Odoacer –vāˈkər [key], c.435–493, chieftain of the Heruli, the Sciri, and the Rugii (see Germans). He and his troops were mercenaries in the service of Rome, but in 476 the Heruli revolted and proclaimed Odoacer their king. Odoacer defeated the Roman general Orestes at Piacenza, took Ravenna (the West Roman capital), and deposed Romulus Augustulus, last Roman emperor of the West (until the coronation in 800 of Charlemagne). The date 476 is often accepted as the end of the West Roman Empire. However, Odoacer's action made little difference in the status of Western Rome, which had long been prey to the barbarian armies; the emperors had been mere puppets. Emperor Zeno of the East, considering himself heir to the West Roman Empire, reluctantly recognized Odoacer's authority over Italy and granted him the title of patrician. The Roman administration of Italy continued to function under Odoacer, who retained the chief officers of state. In 488, Zeno sent Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, into Italy to expel Odoacer. Several times defeated, Odoacer consented (493) to a treaty by which he was to share his authority with Theodoric. Invited to a banquet by Theodoric, Odoacer and his son and chief officers were treacherously assassinated; thus Theodoric made himself master of Italy.

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