First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Vitiges (Vitigis), a Goth of obscure origin, was at this time, while King Theodahad (Theodato) still lived, crowned as king of Rome; and he reigned five years. In military skill and experience he was a celebrated man. He planned to depose Theodahad. After the latter’s death he hurried to Ravenna, and assembled all the Goths dispersed throughout Italy. This Vitiges proceeded to Rome against Belisarius with a large army, and with his Goths besieged the city, and overran, ravaged and burned all the country about Rome, putting all Romans to the sword. He plundered and laid open all holy things, and was attacking the city continuosly. But Belisarius (of whom we have previously written) held the city. Starvation increased in Rome, and in the same year a great famine occurred throughout the world, principally in Liguria; so that (as Datus, the pious bishop of Milan, has said) any number of mothers ate the limbs of their children. And now Vitiges, the king, and his army, proceeded against Belisarius in great battle; but Vitiges and his forces suffered a great defeat, taking to flight; and during such flight he was captured at night and brought to Belisarius at Rome, and from there was taken before Justinian at Constantinople. Justinian was greatly elated. Before long he made Vitiges a governor on the Persian border. There Vitiges ended his own life and with it the Gothic kingdom.

Totila (Tottila), also called Baduila (Baduilla), was the last king of the Ostrogoths. For when Vitiges was taken prisoner the Goths beyond the Padus made Chelpidarus king. Upon his death the latter was succeeded by Erarius. Before a year had passed he was strangled; and after him this Totila was crowned. Totila speedily assembled an army and afflicted all Italy and Sicily; and he coveted Rome, which he besieged round about. And there was such a famine that the parents threatened to eat the flesh of their own children. And when the Romans could no longer defend their city, Totila came through the Hostian Gate. To spare the people Totila caused the horns and trumpets to be sounded all night long, so that the people might protect themselves or hide from the Gothic arms. To this leniency and kindness Totila, who had been a cruel man, was influenced by the earlier admonitions of the holy father, Benedict. Some of the senators escaped over the walls and hurried to Constantinople to inform the emperor of the calamity. He at once sent Narses, his private advocate and officer, to Italy with a large army. Belisarius fought with Totila and his army, utterly defeated him, and relieved Italy of the Goths, who had ruled there for seventy-two years since the time of Theodoric. And so the Gothic name was wiped out; and those who survived the battle, wished to be called Italians and not Goths, because they were born and reared in Italy.[Totila, king of the Ostrogoths, was chosen king after the death of his uncle Ildibad in 541, his real name being Baduila. At the beginning of his reign he assembled and inspired the Goths to win a victory over Justinian near Faenza. Having gained another victory in 542, in the valley of Mugello, he left Tuscany for Naples, captured that city, and then received the submission of the provinces of Lucania, Apuleia, and Calabria. Totila’s conquest of Italy was marked by mercy as well as celerity. Toward the end of 545 the Gothic king prepared to starve Rome into surrender, at the same time making elaborate preparations to check the progress of Belisarius, who was advancing to its relief. The imperial fleet just barely failed to succor the city, which was plundered by Totila. Its walls and fortifications were soon restored, and when Totila again marched against it, he was defeated by Belisarius. Several cities were taken by the Goths while Belisarius, not following up his advantage, remained inactive before finally leaving Italy. In 549 Totila advanced a third time against Rome, which he took through the treachery of some of its defenders. His next exploit was the conquest of Sicily, after which he subdued Corsica and Sardinia, and sent a fleet against Greece. Justinian then entrusted the conduct of a new campaign to Narses. Totila marched against him, but was defeated and killed in the battle of Tagina in July 552.]

Narses was a eunuch of Justinian, and the personal chamberlain of the emperor. In acknowledgement of his good conduct the emperor promoted him to counselor; and from that time on he acted toward all as an image of kindness, contemplation, mercy, generosity, and graciousness. With the assistance of troops sent to him by Alboin, king of the Lombards, who was his ally, he fought against the Goths and defeated them and their king Totila; and he sent the Lombards, laden with gifts, back to their homes in Pannonia. Sophia, the wife of Justin, egged on by those envious of Narses, attempted to recall Narses, employing the disdainful words that he should return home where the wool, weaving, and spindle awaited him. But Narses answered that he would spin such thread as would leave his enemies and those envious of him no justification for their errors; and although he sought vengeance, he died shortly.

Narses, an important officer of Justinian, was a eunuch of Persarmenia, and was born about 478. If the statement that he died at the age of 95 is correct, he was probably brought to Constantinople while still very young, and obtained a footing in the office of the grand chamberlain. He rose to a position involving the custody of the archives of the household. From this office, probably in middle life, he became praepositus sacri cubiculi. In 532 the insurrection known as the Nika broke out in Constantinople, when for some hours the throne of Justinian seemed doomed to be overthrown. It was saved, partly by the courage of Theodora, and partly by the timely prodigality of Narses, who stole out into the capital and with large sums of money bribed the leaders of the “blue” faction, which was previously loyal to the emperor, to shout as of old Justiniane Auguste tu vincas (‘Justinian Augustus, you are victorious’). He defeated Totila in 552, and with him fell the last hopes of the Gothic kingdom in Italy.

For thirty years Narses governed Italy with firmness and prudence. In the meantime his benefactor, Justinian I, died. At the new court the Empress Sophia, the spouse of Justin II, spoke the final word. With her the complaints against the covetousness of Narses, probably not unfounded, received a ready hearing. She influenced the emperor to recall the exarch, with whom she at any rate found no favor; and it is said that by word of mouth she conveyed a message to Narses, a man not physically strong, suggesting that he return to the distaff in the apartment of the women, and leave matters of war to men. To this Narses replied that he would spin for her a thread that would require the rest of her life to unravel. And speedily he extended to the Lombards, who lived on poor lands in Pannonia, an invitation to emigrate to the fertile fields of Italy. This invitation was heartily accepted by Alboin, the Lombard king, and with his people, including men, women and children, cattle and all their other possessions, he crossed the Julian Alps and entered Upper Italy. He made numerous conquests, and Pavia became the capital of the new Lombard Empire, which extended over entire Northern Italy. Although Alboin was finally assassinated, the empire of the Lombards endured for another two centuries, until the year 774, when Charles the Great deposed the last Lombard king.

Patrick (Patricius), a native of Britain, before he was ordained an archbishop of the Scots, converted the entire island of Hibernia to Christ by his illustrious teachings over a period of 60 years. He awakened many from the dead, released prisoners, built churches, and baptized thousands of people. But there was a savage people who refused to believe unless they saw the sufferings of the evil and the happiness of the good. So the Lord appeared to Patrick and handed him the Gospel and a staff, and led him to a desert region, and showed him a round cave, dark from without, where a true penitent could be purged of all his sins in a natural day[A natural day is 24 hours.], and would see such suffering and joy. There Patrick built a church, and appointed prebendaries of the blessed Augustine, to whom he gave the key to the cave. During his time many people went to the cave, and they testified to what they learned; and this he caused to be noted in the church; for this reason this is called Patrick’s Purgatory.[Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, born probably about 389, was the son of a middle-class landed proprietor. No doubt Patrick was educated as a Christian. At 16 he was carried off by a band of Irish marauders, and tradition represents him as tending the herds of a chieftain for six years, during which time he became subject to religious emotions, and saw visions which encouraged him to escape. He fled, and encountered a vessel engaged in the export of Irish wolf-dogs. After three days at sea, the traders landed, possibly on the West coast of Gaul, journeying for 28 days through a desert. At the end of two months Patrick parted from his companions and went to the monastery of Lerins, where he spent a few years. He seems to have returned home, and it was doubtless during this stay in Britain that the idea of missionary enterprise in Ireland came to him. However, he returned to Gaul in order to prepare himself. At Auxerre he was ordained deacon and there he must have spent at least 14 years. Patrick was then chosen to combat the Pelagian heresy in Ireland. He entered upon his enterprise at once, and when he landed at his destination, a convert chief granted him a site for an establishment, and a wooden barn is said to have been used for worship. In time he founded churches in various places, and there is some evidence that he made a journey to Rome, bringing back valuable relics. The story of Patrick exorcising reptiles from his adopted country has the same origin as the dragon legends of the East, and the same significance. It is merely one form of the familiar allegory figuring the conquest of good over evil, or the triumph of Christianity over Paganism. Bridget is said to have been one of Patrick’s converts.]


Patrick is usually represented either as a missionary and apostle, or as the first bishop and primate of the Church of Ireland. As the Apostle of Ireland he wears a gown with a hood, and a leather girdle, staff and wallet in one hand, the Bible in the other; at or under his feet is a serpent. The standard with the cross, proper attribute of missionary saints who overcome idolatry, also belongs to him. But here in the Chronicle he is represented as a bishop, in the usual Episcopal insignia, the mitre, the cope, the crozier, and the Bible in his hand.