Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Day in Late Roman History ... February 25

On this day in AD 493, Odovacar, the Scirian king of Italy concluded a treaty with Theodoric the Ostrogoth which effectively ended the war between them.

Odovacar had deposed the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in AD 476 and had ruled Italy himself under the title of "rex" or king for the next 17 years. Attempts by the Eastern Roman emperor Zeno to get Odovacar to recognize even the appearance of Roman suzerainty over Italy were continually rebuffed.

In 489, when faced with a dangerous Ostrogothic horde outside the walls of Constantinople under the command of Theodoric the Amal, Zeno made a virtue out of necessity by offering Theodoric the rule of Italy if he could wrest it from Odovacar. Theodoric accepted the offer and after plundering his way across the Balkans, he invaded Italy and defeated Odovacar in a series of battles. The treaty concluded on February 25 officially ceded Ravenna, the capital of the Western Empire, to Theodoric and allowed for joint rule of Italy between Odovacar and Theodoric.

Within a short time, however, the more powerful Theodoric had Odovacar slain and took the title of king for himself alone. He ruled Italy in his own right for nearly 40 years and was, for most of that time, considered an enlightened monarch by his Roman subjects.

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