On September 4, 476, Odoacer, a German mercenary commander serving Rome, overthrew the last emperor, Romulus Augustulus, and drove him from the imperial capital. Many historians believe that this event symbolizes the end of antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
It was the peak of the power of the Roman Empire at the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and the five rulers of the Antonine dynasty – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius – – A reign that historians call the “good emperor”. The last of them, the emperor and philosopher’s son, Commodus, who was more interested in the game of destroying the treasury than in the security of the empire, was no longer among them.
Guests of the “Roots of Civilization” program believe that the beginnings of the fall of empires should be sought when barbarian tribes successfully crossed the Alps. – For the first time, the overwhelming Roman advantage weakened. The guest of the program, a professor of history, said that for the first time the barbarians fought on equal terms with the Romans. Adam Ziółkowski.
Commodus was probably murdered by his Praetorian Guard. After his death, the demoralized Imperial Guards announced that the throne would be auctioned off. When the Legion enters the game, a civil war begins and destroys the Empire. The emperors were divided into incompetent usurpers and hopeless reformers.
In 395, the empire split into two kingdoms and had great difficulty dealing with the invasions of barbarians who saw an opportunity for easy plunder. Revolts by the increasingly poor German and Gallic legions completed the destruction.
One of the legions was commanded by Odoacer. As a young man, he was an officer in the entourage of the leader of the Huns Attila, and later he became a member of the Praetorian Guard commanding German mercenaries and he no longer had any reservations. He led a military conspiracy and on August 23, 476, was proclaimed king of the barbarian armies of Italy. On September 4, he overthrew the Western Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus and exiled him to the provinces.
The date of Romulus’ abdication is considered to be the symbolic end of the empire. However, life in ancient Roman society has not changed much. Odoacer retained Roman administrative authority in Italy and formally submitted to Emperor Zeno, who ruled in the east. – In Italy, the year 476 went unnoticed because there had been unrest there for 70 years and there would be unrest for decades to come. – said Professor Adam Ziółkowski in a broadcast from 1994.
Italy was once again ruled by Byzantium, the successor to the Western Empire. The remains of the empire were destroyed only by the invasions of the Lombards and Arabs. After the abdication, the teenager Romulus Augustus went into exile in Naples. Odoacer ordered him to be paid a high salary and, as a Roman nobleman, he went to war with the Ostrogoths who were invading northern Italy. He did not win the war, but he made peace with King Theodoric and ruled with him. However, he did not live to see everything – he was murdered by his rival at a banquet he hosted.