Throughout the time of the Roman Empire, there had been many men who tried to take on the role as emperor. When reviewing the history it is clear how each story interlocks with the other when talking about royalty. Four men by the names of Romulus Augustulus, Julius Nepos, Odoacer, and Justinian I did not fall short of this stereotype of emperors in Rome, however not all could claim to be emperor. During this essay it will be discussed the timeline of what can be considered the fall of the Roman Empire, and how these four men impacted this legacy.
During Roman time period there was an emperor by the name of Anthemius, who was emperor of the western empire of Rome. When he passed away it left Leo as sole emperor or Rome and was left to select a new candidate for the new emperor of the western empire. However, Leo never took it upon himself to select a new contender, so the Patrician Gundobad decided to raise Glycerius to power. This did not sit well with Leo, who decided to elect Julius Nepos as general of an expedition against Glycerius. As time went on Leo continued to stall and put off the expedition only ending with time running out and nothing being able to be done. Nepos decided to travel over to Italy in the port of Rome, where he took over Rome, stripped Glycerius of royalty, and became emperor pretty much without a fight. “Little is known about Neops’ activities, domestic or foreign, during his brief reign.” During his reign however gold was being passed out, silver being struck in Ravenna, and bronze in Milan. When one patrician did not work out for Julius he decided to elect another named Orestes, but soon was turned on.
In Rome, Orestes proclaimed that his son, Romulus Augustulus, was the new emperor even though the child was quite young. It is hard to determine the exact age of the child but it is said that he was between the ages of ten to thirteen, which is extremely young to be named emperor. However, the plan of Orestes was not to give his son the power, but to allow for his son to be the face of the empire while he had complete power over Rome. Orestes made his son emperor as a way to use him for power over the western empire. While Romulus was emperor it allowed for Orestes to remain commander in chief of the military but still have power over the remains of the western empire. Due to Orestes proclaiming his son emperor this lead to small value of this proclamation since Romulus had no royal decent. Orestes used the military to storm the city and strike fear into Nepos, causing him to flee Rome leaving all of the control to Orestes, which in my opinion is illegal. The people of Rome loyalty still lied with Nepos which did not allow for Romulus reign to be valued. His reign only lasted for less than a year before he was exiled from power.
Which leads into the ruling of Odoacer, who many say was the leading cause of the fall of the empire. For his start, Odoacer lead soldiers during the time of 1460 but this quickly changed in 471 when he relocated to Rome and got involved in a civil war. During this time is when Orestes became commander and chief of the military and proclaimed his son emperor rising them to power. This allowed for Odoacer to become friendly with the military and resulted in a revolt of the military against Orestes. It is unclear whether or not the military decided to follow Odoacer before or after the revolt but known the less when Orestes and his brother was executed and Romulus was exiled from the empire, it gave Odoacer the opportunity to rise to power and become king of Italy. The Eastern Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire, was ruled by Zeno, who was informed by Odoacer that the western empire no longer needed an emperor. Odoacer had no intention of destroying the western empire, but instead wanted to be a part of it and govern Italy as king. Zeno was reluctant but initially agreed to Odoacer ruling Italy as king, which with this acceptance leads to this time being known as the end of the Roman Empire.
As time went on Odoacer slowly began to separate Italy from the rest of Rome, which lead to Justinian deciding to reunite the provinces. Justinian sat back as time continued and watched the development of Italy. Justinian made a lot of sneaky but well thought out moves to reunite the empire. He would have people go out and campaign in Visigothic Spain, which led to a Visigothic Nobel wanting Justinian’s help to rebel against the king. All of this is what started the Gothic Wars, which was Justinian’s attempt at reuniting the empire. Since a majority of Italy had been taken over and under the control of the Gothics, Justinian decided to recapture and reform these provinces as a whole, with him as ruler. Justinian worked hard to recreate the original Roman Empire but in my opinion the sequel is never as great as the original. He wanted everyone to have a sole religion of Christianity and wanted people to work towards living a life that he saw was valuable. However, Rome was never fully restored to its original value. Under the ruling of Justinian there was an increase in violence, revolts, even natural disasters. Rome was never able to recover from the great split between the provinces.
It is clear that the ripple effect of the world is evident even during Roman times. Each emperor had some type of influence on the each other, resulting in a split between places and people. Each man took on the role as emperor or king and used their own knowledge to try and rule Rome as they saw fit. Some of these techniques were successful and some were not as highly respected. Nonetheless, each of these men caused a chain effect that led us to the point that we are now, which is basically the main point of history.
Evan, James Allan. “Justinian.” Roman Emperors – DIR Pulcheria. July 25, 1998. Accessed November 16, 2018. http://www.roman-emperors.org/justinia.htm.
Gascoigne, Bamber. “History of Italy”. 2001, ongoing. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=efq
Mathisen, Ralph W. “Romulus Augustulus.” Roman Emperors – DIR Pulcheria. August 29, 1997. Accessed November 16, 2018. http://www.roman-emperors.org/auggiero.htm.
Mathisen, Ralph W. “Julius Nepos.” Roman Emperors – DIR Pulcheria. February 8, 1998. Accessed November 16, 2018. http://www.roman-emperors.org/nepos.htm.