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Flavius Odoacer (433[1]–493), also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the 5th-century King of Italy, whose reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the classical Roman Empire in Western Europe and the beginning of the Middle Ages. He is considered the first non-Roman to ever have ruled all of Italy.

Odoacer was a Germanic foederati general in Italy who led a revolt that deposed the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus on 4 September AD 476. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he ruled as a nominal client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, as a client of the Emperor in Constantinople. Odoacer is referred to as a king (Latin rex) in many documents and he himself used it at least once and on another occasion it was used by the consul Basilius.[2]



Odoacer's background is not certain. He may have been the son of the Scirii chieftain, Edeko, a vassal of the Huns under Attila. His name itself is Germanic, and Odoacer's mother may have been Germanic herself, but her name and nationality are unknown. John of Antioch considers Odoacer to have been a Scirian, Jordanes refers to him as a Rugian. However, Jordanes also describes him as king of the Turcilingi (Torcilingorum rex).[3] The Consularia Italica calls him king of the Heruli, while Theophanes appears to be guessing when he calls him a Goth.[4]

Leader of the foederati

In 470, Odoacer was appointed leader of a band of foederati. There were about 30,000 foederati, plus their families, who had lived on the Italian peninsula for several years. However, they had only received marginal land in the relatively unfertile areas around the Apennine mountains.

When Orestes was in 475 appointed Magister militum and patrician by the Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos, he became head of the Germanic foederati of Italy (the Scirian - Herulic foederati). To win their support in his attempt to take over the Empire, Orestes promised them a third of the Italian peninsula if they led a revolt against Emperor Nepos. The foederati accepted the offer and led the revolt as planned.

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