Teia (died 552 or 553 AD), also known as Teja, Theia, Thila, Thela, and Teias, was the last Ostrogothic King of Italy. He led troops during the Battle of Busta Gallorum and had noncombatant Romans slaughtered in its aftermath. In late 552/early 553, he was killed during the Battle of Mons Lactarius. Archaeological records attesting to his rule show up in coinage found in former Transalpine Gaul.

Quarter siliqua of Teia. Obverse text in Late Latin: D[OMINUS] N[OSTER] THEIA RIX [sic] ("Our lord Teia the King").
Coin of Teia, merely inscribing: T REX ("Teia the King").


Teia (Teja) was a military officer serving under Totila, who was chosen as his successor and raised over a shield after Totila was killed in the Battle of Taginae (also known as the Battle of Busta Gallorum) in July 552.[1] After this major Gothic defeat Teia gathered together the remaining Goths.[2] In an act of revenge for the losses at Busta Gallorum, Teia ordered the death of all the Roman senators in Campania including Flavius Maximus, who had been exiled by Belisarius. He also had some 300 Roman children slaughtered, whom Totila had held hostage.[3] Teia then made his way to Pavia, where he took possession of the available treasures and as the new king, made a pact with the Franks.[4]

On his way fleeing to southern Italy, he gathered support from prominent figures within Totila's armies, including Scipuar, Gundulf (Indulf), Gibal and Ragnaris, to make his last stand against the Byzantine eunuch general Narses at the Battle of Mons Lactarius—south of present-day Naples near Nuceria Alfaterna—in late 552/early 553.[4] Historian Guy Halsall called this battle, which occurred in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, a "cataclysmic showdown."[5] The Ostrogothic army was defeated there and Teia fell during the fighting.[6] His head was paraded around the battlefield by the Romans, but as Peter Heather relates, "the Goths kept on fighting until dusk on that day and all through the next."[7] Other prominent Goths like Scipuar and Gibal were probably also killed during the fighting. Those Goths who survived the battle and remained, negotiated an armistice.[8] Gundulf and Ragnaris escaped from the field; the latter was later mortally wounded after a failed assassination attempt by an agent of Narses.[9] With that defeat, organized Ostrogothic resistance ended. By 554, the Ostrogothic Kingdom had faded into obscurity, and the Gothic people who remained began assimilating into the broader Italian population.[10]

Although his reign was brief, silver coins in his name circulated all the way from his capital at Pavia along the Alpine trade routes into Gaul.[11]


  1. Norwich 2001, pp. 91–92.
  2. Heather 2018, p. 267.
  3. Geary 2002, p. 113.
  4. Wolfram 1997, p. 238.
  5. Halsall 2007, p. 505.
  6. Wolfram 1988, p. 247.
  7. Heather 2018, p. 268.
  8. Heather 2013, p. 165.
  9. Norwich 2001, p. 92.
  10. Burns 1991, p. 215.
  11. Burns 1991, p. 214.


  • Burns, Thomas (1991). A History of the Ostrogoths. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-25320-600-8.
  • Geary, Patrick J. (2002). The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-69109-054-2.
  • Halsall, Guy (2007). Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-52143-543-7.
  • Heather, Peter (2013). The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19936-851-8.
  • Heather, Peter (2018). Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19936-274-5.
  • Norwich, John J. (2001). Bisanzio: Splendore e decadenza di un Impero, 330–1453 (in Italian). Milano: Mondadori. ISBN 978-8-80449-922-0.
  • Wolfram, Herwig (1988). History of the Goths. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05259-5.
  • Wolfram, Herwig (1997). The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08511-6.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of the Ostrogoths
c. 552–553
Justinian I's victory