The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Odoacer

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ODOACER, king of Italy, put to death A. D. 493. He was the son of Edecon, a minister of Attila and chief of a tribe of Scyrri. Having led a roving life in Pannonia and Noricum, Odoacer went to Italy, entered the service of the western empire, and speedily rose to high command. After the abdication of Nepos and the elevation to the imperial throne of Romulus, called in derision Augustulus, the Heruli and other barbarian mercenaries demanded as a reward for their services a third part of the lands of Italy. When this was refused, the soldiers chose Odoacer for their leader, who drove Orestes, the father of Augustulus, to Pavia, stormed that city, and compelled Augustulus to abdicate (476). Odoacer made Ravenna his capital, and, though styled king of Italy, never assumed the purple, and had no coins struck in his name. But he ruled the country mildly, enforced the laws, and protected the frontiers from the barbarians of Gaul and Germany. Although an Arian, he did not molest the church. He ceded the Roman possessions beyond the Alps to Euric, king of the Visigoths, subdued Dalmatia, and defeated and captured Fava, king of the Rugians, in Noricum. At length Theodoric, leader of the Ostrogoths, descended from the Julian Alps, and defeated him near Aquileia and at Verona, and defeated another army encamped on the banks of the Adige. Odoacer retired to Ravenna, and for three years held out against his rival, but finally capitulated on condition of ruling with equal authority with Theodoric over Italy. Only a few days had passed when Odoacer was killed by the order of his associate, and his troops were massacred.