Flavius Orestes (d. August 28, 476) was a Roman politician, born an aristocrat of Savia. He is considered to be at least partly of Germanic descent.
He was son to Tatulus, and son-in-law to Comes (Count) Romulus, who served as military leader of Noricum (dux Norici). As a young man he joined the court of Attila the Hun reaching high position as a diplomat.
In 475, Orestes was appointed " master of soldiers" by Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos. This proved to be a mistake on the part of Nepos. By August 28, 475, Orestes managed to take control of the government in Ravenna (the capital of the Western Roman Empire since 402). Julius Nepos had to flee to Dalmatia. He would continue to reign there till his death in 480.
Orestes was now the de facto ruler of the Roman provinces west of Dalmatia. But he was not considered a proper Roman and was therefore not eligible for the throne. Instead Orestes proclaimed his own son Flavius Romulus to be the new Emperor on October 31, 475. Romulus being a child, his actual position was that of a figurehead. Meanwhile Orestes acted as the power behind the throne
The imperial name Romulus Augustus for his son was a rather poor choice. As it was the name invited unfavorable comparisons with both Romulus, first King of Rome and Caesar Augustus, first Roman Emperor. The Roman public would instead declare him "Romulus Augustulus" ( "Romulus, Little Augustus").
The new administration was not recognized by the rival Eastern Roman Emperors Zeno and Basiliscus who still considered Julius Nepos to be their legitimate partner in the administration of the Empire. But being engaged in a civil war between them, neither Emperor was about to oppose Orestes in battle.
Orestes was free to issue new Solidi in the mints of Arles, Milan, Ravenna and Rome. Thus he was able to pay the barbarian mercenaries from which consisted most of the contemporary Roman Army.
However Orestes denied the demands of Heruli, Scirian and Torcilingi mercenaries to be granted lands in which to settle. The dissatisfied mercenaries revolted under Germanic chieftain Odoacer. They declared him to be their King on August 23, 476. He led them against their former employer. Orestes was captured near Piacenza on August 28 and was swiftly executed. The road to Ravenna was now open to Odoacer.
Last updated: 05-23-2005 10:10:45