When the last Western military commander (magister militum), Odoacer, decided to depose the child Emperor Romulus “Augustulus”, this formally ended the West Roman Empire. Odoacer returned the Imperial Regalia to Constantinople and legally became an official of the East Roman Emperor Zeno who toppled in 474 the ruler of the West Emperor Glycerius and installed Julius Nepos instead.
However, Odoaker was servant in name only, and Zeno soon directed some of his dangerous allies, the Ostrogoths, to overthrow Odoacer who was the leader of the Germanic Scirs. Invading Italy in 489, the Ostrogoths did not succeed in killing Odoacer and taking Ravenna until 493.
Rather than 476, the definite “fall” of the Western Empire might be connected instead to 493, when the last magister militum Odoacer (considered himself as Rex Italiae from 476 on), is overthrown by a Germanic tribal king – and the late Roman capital of Ravenna falls for the first time to an invader. The kingdom of Theodoric the Great then becomes the high water mark of Germanic power in the Mediterranean West.
Keeping the Franks at bay, holding the Visigoths in check, and enlarging the Italian Kingdom, Theodoric also presides over a good measure of prosperity and literary activity. Although himself executed by Theodoric for treason, the author philosopher Boethius produced a number of enduring classics.
In the genealogy below, we can see some Kings of the Ostrogoths before Theodoric’s descent into Italy. The actual dynasty ends in 540, when General Belisarius conquered the country for the great East-Roman Emperor Justinian.
When Ostrogothic resistance flared up again, the new Kings were unrelated to the old dynasty. The last days of the Ostrogoths were an exhausting campaign against the Romans that may have damaged Italy far more then any previous event in the history of Rome. Tortila was the principal King and most effective leader in this period. He fell in battle against the smart East Roman General Narses.
Kings of the Ostrogoths
Theodoric the Great 493-526
Tortila (Baduila) 541-552
overthrown by Romans