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The Amali, also called Amals or Amalings, were a leading dynasty of the Goths, a Germanic people who confronted the Roman Empire in its declining years in the west. They eventually became the royal house of the Ostrogoths and founded the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy.
The Amal clan was claimed to have descended from the divine. Jordanes accounts Gothic origins as follows: "Now the first of these heroes, as they themselves relate in their legends, was Gapt, who begat Hulmul. And Hulmul begat Augis; and Augis begat him who was called Amal, from whom the name of the Amali comes. Athal begat Achiulf and Oduulf. Now Achiulf begat Ansila and Ediulf, Vultuulf and Ermanaric." Gapt or Gaut is the Scandinavian god of war. Hulmul or Humli-Hulmul, is considered the divine father of the Danish people. Ermanaric (also referred to as Ermanaricus or Hermanaric), is identified as a Greuthungian king who ruled territories in modern Ukraine. Ermanaric signals the tenth generation, and the first generation to be backed by historical record.
The Amali remained a prominent family as the Greuthungi evolved into the Ostrogoths, became vassals of the Huns and moved west. In 453, the Ostrogoths regained their independence under the Amali, Theodemir. According to Jordanes, "Vultuulf begat Valaravans and Valaravans begat Vinitharius. Vinitharius moreover begat Vandalarius; Vandalarius begat Theodemir and Valamir and Vidimer." Theodemir's son, Theoderic the Great, founded the Ostrogothic Kingdom.
A separate branch of the family were members of the Visigoths. Sigeric, a brief usurper to the Visigothic throne in 415, may have been a member of the Amali. Another Visigoth, Eutharic, reunited the branches of the family by marrying Theoderic's daughter Amalasuntha. Jordanes states "Hermanaric, the son of Achiulf, begat Hunimund, and Hunimund begat Thorismud. Now Thorismud begat Beremud, Beremud begat Veteric, and Veteric likewise begat Eutharic."
The last attested member of the Amali house was Theodegisclus, son of Theodahad.
In the Nibelungenlied and some other medieval German epic poems, the followers of Dietrich von Bern are referred to as 'Amelungen'. In other cases, Amelung is reinterpreted as the name of one of Dietrich's ancestors. The Kaiserchronik also refers to Dietrich/Theoderic's family as the 'Amelungen', and in a letter of bishop Meinhard von Bamberg, as well as the Annals of Quedlinburg, 'Amulungum'/'Amelung' ("the Amelung") is used to refer to Dietrich himself. This shows that the family's legacy was remembered in oral tradition far into the Middle Ages, long after any stories about Amal himself had ceased to circulate.
Cassiodorus' Origo Gothica describes the Goths moving to the Black Sea, where they split into two factions, the Amali, who would later become the Ostrogoths, and the Balthi, who become the Visigoths. Both the Amali and the Balthi are recalled as families of "kings and heroes." However, even before Cassiodorus' time, the tradition of the Amal appeared to still be popular. This is shown in the naming of the royals, like Theodoric's daughters, Ostrogotho and Amalasuintha, and his sister, Amalafrida, who were all given Amal names.
At least two families claimed descent from Amali. The first family was Billungs, Dukes of Saxony. They were also known as Amelungs or von Ömlingen. Another family was Solovjovs, Barons of Russian Empire from 1727 (in German speaking sources known as von Solowhoff or Solowhoff von Greutungen). Solovjovs claimed Ermanaric was their ancestor.
In popular culture
- The Amalis appear as the "Amaling" dynasty in the grand strategy game Crusader Kings 2.
- Ermanaric, king of the Greuthungi, ca 370
- Sigeric, king of the Visigoths, 415
- Theodemir, king of the Ostrogoths, until 474
- Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, 474–526
- Athalaric, king of the Ostrogoths, 526–534
- Theodahad, king of the Ostrogoths, 534–536
- Achiulf, king of the Visigoths,
- The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Getica)
- Wolfram, Herwig (1988). History of the Goths. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 32.
- Christensen, Arne Søby (2002-01-01). Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 9788772897103.
- Bradley, Henry (December 2009). The Goths, from the Earliest Times to the End of the Gothic Dominion in Spain. General Books LLC. ISBN 978-1-150-60725-7.
- Jones, Arnold. Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Cambridge at the University Press, 1971.
- Jordanes (12 November 2013). The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. B & R Samizdat Express. p. 551. ISBN 978-1-4554-3671-2.