Beyond the duties of his own particular jurisdiction his chief office was to assist the king by his presence and his counsel, when the king gave his judgments at the annual assembly in March, at the capital Ticinum.
The king of the confederate Germans passed, without resistance, the Alps, the Po, and the Apennine; leaving on one hand the inaccessible palace of Honorius, securely buried among the marshes of Ravenna; and, on the other, the camp of Stilicho, who had fixed his head-quarters at Ticinum, or Pavia, but who seems to have avoided a decisive battle, till he had assembled his distant forces.
It must be grasped that even after the fall of Ticinum in 572, as the Byzantine historian tells us, perhaps no one, and certainly no one in Ravenna, regarded the invasion as anything but a passing evil like all the other barbarian incursions. No one believed Italy to be irrevocably lost; on the contrary, everyone was assured that the lost provinces could soon be delivered again.
According to their size they were the seats of courts of varying degrees of importance, and from them as centres proceeded the acts of royal officers, both ordinary and extraordinary. Ticinum was the capital, where in Lombard times the king had his palace.
It was, to be sure, the ancient custom for pontiffs of the apostolic see, if they had been harmed by neighboring people, always to seek help from the French: the Pontiffs Stephen and Zacharias, in the time of Pepin and Charles, took refuge with them; Pepin made an expedition to Ticinum to restore to the church its patrimony, and to place Stephen back on his throne.
A capitulary canon made in 789 decreed 'that each and all are forbidden to give anything on usury'; and a capitulary of 813 states that 'not only should the Christian clergy not demand usury, laymen should not. In 825 it was decreed that the counts were to assist the bishops in their suppression of usury; and in 850 the Synod of Ticinum bound usurers to restitution.
One city, which had been diligently fortified by the Goths, resisted the arms of a new invader; and while Italy was subdued by the flying detachments of the Lombards, the royal camp was fixed above three years before the western gate of Ticinum, or Pavia.
Avitus of Vienna, characterises him with the words, "Rather a timid lover than a public asserter of the opinion broached by Eutyches: he praised, indeed, what he had taken from him, but did not venture to preach it to a people still devout, and therefore unpolluted by it". Another equally great bishop, Ennodius of Ticinum that is, Pavia says: "He utterly surrendered the glory which he had gained, in combating Basiliscus, of maintaining the truth"; while the next Pope Gelasius charges him with intense pride; the effect of which was to leave to the Church "cause for the peaceful to mourn and the humble to weep".
Procopius tells us that, "with Theodoric went the people of the Goths, putting their wives and children and as much of their furniture as they could take with them into their waggons," and as Ennodius, bishop of Ticinum, asserts, it was "a world that migrated" with Theodoric into Italy, "a world of which every member is nevertheless your kinsman."