Theodric, perhaps the most famous Ostrogothic king, and his wife Audofleda (the sister of Clovis, the previous ruler) had no sons and only one daughter. Their daughter's name was Amalasuntha, and she was given the best Roman education available. She was said to be handsome, intelligent, educated, cultured and strong-willed.

In her youth, Amalasuntha loved and secretly married Traguilla, a slave. When Audofleda happened upon the couple, she ordered Traguilla killed, and Amalasuntha beaten, and hastily arranged a marriage for her with Eutheric, an Ostragoth nobleman.

Amalasuntha and Eutheric had two children; a daughter named Matasuntha (who married, serially, Witigs, who ruled the Ostrogoth kingdom in his turn, and Germanus, nephew of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian) and a son, Athalaric (born in 516 or 518), who succeeded his grandfather on the throne in 526, four years after Eutharic died, leaving Amalasuntha a widow to raise their young son.

The inheritance custom of the Ostrogoths at this time was for a king to name his successor, who would then be approved and confirmed in his position by the Gothic nobility. In the final months of his life, Theoderic named Athalaric to be his successor, under the regency of his mother, Amalasuntha.

Amalasuntha, having been brought up with a classical education, wished the same for her son. Her nobles, on the other hand, felt that a king needed to be strong and courageous, and that bending to a tutor's authority would weaken the man's resolve in battle and politics in the future. The feelings ran high, and eventually, Amalasuntha uncovered a plot against her life, and had the three nobles involved executed.

To soften this blow to the remaining nobles, she allowed Athalaric to have the companionship of some rough Gothic boys of his own age, to help harden him. Sadly, instead of teaching him the arts of war they taught him the arts of drinking and womanising.

Amalasuntha, feeling understandably frightened, made a deal with the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, that if she were removed from power she would bring herself and the entire Ostrogoth treasury to Constantinople.

At seventeen, Athalaric lost the last of his power and fled to Constantinople, seeking asylum. Within a year he was dead.

It was 534 when Athalaric died, and Amalasuntha knew there was no possibility of the Ostragoths accepting her as ruler in her own right. She approached her cousin, Theodahad, and offered to marry him, sharing power in return for his political and military protection.

This was probably a mistake. In the past, Amalasuntha had acceded  to requests from landowners in Tuscany for help. It seems Theodohad had been using extortion and strong-arm tactics to seize property belonging to his neighbors, and Amalasuntha had, as regent,  required him to return these properties. This led to resentment between the two.

When Amalasuntha invited Theodohad to become king of the Ostragoths, however, it seemed all was forgiven and forgotten. Theodohad went to far as to write letters to the roman senate praising Amalasuntha's wisdom, and promising to emulate her rule during his own.

As soon as Theodohad had the kingship in his grasp, he banished Amalasuntha. Soon, Justinian removed her to an island in the middle of Lake Bolsena.

It was probably in April, 535 that Amalasuntha was murdered.

We are told that she was strangled in her bath by relatives of the three nobles she had had executed. She was probably no more than thirty five years old.

The emperor Justinian used her death as an excuse to invade and reconquer Italy.


http://myron.sjsu.edu/romeweb/LADYCONT/art31.htm
http://www.ghg.net/shetler/oldimp/018.html
http://www.bartleby.com/65/am/Amalasun.html
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/9329/woman4.html
http://www.geocities.com/habubak/history.htm