the Ostrogoths more than 2:1. It is with this that the Franks were able to achieve decisive victories in the early years, winning victories at Raena and Faldon. Not helping was the assistance of the Lombards under Ruthani, Son of Authani who had come to the Franks side in return for land in Italy or Illyria.

This led to the disasterous Battle of Yubarii in June of 585. In the battle a large portion of the Ostrogothic army was surrounded and slaughtered by the Franks. Valaric was almost killed in the battle, being struck by an arrow. Valaric was able to dodge the hit enough that it caught him in the shoulder rather than the chest, avoiding a fatal blow. Still the Ostrogoths were forced into retreat in their own lands, many of their soldiers dead.

Ultimately, the Ostrogoths were forced into retreat to the capital of Ravenna. Ravenna's position was fortunate, as it was heavily defended by both natural and man made defenses. Even more vital, it has access to the Adriatic, meaning it could still gain supplies by sea. This would prove vital in the Ostrogoths survival in the war. Nevertheless, the Seige of Ravenna commenced in on the 15th August 585

How were things going so badly at this point? There were a few factors in this. One was the sheer numbers as the Franks had the larger army by themselves, which combined with the Lombards, made for near insermountable odds offensively. Add to it that the Ostrogoths had little support of their own at this stage, only having around 1,000 reinforcements from Hermenegild, as he still had to deal with the Arian uprisings that followed from his rule. Add to that the fact the Ostrogoths weren't at full strength at this point due to a large portion of the army manning the ships, this left the Ostrogoths in a terrible spot numerically.

So how did they survive at this crucial point? We will get into more of that when we look at what is regarded as the second phase of the war. However, one advantage they did have was in regards to geography and supply lines. The alps acted as a barrier into Italy, allowing for supply lines from land. Ostrogohic control of the Adriatic meant supplies could be delievered by sea. This meant that the Ostrogoths had the means to wage a defensive war, stalling their enemies whilst gaining the numbers necessary to defeat the Franks in battle.

Though now in Ravenna, Valaric had no intentions of hiding. Using the fleet, he took the majority of his men south, leaving a few thousand in the city under the leadership of Teia to withstand the siege. He and his forces landed near to the city of Neapolis, using it as a base to plan new strategies.

When Valaric heard reports of the Franks nearing Rome, he gathered his soldiers and raced towards them. On the 15th of October, Valaric would meet a contingent of 14,000 Franks led by King Guntram, who was heading to seize Rome at the Battle of Stotolea. Fighting was fierce, as for the first time in decades, they were fighting for their very survival. The tipping point came when Valaric and his forces seemed to retreat. Guntram persued intending to finish the war, once and for all. However, it was a trap, as Valaric and his forces turned and smashed through the Frankish army. It is a famous story that Valaric defeated Guntram in battle, cutting out the Frankish Kings right eye in the process. Whilst we don't know whether it was Valaric personally, we do know that it is likely Guntram lost his eye, as he was known to have worn a patch, and both Gregory of Tours and Aindulf both say he lost an eye in the battle.

The battle was a big moment in the war, being the first major Ostrogothic victory of the War. Many say it was the turning point of the war from Frankish Dominance to Ostrogothic Dominance. I don't think that is entirely fair to say, as whilst it would be the end of Frankish expansion into Italy, it didn't really push the Franks back much. In fact, the Ostrogoths wouldn't make any real ground in the war for the rest of 585, only really showing results in Early 586. The Ostrogoths were able to hold the line for the rest of 585 but didn't do much to improve the dire straits. That isn't to say this wasn't important, it proved Valaric, being a vital morale boost. The fact they were able to hold the line following Stotolea also helped pave the way for retaliation in 586, which then led to Ostrogothic dominance in 587 and 588.

I think the true turning point though comes from the implementation of the Fleet, especially those of the Golden Leviathans. Before 586, the fleet had been something of a liability to the Ostrogothic cause, taking away soldiers from the ground. It was certainly a risk that Valaric was taking in having the Fleet. But with 586, this risk would prove it't worth.

Put under the command of Germanus, the Fleet, made up of 10,000 soldiers and 50 warships sailed through the Mediterranian. With the assistance of the Visigoths they crossed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic. They then sailed up north to the Frankish Coast, where they began to raid the Frankish coast as they made their way towards Paris.

This understandibly caused panic with the Frankish state, as this sudden reversal had taken them by surprise. A hasty fleet made up of around 5,000 was assembled to battle the Ostrogoths. The Battle of Suinaie wouod happen in February of 586 was a crushing Ostrogothic victory, as the more well trained and better-led Ostrogoths completely surrounded the Frankish navy and destroyed it. The Golden Leviathans in particular were devastating, literally smashing through the Frankish ships. It was a total victory.

The victory freaked out the Frankish kings, who sent 15,000 soldiers back to the Kingdom to drive out the invaders. This had been the moment Valaric had waited for. Over the time from the Battle of Stotolea, he had gathered soldiers across his kingdom to fight, amassing an army 32,000 strong, with 25,000 in Italy and 7,000 in Illyria, led by a Gepid-born noble by the name of Ardaren.

Marching North, he forced the Franks to finally break the Siege of Ravenna. The two armies would do battle at Fertenzia. Taking place on the 1st April 586, the Battle of Fertenzia was the largest Battle of the War up to that point, as 32,000 Ostrogoths fought 40,000 Franks and Lombards. Fighting was intense, as the Ostrogoths were forced further and further back, but held the line. It was just 25,000 at this time, but the Ostrogoths held the line against the odds. The battle turned in Valric's favour when Ardaren and his 7,000 crashed into the backlines of the Frankish army. As Frankish and Lombard cohesion broke down, the Ostrogoths surged forward. It is here where one of the most famous legends about the war takes place, as it is said that during the fray, Valaric duelled against both Sigebert and Chilperic simultaneously. This is likely embellishment, bit it gives us an idea into the respect for Valaric and mindset the Ostrogoths had in the war.

The Franks were forced to retreat even further North. This was a monumental victory, as Valaric and his Ostrogothic forces could win with fewer numbers. This was a turning point in the war, after this point, the war definitively moved from Frankish control to Ostrogothic control.

As this was happening, Germanus had begun to sail down the River Seine, preparing to go straight to Paris. A fleet of of 16,000 Franks in 60 warships. The resulting Battle of the Seine would be the largest naval battle of the war. The battle was as fierce as at Stotolea, arguably even as much as at Fertenzia, as it came down to size vs technique. Once again, the Ostrogoths won out, carving up the Frankish fleet before the Golden Leviathans then smashed the fleet to bits. It was another decisive Ostrogothic naval victory.

The reason the Ostrogoths were able to pull this off was likely due to their varied training. Naval basis had been set up in several rivers, most notably the Tiber, suggesting that the Ostrogoths were learning how to navigate the rivers alongside the open seas. Though not as experienced in the rivers as they were the open seas, they still had more experience than the Franks, who were still very inexperienced at this point. Though they would become better at naval combat, enough so to keep up with the Ostrogoths, here they were out of their depth in degards to naval warfare.

With the defeat, the remaining Frankish Soldiers were forced to retreat to France. Here in early May of 586, the Siege of France would begin, with Germanus using the ship to cut off the routes to and from the city, burning and destroying the bridges that connected Paris to the rest of the land. The purpose of the Siege was twofold; to pressure the Frankish state into withdrawal or even surrender, and to capture Fredegund. Unfortunately, Fredegund had evacuated by this time to Reims, which meant the Ostrogoths were unable to capture her

With the Siege in place, Chilperic was forced to retreat back towards his kingdom to break the siege, whilst Guntram and Sigebert remained behind. At this point, the armies of the Franks and Ostrogoths were roughly equal with the Lombards giving the slight edge to the Franks.

This would change in July of 586, when Hermenegild, having put down most rebellion in his new kingdom, sent Visigothic troops to support Valaric. He also began to raid along the border to put further pressure on the Franks. With the numerical advantage finally nullified, Valaric could confidently move to push the Franks out of Italy, once and for all.

During this period, Chilperic and Germanus also came to blows at the Battle of Paris (586). Taking 7,000 of his soldiers to land, leaving the other roughly 2,000 soldiers by this point to continue the siege. He met Chilperic in battle. Despite being outnumbered nearly 2:1, Germanus was able to encircle Chilperic's forces using similar tactics to thise of Hannibal, taking advantage of Chilperic's recklessness and desperation to draw his forces in and closing them in. He was able to push the Franks in tight enough to were their number became a disadvantage. The Franks lost many soldiers that day, being forced to retreat and regroup, it would be the worst lost of life proportionate to the size of the army, with Chilperic claimed to have lost between 60-75% of his army in that single battle.

In Autumn of 586, the forces of the Valaric and Sigebert/Guntram met once again at the Battle of Kruenum. The army sizes were roughly equal. The battle is not as well recorded as Stotolea or Fertenzia. What we do know is that Valaric was able to outflank Guntram's forces at somepoint, which likely contributed towards the Ostrogothic victory.

What is important about the battle is it's aftermath, as not only did the battle finally force the Franks entirely out of Italy, but it also began to break down relations between the Frankish Kings. This was due to Sigebert believing he should have led those battles, blaming the failures of Stotolea and Kruenum on the King of Burgundy. These devisions would lead to further losses in 587 and 588.

Not much happened through the next few months, as the two sides settled into something of a stalemate (with the caveat of Germanus still being at the doorstep of Paris). This would change when one more curve ball would be thrown into proceedings. Up until this point, the Avars had not gotten involved as they said they would only get involved once Bayan (II)and Egilona were officially married. This delay was most likely out of Bayan (I)'s caution at not wanting to get involved in a war without assurance his side could win.

Knowing that the Ostrogoths could win now, Bayan (II) and Egilona were offically married in March of 587, with the Avars joining the war of the side of the Ostrogoths, sending 15,000 Avars under the command of Bayan II to the war front. With this, the dynamic of the War had completely turned, as now the Ostrogoths had the numerical advantage.

This led to the Ostrogoth pushing the Frankish army back. This can most notably be seen at the Battle of Guien, where the Avars, split apart the Frankish troops into smaller groups, whereupon the Ostrogoths were able to demolish the disorganised smaller armies.

The big event came in April, when after nearly a year of besieging the city of Paris, Gernanus finally btoke through. The city managed to last so long as Chilperic managed to get supplies into the city in the night, as well as stalling Germanus with minor scuffles. In the end it wasn't enough, as Germanus was able to finally enter into the city through one of the gates.

The Sack of Paris was light on actual casualties, as Germanus orderd his men not to kill unless necessary. Valuables were not spared however, as over the span of 4 days, the Ostrogothic fleet took as much as it could from the city. To add to this, they also took Clovis and Chlothar into custody for the rest of the war. For all intents and purposes they were treated well by the Ostrogoths, with Germanus wanting to keep them as happy and compliant as possible. Following the Sack, the Ostrogothic forces retreated back to the Kingdom, arriving by December before marching back up to the rest of the army.

Would serve to break the morale of many of the soldiers, as now knowing how vulnerable they now were, many wished to leave to protect their own lands.

Over the course of 587, cohesion began to break down, as morale and co-operation on the Frankish deteriotated. The Ostrogoths by comparison were stable and morale was high as victory neared.

That's not to say the Franks were totally done yet. In October of 587, the Franks would gain another victory at Ascanche, where the Frankish army were able to take advantage of the rain slowing the Ostrogoths to outflank and rout them.

Unfortunately, the arguements had gotten so bad by this point that they were unable to capitalise on the situation, as they argued on the next plan of attack.

This then led to the Ostrogoths returning the favour at Auiné, when the Ostrogoths drove the Frankish Cavalry into their own lines before routing the rest of the army. Though it is not entirely known how they managed to make the cavalry drive into it's own lines, it likely came as a result of narrow terrain and heavy fog, which confused the cavalry and made it possible to draw the Franks towards their own lines.

In February of 588, the final major battle of the Second Frank-Ostrogoth war would take place at Rousia. The Battle of Rousia was also the largest Battle of the war, as a total as high as 40,000 Franks/Lombards and 45,000 Ostrogoths/Visigoths/Avars were present at the battle. Both had built to this moment, with the Frankish kings summoning as many soldiers as they left, whilst more Visigoths arrived to reinforce Valaric. Germanus had also linked up with Valaric by this time.

Their were no tricks in the battle. Both sides were tired by this stage in the war. The war was already brutal, costing thousands on both sides. It came down to will, as neither side wanted to back down now. This fight would produce the most famous tale of the war, perhaps one of the most famous of the early middle ages; the battle of 3 and 3. It is said that during the battle, Valaric, Germanus and Teia met Chilperic, Sigebert and Guntram in the middle of the field. Though Teia is said to have died in the middle of this battle (we know he did die at some point in the battle due to letters by Valaric and his memorial following the war), Valaric and Germanus ultimately triumphed. Though certainly embellishment, it showed the glory and honour the Ostrogoths felt in regards to this war.

In the end, the Ostrogothic will proved superior, as the Franks were forced into retreat by the Ostrogoths. It is likely that the differences in leadership also make the difference, breaking down unit cohesion enough for the Ostrogoths to capitalise.

The Franks morale had essentially been broken, but even then, the Ostrofoths didn't have much left to give either. The war was brutal for both, with both fighting for dominance and even survival at different points.

There were a few more minor battles, all either ending in Ostrogothic Victory or stalemate. Sigebert and Guntram surrendered for peace, followed by Ruthani. With no other option, Chilperic surrendered by April.


In the negotiations, the Franks were to pay much heavier reparations than previously, with applied to the Visigoths and Avars as well. This same punishment was extended to the Lombards. To then rub it into Chilperic's face further, Rigunth was proposed to be married to Theodoric, stemming from rumours that Fredegund had been mistreating her. To add even further insult to injury, Valaric demanded that Chilperic hand over HIS wife for trial, adding that if she wasn't then neither Clovis nor Chlothar would be returned. Knowing that his brothers would not support him if he continied to fight and that he would get her regardless, he very reluctantly agreed. He then said that some of the Frankish land would be made into a buffer zone between the two kingdoms. For the final term, Valaric demanded that Clovis be made heir to the Neustrian Throne, as recompence for Galswintha's murder (likely as a way to ensure someone more agreeable to the Ostrogoths succeeded Chilperic). The treaty was signed in May of 588.

The War was over after nearly 4 years. With this Valaric had proven himself to his people. In aftermath of the war, the Franks would soon descend into civil war, blaming each other for failure in the war. Ironically, Guntram would get support from Valaric, as he did not have bad blood with Guntram like he did the other two.

With this, the Ostrogoths would rise to become the top power of Western Europe, a position they would hold for a century after.

A/N: And that is all for now, I hope you all enjoyed! This took a while to make so I hope you all enjoy! Feedback is always appreciated, it helps me improve these series. See you next Chapter!
 
09: Issues in the Family
A/N: I'm back with another Chapter! I've been gone for a little bit, as I have been playing Monster Hunter Stories 2 for the past couple of days (a trend which may continue for a little while). But I am here now with another Chapter. We shall see what happens with the Ostrogoths following their victory in the Second Frank-Ostrogoth War.

CHAPTER 9: ISSUES IN THE FAMILY
Following the victory in the Second Frank-Ostrogoth War, the Ostrogoths were able to begin recovering quite quickly, using the extra money for the reconstruction of the towns and cities that had been pillaged by the Franks, such as Mediolanum and Verona.

In 591, Aindulf would return to his hometown of Verona following the reconstruction, where he would write his "History of the Ostrogothic peoples", a book which spanned from when the Goths left Scandinavia up the Second Frank-Ostrogoth War. It was the oldest surviving history text from the perspective of an Ostrogothic writer, providing valuable insight into their history, as well as how they saw themselves at the time. In 593, Aindulf wrote "Gothic Heroes", recounting Gothic myths and legends, reworking them in order to comply with the church. This text is our main text on the legends of the original Gothic Paganism, giving us our best look into the pre-Christian culture of the Goths.

It wasn't just the Kingdom itself that developed in the aftermath of the war. Alongside the developing relations with the Visigoths and Avars, new relations were also developed in both the east and west. In the east, new relations with the Sassanid were developing, as Valaric and Khosrow II entered into an alliance against the Byzantines, currently led by Emperor Maurice. Though Khosrow had been placed onto his throne by Maurice, both states were still weary of any plans the Byzantines had to move against them. Valaric also initiated discussions and negotiations with the Crimean Goths as a way of gaining influence on the Black Sea.

In the West, the Ostrogoths and the Saxons were also beginning to form an alliance. This alliance stemmed from their mutual distaste of the Franks. The Ostrogoths assisted the Saxons in raids on the Austrasian Franks (those under Sigebert) through mercenaries. Ostrogothic mercenaries were sent in secret to support the Saxons, as they were bound to the law, and so did not technically break the treaty.

Alongside that, Valaric's son Theodoric was also beginning to develop into an adult by this point. Like his father, Theodoric was withdrawn and introverted, however, Theodoric wasn't cold like his father, he simply prefered to be alone, or with those he knew. This is why it took him a while to form a connection with Rigunth, as she was strange to him. He was able to form a connection with his bride-to-be in time, with the marriage being, by all accounts, a healthy and loving one. Speaking of marriage, Theodoric and Rigunth would marry in October 592. They would then go on to have a son on the 12th September 593, one by the name of Teia, named after the former Ostrogothic Magister Militum. Though Teia himself would not have major significance himself, those he would father would become key players through the 600's.

It wasn't just the Ostrogothic Kingdom that saw success for the Ostrogoths. By 594, Egilona had had 2 children with Bayan II. The first (surprisingly) was a girl, named Matana, based off of her (by then deceased) mother, Mataswintha, born in Summer of 592. Then the following July, a boy named Bayan (III) was born.

Things weren't entirely great however. In February of 594, Hermenegild and Amalaswintha would have a second child, a girl this time. Unfortunately, the baby was born sickly, passing away after only 6 days. It was a tragic event that struck the family hard.

But it was small compared to what was developing behind the scenes.

During this time, Valaric began to become more paranoid of his family, especially that of his son, Theodoric, and his brother-in-law, Germanus. Rumours had begun to circulate within the Royal Court, whispering of Germanus' intention to claim to the throne for himself, spinning similar rumours about Theodoric.

In truth, these rumours were likely just that. From what can be seen of the records of Germanus or Theodoric, it seems highly unlikely that either would turn on him; Germanus is shown to be very loyal to his adoptive brother, and Theodoric was too timid to have defied his father in such a major way.

Initially, Valaric ignored these rumours, not having any reason to see why either would turn on him. However, an incident in Mid 593 would begin to stir doubts in Valaric's mind.

It had begun with the soldiers. It had been agreed that the soldiers would be kept for 5 years, as a way to ensure no further attacks happened whilst the Ostrogoths were rebuilding. However, Valaric wanted to keep the soldiers on for longer, to continue stability and keep external threats at bay. Germanus on the other hand, wanted Valaric to let the soldiers go back home, as they have fulfilled their obligations for the time being. Ultimately, Valaric won out in this instance, as he was the king, therefore his word was law. In doing so, the soldiers began to favour Germanus, seeing him acting on their behalf.

His change in the balance of power did begin to worry Valaric. He hastily disbanded the army to keep things from getting serious, but it forced him to rethink his position. Before this point, even if Germanus did have intentions of usurpation, he would be in no position to do so. Now though, seeing the increasing popularity and influence of his adoptive brother, he was now forced to take the rumours more seriously.

Though no major incident would happen between the two for almost 2 years after the incident, Valaric began to become more paranoid of those around him. This would compounded by an event that would shake the Ostrogothic King to his core: The Valentine Conspiracy.

On Valentines Day of 585, a plot against the king was discovered by some of Valaric's bureaucrats. In it were plans detailing the assassination of Valaric, as well as some writing of the purpose and goals of the assassination. The one peace that stuck out came in regards to the succession plan; the conspirators intended to place Germanus on the throne following Valaric's death. This part of the plan was certainly a political move for popularity, as Germanus by this point was exceptionally popular with the Ostrogothic people, especially those who had been warriors.

Though the conspirators were quickly found, with Germanus being one of the leaders in putting them to justice, Valaric was struck deep. Real fears during this time began to cloud the King's mind. It is said by Aindulf and Giumond that Valaric would spend hours in his room contemplating the events of the conspiracy, and whether Germanus would betray him.

This would come to a head on the 25th August 585. For a bit of context, Valaric had implimented increased taxes. Why he was increasing the taxes is unknown, with theories ranging from a planned campaign against the Lombards (their are some records of increased military spending around 585) to plans of invading Byzantine North Africa to building new garrisons in the Alps to even building an entirely new city.

Whatever the case, we do know that the new taxes, as their are increased reports of tax evasion as well as minor riots. In an effort to quell the discontent, Valaric held a festival in Totilum, were free bread was to then be distributed across the country. During the festivities, Germanus was said to have gotten drunk, mourning the recent death of his wife Elinara. At the end of this festival, Germanus is reported to had gotten up and launched into a big cimedic speech, which among other things, served to lightheartedly mock his brother. In particular he his said to have uttered "Perhaps someone should boot him from his throne of coins and place him in the naughty corner!" Translated from Giumond's writings.

Germanus was last seen being led away by Valaric.

On the 26th August 585, at 3.00PM (modern time) the guards are sent to check on Germanus, who had not been seen all day, something unusual for the enegetic Magister Militum. It would be here, that Germanus would be found in his bed, laying as still and cold as stone.

Germanus was dead.

A/N: And that is all for now, again I must apologise for this taking so long, but I have been busy. Unfortunately, I still have more to do, so it may be a bit inconsistant for a while longer. Let me know what you thought of this latest Chapter, feedback is always appreciated. See you next Chapter!
 
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