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L'histoire et les nouveaux publics dans l'Europe médiévale (XIIIe-XVe siècle)

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Jean-Philippe Genet

II. Légendes épiques et mémoire collective

The Historiographic Tradition and Epic-legendary Themes: Some Remarks on the Memory of Theodoric in Latin Historiography

Fiorella Simoni

Texte intégral

  • 1 Sonie references in H. GRUNDMANN, Geschichtsschreibung im Mittelalter. Gattungen-Epochen-Eigenart, (...)
  • 2 For historical records of Theodoric, see H.J. ZIMMERMANN, Theoderich der Grosse-Dietrich von Berne. (...)

1Within the general scope of this conference, my paper may be said to deal with the multiplication of the forms of historical discourse with particular reference to the relationship between historiography and epicheroic materials1. I have chosen to examine this relationship by the study of a spécific case: the historical record of Theodoric2, king of the Ostrogoths, as seen especially through Italian medieval historiography, between the end of the XIIth and the beginning of the XIVth centuries.

2Let me say that the results of my investigations have been disappointing; that is, if we are looking for an objective presence of epicheroic materials regarding Theodoric in historical texts, or at least traces of a familiarity with them. Historical texts, in the case of Theodoric, are associated with a learned tradition which became firmly established between the VIth and the XIIth centuries, a tradition which, in keeping with the constraints of a clerical culture, portrayed the Gothic king in a rather negative light and refused access to any materials which may have drawn their origins from an epic-heroic inheritance, whose treatment of Theodoric was quite different. While in the case of Charlemagne medieval historiography in the Italian area, from the end of the XIIth century, makes frequent use of epic-heroic materials, it almost wholly neglects them when it comes to Theodoric.

3It is true that Theodorician epic was not current in Italy, but this may also be ascribed to the fact that clerical culture here more vigorously rejected the historical memory of Theodoric as well as, in a more general sense, that of other Ostrogothic kings and the entire period of Ostrogothic rule in Italy. Unlike the Visigoths in Spain, the Ostrogoths in Italy did not manage to resist the Byzantines, they had not converted to catholicism, and they had not produced an Isidore of Seville. Significantly, from the XIVth century onwards, the term 'Goth' was a synonym of 'noble' in Spain, whereas in Italy it meant 'barbarian'.

  • 3 See G. COSTA, Le antichità germaniche nella cultura italiana da Machiavelli a Vico, Napoli, 1977.

4Nevertheless, during the XIIIth and XIVth centuries, a change does occur in Italian historiography with regard to the memory of Theodoric and the Ostrogoths; this perhaps may have paved the way for the more positive evaluation of the Ostrogothic kingdom which characterizes humanistic historiography, from Biondo Flavio to Machiavelli3.

5In order to evaluate the extent of this change, its origins and its scope, I have had to start far back, chronologically speaking, and to digress, for the purposes of comparison. into the fields of Franco-german historiography.

6In the Latin world, between the time of Theodoric's death and the end of the VIth century, Theodoric's memory may be found in the deposit of a few historical texts: in the brief references in Cassiodorus’ Chronica (whereas Cassiodorus’ non-historical text, Variae, indirectly gave a richer and more complicated image of the Gothic king), written while Theodoric was still alive, as well as in Marcellinus Comes' Chronicon, in the biography of John I (the pope who was imprisoned by Theodoric, from the Liber Pontificalis, in the biographic cameo contained in Jordanes’ Getica, in the narration of gesta usualled named Theodoriciana by the so-called Anonymous Valesian II). It must be stated at this point, because this will prove useful later, that the image posterity could derive from these works about Theodoric and his kingdom is equivocal: completely positive in the case of Cassiodorus and Jordanes (but in very different ways), half positive and half negative in the Anonymous Valesian, and negative in the biography of John I (other popes’ biographies, however, in the same Liber Pontificalis, namely those of Symmachus and Horsmida, give a different picture).

  • 4 Gregorii Magni Dialogi, ed. U. MORICCA, in F.S.I. (57), 1924, pp.274-75. See P. Dinzelbacher, Visio (...)

7To these initial repositories, two later ones must be added, and this because of the renown and diffusion they enjoyed. The first of them is a passage from the Dialogi of Gregory the Great: it belongs to the category of literature relating to visions and tells how a hermit on the island of Lipari (near Sicily), on the day of Theodoric's death, beheld, in a vision, pope John I and the patrician Symmachus throwing the Gothic king down the mouth of the Volcano4. The second text is the Chronica of Bede who, enlarging upon Marcellinus’ Chronicon, adds information from the biography of John I, thereby creating an entirely negative portrayal.

8In order to evaluate exactly which prevailing image of Theodoric was entered into circulation in Latin historiography, especially in the Italian area, we have had to add two texts to the oldest group, but from this group we shall have to deal separately (even if for different reasons) with the gesta by the Anonymous Valesian and Jordanes' Getica. The Anonymous Valesian's text for a long time did not seem to have directly influenced other texts (as far as we know, it was copied only in the city of Verona). The Getica, whose circulation was wide enough and - as far as Theodoric was concemed -, dealt almost exclusively with matters of Thedorician war and peace with other gentes as well as with the relationship between the Goths and Eastem Roman Empire (making no mention of the worsening relationship with the church and the Roman Senate. nor of the tragic events surrounding Boetius, Symmachus and pope John I) - strongly influenced historians who were interested in an overview of the western and eastem worlds, either from the point of view of the gentes, or from the point of view of the Roman Empire.

  • 5 See P. WARD-PERKINS, From Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Urban Public Building in Northern (...)

9I should like to mention briefly - because we shall be retuming to this point later -, that apart from historical texts, the memory of Theodoric was entrusted to architectural and décorative works as well5. The specifically memorial fonction of these monuments was however rather evanescent and uncertain. Not only some of them disappeared with time, but also it could happen that, after a relatively brief period, Theodoric's name was no longer associated with the works that he had commissioned, either disappearing completely or shifting on to another work.

10In any case, historical texts helped to keep alive the relationship between Theodoric and some public works (or their ruins), because Cassiodorus and the Anonimous Valesian in the VIth century, the so-called Pseudo-Fredegarius in the VIIth, Paul the Deacon in the VIIIth and Agnellus of Ravenna in the IXth, as well as many historians after them, had mentioned (some of them with particular emphasis) Theodoric's building policies.

11But returning more specifically to the historiographic image of the Gothic king, for a long time the memory of Theodoric in Italy, and elsewhere in the Latin world, derives its positive features mainly from Cassiodorus (who depicts Theodoric's reign as one of peace, prosperity and of a wise building and restoration policy) whereas its many negative features come from the biography of John I (which portrays Theodoric as a heretic and a persecutor of the clergy, the catholics, and the roman aristocracy), from Bede (who presents him as an aggressive invader of Italy) and from Gregory the Great (who calls down divine damnation in his censure of Theodoric). Neither ought we to forget, as has been previously stated, that the whole Ostrogothic kingdom has left few positive traces in the historiographic memory after Jordanes, while it has left a very negative impression in the later narratives about the saints of the Gothic age. Thus the negative image of Theoderic was at one and the same time a cause and a resuit of the negative memory of the Ostrogothic kingdom.

  • 6 Very interesting reflections regarding texts from the XIth century onwards on the treatment of the (...)

12Between the Vllth and the XIth centuries, it is precisely in the question of how to deal with the Ostrogothic kingdom and other régna that a difference arose between historiographies of the Italian and Franco-german areas. In the latter, from the Merovingian age onwards (with the so called pseudo-Fredegarius), we find works of history with universal aims which, when they come to describe the Vth century, begin to regard the reigns and kingdoms of the gentes (mostly, the Franks, the Visigoths and the Lombards, but also Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians and even Huns) as central points in a new order, while the weight given to the Roman Empire diminishes6. Thus, in the Franco-german historical texts, the connection between the history of the gentes and the history of the Roman Empire and emperors (whose reigns nevertheless provide chronological reference until the onset of the Carolingian era) becomes a rather weak one.

  • 7 H. LÖWE, "Von Theoderich dem Grossen zu Karl dem Grossen. Das Werden des Abendlandes im Geschichtsb (...)

13Löwe has shown how an all-inclusive vision of western European history per gentes is linked with the Isidorian theory of the discessio of gentes from the Roman Empire and is also connected with the establishment of the Çarolingian Empire and with the problem of its relationship with the Roman Empire at Byzantium. In Charlemagne's political vision, even more than in the historians', the kingdoms from the Vth to the VIIIth centuries seemed to have in some way prepared, and in some cases even anticipated, what happened at Christmas in the year 800. In that light, Theodoric, the hero of a Germanic epic-heroic tradition, the king of the Ostrogoths in Italy, whose separation from Byzantium had been a matter of fact, could represent a precedent to hark back to7.

14Charlemagne, again Löwe reminds us, created an ideal connection (rather shocking from a clerical point of view) between himself and Theodoric in different ways; these included architectural and decorative materials from Ravenna (Theodoric's capital) for his new residence at Aquisgrana: among these materials was a bronze equestrian statue which we shall have occasion to discuss later. This special interest of Charlemagne in the Gothic king was not usually shared by the historians of the Carolingian age, whose attention was rather drawn to the Frankish kings and kingdom: but Ostrogothic history was, however, a matter of importance in the picture for the new Carolingian order created from the discessio of gentes onwards.

  • 8 Alcuini Epistolae, in M.G.H., Epistolae, IV, 1895, p.365 (letter to Angilbert, of the year 801).
  • 9 See above, n.5, and F.W. DEICHMANN, Ravenna. Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, II, Kommentar,(...)

15Between the VlIIth and the XIth centuries, traces of interest in the history of the Ostrogoths can be found in Italy as well, and even more. Jordanes' work (in which we know Alcuin was interested)8 was extensively used by Paul the Deacon in his Historia Romana - and obviously by Landulfus Sagax in his Historia miscella - in the ample space dedicated in their works to Theodoric and to the Ostrogoths. And as regards territory, Agnellus' Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis considered buildings and monuments which had been erected or restored by Theodoric at Ravenna9 (making mention of, among other things, the equestrian statue that Charlemagne had had transported to Aquisgrana).

16A very peculiar case, in the IXth century, is that of Carolingian Verona, once a favourite city of Theodoric as well as an important center in the Gothic kingdom. Actually at Verona, in the beginning of the IXth century, the now disjointed collection of historical texts through which the whole Anonymous Valesian has reached us (and which also contained Jordanes' Getica) was put into writing. Still in Verona, a few decades later (about 843), a further similar collection including Anonymous Valesian II and Jordanes’s Getica was compiled: this is now lost, but served as the original for a XIIth century transcription.

  • 10 See R. AVESANI, "La cultura veronese dal sec. IX al sec. XII", in Storia della cultura Veneta, I, D (...)

17In the two miscellanies the texts were collected in order to give outlines of universal history from the point of view of the Roman-Byzantine Empire, and also from the point of view of the gentes. Moreover, the now lost collection was used to collate and correct the prior one, in such a way as to suggest some intended project for a Roman-gothic history10.

  • 11 See A.-D. VON DEN BRINCKEN, "Übersichtstafeln", in K.H. KRÜGER, Die Universalchroniken, (Typologie (...)

18Leaving aside the case of Carolingian Verona, the interest in Gothic history, however, was not accompanied in Italy by a significant interpretation of the period of the discessio as the foundation for a new order: an interpretation which became in fact current North of the Alps. This lack of overall assessment is probably due to the fact that, from the middle of the VIIth to the middle of the XIIth centuries (with the very peculiar exception of the monk Benedict of St.Andrew of Soractis), there were no westem-oriented universal histories in Italy11. The greatest degree of universality reached was the ecclesiastical history from Byzantine sources (Anasthasius the Librarian's Chronographia tripartita, until ca. 813) or Roman history understood as history of a Roman empire which had ended in the West with the events of the Vth century, but had in any case survived in the East. It is specifically Roman history, in the above sense, which is the subject of Paul the Deacon's Historia Romana (from Romulus to Justinian I) and of Landulf Sagax' Historia miscella (which reworks Paul's history and, drawing mainly from Anasthasius' Chronographia, enlarges and continues it down to Leon V the Armenian, ca. 813).

  • 12 Paul dedicated his next historical work to his own people, the Lombards, but the Historia Langobard (...)
  • 13 Landolfi Sagacis Historia Romana, ed. A. CRIVELLUCCI, in F.S.I., 49-50 1912-1913 II p.262.
  • 14 See O. CAPITANI, "Motivi e momenti di storiografia medievale italiana: secc. V-XIV", in Nuove quest (...)

19This consideration for the 'Roman' side of history explains why relatively little attention has been paid to the regna in a general context (Paul, as North of the Alps Freculph some decades later, stops his work with the end of the Ostrogothic kingdom after Justinian's reconquest, but unlike Freculph, he does not introduce the victorious kingdoms of the Franks and the Lombards)12 or, for that matter, to Charlemagne's imperial coronation (which in the Historia miscella is said to have happened "Anno imperii Hireene quarto”)13, an event which some historical texts choose to pass over14.

  • 15 Pauli Diaconi Historia Romana, ed. A. CRIVELLUCCI, in F.S.I., 51, 1914, p.215, 225; cfr. LÖWE, op. (...)
  • 16 Il Chronicon di Benedetto di S. Andrea del Soratte, ed. G. ZUCCHETTI, in F.S.I., 55, 1920, pp. 19-2 (...)

20Together with a 'Roman' vision there is, however, the acute perception that the age of the "Romanorum apud Romae imperium", of the "Romane urbis imperium"15 had definitely ended with the great migrations, creating a void. And from Benedict of St.Andrews' Chronicon (the only universal history produced in Italy during this age, even if it is a very peculiar one), it appears that nothing had filled that void: neither the kingdoms of the Ostrogoths and the Lombards, both seen as oppressors, nor the Byzantine restoration, viewed as a yoke, nor the Empire of the Franks, let alone that of the Saxons16.

21Given that these historiographical interpretations of the Italian area - Verona excepted - did not accord particular significance to the Ostrogothic kingdom, nor see in it any precursory importance, we can better understand how the figure of Theodoric himself - in Italy - was unable to emerge, even slightly, from the constraints of clerical memory which, by its very nature, tended to resist the epic-heroic tradition.

22This is not to say that the clerical monopoly on historiography did not apply to the Franco-german area; but while historiography in that region became increasingly interested in the regna, it revealed at least an awareness of the epic-heroic tradition surrounding Theodoric.

  • 17 Annales Quedlinburgenses, ed. G.H. PERTZ, in S.S., 3, 1839, p.31; Chronicon Wirziburgense, ed. G. W (...)
  • 18 Chronicon universale, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 6, 1844, p. 130 (but on Theodoric see also p.1 (...)
  • 19 Die Kaiserchronik, ed. E. SCHRÖDER, in M.G.H., Dt. Chroniken, I/1, 1892, p.337; Ottonis episcopi Fr (...)

23The Annales Quedlinburgenses and the Chronicon Wirziburgense (both of the XIth century) contain references to Theodoric borrowed from epic materials and according to which Theodoric is a contemporary of Attila and Hermaneric.17 This version of the facts that "non solum vulgari fabulatione et cantilenarum modulatione usitatur, verum etiam in quibusdam chronicis annotatur" is criticized, citing the authority of Jordanes, in Frutolfs Chronicon universale (XI/XIIth centuries) in the monographic insert on Goths (a veritable Historia Gothorum which abridges Jordanes' work, with some additions from other authors).18 The same criticism appears in the XIIth century in such different works as the fanciful and entertaining Kaiserchronik, Otto of Freisingen's strikingly serious as well as scrupulous Chronica, and Goffredo da Viterbo's unreliable Pantheon19.

  • 20 Ottonis... Chronica, loc. cit.; Gotifredi...Pantheon, ed. cit., p.188.
  • 21 Chronicon imperatorum et pontificum Bavaricum, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 24, 1879, p.222; Flor (...)
  • 22 See W. WATTENBACH and R. HOLTZMANN, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Die Zeit der Sac (...)

24But we can find further mentions of widespread taies about Theoderic in historical texts. Otto of Freisingen mentions also the fabula "qua vulgo dicitur Theodoricus vivus equo sedens ad inferos descendisse" a fabula which in his opinion may be traced to Gregory the Great's Dialogi, while Goffredo da Viterbo, when speaking of Theodoric, defines "scilicet Veronensis, de quo Teotonici sepissime mirant narrant audatiam"20. And in the XIIIth century, the Chronicon imperatorum et pontificum Bavaricum mentions another legendary version of Theodoric's end (having descended alive into the infernal regions, he would came out every Saturday in order to fight his enemies in a duel), while the Flores temporum declare that, concerning Theodoric, "multa de ipso cantantur, que a ioculatorïbus sunt conficta"21. Still in the XVth century, an interpolation to the Annales Quedlinburgenses says: "Et iste fuit Thideric de Berne, de quo cantabant rustici olim".22

25The epic-heroic memory of Theodoric, while leaving such evident traces in German historiography, seems altogether unkown in the Italian chronicles, at least until the end of the twelfth century. Nevertheless, this very memory which in Italy did not circulate through the epic channels and is unrecorded in historical texts, managed to filter through by means of no less a powerful instrument of comunication, that is to say by means of monuments.

  • 23 For the Anonymous Valesian, see the bibliography quoted by AVESANI, loc. cit. For Agnello, see A. V (...)

26Here we must distinguish between the memory of Theodoric as the builder of monuments and the heroic memory of Theodoric evoked by the vision of those monuments. We do not know if the memory of Theodoric the builder always survived in association with the buildings he had really commissioned or restored. Yet, it was nevertheless fixed by historical works. It is true that the texts that devoted the largest space to this aspect of Theodoric's biography (Anonymous Valesian and Agnellus) enjoyed limited diffusion until the thirteenth century23, but we have seen how, through Cassiodorus and others, the memory of Theodoric's building and restoration received widespread historiographical attention.

  • 24 W. STAMMLER, Wort und Bild. Studien zu den Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Schrifttum und Bildkunst im (...)
  • 25 A. DÄNTL, "Walahfrid Strabos Widmundsgedicht an die Kaiserin Judith und die Theoderichstatue vor de (...)

27Due to the circulation of ideas and information that had always existed between different Systems of communication, as Stammler has pointed out,24 this aspect must have been familiar to those who knew Theodoric only from the epic-heroic tradition. It has been said that German warriors or pilgrims in Italy believed any particular grandiose building to be the work of their hero Theodoric25. So, impressive monuments were attributed to Theodoric (the Arena in Verona, or Castel Sant'Angelo and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome) though he had nothing at all to do with their origin.

  • 26 See the sources collected by C. CECCHELLI, "Castel S. Angelo al tempo di Gregorio VII, in Studi Gre (...)

28We may rule out the theory that such attributions arose locally. In fact all known references to Castel Sant'Angelo as the "domus Theodorici" corne from North of the Alps (Tietmar, Frutolf, Annales Pegavenienses - in which even the Arena in Verona is called "domus Theodorici" -, Annalista Saxo, Chronica regia S. Pantaleonis, Dietrich von Niem)26.

  • 27 Chronicon Gozecense, ed. R. KOEPKE, in SS., 10, 1852, p. 149.

29Moreover, a particularly intriguing testimony on the nature of these fictitious memories (whether indigenous or imported), has reached us by means of the Chronicon Gozecense, another German text of the mid-XIIth century. In the Chronicon, the author describes a visit by Henry IV to Verona (1090) and begins a very brief digression on the city, nearly in the manner of the laudes civitatum. In this context, the author affirms that the Veronese themselves told him that the city had been founded by Theodoric, king of the Huns, who had also built the amphitheatre which was known as domus Theodorici27.

  • 28 C. CIPOLLA, "Per la leggenda di re Teodorico in Verona", in CIPOLLA, Per la storia d'Italia e de'su (...)

30If we do not wish to doubt the author's assertion ("ab indigenis accepimus"), we may be permitted to wonder whether we are not dealing here with what might be called induced memory. In the Ottonian era, Verona had belonged to the German kingdom and had maintained a privileged relationship with it. In the basilica of San Zeno at Verona a series of marble bas-reliefs were carved around the year 1138: they are believed to depict a duel between Theodoric and Odoacer and one of the many versions of Theodoric's descent into hell (Theodoric hunting on a horse sent by the devil). According to Carlo Cipolla, one of the most important scholar on Theodoric's memory in Italy, it was the massive presence of Germans in Verona that may have suggested the choice of a subject to the artists, masters Niccolo' and Guglielmo.28

31Cipolla's hypothesis regarding the Veronese bas-reliefs centres upon the creation of a public monument connected with a memory imported from abroad. Following this hypothesis, we cannot exclude the possibility that between the Ottonian and the Swabian periods, a legend regarding the foundation of Verona and the construction of the Arena by Theodoric found its way into the city and became rooted in popular belief, so that it may have appeared indigenous. In any case, from the XII century onwards, it appears that an epic memory of Theodoric begun to circulate in Italy as a resuit of monuments.

  • 29 See above nn. 5, 9. An exhaustive bibliography in LA ROCCA, op. cit.

32From the XIIIth century onwards, in the Italy of the cities, historical texts indicate the existence of a memory of Theodoric connected to buildings and monuments in Rome, Ravenna, Verona, Pavia, all of which, according to VIth century historiography, had been the sites of his architectural patronage29. But we are not interested here in examining whether these buildings were actually built or restored by Theodoric; nor shall we be concerned with establishing whether we are dealing with indigenous or imported memories.

  • 30 See J.K. HYDE, "Medieval Descriptions of Cities", Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 48, 1965-66 (...)

33It is perhaps more suitable for this study to observe that all these cities in which the above mentioned phenomenon occurred had been centres of imperial or royal power: in other words, cities in which the new urban dimension was coming to terms with the weight of an illustrious past. And, above all, we should like to indicate a relationship between the revival of Theodoric s memory in connection with public buildings and a more general phenomenon that was occurring in the Italian cities at the time: namely, a growing interest in the city itself and in its distant past30.

34This interest, which in itself is one of the most significant historiographic novelties of the XIIIth century, presupposes the existence of a public of readers or listeners in the urban context. It manifests itself principally in two ways. Either with the composition of historical narratives having as their main subject the origins of the city, or with the composition of urban chronicles situated in the context of universal history which emphasizes specifically the historical origins of the city or cities the author is concerned with.

  • 31 See, for the case of Florence, H. RUBINSTEIN, "The Beginning of Political Thought in Florence. A St (...)

35In this historiography which is so careful about the remote past, the Goths, the Huns, the Lombards all play an important role, albeit an indirect one: Venice is said to have been founded by populations fleeing the Goths, or the Huns or the Lombards; Totila is said to have destroyed Florence bringing about a new triumphal rebirth31.

  • 32 G. ARNALDI, "Codagnello Giovanni", in Diz. Biogr. Ital, 26 (1982). pp.562-568. The text is edited a (...)
  • 33 Loc. cit., pp.480-484 (the quotation at p.484).

36When compared to the rather more negative part played by the above in the foundation of cities, Theodoric, as described by the Piacentine notary Codagnello, appears in a more positive light. It was Codagnello's aim to emphasize the establishment of Milanese power. In Codagnello's narrative (a large section of his fabulous chronicon which runs from the creation to Charlemagne and which dates from the beginning of the XIIIth century)32 Theodoric, king of Pavia, in the year 577 clashes with Alboin, king of Verona, intending to expel him from Italy; in the course of the conflict, Alboin arrives at Pavia and lays siege to the town; the Pavians go over to his side. At this point Theodoric, filled with indignation, flees to Milan "cum omnibus regni coronam pertinebant". In the end, Theodoric manages to retake Pavia, razes the palace which he himself had built, despoils Pavia of her architectural treasures which he has taken to Milan and from where he rules the kingdom of Liguria which is later called Italy33.

  • 34 See P. RAJNA, Le origini dell' epopea francese, Firenze, 1884, pp.95-110. But see Löwe, op. cit., p (...)
  • 35 For the palatium in Pavia, see LÖWE, op. cit., p.397-398, n.177; P.J. HUDSON, "Pavia: l’evoluzione (...)

37The founding role played by characters from the age of invasions in this new historiography is at the same time accompanied by their corresponding loss of historicity: Totila is mistaken for Attila; Codagnello's Theodoric is confused with the Frankish kings Theoderic and Theodebert (Hugdietrich and Wolfdietrich in the epics) which was not an uncommon error34. But what really interested authors was much less the historicity of a character than the role he was invested with. In particular, in the case of Codagnello, the main action of this legendary reconstruction lies in the transfer of the royal insigna from Pavia to Milan and above all the destruction of the symbol of royal power in Pavia, namely, the palace which, according to the historiographical tradition, was among Thedoric's works35.

  • 36 Alberti MILIOLI, Liber de temporibus et Cronica imperatorum, ed. O. HOLDER-EGGER, in SS., 31, 1903, (...)

38Codagnello's fabulae enjoyed a certain historical fortune. In the second half of the XIIIth century, they found their way into the so called Double Chronicle of Reggio under the name of Alberto Milioli (and this fact per incidens is one of the many elements which reveal the eccentricity of this work with regards to the interests of the comune of Reggio)36.

  • 37 Galvaneus FLAMMA, Manipulus Florum, in R.I.S., 11 (1727), coll. 573-581 (cc 51-57 62 ff.); ID., Chr (...)

39And again in the fïrst half of the XIVth century, in his praise of Milan under the Viscontis, Galvano Fiamma takes up the story of Theodoric and Alboin, and attempts to repair the more glaring chronological manipulations. In the Manipulus Florum, he introduces the Theodoric supposedly contemporary of Alboin as a Frankish king, while in the Chrontcon maius, the protagonist's name is changed to Theudebert (and with Theudebert the Frank, son of Theoderic the Frank, who died in 548, we are a good deal closer to the Lombard period). Nevertheless, 'our' Theodoric does appear in the Manipulus florum which deals with Milan and other cities from the creation of the world; the Goths appear as well, along with the Troians, the Celts, the Huns, the Vandals, the Lombards and the Franks37.

40The memory of ancient times, starting from what could be seen from the monuments, was an important presence in the historiography of the city, feeding its sense of civic pride. It is not surprising therefore that historiography sought to foster those memories which were associated with monuments, propping the vague attributions of contemporaries with erudite research of its own, which often resulted in establishing prestigious historical or pseudo-historical connections.

  • 38 C. FRUGONI, "L'antichità dai Mirabilia alla propagande politica”, in Memoria dell'antico nell'arte (...)

41An excellent example illustrating this is the case of the so-called "Reggisole": the equestrian statue in Pavia, a symbol of civic pride; so much so that it was dismantled by the Milanese in 1315 (in one of the many episodes of war between the two cities), and put back together again by the Pavians twenty years later. This statue is identified in the Chronica of Benzo di Alessandria and in the Imago mundi of Iacopo d’Acqui (two works dating from the beginning of the XIVth century, universal in their aims, encyclopaedic in their scope, but seen from an urban point of view and concentrated on cities) with Theodoric's equestrian statue at Ravenna which had been taken to Aquisgrana by Charlemagne38.

  • 39 J.R. BERRIGAN, "Benzo d'Alessandria and the Cities of Northern Italy", in Studies in Medieval and R (...)
  • 40 Iacobi ab AQUIS, Imago mundi, ed. G. AVOGADRO, in Mon. hist. patriae, 5, 1848, coll. 1426-1432.

42In the case of Benzo d'Alessandria, this identification was based on the author's own examination of chronicles from Ravenna, while the general opinion only said that the statue came from that city39. Iacopo d'Acqui, in his turn, in a further effort at historicization, States that Charlemagne had only begun the operations involved in trasporting the statue, but that his attention was drawn to other matters and that he left the statue at Pavia40.

43In the cases we have mentioned, that of Benzo d'Alessandria, Iacopo d'Acqui, Codagnello, Galvano Fiamma, the work of historiography seems to be trying to find historical foundations (truth-value being another question altogether) for memories of an uncertain character, which are all the more important because of their elusiveness. The new historiography of the city does, however, combine a Theodoric of the monuments with a Theodoric taken indirectly from the oral tradition via the monuments, together with the Theodoric taken from traditional historiography: it uses any one of these to support the others.

  • 41 See above, text to n. 11.

44In the XIIIth and the XIVth centuries, we notice a change in the attention directed towards Theodoric and the Gothic kingdom in histories which may be considered as universal; a genre which up to the end of the XIIth century, as has been said above, was not practised in Italy41. It was precisely through an acquaintance with and an imitation of the universal histories North of the Alps (thus through the likes of Frutolf, Sigebert of Gembloux, Hugh of Fleury and later, above all, through Vincent of Beauvais and Martin of Troppau), that Italian historiography in the XIIIth and XIVth centuries came to pay more attention to the Gothic and Lombard kingdoms (actually, this was principally the case for the latter). No longer seen from the 'Roman' point of view, these kingdoms were then viewed within the perspective of the Western world with a temporal continuity connecting them to contemporaneity, and they thus acquired a new status in Italian historiography, as objects of historical narrative and investigation.

  • 42 Sicardi episcopi Cremonensis Cronica, ed. O. HOLDER-EGGER, in M.G.H., SS., 31, 1903, pp. 136-139. F (...)

45Thus, for example, in the Cronica of Sicardo of Cremona the history of the Anonymous Valesian reappears: precisely at the end of the XIIth century, perhaps as a resuit of a revival in local interest, it was retranscribed into a codex at Verona (Vat. Pal. 927) containing Jordanes' Getica as well42.

  • 43 PTOLOMAEUS LUCENSIS, Historia ecclasiastica, in R.I.S., 11, 1727, coll. 873-883.

46Through the Anonymous, a series of anecdotes on the good government of Theodoric was recovered, and they may have contributed to a gradual change in the king’s image. At the beginning of the XIVth century, a change a may be seen in the Historia ecclesiastica by Tolomeo of Lucca which, either through the Anonymous Valesian or the Liber pontificalis, salvages the positive role Theodoric played during the pontificates of Symmachus and Horsmidas. So, in order to account for the tragedies that occurred in the final phase of Theodoric's reign, the Author distorts a passage from Aimoin of Fleury and states that Theodoric had been initially a catholic: it was his conversion to Arianism which was the cause of the ensuing series of catastrophes43.

  • 44 I have seen Landolfo Colonna’s Breviarium in the MS. Vat. Lat. 7614 (ff. 236r-245r on Theodoric and (...)

47This same position (still in the first two decades of the XIVth century), may be seen in the Breviarium historiale, an as yet unpublished work by Landolfo Colonna (which shows that it drew on the same sources) and a short time later in the Mare historiarum by Giovanni Colonna.44

48It should be said that, in Italy, the recovery of the distant past, even in histories whose horizons are wider than those of urban areas, seems, at times, to depend on the same interconnection between different memories, as was the case in urban historiography. At the same time, another phenomenon became evident in Italy: historiography with universal aims often retains an Imperial-Roman stamp, but it acquires a distinctly occidental point of view resulting in a new status accorded to the Gothic and Lombard kingdoms.

  • 45 I have seen Giovanni Mansionario's Historiae in the MS. Vallicelliano D 13 (ff. 181-204 on Theodori (...)

49It is a process which we can observe in the Historiae imperiales of Giovanni Mansionario, an unpublished work from the Veronese milieu dating from the first two decades of the XIVth century. In this work, we have all the signs of a historiographical reassessment of Theodoric, and more space is devoted to the Gothic kingdom, as in the universal histories which treated it as one of the regna45.

  • 46 MS. Vallicelliano D 13, ff. 193rb, 204ra.

50And in Giovanni Mansionario, perhaps under the influence of the environment of Verona, we can observe traces of historical memory deriving both from monuments and from the oral tradition regarding Theodoric. So, when speaking of the palace that Theodoric had built in Verona, the Author remarks:'huius adhuc apparent vestigia ultra ecclesiam Sancti Syri in loco qui dicitur Castellus': while, when speaking of Theodoric himself after a lengthy account of his reign, the Author concludes: "Hic est Theodoricus, quem Veronenses appellant Diatricum, de quo fabulose fertur a vulgaribus personis quod fuit genitus a diabolo, et regnavit Verone, et fecit fieri arenam veronensem; et postmodum, misso nuntio ad infernum recepit a patre suo diabolo equum unum et canes, et dum haec munera Theodoricus accepisset, tanto gaudio repletus est, quo de balneo in quo lavabatur, solum involuto linteamine, exiens, equum ascendit, et statim numquam comparuit set per silvas adhuc de nocte venari dicitur et persequi nimphas"46.

51Here, we have this same combination of monumental memory, oral tradition and historiographic memory, which we saw at work in urban historiography. In this case, a wider approach, with its stronger interpretative structure, enables the different memories to flow together in a process of comprehension and evaluation of the Gothic king which later only will be fully realized by the humanists.

Notes

1 Sonie references in H. GRUNDMANN, Geschichtsschreibung im Mittelalter. Gattungen-Epochen-Eigenart, Göttingen, [1965] 19874, pp.7-17, 78-79.

2 For historical records of Theodoric, see H.J. ZIMMERMANN, Theoderich der Grosse-Dietrich von Berne. Die geschichtlichen und sagenhaften Quellen des Mittelalters, Diss. Bonn, 1972. For Theodorician epic, see J. HEINZLE, "Dietrich von Bern", in Epische Etoffe des Mittelalters, ed. V. MERTENS-U. MÜLLER, Stuttgart, 1984, pp.141-155; R. WISNIEWSKI, Mittelalterliche Dietrich-Dichtung, Stuttgart, 1986. For Theodoric's fortleben see F. GRAUS, Lebendige Vergangenheit. Überlieferung im Mittelalter und in den Vorstellungen vom Mittelalter, Köln-Wien, 1975, pp.29-48.

3 See G. COSTA, Le antichità germaniche nella cultura italiana da Machiavelli a Vico, Napoli, 1977.

4 Gregorii Magni Dialogi, ed. U. MORICCA, in F.S.I. (57), 1924, pp.274-75. See P. Dinzelbacher, Vision und Visionsliteratur im Mittelalter, Stuttgart, 1981, p.94, but remember A. GRAF, Roma nella memoria e nelle immaginazioni del Medio Evo, Torino, 1882-1883, II, pp.359-367 et "Artù nell'Etna", in GRAF, Miti, leggende e superstizioni del Medio Evo, Torino, 1892-1893, II, pp.315-316.

5 See P. WARD-PERKINS, From Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Urban Public Building in Northern and Central Italy, A.D. 300-850, Oxford, 1984, pp.159 ff.; M.J. JOHNSON, "Toward a History of Theoderic's Building Program", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XLII, 1988, pp.73-96. Most recently see C. LA ROCCA, "Una prudente maschera "antiqua". La politica edilizia di Teodorico" in Teodorico il Grande e i Goti d’Italia. Atti del XIII Congresso internazionale di studi sull'Alto medioevo, Milano, 2-6 novembre 1992), Spoleto, 1993, II, pp.451-515 (I should like to thank the author for letting me to read the text in manuscript), and, as regards Rome, L. GATTO, "Ancora sull'edilizia e l'urbanistica nella Roma di Teodorico", Romanobarbarica, XII, 1992-1993, pp.311-380. As for Ravenna, see n.9.

6 Very interesting reflections regarding texts from the XIth century onwards on the treatment of the history of kingdoms in historiés with universal aims in the beautiful study by H.W. GOETZ, "On the Universality of Universal History", in L'Historiographie médiévale en Europe. Actes du colloque organisé par la Fondation Européenne de la.Science., Paris 29 mars-1er avril 1989, Paris, 1991, pp.247-261.

7 H. LÖWE, "Von Theoderich dem Grossen zu Karl dem Grossen. Das Werden des Abendlandes im Geschichtsbild des frühen Mittelalters", Dt. Arch., IX, 1952, pp.353-401.

8 Alcuini Epistolae, in M.G.H., Epistolae, IV, 1895, p.365 (letter to Angilbert, of the year 801).

9 See above, n.5, and F.W. DEICHMANN, Ravenna. Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, II, Kommentar, 1. Teil, Die Bauten bis zum Tode Theoderichs des Grossen, Wiesbaden 1974, pp. 209 ff.; S. GELICHI, "Il paesaggio urbano tra V e X secolo", in Storia di Ravenna, II/1, ed. A. CARILE, Venezia, 1991, pp.153-165.

10 See R. AVESANI, "La cultura veronese dal sec. IX al sec. XII", in Storia della cultura Veneta, I, Dalle origini al Trecento, Vicenza, 1976, p.257 (as for the compilations of the IXth century), pp.68-9 (as for the miscellany of the Xllth century in ms. Vat. Pal. 927 quoted below, n. 28, and text to the n. 42).

11 See A.-D. VON DEN BRINCKEN, "Übersichtstafeln", in K.H. KRÜGER, Die Universalchroniken, (Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 16) Tumhout, 1976, pp.37-45; O. CAPITANI, "La storiografia altomedievale: linee di emergenza dalla critica contemporanea", in La cultura in Italia fra tarde antico ed altomedioevo. Atti del convegno tenuto a Roma, CNR, 12-16 novembre 1979, I, Roma, 1981, pp.134-135.

12 Paul dedicated his next historical work to his own people, the Lombards, but the Historia Langobardorum is not concerned with the new western order, nor with the eastem Roman one, and therefore may not be considered as the other side of a dyptich with his Historia Romana, as in the case of Jordanes’ Romana and Getica.

13 Landolfi Sagacis Historia Romana, ed. A. CRIVELLUCCI, in F.S.I., 49-50 1912-1913 II p.262.

14 See O. CAPITANI, "Motivi e momenti di storiografia medievale italiana: secc. V-XIV", in Nuove questioni di storia medioevale, Milano, 1954, pp.752-753.

15 Pauli Diaconi Historia Romana, ed. A. CRIVELLUCCI, in F.S.I., 51, 1914, p.215, 225; cfr. LÖWE, op. cit., pp.377-378.

16 Il Chronicon di Benedetto di S. Andrea del Soratte, ed. G. ZUCCHETTI, in F.S.I., 55, 1920, pp. 19-29, 32, 37 ff., 71, 115, 151, 185-186.

17 Annales Quedlinburgenses, ed. G.H. PERTZ, in S.S., 3, 1839, p.31; Chronicon Wirziburgense, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 5, 1844, pp.23-24. See ZIMMERMANN, op. cit., pp.91-92, 98-100.

18 Chronicon universale, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 6, 1844, p. 130 (but on Theodoric see also p.138-139). On the Chronicon, edited by WAITZ under the name of Ekkeardus, see ZIMMERMANN, op. cit., pp.101-105.

19 Die Kaiserchronik, ed. E. SCHRÖDER, in M.G.H., Dt. Chroniken, I/1, 1892, p.337; Ottonis episcopi Frisingensis Chronica sive historia de duabus civitatibus, ed. A. HOFMEISTER, in M.G.H., Script, rer. Germ., 7, 1912, p.232; Gotifredi Viterbiensis Pantheon, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 22, 1872, p.191.

20 Ottonis... Chronica, loc. cit.; Gotifredi...Pantheon, ed. cit., p.188.

21 Chronicon imperatorum et pontificum Bavaricum, ed. G. WAITZ, in M.G.H., S.S., 24, 1879, p.222; Flores temporum, ed. O. HOLDER-EGGER, ibid., p.250.

22 See W. WATTENBACH and R. HOLTZMANN, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Die Zeit der Sachsen und Salier, new ed. by FJ. SCHMALE, Darmstadt, 1967, p.45. n.126.

23 For the Anonymous Valesian, see the bibliography quoted by AVESANI, loc. cit. For Agnello, see A. VASINA, "Agnello Andrea", in Repertorio delia cronachistica emilianoromagnola (secc. IX-XV), Roma, 1991, pp.35-43.

24 W. STAMMLER, Wort und Bild. Studien zu den Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Schrifttum und Bildkunst im Mittelalter, Berlin, 1962.

25 A. DÄNTL, "Walahfrid Strabos Widmundsgedicht an die Kaiserin Judith und die Theoderichstatue vor der Kaiserpfalz zu Aachen", Zs. Aachener Geschver., 52, 1930, p.32.

26 See the sources collected by C. CECCHELLI, "Castel S. Angelo al tempo di Gregorio VII, in Studi Gregoriani. Per la storia di Gregorio VII e della riforma gregoriana, ed. G.B. BORINO, II, Roma, 1947, p.103, 115-123; idem, "Documenti per la storia di Castel S.Angelo", Arch. Soc. romana, 74, 1951, pp.27-67. Otherwise C. D'ONOFRIO, Castel S. Angelo, Roma, 1971, pp.54-56.

27 Chronicon Gozecense, ed. R. KOEPKE, in SS., 10, 1852, p. 149.

28 C. CIPOLLA, "Per la leggenda di re Teodorico in Verona", in CIPOLLA, Per la storia d'Italia e de'suoi conquistatori nel medioevo piu'antico. Ricerche storiche, Bologna, 1893, p.603-641. See also G. VALENZANO, La Basilica di San Zeno in Verona, Vicenza, 1993, pp. 129-132, 142-144. As for the similitude between the bas-relief which depicts the duel and a drawing with the names of Theodoric and Odoacer-in MS. Vat. Pal. 927 (for which see here n. 10 and text to n. 42) see E. ARSLAN, La pittura e la scultura veronese dal secolo VIII al secolo XIII, Milano 1943, p.113, n. 69.

29 See above nn. 5, 9. An exhaustive bibliography in LA ROCCA, op. cit.

30 See J.K. HYDE, "Medieval Descriptions of Cities", Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 48, 1965-66, pp.308-340 : G. MARTINI, "Lo spirito cittadino e le origini della storiografia comunale lombarda", in I problemi della civilta' comunale (Atti del Congresso Storico Internazionale per l'VIII centenario della prima Lega Lombarda, 4-8 settembre 1967), Bergamo 1971, pp. 137-150; G. FASOLI, "La coscienza civica nelle Laudes civitatum", in La coscienza cittadina nei comuni italiani del Duecento (11-14 ottobre 1970. Convegni del centro di studi sulla spiritualita' medievale, XI), Todi, 1972, pp. 11-44; C. FRUGONI, Una lontana citta'. Sentimenti e immagini nel medioevo, Torino, 1983.

31 See, for the case of Florence, H. RUBINSTEIN, "The Beginning of Political Thought in Florence. A Study in Medieval Historiography", Journ. Warb. Court. Inst., 5, 1942, pp. 198-227. For Venice see A. CARILE, "Le origini di Venezia nella tradizione storigrafica", in Storia della cultura Veneta, I/1, cit., pp.135-166.

32 G. ARNALDI, "Codagnello Giovanni", in Diz. Biogr. Ital, 26 (1982). pp.562-568. The text is edited almost completely by O. HOLDER-EGGER, "Über die historischen Werke des Johannes Codagnellus", N. Arch., 16 (1890), pp.312-346, 475-505.

33 Loc. cit., pp.480-484 (the quotation at p.484).

34 See P. RAJNA, Le origini dell' epopea francese, Firenze, 1884, pp.95-110. But see Löwe, op. cit., p.393. n. 152.

35 For the palatium in Pavia, see LÖWE, op. cit., p.397-398, n.177; P.J. HUDSON, "Pavia: l’evoluzione urbanistica di una capitale altomedievale", in Storia di Pavia, II, Pavia, 1987, pp. 241-245.

36 Alberti MILIOLI, Liber de temporibus et Cronica imperatorum, ed. O. HOLDER-EGGER, in SS., 31, 1903, pp. 407-409. On this work, see P. ROSSI, in Repertorio della cronachistica, cit., pp.229-233.

37 Galvaneus FLAMMA, Manipulus Florum, in R.I.S., 11 (1727), coll. 573-581 (cc 51-57 62 ff.); ID., Chronicon Maius, ed. A. CERUTI, in Misc. stor. ital., Series I, 7 (1869), pp.510-

38 C. FRUGONI, "L'antichità dai Mirabilia alla propagande politica”, in Memoria dell'antico nell'arte italiana, ed. S. SETTIS, I, L'uso dei classici, Torino, 1984, pp.32-53.

39 J.R. BERRIGAN, "Benzo d'Alessandria and the Cities of Northern Italy", in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, IV, Lincoln, 1967, pp. 168-169. On Benzo, see BERRIGAN's introduction; and see R. AVESANI, "Il preumanesimo veronese", in Storia della cultura veneta, II/2, Il Trecento, Vicenza, 1976, pp. 116-118.

40 Iacobi ab AQUIS, Imago mundi, ed. G. AVOGADRO, in Mon. hist. patriae, 5, 1848, coll. 1426-1432.

41 See above, text to n. 11.

42 Sicardi episcopi Cremonensis Cronica, ed. O. HOLDER-EGGER, in M.G.H., SS., 31, 1903, pp. 136-139. For the sources of Sicardo's Cronica (among which the Anonymous Valesian), see the introduction to the edition, pp. 60-63. For the MS. Vat. Pal. 927, see above nn.10 and 29.

43 PTOLOMAEUS LUCENSIS, Historia ecclasiastica, in R.I.S., 11, 1727, coll. 873-883.

44 I have seen Landolfo Colonna’s Breviarium in the MS. Vat. Lat. 7614 (ff. 236r-245r on Theodoric and the Goths). For the work of Giovanni Colonna, see S.L. FORTE, "John Colonna O.P. Life and Writings (1298-ca. 1340)”, Arch. Fr. Praed., 20, 1950, pp.369-409. See also G. BILLANOVICH, "Gli umanisti e le cronache medievali", Italia med. uman 1 1958, pp. 115-128.

45 I have seen Giovanni Mansionario's Historiae in the MS. Vallicelliano D 13 (ff. 181-204 on Theodoric and the Goths). See R. AVESANI, Il preumanismo, cit.. pp. 119-122; V. BERTOLINI, "Dalla Cronaca del falso Turpino alle Storie imperiali di Giovanni Mansionario", Atti mem. Acc. Verona, Ser. VI, 31, 1981, pp.253-269.

46 MS. Vallicelliano D 13, ff. 193rb, 204ra.

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