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Bust at the Capitoline Museums, assumed to depict Queen Amalasuintha
Regent of the Ostrogoths
Regency30 August 526 – 2 October 534
Queen regnant of the Ostrogoths
Reign2 October 534 – 30 April 535
SuccessorTheodahad (as sole monarch)
Bornc. 495
Died30 April 535 (aged 39–40)
FatherTheoderic the Great

Amalasuintha[1] (495 – 30 April 535) was a ruler of the Ostrogothic Kingdom from 526 to 535. Initially serving as regent for her son Athalaric, she became queen after his premature death.[2] Highly educated, Amalasuintha was praised by both Cassiodorus and Procopius for her wisdom and her ability to speak three languages (Greek, Gothic, and Latin).[3] Her status as an independent female monarch, and obvious affinity for Roman culture, caused discontent among the Gothic nobles in her court, and she was deposed and killed after six months of sole rule.


Amalasuintha was likely born in Ravenna in 495, the only child of Theodoric and his wife Audofleda, the sister of Clovis, King of the Franks.[4] The union of Amalasuintha’s parents were of a political purpose, as many royal marriages were at the time. Theodoric married Audofleda about the year 493, after he had defeated the various Gothic kingdoms and sought an alliance with the Franks.[4] Amalasuintha was born into the Amali dynasty on her father’s side, which dynasty comprised Goths of Germanic descent.[5] Like her father, Amalasuintha was married out of political reasons to Eutharic, an Amali prince, to ensure a legitimate heir to the throne.[6] They had two children together, Athalaric and Matasuntha. Eutharic died in 522, causing Theodoric some alarm, as his kingdom lacked an adult male heir to inherit the throne.[6] As Amalasuintha's son Athalaric was only 10 years old at the time of Theodoric's death, Amalasuintha took control of the kingdom alongside her son as regent and, although accounts by Cassiodorus and Procopius refer to Athalaric as King, she effectively ruled on his behalf.


Consular diptych of Rufius Gennadius Probus Orestes, Victoria and Albert museum. Portraits of Amalasuintha and her son Athalaric are above the inscription, flanking the cross.


According to Procopius, the Goth aristocracy wanted Athalaric to be raised in the Gothic manner, but Amalasuintha wanted him to resemble the Roman princes.[3] Amalasuintha had close ties to the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, which would have made her adherence to Roman learning and customs especially objectionable to her fellow Goths. The regency lasted until 534, when Athalaric died from what was most likely the combination of excessive drinking (a part of Gothic culture) and a disease, probably diabetes.[7] In order to secure the power in the Amali name, Amalasuintha created the consortium regni that allowed her to continue to rule as queen while still presenting a public face that honored conservative Gothic tradition. She then appointed her older cousin Theodahad to rule as co-regent, in which Amalasuintha would play the male character and Theodahad would play the woman, as male and female monarchs sharing powers.[8] Masculinity is the main characteristic attributed to Amalasuintha by Procopius and Cassiodorus, because she had a strong determination and temperament.[8]

Her tremendous influence in her position as regent can be seen in a diptych of Rufius Gennadius Probus Orestes in which she appears alongside her son, Athalaric, in 530.[9] Deeply imbued with the old Roman culture, she gave to her son's education a more refined and literary turn than suited her Goth subjects. Conscious of her unpopularity, she banished – and afterwards put to death – three Gothic nobles whom she suspected of conspiring against her rule. At the same time, she opened negotiations with Justinian, with the view of removing herself and the Gothic treasure to Constantinople.

Queen regnant[edit]

After Athalaric's death, Amalasuintha became queen and ruled alone for a short while before making her cousin Theodahad co-ruler with the intent of strengthening her position.[10] Theodahad was a prominent leader of the Gothic military aristocracy that opposed her pro-Roman stances, and Amalasuintha believed this duumvirate might make supporters from her harshest critics.[9] Instead Theodahad fostered the disaffection of the Goths, and either by his orders or with his permission, Amalasuintha was imprisoned on the island of Martana in Lake Bolsena, where on April 30 of 534/535 she was murdered in her bath.[10]


The death of Amalasuintha gave Justinian I a reason to go to war with the Ostrogoths and attempt to take Italy. According to the Eastern Roman historian Procopius, Amalasuintha was thinking about handing over Italy to Justinian around the time of her death.[11][page range too broad] Shortly after Amalasuintha's murder, Theodahad was replaced by Witigis, Amalasuintha's son-in-law. With the people's support, Witigis had Theodahad put to death.[12]


The letters of Cassiodorus, chief minister and literary adviser of Amalasuintha, and the histories of Procopius and Jordanes, give us our chief information as to the character of Amalasuintha.[10] Cassiodorus was a part of a greater pro-Roman party that desired to Romanize the traditional Ostrogothic kingship, further evidence of the pro-Roman circle that Amalasuintha surrounded herself with.[13]


Amalasiuntha regina – woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

The life of Amalasuintha was made the subject of a tragedy, the first play written by the young Carlo Goldoni and presented at Milan in 1733.[14]

Romanian poet George Coșbuc wrote a poem entitled Regina Ostrogotilor (The Queen of the Ostrogoths) in which Amalasuintha (as Amalasunda) speaks to Theodahad (mentioned as Teodat in the poem) shortly before he kills her.[15][self-published source]

Asteroid 650 Amalasuntha is named in her honour.[16]

Amalasuintha is portrayed by Honor Blackman in the 1968 film Kampf um Rom.[17][unreliable source?]


  1. ^ The name is also spelled Amalasuentha, Amalaswintha, Amalasuntha, Amalswinthe, Amalasontha, Amalasiuntha, and Amalsenta.
  2. ^ Amalasuntha in the Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^ a b Vitiello, Massimiliano (2006). ""Nourished at the Breast of Rome": The Queens of Ostrogothic Italy and the Education of the Roman Elite". Rheinisches Museum für Philologie. 149 (3/4): 402. ISSN 0035-449X. JSTOR 41234687.
  4. ^ a b Jansen, Sharon L. "Amalasuintha of Italy, "An Ill-Fated Gothic Queen"". Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  5. ^ "FamilyTreeDNA - Genetic Testing for Ancestry, Family History & Genealogy". Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Vitiello, Massimiliano (2014). Theohadad: A Platonic King at the Collapse of Ostrogothic Italy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-4426-4783-1.
  7. ^ Frye, David (1995). "Athalaric's Health and the Ostrogothic Character". Byzantion. 65 (1): 249–251. ISSN 0378-2506. JSTOR 44172211.
  8. ^ a b Vitiello, Massimiliano (2017). Amalasuintha. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 23. ISBN 9780812249477.
  9. ^ a b Amalasuntha. Oxford University Press. January 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-518792-2.
  10. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Amalasuntha". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 777.
  11. ^ Sarantis, Alexander (2009). "War and Diplomacy in Pannonia and the Northwest Balkans during the Reign of Justinian: The Gepid Threat and Imperial Responses". Dumbarton Oaks Papers. 63: 15–40. JSTOR 41219761.
  12. ^ Grierson, P. (1941). "Election and Inheritance in Early Germanic Kingship". The Cambridge Historical Journal. 7 (1): 1–22. doi:10.1017/S1474691300003425. JSTOR 3020840.
  13. ^ Foote, David (2009). "Reviewed Work: Il principe, il filosofo, il guerriero: Lineamenti di pensiero politico nell'Italia ostrogota by Massimiliano Vitiell". Mediaevistik. 22. JSTOR 42586872.
  14. ^ Vitiello, Massimiliano (2017). Amalasuintha The Transformation of Queenship in the Post-Roman World. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780812249477. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Poezii Romanesti". (in Romanian). Retrieved 28 April 2022.[self-published source]
  16. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2012), Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, Springer, p. 63, ISBN 978-3642297182.
  17. ^ The Last Roman (1968) - IMDb, retrieved 8 March 2020[unreliable source?]

Further reading[edit]

  • Craddock, Jonathan Paul. Amalasuintha: Ostrogothic Successor, A.D. 526–535. PhD diss. California State University, Long Beach, 1996.
  • Vitiello, Massimiliano. Amalasuintha: The Transformation of Queenship in the Post-Roman World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.
Regnal titles
Preceded by Queen of the Ostrogoths
Succeeded by