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Odoacer

Updated on November 2, 2009
Romulus Augustus resigns the Crown before Odoacer
Romulus Augustus resigns the Crown before Odoacer

Odoacer king of Italy, born in about 435 A.D. The son of Edecon or Edicon who may be identical with one of Attila's lieutenants, and a Scyrian or Rugian of noble birth, he became a leader of a band of Rugians, Herulians, Scyrians and Turrilingians.

He entered the Roman army about 470, and in 476 was a member of the Imperial bodyguard. When Orestes deposed Nepos and made his own son, Romulus Augustulus, emperor, Odoacer headed the rising of the dissatisfied German soldiers, killed Orestes, forced Romulus to retire, received the title of Patricius from the Eastern emperor Zeno, but no recognition as king of Italy; yet in spite of this he played the part of king ably for a time. This was formerly looked upon as the date of the fall of the Western Empire.

He took up his official residence at Ravenna which he made his capital. He conquered Dalmatia in 482 and defeated the Rugians in 487 and 488, but in 489 Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, was sent against him by Zeno, who had become alarmed at the conquest made by Odoacer. He hoped by this move to get rid of not only Odoacer but of the Goths who had been threatening Constantinople for some time.

Odoacer, defeated at the battle of Isontius (Isonzo) in 489, retired; but making a second stand at Verona, was again defeated. Hastening to Rome he found the city in insurrection; so he went to Ravenna, where he reassembled his army, marched against the Goths in 490, defeated and pursued them to Pavia. But later he was defeated for the third time on the banks of the Adda. He retreated to Ravenna where he was besieged by Theodoric for three years and forced to surrender, Theodoric promising him a share in the rule of Italy.

The defeated king was assassinated at a banquet a week after his surrender on March 5, 493 A.D.

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