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Totila, original name Baduila (died July 1, 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths, reigning from 541 to 552 AD. A skilled military and political leader, Totila
Totila
reversed the tide of Gothic War, recovering by 543 almost all the territories in Italy
Italy
that the Eastern Roman Empire had captured from his Kingdom in 540. A relative of Theudis, sword-bearer of Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
and king of the Visigoths, Totila
Totila
was elected king by Ostrogothic nobles in the autumn of 541 after King Witigis
Witigis
had been carried off prisoner to Constantinople. Totila
Totila
proved himself both as a military and political leader, winning the support of the lower classes by liberating slaves and distributing land to the peasants. After a successful defence at Verona, Totila
Totila
pursued and defeated a numerically superior army at the Battle of Faventia in 542 AD. Building on his victories, Totila followed these victories by defeating the Romans outside Florence
Florence
and capturing Naples. By 543, fighting on land and sea, he had reconqured the bulk of the lost territory. Rome
Rome
held out, and Totila
Totila
appealed unsuccessfully to the Senate in a letter reminding them of the loyalty of the Romans to his predecessor Theodoric the Great. In the spring of 544 the Eastern Roman emperor
Eastern Roman emperor
Justinian I
Justinian I
sent his general Belisarius to Italy
Italy
to counterattack, but Totila
Totila
captured Rome
Rome
in 546 from Belisarius
Belisarius
and depopulated the city after a yearlong siege. When Totila
Totila
left to fight the Byzantines in Lucania, south of Naples, Belisarius
Belisarius
retook Rome
Rome
and rebuilt its fortifications. After Belisarius
Belisarius
retreated to Constantinople
Constantinople
in 549, Totila
Totila
recaptured Rome, going on to complete the reconquest of Italy
Italy
and Sicily. By the end of 550, Totila
Totila
had recaptured all but Ravenna
Ravenna
and four coastal towns. The following year Justinian sent his general Narses
Narses
with a force of 35,000 Lombards, Gepids
Gepids
and Heruli
Heruli
to Italy
Italy
in a march around the Adriatic
Adriatic
to approach Ravenna
Ravenna
from the north. In the Battle of Taginae, a decisive engagement during the summer of 552, in the Apennines
Apennines
near present-day Fabriano, the Gothic army was defeated, and Totila
Totila
was mortally wounded. Totila
Totila
was succeeded by his relative, Teia, who later died at the Battle of Mons Lactarius. Pockets of resistance, reinforced by Franks
Franks
and Alemanni
Alemanni
who had invaded Italy
Italy
in 553, continued until 562, when the Byzantines were in control of the whole of the country. The country was so ravaged by war that any return to normal life proved impossible, and only three years after his death most of the country was conquered by Alboin
Alboin
of the Lombards, who absorbed the remaining Ostrogothic population.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Initial victories 3 Taking Naples 4 Siege of Rome 5 Death 6 Aftermath 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

Early life[edit]

Totila
Totila
razes the walls of Florence: illumination from the Chigi ms of Villani's Cronica

"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 the name used by the Byzantine
Byzantine
historian Procopius, who accompanied the Byzantine General Belisarius
Belisarius
during the Gothic War, and whose chronicles are the main source of our information for Totila. According to Henry Bradley, 'Totila' and 'Baduila' are diminutives of 'Totabadws'.[1] Born in Treviso, Totila
Totila
was a relative of Theudis, king of the Visigoths. Elected king of the Ostrogoths
Ostrogoths
in 541 after the death of his uncle Ildibad, having engineered the assassination of Ildibad's short-lived successor, his cousin Eraric
Eraric
in 541. The official Byzantine
Byzantine
position, adopted by Procopius
Procopius
and even by the Romanized Goth Jordanes, writing just before the conclusion of the Gothic Wars, was that Totila
Totila
was a usurper: Jordanes' Getica (551) overlooks the recent successes of Totila.[2] Initial victories[edit] Main article: Gothic War (535–554) 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
Byzantine
attack on the Gothic stronghold of Verona
Verona
in the winter of 541, and scattering the stronger Byzantine
Byzantine
army at Faenza
Faenza
(Battle of Faventia) in the spring of 542.[3] Having gained another victory in 542, Totila
Totila
avoided stoutly defended Florence, in the Mugello valley. Totila
Totila
treated his prisoners so well, some served under his banner. He left well-defended Tuscany
Tuscany
with his enlarged forces, while three Byzantine
Byzantine
generals withdrew from Florence, dividing their forces to Perugia, Spoleto, and Rome, cities which Totila
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.[4] He captured Beneventum and received the submission of the provinces of Lucania
Lucania
and Bruttium, Apulia
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
Byzantine
forces in control of well-defended cities, and especially the ports. When Belisarius
Belisarius
eventually returned to Italy, Procopius
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."[5] Totila
Totila
circumvented those cities where a drawn-out siege would have been required, razing the walls of cities that capitulated to him, such as Beneventum. Totila's conquest of Italy
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
Totila
could be merciless, as Procopius
Procopius
recounts. Procopius
Procopius
left a written portrayal of Totila
Totila
before his troops were 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.

Taking Naples[edit]

Totila
Totila
in the 14th century Nuova Cronica

Main article: Siege of Naples
Naples
(542–43) 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
Cumae
and other surrounding towns undermined morale. Justinian was alarmed, but jealousy kept his one brilliantly competent general Belisarius
Belisarius
at Constantinople. An attempt to relieve Naples
Naples
by sea was badly bungled when Totila
Totila
was informed during unnecessary delays, and a storm dispersed a second attempt, delivering the general, Demetrius, into Totila's hands. Totila
Totila
offered generous terms and Conon's starving garrison at Naples
Naples
opened their gates in the spring of 543.

On this occasion Totila
Totila
exhibited a considerable humanity which was not to be expected, as the historian Procopius
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 harbor 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
Totila
furnished horses, provisions, and guides so that they could make the journey by land.[6]

The fortifications were partly razed. Totila
Totila
spent the following season establishing himself in the south and reducing pockets of resistance, while the unpaid Imperial troops in central Italy
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. Siege of Rome[edit] Main articles: Sack of Rome (546)
Sack of Rome (546)
and Siege of Rome
Rome
(549–50) Towards the end of 545 the Gothic king took up his station at Tivoli and prepared to starve Rome
Rome
into surrender, making at the same time elaborate preparations for checking the progress of Belisarius
Belisarius
who was advancing to its relief. Pope Vigilius
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
Tiber
and captured the fleet. The imperial fleet, moving up the Tiber
Tiber
and led by the great general, only just failed to relieve the city, which then was forced to open its gates to the Goths. It was plundered, although Totila
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
Totila
again marched against it. He was defeated by Belisarius, who, however, did not follow up his advantage. Several cities including Perugia
Perugia
were taken by the Goths, while Belisarius
Belisarius
remained inactive and then was recalled from Italy. In 549 Totila
Totila
advanced a third time against Rome, which he captured through the treachery of some of its starving defenders. Totila's meeting with Benedict of Nursia
Benedict of Nursia
at Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino
is preserved in Pope Gregory I's Dialogues (ii.14–15). It occurred either before or soon after the siege of Naples; the Benedictines' traditional date is March 21, 543. It includes a telling of the abbot's discernment of an aide of Totila's, his sword-bearer Riggio, dressed in royal robes, as an impostor, and also his predictions for Totila, who knelt to him. This event was a favorite subject for Italian painters. Death[edit]

Totila
Totila
in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

His next exploit was the conquest and plunder of Sicily, after which he subdued Corsica
Corsica
and Sardinia
Sardinia
and sent a Gothic fleet against the coasts of Greece. By this time the emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
was taking energetic measures to check the Goths. The conduct of a new campaign was entrusted to the eunuch Narses; Totila
Totila
marched against him and was defeated and killed at the Battle of Taginae
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
Ostrogothic Kingdom
in Italy, and left the Eastern Emperor for the time being in control of Italy. Aftermath[edit] Totila
Totila
was succeeded by his relative Teia, who later died at the Battle of Mons Lactarius. The Goths
Goths
were later absorbed into the Lombard Kingdom. Notes[edit]

This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (February 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

^ Henry Bradley, The story of the Goths: from the earliest times to the end of the Gothic dominion in Spain, p. 280 (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903). ^ Croke, Brian (April 1987). "Cassiodorus and the Getica of Jordanes". Classical Philology. 82 (2): 117–134. doi:10.1086/367034.  ^ Heather, Peter (1998). The Goths. Malden: Blackwell. p. 268.  ^ J.B. Bury, 1923. History of the Later Roman Empire chapter xix ^ Anecdota, ch. V ^ Bury, Later Roman Empire, ch. xix.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Totila". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Totila.

Encyclopædia Britannica 1911: Totila Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: vol 4.xliii.3 ( Totila
Totila
takes Rome) (in Italian) La guerra gotico-bizantina (in Italian) Le sepolture regie del regno italico (secoli VI-X) – Totila
Totila
(541–552)

Regnal titles

Preceded by Eraric King of the Ostrogoths 541–552 Succeeded by Teia

v t e

Kings of Italy
Italy
between 476 and 1556

Non-dynastic

Odoacer
Odoacer
(476–493)

Ostrogoths

Theoderic (493–526) Athalaric
Athalaric
(526–534) Theodahad
Theodahad
(534–536) Vitiges
Vitiges
(536–540) Ildibad
Ildibad
(540–541) Eraric
Eraric
(541) Totila
Totila
(541–552) Teia
Teia
(552–553)

Lombards

Alboin
Alboin
(568–572) Cleph
Cleph
(572–574) Interregnum (574–584) Authari
Authari
(584–590) Agilulf
Agilulf
(590–616) Adaloald
Adaloald
(616–626) Arioald
Arioald
(626–636) Rothari
Rothari
(636-652) Rodoald
Rodoald
(652–653) Aripert I
Aripert I
(653–661) Godepert
Godepert
(661–662) Perctarit
Perctarit
(661–662) Grimoald (662–671) Garibald
Garibald
(671) Perctarit
Perctarit
(671–688) Cunipert
Cunipert
(688–689) Alahis
Alahis
(689) Cunipert
Cunipert
(689–700) Liutpert
Liutpert
(700–702) Raginpert
Raginpert
(701) Aripert II
Aripert II
(702–712) Ansprand
Ansprand
(712) Liutprand (712–744) Hildeprand
Hildeprand
(744) Ratchis
Ratchis
(744–749) Aistulf
Aistulf
(749–756) Desiderius
Desiderius
(756–774)

Carolingians

Charles I (774–814) Pepin (781–810) Bernard (810–818) Lothair I
Lothair I
(818–855) Louis I (855–875) Charles II (875–877) Carloman (877–879) Charles III (879–887) Arnulf (896–899) Ratold (896)

Non-dynastic (title disputed 887–933)

Unruochings: Berengar I (887–924) Guideschi: Guy (889–894) Lambert (891–897) Welfs: Rudolph (922–933) Bosonids: Louis II (900–905) Hugh (926–947) Lothair II (945–950) Anscarids: Berengar II (950–963) Adalbert (950–963)

Kingdom of Italy
Italy
within the Holy Roman Empire (962–1556)

Otto I (962–973) Otto II (980–983) Otto III (996–1002) Arduin I (1002–1014) Henry II (1004–1024) Conrad II (1026–1039) Henry III (1039–1056) Henry IV (1056–1105) Conrad II (1093–1101) Henry V (1106–1125) Lothair III (or II) (1125–1137) Conrad III (1138–1152) Frederick I (1154–1186) Henry VI (1186–1197) Otto IV (1209–1212) Frederick II (1212–1250) Henry VII (1311–1313) Louis IV (1327–1347) Charles IV (1355–1378) Sigismund (1431–1437) Frederick III (1452–1493) Charles V (1530–1556)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 58456297 LCCN: n2003077

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