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Romulus
Romulus
Augustulus (c. AD 460–after AD 476; possibly still alive as late as AD 507),[3] formally known as Romulus
Romulus
Augustus, was a Roman emperor and alleged usurper who ruled the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
from 31 October AD 475 until 4 September AD 476. His deposition by Odoacer traditionally marks the end of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the West, the end of Ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
in Western Europe. Although he adopted the name Augustus
Augustus
upon his accession, he is better remembered by his derisive nickname Augustulus.[4] The Latin
Latin
suffix -ulus is a diminutive; hence Augustulus effectively means "Little Augustus."[5] The historical record contains few details of Romulus' life. He was the son of Orestes, a Roman who once served as a secretary in the court of Attila
Attila
the Hun before coming into the service of Julius Nepos in AD 475. In the same year he was promoted to the rank of magister militum, but then led a military revolt that forced Nepos to flee into exile. With the capital of Ravenna
Ravenna
under his control, Orestes appointed his son, Romulus
Romulus
to the throne despite the lack of support from the eastern court in Constantinople. Romulus, however, was little more than a child and figurehead for his father's rule. After ten months in power, during which time his authority and legitimacy were disputed beyond Italy, Romulus
Romulus
was forced to abdicate by Odoacer, a Germanic foederatus officer who defeated and executed Orestes. After seizing control of Ravenna, Odoacer
Odoacer
sent the former emperor to live in the Castellum Lucullanum
Castellum Lucullanum
in Campania, after which he disappears from the historical record.

Contents

1 Life 2 Later life

2.1 Last Western emperor

3 Legacy 4 Notes 5 Sources 6 External links

Life[edit] Romulus' father Orestes was a Roman citizen, originally from Pannonia, who had served as a secretary and diplomat for Attila
Attila
the Hun and later rose through the ranks of the Roman army.[6] The future emperor was named Romulus
Romulus
after his maternal grandfather, a nobleman from Poetovio
Poetovio
in Noricum. Many historians have noted the coincidence that the last western emperor bore the names of both Romulus, the legendary founder and first king of Rome, and Augustus, the first emperor.[2]

The Western and the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in 476

Orestes was appointed Magister militum
Magister militum
by Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
in 475. Shortly after his appointment, Orestes launched a rebellion and captured Ravenna, the capital of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
since 402, on 28 August 475. Nepos fled to Dalmatia, where his uncle had ruled a semi-autonomous state in the 460s.[7] Orestes, however, refused to become emperor, "from some secret motive", said historian Edward Gibbon.[8] Instead, he installed his son on the throne on 31 October 475. The empire Augustus
Augustus
ruled was a shadow of its former self and had shrunk significantly over the previous 80 years. Imperial authority had retreated to the Italian borders and parts of southern Gaul: Italia and Gallia Narbonensis, respectively.[9] The Eastern Roman Empire treated its western counterpart as a client state. The Eastern Emperor Leo, who died in 474, had appointed the western emperors Anthemius
Anthemius
and Julius Nepos, and Constantinople
Constantinople
never recognized the new government. Neither Zeno nor Basiliscus, the two generals fighting for the eastern throne at the time of Romulus' accession, accepted him as ruler.[5]

Romulus
Romulus
Augustus
Augustus
resigns the crown. Drawing from the Young Folks' History of Rome, 1880.

As a proxy for his father, Romulus
Romulus
made no decisions and left no monuments, though coins bearing his name were minted in Rome, Milan, Ravenna, and Gaul.[5] Several months after Orestes took power, a coalition of Heruli, Scirian
Scirian
and Turcilingi
Turcilingi
mercenaries demanded that he give them a third of the land in Italy.[8] When Orestes refused, the tribes revolted under the leadership of the Scirian
Scirian
chieftain Odoacer. Orestes was captured near Piacenza
Piacenza
on 28 August 476 and swiftly executed. Odoacer
Odoacer
advanced on Ravenna, capturing the city and the young emperor. Romulus
Romulus
was compelled to abdicate the throne on 4 September 476. This act has been cited as the end of the Western Roman Empire, although Romulus' deposition did not cause any significant disruption at the time. Rome
Rome
had already lost its hegemony over the provinces, Germans dominated the Roman army and Germanic generals like Odoacer
Odoacer
had long been the real powers behind the throne.[10] Italy
Italy
would suffer far greater devastation in the next century when Emperor Justinian I reconquered it in the Gothic War. After the abdication of Romulus, the Roman Senate, on behalf of Odoacer, sent representatives to the Eastern Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
Zeno, whom it asked to formally reunite the two halves of the Empire: "the west… no longer required an emperor of its own: one monarch sufficed for the world".[11] He was also asked to make Odoacer
Odoacer
a patrician, and administrator of Italy
Italy
in Zeno's name. Zeno pointed out that the Senate should rightfully have first requested that Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
take the throne once more, but he nonetheless agreed to their requests. Odoacer
Odoacer
then ruled Italy
Italy
in Zeno's name.[12] Later life[edit] The ultimate fate of Romulus
Romulus
is a mystery. The Anonymus Valesianus wrote that Odoacer, "taking pity on his youth" (he was about 16), spared Romulus' life and granted him an annual pension of 6,000 solidi before sending him to live with relatives in Campania.[5][13] Jordanes and Marcellinus Comes say Odoacer
Odoacer
exiled Romulus
Romulus
to Campania
Campania
but do not mention any financial support from the Germanic king.[5][13] The sources do agree that Romulus
Romulus
took up residence in the Castel dell'Ovo (Lucullan Villa) in Naples, now a castle but originally built as a grand sea-side house by Lucullus
Lucullus
in the 1st century BC,[13] fortified by Valentinian III
Valentinian III
in the mid-5th century. From here, contemporary histories fall silent. In the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
notes that the disciples of Saint Severinus of Noricum
Noricum
were invited by a "Neapolitan lady" to bring his body to the villa in 488; Gibbon conjectures from this that Augustulus "was probably no more."[14] The villa was converted into a monastery before 500 to hold the saint's remains.[13] Cassiodorus, then a secretary to Theodoric the Great, wrote a letter in 507 to a "Romulus" confirming a pension.[5] Thomas Hodgkin, a translator of Cassiodorus' works, wrote in 1886 that it was "surely possible" the Romulus
Romulus
in the letter was the same person as the last western emperor.[15] The letter would match the description of Odoacer's coup in the Anonymus Valesianus, and Romulus
Romulus
could have been alive in the early sixth century. But Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
does not supply any details about his correspondent or the size and nature of his pension, and Jordanes, whose history of the period abridges an earlier work by Cassiodorus, makes no mention of a pension. Last Western emperor[edit]

Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
on a gold Tremissis

As Romulus
Romulus
was an alleged usurper, Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
claimed to hold legally the title of the emperor when Odoacer
Odoacer
took power. However, few of Nepos' contemporaries were willing to support his cause after he fled to Dalmatia. Some historians regard Julius Nepos, who ruled in Dalmatia until being murdered in 480, as the last lawful Western Roman Emperor.[16] Following Odoacer's coup, the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
sent a letter to Zeno stating that "the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and protect, at the same time, both the East and the West".[17] While Zeno told the Senate that Nepos was their lawful sovereign, he did not press the point, and he accepted the imperial insignia brought to him by the senate.[12][17] Legacy[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2016)

As the last Western Roman emperor
Roman emperor
before the traditionally agreed-upon end of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus
Romulus
has been portrayed several times in film and literature; the play Romulus
Romulus
the Great (1950), by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, focuses on the reign of " Romulus
Romulus
Augustus" and the end of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the West. The 2007 film The Last Legion, and the novel on which it is based, includes a heavily fictionalized account of the reign and subsequent life of Romulus Augustus; escaping captivity with the aid of a small band of loyal Romans, he reaches Britain, where he eventually becomes Uther Pendragon. Notes[edit]

^ Nepos maintained a claim to the position until he was murdered in 480. ^ a b For a famous example, cf. Gibbon, p. 405. ^ Burns, Thomas, A History of the Ostrogoths, p. 74 ^ Older literature (appr. up to 1850) also refers to him as Romulus Momyllus, Momyllus Augustulus, etc., Momyllus being a corruption of Romulus. Cf. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 4.36. ^ a b c d e f De Imperatoribus Romanis  ^ Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, David Womersley, ed. London; Penguin Books, 1994. Vol. 3, p. 312. ^ Gibbon, pp. 391, 400. ^ a b Gibbon, p. 402. ^ Hollister, C. Warren, Medieval Europe: A Short History. New York; McGraw-Hill, 1995, 32. ^ " Romulus
Romulus
Augustus
Augustus
– The Last Roman Emperor". Rome
Rome
Across Europe. Retrieved 2016-04-19.  ^ Bryce 1961, p.25 ^ a b Bryce, James, The Holy Roman Empire  ^ a b c d Gibbon, p. 406 ^ Gibbon, p. 407 ^ Cassiodorus, Variae, iii, 35. ^ Duckett, Eleanor Shipley, "I", The Gateway to the Middle Ages, p. 1, ISBN 978-0-472-06051-1  ^ a b Gibbon, p. 404.

Sources[edit]

Bryce, James Bryce. The Holy Roman Empire, Schocken Books, 1961. Gibbon, Edward. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3, David Womersley, ed. London; Penguin Books, 1994. Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire, 2005 Hollister, C. Warren, Medieval Europe: A Short History. New York; McGraw-Hill, 1995. Murdoch, Adrian, The Last Roman: Romulus
Romulus
Augustulus and the Decline of the West, Stroud; Sutton, 2006. Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: A Short History. New York, Vintage, 1997 Sandberg, Kaj. The So-Called Division of the Roman Empire. Notes On A Persistent Theme in Western Historiography, Arctos 42 (2008), 199-213. Ralph, and Geoffrey Nathan, " Romulus
Romulus
Augustulus (475–476 A.D.)--Two Views", De Imperatoribus Romanis

External links[edit] Media related to Romulus
Romulus
Augustus
Augustus
at Wikimedia Commons

Project Gutenberg: Cassiodorus, Variae

Regnal titles

Preceded by Julius Nepos Western Roman Emperor 475–476 with Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
in Dalmatia (475–476) Succeeded by Julius Nepos As Western Roman Emperor Odoacer as Roman governor Julius Nepos Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
in Dalmatia

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus
Romulus
Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 32932293 LCCN: n79077

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