Julius Nepos

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Solidus of Julius Nepos; 474/75

Julius Nepos (* around 430, † 480 ) was de jure the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire from 474 until his death . From the end of August 475, his sphere of influence was de facto limited to the province of Dalmatia .


Julius Nepos had been the successor of his uncle Marcellinus magister militum Dalmatiae since 468 and thus held a key military position at the interface between western and eastern currents as army master in Dalmatia . The Eastern Roman Emperor Leo (457 to 474) gave him one of his nieces as his wife and shortly before his death in 473 gave him the high title of Patricius . The dying emperor equipped Nepos with an army and instructed him to move to Italy. It is possible that Nepos was elevated to Caesar against the powerless Western Roman emperor Glycerius as early as the spring of 474 by the new Eastern Roman rulers Leo II and Zeno . After his removal, he assumed the title of Augustus in Rome on June 24th . He was the last Western Emperor whom Eastern Augustus recognized as his colleague.

However, his rule was endangered by the master of Italy, Orestes , who himself aspired to rule over the western empire. Orestes finally drove Julius Nepos out of Rome in October 475; he fled into exile in the province of Dalmatia . However, he remained the Western Emperor recognized by Constantinople. While Orestes had his son Romulus Augustulus proclaimed emperor, Julius Nepos tried to continue to exert influence from his residence in Salona . From the point of view of the Eastern Romans (ie Zenos, who had been dethroned for 18 months in January 475), Nepos remained the legitimate Western Roman emperor, even if the two opposing emperors Romulus (Western Rome) and Basiliskos (Eastern Rome ) had apparently recognized each other temporarily. When Zeno returned to the throne in July 476, he continued to deny Romulus recognition.

After Romulus Augustulus was deposed by Odoacer in August 476 , the Western Roman Empire, which had already largely split into several Germanic-Romanic empires, finally fell apart. Italy remained under the rule of Odoacer, who had his army proclaim him rex Italiae and sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople. When Odoacer asked at the same time to be appointed Patricius by Zeno - which according to Western understanding would have meant the elevation to head of government - Constantinople replied to him that he should turn to Nepos, the emperor responsible for Italy ( Malchus , Fragm. 14, Blockley). Julius Nepos ruled Dalmatia until his assassination in 480, where he resided as the last legitimate emperor of the Western Roman Empire. It is unclear whether the attack was initiated by his deposed predecessor Glycerius or by Odoacer. In nominal terms, the Germanic empires of the west remained under the sovereignty of the (Eastern Roman) emperor for decades after his death (see Migration ).


  • Alexander Demandt : The late antiquity. Roman history from Diocletian to Justinian 284-565 AD (= Handbook of Classical Studies . 3rd section, 6th part). 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55993-8 .
  • Dirk Henning: Periclitans res Publica. Empire and elites in the crisis of the Western Roman Empire 454 / 5–493 AD (= Historia - individual writings. Vol. 133). Steiner, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-515-07485-6 (also: Marburg, Univ., Diss., 1998).
  • Arnold Hugh Martin Jones : The Later Roman Empire 284-602. A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey. 3 volumes, Blackwell, Oxford 1964, p. 244 f. (Reprinted in two volumes, Baltimore 1986).

Web links

Commons : Iulius Nepos  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Glycerius Western Roman Emperor
474–475 / 80
Romulus Augustulus