On This Day
476 – Odoacer, chieftain of the Germanic tribes (Herulic – Scirian foederati), is proclaimed rex Italiae (“King of Italy”) by his troops.
Odoacer[a] (/ˌoʊdoʊˈeɪsər/ OH-doh-AY-sər;[b] c. 433 – 15 March 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar (Ancient Greek: Ὀδόακρος, romanized: Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of barbarian background, who deposed the child emperor Romulus Augustulus and became King of Italy (476–493). Odoacer’s overthrow of Romulus Augustulus is traditionally seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire as well as Ancient Rome.[c]
Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of the emperor in Constantinople, Zeno. Odoacer often used the Roman honorific patrician, granted by Zeno, but was referred to as a king (Latin: rex) in many documents. He himself used the title of king in the only surviving official document that emanated from his chancery, and it was also used by the consul Basilius.[d] Odoacer introduced few important changes into the administrative system of Italy. He had the support of the Roman Senate and was able to distribute land to his followers without much opposition. Unrest among his warriors led to violence in 477–478, but no such disturbances occurred during the later period of his reign. Although Odoacer was an Arian Christian, he rarely intervened in the affairs of the Trinitarian state church of the Roman Empire.
Likely of East Germanic descent, Odoacer was a military leader in Italy who led the revolt of Herulian, Rugian, and Scirian soldiers that deposed Romulus Augustulus on 4 September AD 476. The young Augustulus had been declared Western Roman Emperor by his father Orestes, the rebellious general of the army in Italy, less than a year before, but had been unable to gain allegiance or recognition beyond central Italy. With the backing of the Roman Senate, Odoacer thenceforth ruled Italy autonomously, paying lip service to the authority of Julius Nepos, the previous Western emperor, and Zeno, the emperor of the East. Upon Nepos’s murder in 480 Odoacer invaded Dalmatia, to punish the murderers. He did so, executing the conspirators, but within two years also conquered the region and incorporated it into his domain.
When Illus, master of soldiers of the Eastern Empire, asked for Odoacer’s help in 484 in his struggle to depose Zeno, Odoacer invaded Zeno’s westernmost provinces. The emperor responded first by inciting the Rugii of present-day Austria to attack Italy. During the winter of 487–488 Odoacer crossed the Danube and defeated the Rugii in their own territory. Zeno also appointed the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great who was menacing the borders of the Eastern Empire, to be king of Italy, turning one troublesome ally against another. Theodoric invaded Italy in 489 and by August 490 had captured almost the entire peninsula, forcing Odoacer to take refuge in Ravenna. The city surrendered on 5 March 493; Theodoric invited Odoacer to a banquet of reconciliation. Instead of forging an alliance, Theodoric killed the unsuspecting king.
Born On This Day
1482 – Jo Gwang-jo, Korean philosopher (d. 1520)
Jo Gwangjo (Korean: 조광조; Hanja: 趙光祖, 23 August 1482 – 10 January 1520), also often called by his pen name Jeong-am (Korean: 정암; Hanja: 靜庵), was Korean Neo-Confucian scholar who pursued radical reforms during the reign of Jungjong of Joseon in the early 16th century.
He was framed with charges of factionalism by the power elite that opposed his reform measures and was sentenced to drink poison in the Third Literati Purge of 1519. He has been widely venerated as a Confucian martyr and an embodiment of “seonbi spirit” by later generations in Korea. Some historians consider him one of the most influential figures in 16th century Korea. He is known as one of the 18 Sages of Korea (Hangul: 동방18현) and honored as Munmyo Baehyang (Korean: 문묘배향; Hanja: 文廟配享).
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