Amal dynasty

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The Amali – also called Amals, Amalings or Amalungs – were a leading dynasty of the Goths, a Germanic people who confronted the Roman Empire during the decline of the Western Roman Empire.[1] They eventually became the royal house of the Ostrogoths and founded the Ostrogothic Kingdom.[2]


The Amal clan was claimed to have descended from the divine.[3] Jordanes writes:

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.[4]

This provides the following stemma for the earliest rulers of the Goths, before outlining in more detail the two divisions that arose from the son, Achiulf of Athal, the last in this early lineage:

Early rulers/kings

Gapt or Gaut is the Scandinavian god of war. Hulmul or Humli-Hulmul, is considered the divine father of the Danish people.[3] 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.[3]


The origins of the Amal Dynasty is unclear. Until the mid-20th century there was a tendency to see the Tervingi and Greuthungi mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus as having evolved into the Visigoths and Ostrogoths, respectively. The Greuthungi had become vassals of the Huns, and were considered to have regained their independence under the Amali Theodemir, father of Theoderic the Great. However, this idea has since been discredited by historians, who have emphasised the disruption caused by the Huns, as well as the similarity of groups previously treated as discrete ethnic groups.[6]

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. The Visigothic Eutharic married Theoderic's daughter Amalasuntha, and is said to have been an Amal by Cassiodorus and Jordanes; however, it is more likely that this was a fictitious claim designed to bolster Athalaric's legitimacy.[7] 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.

Amali rulers[edit]

In literature[edit]

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."[3] However, even before Cassiodorus' time, the tradition of the Amal appeared to be still 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.[3]


At least two prominent noble families claimed descent from Amali: the Billungs, Dukes of Saxony, also known as the Amelungs or von Ömlingen, and the Solovjovs, Barons of the Russian Empire from 1727 (in German sources, known as the von Solowhoff or Solowhoff von Greutungen). The Solovjovs specifically claimed Ermanaric as their ancestor.

The name of the 6th-century Visigothic king Amalaric – meaning "Amal ruler," though he actually belonged to the Balt dynasty – was the source of the continental toponyms of North and South America, via the Italian variant "Amerigo."

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Amali appear as the "Amaling" dynasty in the grand strategy game Crusader Kings 2.


king of Goths
king of Visigoths
king of Ostrogoths
king of Ostrogoths
∞ 1.(unknown)
king of Vandals
Theoderic the Great
king of Ostrogoths, Visigoths
AudofledaClovis I
king of Franks
Merovingian dynasty
king of Thuringii
(1?) Theodahad
king of Ostrogoths
∞ Gudeliva
∞ 1.Traguilla
king of Burgundians
Anicius?Justin I
Roman Emperor
(2) Athalaric
king of Ostrogoths
(2) Mataswintha
∞ 1.Vitiges
king of Ostrogoths
Justinian I
Roman Emperor
Justinian dynasty

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FamilyTreeDNA – Genetic Testing for Ancestry, Family History & Genealogy". FamilyTreeDNA. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  2. ^ Wolfram, Herwig (1990-02-13). History of the Goths. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06983-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wolfram, Herwig (1988). History of the Goths. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 32.
  4. ^ Christensen, Arne Søby (2002-01-01). Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 9788772897103.
  5. ^ Peter Heather, "Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals: Genealogy and the Goths under Hun Domination", The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 79 (1989), p. 104
  6. ^ Peter Heather, Goths and Romans, 332–489 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 8 ff.
  7. ^ Gerda Heydemann, "The Ostrogothic Kingdom: Ideologies and Transitions" in J. Arnold and K. Sessa (eds), A Companion to Ostrogothic Italy (Leiden, 2016), p. 30.

General and cited sources[edit]