Baduila: Politics, Warfare and Mobility at the End of the Ostrogothic Kingdom
My project in Tübingen focuses on the second-last Ostrogothic ruler of Italy, Baduila (541-552), also known as Totila. More specifically, it examines his kingship, military campaigns, foreign policy, coinage, political communication and alleged social reforms, with the aim of obtaining a better understanding of the decade which marked the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the Early Middle Ages in the Italian peninsula. Baduila’s kingdom has until now been investigated relying mainly upon Procopius of Caesarea’s Gothic War. Recent studies, however, have shown that this work is heavily influenced by Justinian’s political communication and the canons of sixth-century classicizing historiography. Thanks to the new scholarship about the age of Justinian and Ostrogothic Italy, it is now possible to examine the evolution of Baduila’s rule and the transformation of Italian society during the Gothic War with a growing awareness of the limits of Procopius’ narrative. One key-aspect of my project consists in investigating how far ethnic mobility and wavering loyalties affected both the Ostrogoths and the soldiers of Justinian fighting against them. Baduila’s warriors bore little resemblance to Theoderic’s soldiers, since the former’s army was composed by Ostrogoths born in Italy, often by Italian-born parents, and East Roman deserters. It is by no means sure that Baduila’s Ostrogothic warriors were still able to speak Gothic and their religious affiliation is likewise uncertain. It is equally difficult to ascertain to what degree imperial deserters underwent a process of ‘Gothicization’, since Ostrogothic ethnic features were by 540 quite nebulous, but it is likely that ‘foreign’ warriors could be accepted as part of the Ostrogothic society thanks to their loyalty towards Baduila and their willingness to fight for him. During the second phase of the Gothic War, Justinian’s troops were thus faced by an heterogeneous army, which was composed by Romanized Ostrogoths and Gothicized (East) Romans, two groups of people who were probably more similar than contemporary sources were prepared to admit. This project is aimed at the publication of a monograph, provisionally entitled Baduila: Politics, Warfare and Mobility at the End of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, which will draw on the research that I have carried out in Tübingen.
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