, or East Goths, an ancient Germanic people, one of the two branches of the Goths. (The Visigoths, or West Goths, were the other branch.) The Goths first appeared in history in the third century A.D., when they were living northwest of the Black Sea. They were sometimes at war with the Roman Empire, sometimes at peace. They were more advanced socially and politically than other German groups. The Goths were converted by Ulfilas to Arianism, a form of Christianity considered heretical by most Christian leaders in the West.
In the fourth century the Visigoths fled westward before the advancing Huns, while the Ostrogoths were conquered by the invaders. After Attila, king of the Huns, died in 453 the Ostrogoths regained their independence. Most of them were at that time living in what is now Hungary.
The Ostrogoths became a military power under King Theodoric the Great (reigned 471?–526). In 488, with encouragement from Zeno, the eastern emperor at Constantinople, Theodoric invaded Italy, then under the German ruler Odoacer. In 493 Theodoric defeated and killed his rival, and from Ravenna ruled over Italy until his death. He gave little heed to the emperor's authority.
After Justinian became emperor he crushed the Ostrogoths in a long war (535–54). The Ostrogoths gave up their Arianism and accepted the Catholic faith, and soon they lost their separate identity in Italy.