Julius Nepos

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Julius Nepos[1] (c. 430 – 480) was Western Roman Emperor de facto from 474 to 475 and de jure until 480. Some historians consider him to be the last western Roman Emperor, while others consider the western line to have ended with Romulus Augustus in 476. In contrast, the Eastern Roman Empire, and its line of Emperors, survived this historical period relatively intact.

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Overview

Julius Nepos was nominated Emperor of the West in 474 by the Eastern Roman Emperor, Leo I. He was married to Leo's wife's niece, earning him the agnomen "Nepos" (nephew). Nepos was appointed to replace the Western Emperor Glycerius, who was regarded as a usurper. After Glycerius' surrender, in June 474, Nepos briefly ruled over the whole of the remaining Western Empire, including Italy; still the empire's heartland, although its administrative capital had been moved in and out of Rome repeatedly, and was at that time located in Ravenna. Nepos' rule in Italy ended when he was deposed by one of his military commanders, Flavius Orestes, in 475. After Nepos fled from Italy and Orestes, without opposition, he resumed his rule only over Dalmatia, where he took up residence, and the remainder of Roman Gaul.

Following Nepos' departure, Orestes enthroned his own teenage son as the new Western Emperor in the same year, with the regnal name Romulus Augustus; the second element often being used as a nickname, in the diminutive "Augustulus" (little Augustus).

In eyes of the Roman constitution, Romulus Augustus was yet another usurper;[2] his short reign ended in 476, with the execution of his father, and his own subsequent deposition, both by Odoacer, the leader of the Foederati. Odoacer, the new ruler of Italy, sent the boy ex-emperor to Campania, in exile or retirement, after which Romulus Augustus disappears from the historical record.

Although his successor had been deposed, Nepos never returned from Dalmatia. However, he continued to be recognized as Western Emperor by the Eastern Roman Empire, Roman Gaul, and Dalmatia itself. Odoacer also acknowledged Nepos' Imperial status, and even issued coinage in his name.

Through the Roman Senate, Odoacer requested that he be named a Patrician by Emperor Zeno, ruler of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. This request was granted and technically Odoacer, as Patrician, ruled Italy and an expanding sphere of related territories under Zeno's authority as the head of a "re-united" Imperium Romanum. In practical terms, Odoacer was an increasingly independent king, nominally recognizing the Eastern Emperor's suzerainty, with Nepos retaining a tenuous claim on the Imperial rank.

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