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authors, whose works have been of the greatest possible help to me in dealing with two great sections of this period, Doctor Gustav Richter, whose admirable collection of original authorities in his Annalem des Fränkischen Reichs makes such an excellent introduction to the study of Merovingian and Carolingian times, and Professor Bury of Dublin, whose History of the Later Roman Empire has done so much for the knowledge of East-Roman affairs between 476 and 800. Nor must I omit to express my indebtedness to the kindly and diligent hands which spent so many summer hours in the laborious task of compiling my index. A word ought, perhaps, to be added on the vexed question of the spelling of proper names. I have always chosen the most modern form in speaking of places, but in speaking of individuals I have employed that used by contemporary authorities, save in the case of a few very well known names, such as Charles, Henry, Gregory, Lewis, where archaism would savour
OXFORD, Movember 1893.
Importance of the year 476—The Emperor Zeno recognises Odoacer as Patrician in Italy—Odoacer's position—Divisions of Europe in 476– The Vandals in Africa and King Gaiseric—Rule of Odoacer in Italy—His war with Theodoric, and fall.
IN the summer of 477 A.D. a band of ambassadors, who claimed to speak the will of the decayed body which still called itself the Roman senate, appeared before the judgmentseat of the emperor Zeno, the ruler of Constantinople and the Eastern Empire. They came to announce to him that the army of the West had slain the patrician Orestes, and deposed from his throne the son of Orestes, the boy-emperor Romulus. But they did not then proceed to inform Zeno that another Caesar had been duly elected to replace their late sovereign. Embassies with such news had been common of late years, but this particular deputation, unlike any other which had yet visited the Bosphorus, came to announce to the Eastern emperor that his own mighty name sufficed for the protection of both East and West. They laid at his feet the diadem and purple robe of Romulus, and professed to transfer their homage and loyalty to his august person. Then, as if by way of supplement and addendum, they informed Zeno that they had chosen Flavius Odoacer for their governor, and trusted that their august master would deign to ratify the choice, and confer on Odoacer the title of Patrician. PERIOD I. A
It has often been repeated of late years that this date, 476 A.D., does not form a very notable landmark in the history of the world, that its sole event was the transfer of the nominal supremacy of the Western World from a powerless Caesar who lived at Ravenna to a powerless Caesar who lived at Constantinople. We are reminded that the patrician Odoacer and the deputies of the Roman Senate assured the Eastern Emperor not that they had cast off allegiance to the imperial name, but that Italy no longer needed a separate Augustus, and that a single ruler might once more rule East and West, odoacer Pat as in the days of Constantine and Theodosius. rician in Italy. And if the representatives of the western realm then proceeded to recommend Zeno to appoint as his vicegerent among them “Odoacer, a mighty man of war, and a person well skilled in political matters, whom they had selected to defend their interests,’ they were, in truth, making no new or startling proposition; for similar embassies had often arrived at Constantinople to announce, not the choice of a mere patrician, but the election of an independent emperor. In a purely formal way all this is true enough, and we must concede that the permanent establishment of a Teutonic ruler in Italy was only another instance of what had already occurred in Spain and Africa. As yet nobody in either of the three countries had asserted that the Roman Empire had died out and been replaced for all purposes by a Teutonic kingship. Documents were still dated and coins still struck with the name of a Roman Emperor upon them alike in Spain, Africa, and Italy. After 476 the subjects of the Visigoth Euric, no less than those of the Scyrrian Odoacer, proceeded to grave a rude portrait of Zeno on their moneys, just as they had done a few years earlier with a rude portrait of Valentinian III. What mattered it to them that the one dwelt east of the Adriatic and the other west? But if the historians of the last century were too neglectful of the constitutional and theoretical aspect of affairs, when