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Odoacer, also known as Odovacar (435-493) was the half Hunnish, half Scirian chieftain of the Germanic Heruli. He is best known to history as the man who deposed the last Roman emperor in the West, Romulus Augustus, in 476. Romulus Augustus was sent to retirement at Lucullanum at the Bay of Naples. He survived until the year 511 or even later.

After deposing Romulus, Odoacer (Germanic Audawakrs, meaning watchful of wealth) had a choice of either appointing a new figurehead emperor and ruling through him, or ruling as an agent of the eastern Roman emperor. Unlike many of his predecessors, such as Ricimer, he chose the latter route, returning the western imperial regalia to the emperor Zeno in Constantinople, along with a letter asking to be confirmed as dux of Italy. Zeno granted this request and bestowed upon Odoacer the rank of patrician.

Until his death in 480, the legitimate western emperor Julius Nepos technically remained Odoacer's superior and the latter even issued coins in his name. However, Odoacer also styled himself rex Italiae (King of Italy) and was recognized as such for the rest of his life.

Nevertheless, relations between Odoacer and the East Romans later deteriorated, and in 489, with the emperor Zeno's encouragement, the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great invaded Odoacer's kingdom, destroyed his army of barbarian foederati (and a few surviving Roman forces) and forced his surrender in 493. Theodoric invited him to a banquet, supposedly slew him with his own sword, and took over his entire kingdom.

Preceded by:
Barbarian King of Italy Followed by:
Theodoric the Great

Last updated: 02-06-2005 18:47:17
Last updated: 02-20-2005 07:13:57