Totila


Totila

Totila (died Jul 1 552) was king of the Ostrogoths from 541 until his death. He waged the Gothic War against the Byzantine Empire for the mastery of Italy. Most of the historical evidence for Totila consists of chronicles by the Byzantine historian Procopius, who accompanied the Byzantine general Belisarius during the Gothic War.

Biography

"Totila" was the "nom de guerre" of a man whose real name was Baduila, as can be seen from the coinage he issued. "Totila" is how he was referred to by the historian Procopius. Born in Treviso, Totila was elected king after the death of his uncle Ildibad, having engineered the assassination of Ildibad's short-lived successor, his cousin Eraric in 541. The official Byzantine position, adopted by Procopius and even by the Romanized Goth Jordanes, writing just before the conclusion of the Gothic Wars, was that Totila was a usurper: Jordanes' "Getica" (551) overlooks the recent successes of Totila. [cite journal|first=Brian |last=Croke|title=Cassiodorus and the "Getica" of Jordanes|journal=Classical Philology|issue=82.2|date=April 1987|pages= pp. 117–134.]

His life's work was the restoration of the Gothic kingdom in Italy and he entered upon the task from the very beginning of his reign, collecting together and inspiring the Goths, defeating a poorly-led Byzantine attack on the Gothic stronghold of Verona in the winter of 541 and scattering the stronger Byzantine army at Faenza (Battle of Faventia) in the spring of 542. [cite book|last=Heather|first= Peter|year=1998|title=The Goths|location=Malden|publisher=Blackwell|pages= p. 268.]

Having gained another victory in 542, this time, avoiding stoutly defended Florence, in the valley of Mugello, where Totila showed his nature by treating his prisoners so well that they were induced to serve under his banner, he left a well-defended Tuscany with his enlarged forces, while three of the Byzantine generals withdrew from Florence, dividing their forces, to Perugia, to Spoleto and Rome, cities which Totila would have to take by siege.

In the meantime, instead of pursuing the conquest of central Italy, where the Imperial forces were too formidable for his small army, he decided to transfer his operations to the south of the peninsula [ [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/19A*.html J.B. Bury, 1923. "History of the Later Roman Empire" chapter xix] ] , where he captured Beneventum and received the submission of the provinces of Lucania and Bruttium, Apulia and Calabria, essentially the whole of the Greek south; their Imperial taxes were now diverted to his benefit.

Totila's strategy was to move fast and take control of the countryside, leaving the Byzantine forces in control of well-defended cities, and especially the ports. When Belisarius eventually returned to Italy, Procopius relates that "during a space of five years he did not succeed once in setting foot on any part of the land... except where some fortress was, but during this whole period he kept sailing about visiting one port after another." [ [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Procopius/Anecdota/5*.html "Anecdota", ch. V] ] Totila circumvented those cities where a drawn-out siege would have been required, but razing the walls of cities that capitulated to him, such as Beneventum. Totila's conquest of Italy was marked not only by celerity but also by mercy, and Gibbon says "none were deceived, either friends or enemies, who depended on his faith or his clemency." After a successful siege of a resisting city, such as at Perugia, however, Totila could be merciless, as the Byzantine historian Procopius recounts. Procopius also left a word portrait of Totila before his troops drawn up for battle:

The armor in which he was clad was abundantly plated with gold and the ample adornments which hung from his cheek plates as well as his helmet and spear were not only purple, but in other respects befitting a king ... And he himself, sitting upon a very large horse, began to dance under arms skillfully between the two armies. And as he rode he hurled his javelin into the air and caught it again as it quivered above him, then passed it rapidly from hand to hand, shifting it with consummate skill.

Procopius's picture is given an uncharacteristic setting, for Totila generally avoided formal battles with opposing armies drawn up in battle array and excelled at skirmishing. A siege was required at Naples, however, where the report of Totila's courteous treatment of Romans at Cumae and other surrounding towns undermined morale. Justinian was alarmed, but jealousy kept his one brilliantly competent general Belisarius at Constantinople. An attempt to relieve Naples by sea was badly bungled when Totila was informed during unnecessary delays, and a storm dispersed a second attempt, delivering the general, Demetrius, into Totila's hands. Totila offered generous terms and Conon's starving garrison at Naples opened their gates in the spring of 543.

On this occasion Totila exhibited a considerable humanity which was not to be expected, as the historian Procopius remarks, from an enemy or a barbarian. He knew that if an abundance of food were at once supplied, the famished inhabitants would gorge themselves to death. He posted sentinels at the gates and in the harbour and allowed no one to leave the city. Then he dealt out small rations, gradually increasing the quantity every day until the people had recovered their strength. The terms of the capitulation were more than faithfully observed. Conon and his followers were embarked in ships with which the Goths provided them, and when, deciding to sail for Rome, they were hindered by contrary winds, Totila furnished horses, provisions, and guides so that they could make the journey by land.
[Bury, "Later Roman Empire", ch. xix.] The fortifications were partly razed. Totila spent the following season establishing himself in the south and reducing pockets of resistance, while the unpaid Imperial troops in central Italy made such poor reputations pillaging the countryside that when Totilas turned his attention to taking Rome, he was able proudly to contrast Goth and Greek behavior in his initial negotiations with the senate. They were refused, however, and all the Arian priests were expelled from the city, on suspicion of collaboration.

Towards the end of 545 the Gothic king took up his station at Tivoli and prepared to starve Rome into surrender, making at the same time elaborate preparations for checking the progress of Belisarius who was advancing to its relief. Pope Vigilius fled to the safety of Syracuse; when he sent a flotilla of grain ships to feed the city, Totila's navy fell on them near the mouth of the Tiber and captured the fleet. The imperial fleet, moving up the Tiber and led by the great general, only just failed to succour the city, which must then, perforce, open its gates to the Goths.

It was plundered, although Totila did not carry out his threat to make it a pasture for cattle, and when the Gothic army withdrew into Apulia it was from a scene of desolation. But its walls and other fortifications were soon restored, and Totila again marched against it. He was defeated by Belisarius, who, however, did not follow up his advantage. Several cities including Perugia were taken by the Goths, while Belisarius remained inactive and then was recalled from Italy. In 549 Totila advanced a third time against Rome, which he captured through the treachery of some of its starving defenders.

Totila's doubtless historical meeting with Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino preserved in Pope Gregory I's "Dialogues" ( [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/g1-benedict1.html ii.14-15] ), whether before or soon after the siege of Naples (the Benedictines' traditional date is March 21, 543), has been embellished in the telling with the abbot's discernment of an aide of Totila's, his sword-bearer Riggio, dressed in royal robes, as an imposter and his predictions for Totila, who knelt to him, a favorite subject for Italian painters.

His next exploit was the conquest and plunder of Sicily, after which he subdued Corsica and Sardinia and sent a Gothic fleet against the coasts of Greece. By this time the emperor Justinian I was taking energetic measures to check the Goths. The conduct of a new campaign was entrusted to the eunuch Narses; Totila marched against him and was defeated and killed at the Battle of Taginae (also known as the Battle of Busta Gallorum) in July 552, which brought an end to the long struggle between Byzantium and the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy, and left the Eastern Emperor for the time being in control of Italy.

References

*1911

Footnotes

External links

* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/People/Totila/Britannica_1911*.html "Encyclopaedia Britannica" 1911:] Totila
* [http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/hst/roman/TheDeclineandFallofTheRomanEmpire-4/chap20.html Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:] vol 4.xliii.3 (Totila takes Rome)
* [http://cronologia.leonardo.it/storia/anno540.htm La guerra gotico-bizantina]
* [http://sepolture.storia.unipd.it/index.php?page=scheda&id=8 Le sepolture regie del regno italico (secoli VI-X) - Totila (541-552)]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Totila — Totila, auch bekannt unter dem Namen Baduila,[1] († nach 30. Juni 552 bei Taginae, Umbrien) war von 542 bis 552 König der Ostgoten. Er fiel 552 in der Schlacht von Busta Gallorum. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 1.1 Herkunft …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Totila — ou Baduila (l « Immortel ») (né à Trévise mort en 552 à Taginae, (auj. Gualdo Tadino), près d Urbino, Ombrie) est un roi ostrogoth d Italie de 541 à 552[1] . Sommaire 1 Biographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Totila — destruyendo las murallas de Florencia. Totila, conocido también con el nombre de Baduila, nació en Treviso, y fue rey de los ostrogodos de 542 a 552, tras la muerte de su tío Hildibaldo y el asesinato de Erarico. Murió en la batalla de Busta …   Wikipedia Español

  • TOTILA — (mort en 552) roi des Ostrogoths (541 552) Depuis 535, Justinien a entrepris de reconquérir l’Italie ostrogothique. En 540, il a repris la capitale, Ravenne. Mais les Ostrogoths résistent et élisent en 541 un jeune prince, Badvila ou Totila. Dès… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Totila — Totila,   eigentlich wohl Baduila [»der Streiter«, »der Kämpfer«], Badua, König (seit 541) der Ostgoten in Italien, ✝ Caprae (heute Caprara, Gemeinde Gualdo Tadino, Provinz Perugia) Ende Juni/Anfang Juli 552; nahm 542 550 den Byzantinern Rom und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Totĭla — (besser: Badvila), König der Ostgoten, Neffe des Königs Ildiba(l)d, ward nach dessen Ermordung 541 auf den Thron erhoben, eroberte bis 543 das von Belisar den Goten entrissene Italien wieder, 546 nach hartnäckiger Belagerung auch Rom, gab es 547… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Totila — Totĭla, König der Ostgoten 542 552, fiel 552 bei Taginä gegen Narses …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Totila — Totila, König der Ostgothen in Italien 541–552 n. Chr., vertheidigte sich mit Heldenmuth gegen die Angriffe der Byzantiner unter Belisar u. Narses, mußte aber bei der Schwäche seines Volks, der Abneigung der Italiener und den Hilfsquellen des… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Totila — (d. 552)    Eventual successor of Witigis as king of the Ostrogoths in Italy and the greatest Gothic military commander since Theodoric the Great, Totila (r. 541 552) led his people for eleven years and mounted a major challenge to Justinian s… …   Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe

  • Totila — ▪ Ostrogoth king original name  Baduila   died 552       Ostrogoth king who recovered most of central and southern Italy, which had been conquered by the Eastern Roman Empire in 540.       A relative of Theudis, king of the Visigoths, Totila was… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.