Ralph W. Mathisen
                                          University of South Carolina

                                   BACKGROUND AND ACCESSION

       By the year 475, the western Roman empire was on its last legs. Its geographical holdings had shrunk to Italy and a
       toehold in southern Gaul. The reigning western emperor, Julius Nepos (474-475) had been appointed by the eastern
       emperors Leo (457-474) and Zeno (474-491), but had little tangible support either in the east or the west. In 475,
       Nepos replaced the Patrician and Master of Soldiers in the west, the Gaul Ecdicius, with Orestes, whose primary claim
       to fame had been service as the notarius (secretary) of Attila the Hun. Orestes responded by marching on Ravenna.
       The sixth-century Gothic historian Jordanes tells the tale:

       "This Orestes, having taken charge of the army and having departed from Rome against the enemies, arrived at
       Ravenna, and remaining there he made his son Augustulus emperor. When he learned this, Nepos fled to Dalmatia"
       ("qui Orestes suscepto exercitu et contra hostes egrediens a Roma Ravenna pervenit ibique remoratus Augustulum
       filimum suum imperatorem efficit. quo conperto Nepus fugit Dalmatias...": Jordanes, Getica 241).

       The Anonymous Valesianus indicates that Nepos arrived at Ravenna with Orestes in hot pursuit: "Soon Nepos
       arrived at Ravenna, pursued by the Patrician Orestes and his army. Fearing the arrival of Orestes, Nepos boarded a
       ship and fled to Salona" ("mox veniens Ravennam, quem persequens Orestes patricius cum exercitu, metuens Nepos
       adventum Orestis, ascendens navem fugam petit ad Salonam": 7.36 s.a.474). The Auctuarii Hauniensis ordo
       prior provides some additional insights:

       "While Nepos was in the city, the Patrician Orestes was sent against him with the main force of the army. But because
       Nepos dared not undertake the business of resisting in such desperate conditions, he fled to Dalmatia in his ships.
       When Nepos had fled Italy and departed from the city, Orestes assumed the primacy and all the authority for himself
       and made his son Augustulus emperor at Ravenna" ("Nepote apud urbem residente Orestes patricius cum robore
       exercitus contra eum mittitur. sed cum desperatae rei negotium resistendo sumere non auderet, ad Dalmatias
       navigiis fugit. cum Nepos fugiens Italiam ac urbem reliquisset, Orestes primatum omnemque sibi vindicans
       dignitatem Augustulum filium suum apud Ravennam positum imperatorem facit, ipse vero omnem curam
       externorum praesidiorum gerit": s.a.475; cf. Auctarii Hauniensis ordo posterior: "Nepos cum ab Oreste
       patricio cum exercitu persequeretur, fugiens ad Dalmatias usque navigavit": s.a.475).

       Other, briefer, sources provide a little clarification. The Fasti vindobonenses priores, for example, confirm that Nepos
       took flight from Ravenna after the arrival of Orestes: "In this year, on 28 August, the Patrician Orestes entered
       Ravenna with his army and the emperor Nepos fled to Dalmatia" ("his cons. introivit Ravennam patricius Orestes
       cum exercitu et fugavit imp. Nepos ad Dalmatias V kl. Septemb.": no.615. s.a.475). Jordanes says simply, "In the
       western empire, Orestes put the emperor Nepos to flight and established his own son Augustulus on the throne"
       ("parte vero Hesperia Nepotem imperatorem Orestes fugatum Augustulum suum filium in imperium conlocavit":
       Jordanes, Romana 344); and Count Marcellinus likewise recalled, "As soon as Nepos had been put to flight Orestes
       set his son Augustulus on the throne" ("Nepote Orestes protinus effugato Augustulum filium suum in imperium
       conlocavit": Chron. s.a.475).

       Orestes then seems to have temporized for over two months, perhaps waiting for some response from the east. Finally,
       on 31 October 475, Orestes named his young son Romulus, perhaps fourteen years of age, as western Roman
       emperor. Given that Nepos, who had been nominated by the eastern emperor Leo (457-474), still reigned, albeit in
       exile, there was no question of Romulus ever receiving recognition from the east. The report by the chronicler Victor of
       Tonnena that Orestes' son was named Herculanus, and made an abortive attempt to seize power after the death of
       Anthemius, seems to be an erroneous reference to Romulus.

                                                  REIGN

       The youngster took the title "Augustus" as his name, but became commonly known as Augustulus, "the little
       Augustus": in the words of the Anonymous Valesianus, "Augustulus, who prior to ruling had been called Romulus
       by his parents, was made emperor by his father, the Patrician Orestes." Orestes, of course, intended to keep the real
       power in his own hands, as noted by an anonymous Italian chronicler: "Orestes, appropriating the primacy and every
       power to himself, made his son Augustulus emperor at Ravenna; he himself undertook all the supervision of external
       affairs."

       The most serious problem that the new administration faced was how to manage the diverse barbarian troops putatively
       under his command. One means of doing so was to pay them. Gold solidi of Romulus were issued at Rome, Milan,
       and probably Ravenna. And one problem that the die-cutters had was in trying to fit the entire name "Romulus
       Augustus" onto a single coin. A token number of solidi also was issued at Arles, attesting to the last tenuous hold that
       the empire had in Gaul. A few silver coins were issued at Ravenna, but no bronze coins of Romulus are known.

       Problems with the soldiers escalated in 476, when troops including Heruls, Scirians, and Torcilingi made demands for
       land grants that were refused by Orestes. The soldiers then turned to Odovacar, a barbarian chieftain from a Hunnish
       and Scirian background. He promised to grant their requests if they made him king. They did so on 23 August, and
       then advanced against Orestes.

                                              DEPOSITION

       On 28 August 476, Orestes was captured and killed by Odovacar near Piacenza -- the site of the defeat of the emperor
       Avitus in 456. Odovacar then occupied Ravenna, where on either 31 August or 4 September he killed Orestes' brother
       Paulus. As for young Romulus, the Anonymous Valesianus (8.38) reports, "Entering Ravenna, Odovacar deposed
       Augustulus from the rule, and taking pity on his youth he granted him his life, and because he was comely he even
       granted to him an income of six thousand solidi and sent him to Campania to live freely with his relatives." The
       chronicler Count Marcellinus painted a rather less rosy picture of Romulus' fate: "Odovacar, king of the Goths,
       occupied Rome. Odovacar immediately killed Orestes. Odovacar condemned Augustulus, the son of Orestes, to exile
       in the castle of Lucullus in Campania" ("Odoacar rex Gothorum Romam obtinuit. Orestem Odoacer ilico trucidavit.
       Augustulum filium Orestis Odoacer in Lucullano Campaniae castello exilii poena damnavit": s.a.476). And Jordanes
       similarly related,

       "After Augustulus had been established as emperor at Ravenna by his father Orestes, not long afterward Odovacer,
       king of the Torcilingi, who had with him the Scirians, Heruls, and auxiliaries from diverse peoples, occupied Italy and,
       after killing Orestes, deposed his son Augustulus from the rule and condemned him to exile in the Lucullan castle in
       Campania" ("Augustulo vero a patre Oreste in Ravenna imperatore ordinato non multum post Odoacer
       Torcilingorum rex habens secum Sciros, Herulos diversarumque gentium auxiliarios Italiam occupavit et Orestem
       interfectum Augustulum filium eius de regno pulsum in Lucullano Campaniae castello exilii poena damnavit":
       Getica 242).

       This castellum has sometimes been identified as the estate of the late-Roman Republican general Lucullus.

       The Byzantine historian Malchus, moreover, suggests that Romulus was required to perform one final official act
       before going into retirement: the dispatching of a "letter of resignation" to the eastern emperor Zeno returning the
       imperial regalia and saying that the empire now needed but a single emperor, in Constantinople.

       "When Augustus, the son of Orestes, heard that Zeno, having expelled Basiliscus, had again gained the kingship of the
       east, he caused the Senate to send an embassy to tell Zeno that they had no need of a separate empire but that a single
       common emperor would be sufficient for both territories, and, moreover, that Odovacar had been chosen by them as a
       suitable man to safeguard their affairs, since he had political understanding along with military skill; they asked Zeno
       to award Odovacar the patrician honor and grant him the government of the Italies. The men from the Senate in Rome
       reached Byzantium carrying these messages. On the same day messengers from Nepos also came to congratulate
       Zeno on the recent events concerning this restoration, and at the same time to ask him zealously to help Nepos, a man
       who had suffered equal misfortunes, in the recovery of his empire. They asked that he grant money and an army for
       this purpose and that he co-operate in his restoration in any other ways that might be necessary. Nepos had sent the
       men to say these things. Zeno gave the following answer to those arrivals and to the men from the Senate: the western
       Romans had received two men from the eastern Empire and had driven one out, Nepos, and killed the other,
       Anthemius. Now, he said, they knew what ought to be done. While their emperor was still alive, they should hold no
       other thought than to receive him back on his return. To the barbarians he replied that it would be well if Odovacar
       were to receive the patrician rank from the emperor Nepos and that he himself would grant it unless Nepos granted it
       first. He commended him in that he had displayed this initial instance of guarding good order, suitable to the Romans,
       and trusted for this reason that, if he truly wished to act with justice, he would quickly receive back the emperor [sc.
       Nepos] who had given him his positon of honor. He sent a royal epistle about what he desired to Odovacar and in this
       letter named him a patrician. Zeno gave this help to Nepos, pitying his sufferings because of his own, and holding to
       the principle that the common lot of fortune is to grieve with the unfortunate. At the same time Verina also joined in
       urging this, giving a helping hand to the wife of Nepos, her relative" (fr. 10: Gordon trans., pp.127-128)

       Nepos, of course, never was able to reoccupy Italy, which remained in the hands of Odovacar. Cassiodorus stated, "In
       this year, Orestes and his brother Paulus were killed by Odovacar, and Odovacar assumed the title of King, although
       he made use of neither the purple nor the imperial regalia" ("His conss. ab Odovacre Orestes et frater eius Paulus
       extincti sunt nomenque regis Odovacar adsumpsit, cum tamen nec purpura nec regalibus uteretur insignibus":
       no.1303).

       Romulus had lost his throne after just over ten months of rule -- his deposition would have occurred on or soon after 4
       September 476. One cannot explain the curious report in the Anonymus Valesianus that Augustulus ruled not one but
       ten years: "Augustulus imperavit annos X" (7.36). His fate after his settlement in Campania is unknown, although it
       has been suggested that he might be the Romulus to whom the Ostrogothic king Theodoric wrote ca. 507/511
       concerning a bequest made to a certain Romulus and his mother.

                                               EPILOGUE

       After Romulus' fall, the last scanty imperial possessions in southern Gaul were occupied by the Visigoths: under the
       year 477, the Gallic Chronicle of 511 reported, "Arles was captured by Euric, along with Marseilles and the other
       fortified places" ("Arelate capta est ab Eurico cum Massilia et ceteris castellis": no.657). Curiously, however, the
       Danubian provinces of Raetia and Noricum seem still to have retained a loose connection to Italy (the Life of St.
       Severinus of Noricum reports that border militia in Noricum continuing to have expectations of being paid from
       Italy), not, hoever, because of any Italian authority, but merely because of administrative inertia, and the lack of any
       barbarian people sufficiently powerful, or interested, to occupy this region.

       Romulus commonly has been considered to be the last emperor of the western empire; with names like "Romulus" and
       "Augustus", it would have been difficult indeed to resist doing so. This tradition began as early as the early sixth
       century, when Count Marcellinus lamented,

       "The western Empire of the Roman people, which first began in the seven hundred and ninth year after the founding of
       the City with Octavian Augustus, the first of the emperors, perished with this Augustulus, in the five-hundred and
       twenty-second year of the reign of Augustus' successor emperors. From this point on Gothic kings held power in
       Rome" ("Hesperium Romanae gentis imperium, quod septingentesimo nono urbis conditae anno primus
       Augustorum Octavianus Augustus tenere coepit, cum hoc Augustulo periit, anno decessorum regni imperatorum
       quingentesimo vigesimo secundo, Gothorum dehinc regibus Roman tenentibus": s.a.476).

       Both the "seven hundred and ninth year after the founding of the City," counting from 753 BC, and, counting
       backward from 476 AD, "five-hundred and twenty-second year of the reign of Augustus' successors", work out to 45
       BC, the date that Marcellinus seems to have assumed the Roman Empire began. Perhaps Caesar's victory at Munda or
       his assumption of the perpetual dictatorship was meant. or, if not this, then perhaps the inception of the Second
       Triumvirate in 43 BC, or the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

       Romulus was indeed the last, and perhaps even the least significant, of the "shadow" or "puppet" emperors of the west.
       But otherwise he was a mere usurper, and an undistinguished one at that. The legitimate western emperor Nepos not
       only continued to rule, albeit in Dalmatia, but even had coins issued in his name in Odovacar's Italy. Until his death in
       480, Nepos continued to have hopes of recovering his throne, and more rightly deserves the title "last western Roman
       emperor."

       The sixth-century Byzantine historian Procopius pronounced an apt epitaph on Augustulus and the other shadow
       emperors when he noted, confusing Nepos with Olybrius,

       "And another emperor, Nepos, upon taking over the empire and living to enjoy it only a few days, died of disease, and
       Glycerius after him entered into this office and suffered a similar fate. And after him Augustus assumed the imperial
       power. There were, moreover, still other emperors in the west before this time, bht although I know their names well, I
       shall make no mention of them whatsoever. For it so fell out that they lived only a short time after attaining the office,
       and as a result of this accomplished nothing worthy of mention..." (Bellum Vandalicum 7.15-17: Dewing trans.,
       p.69)

                      The union of the Goths and Romans might have fixed for ages
                 the transient happiness of Italy; and the first of nations, a new
                 people of free subjects and enlightened soldiers, might have
                 gradually arisen from the mutual emulation of their respective
                 virtues. But the sublime merit of guiding or seconding such a
                 revolution was not reserved for the reign of Theodoric: he wanted
                 either the genius or the opportunities of a legislator; ^52 and
                 while he indulged the Goths in the enjoyment of rude liberty, he
                 servilely copied the institutions, and even the abuses, of the
                 political system which had been framed by Constantine and his
                 successors. From a tender regard to the expiring prejudices of
                 Rome, the Barbarian declined the name, the purple, and the
                 diadem, of the emperors; but he assumed, under the hereditary
                 title of king, the whole substance and plenitude of Imperial
                 prerogative. ^53 His addresses to the eastern throne were
                 respectful and ambiguous: he celebrated, in pompous style, the
                 harmony of the two republics, applauded his own government as the
                 perfect similitude of a sole and undivided empire, and claimed
                 above the kings of the earth the same preeminence which he
                 modestly allowed to the person or rank of Anastasius. The
                 alliance of the East and West was annually declared by the
                 unanimous choice of two consuls; but it should seem that the
                 Italian candidate who was named by Theodoric accepted a formal
                 confirmation from the sovereign of Constantinople. ^54 The Gothic
                 palace of Ravenna reflected the image of the court of Theodosius
                 or Valentinian. The Praetorian praefect, the praefect of Rome,
                 the quaestor, the master of the offices, with the public and
                 patrimonial treasurers, ^* whose functions are painted in gaudy
                 colors by the rhetoric of Cassiodorus, still continued to act as
                 the ministers of state. And the subordinate care of justice and
                 the revenue was delegated to seven consulars, three correctors,
                 and five presidents, who governed the fifteen regions of Italy
                 according to the principles, and even the forms, of Roman
                 jurisprudence. ^55 The violence of the conquerors was abated or
                 eluded by the slow artifice of judicial proceedings; the civil
                 administration, with its honors and emoluments, was confined to
                 the Italians; and the people still preserved their dress and
                 language, their laws and customs, their personal freedom, and two
                 thirds of their landed property. ^! It had been the object of
                 Augustus to conceal the introduction of monarchy; it was the
                 policy of Theodoric to disguise the reign of a Barbarian. ^56 If
                 his subjects were sometimes awakened from this pleasing vision of
                 a Roman government, they derived more substantial comfort from
                 the character of a Gothic prince, who had penetration to discern,
                 and firmness to pursue, his own and the public interest.
                 Theodoric loved the virtues which he possessed, and the talents
                 of which he was destitute. Liberius was promoted to the office
                 of Praetorian praefect for his unshaken fidelity to the
                 unfortunate cause of Odoacer. The ministers of Theodoric,
                 Cassiodorus, ^57 and Boethius, have reflected on his reign the
                 lustre of their genius and learning. More prudent or more
                 fortunate than his colleague, Cassiodorus preserved his own
                 esteem without forfeiting the royal favor; and after passing
                 thirty years in the honors of the world, he was blessed with an
                 equal term of repose in the devout and studious solitude of
                 Squillace. ^*

                 [Footnote 52: Procopius affirms that no laws whatsoever were
                 promulgated by Theodoric and the succeeding kings of Italy,
                 (Goth. l. ii. c. 6.) He must mean in the Gothic language. A
                 Latin edict of Theodoric is still extant, in one hundred and
                 fifty-four articles.

                      Note: See Manso, 92. Savigny, vol. ii. p. 164, et seq. - M.]

                 [Footnote 53: The image of Theodoric is engraved on his coins:
                 his modest successors were satisfied with adding their own name
                 to the head of the reigning emperor, (Muratori, Antiquitat.
                 Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. ii. dissert. xxvii. p. 577 - 579.
                 Giannone, Istoria Civile di Napoli tom. i. p. 166.)]
                 [Footnote 54: The alliance of the emperor and the king of Italy
                 are represented by Cassiodorus (Var. i. l, ii. 1, 2, 3, vi. l)
                 and Procopius, (Goth. l. ii. c. 6, l. iii. c. 21,) who celebrate
                 the friendship of Anastasius and Theodoric; but the figurative
                 style of compliment was interpreted in a very different sense at
                 Constantinople and Ravenna.]

                 [Footnote *: All causes between Roman and Roman were judged by
                 the old Roman courts. The comes Gothorum judged between Goth and
                 Goth; between Goths and Romans, (without considering which was
                 the plaintiff.) the comes Gothorum, with a Roman jurist as his
                 assessor, making a kind of mixed jurisdiction, but with a natural
                 predominance to the side of the Goth Savigny, vol. i. p. 290. -
                 M.]

                 [Footnote 55: To the xvii. provinces of the Notitia, Paul
                 Warnefrid the deacon (De Reb. Longobard. l. ii. c. 14 - 22) has
                 subjoined an xviiith, the Apennine, (Muratori, Script. Rerum
                 Italicarum, tom. i. p. 431 - 443.) But of these Sardinia and
                 Corsica were possessed by the Vandals, and the two Rhaetias, as
                 well as the Cottian Alps, seem to have been abandoned to a
                 military government. The state of the four provinces that now
                 form the kingdom of Naples is labored by Giannone (tom. i. p.
                 172, 178) with patriotic diligence.]
                 [Footnote !: Manso enumerates and develops at some length the
                 following sources of the royal revenue of Theodoric: 1. A domain,
                 either by succession to that of Odoacer, or a part of the third
                 of the lands was reserved for the royal patrimony. 1. Regalia,
                 including mines, unclaimed estates, treasure-trove, and
                 confiscations. 3. Land tax. 4. Aurarium, like the Chrysargyrum,
                 a tax on certain branches of trade. 5. Grant of Monopolies. 6.
                 Siliquaticum, a small tax on the sale of all kinds of
                 commodities. 7. Portoria, customs Manso, 96, 111. Savigny (i.
                 285) supposes that in many cases the property remained in the
                 original owner, who paid his tertia, a third of the produce to
                 the crown, vol. i. p. 285. - M.]

                 [Footnote 56: See the Gothic history of Procopius, (l. i. c. 1,
                 l. ii. c. 6,) the Epistles of Cassiodorus, (passim, but
                 especially the vth and vith books, which contain the formulae, or
                 patents of offices,) and the Civil History of Giannone, (tom. i.
                 l. ii. iii.) The Gothic counts, which he places in every Italian
                 city, are annihilated, however, by Maffei, (Verona Illustrata, P.
                 i. l. viii. p. 227; for those of Syracuse and Naples (Var vi. 22,
                 23) were special and temporary commissions.]

                 [Footnote 57: Two Italians of the name of Cassiodorus, the father
                 (Var. i. 24, 40) and the son, (ix. 24, 25,) were successively
                 employed in the administration of Theodoric. The son was born in
                 the year 479: his various epistles as quaestor, master of the
                 offices, and Praetorian praefect, extend from 509 to 539, and he
                 lived as a monk about thirty years, (Tiraboschi Storia della
                 Letteratura Italiana, tom. iii. p. 7 - 24. Fabricius, Bibliot.
                 Lat. Med. Aevi, tom. i. p. 357, 358, edit. Mansi.)]

                 [Footnote *: Cassiodorus was of an ancient and honorable family;
                 his grandfather had distinguished himself in the defence of
                 Sicily against the ravages of Genseric; his father held a high
                 rank at the court of Valentinian III., enjoyed the friendship of
                 Aetius, and was one of the ambassadors sent to arrest the
                 progress of Attila. Cassiodorus himself was first the treasurer
                 of the private expenditure to Odoacer, afterwards "count of the
                 sacred largesses." Yielding with the rest of the Romans to the
                 dominion of Theodoric, he was instrumental in the peaceable
                 submission of Sicily; was successively governor of his native
                 provinces of Bruttium and Lucania, quaestor, magister, palatii,
                 Praetorian praefect, patrician, consul, and private secretary,
                 and, in fact, first minister of the king. He was five times
                 Praetorian praefect under different sovereigns, the last time in
                 the reign of Vitiges. This is the theory of Manso, which is not
                 unencumbered with difficulties. M. Buat had supposed that it was
                 the father of Cassiodorus who held the office first named.
                 Compare Manso, p. 85, &c., and Beylage, vii. It certainly
                 appears improbable that Cassiodorus should have been count of the
                 sacred largesses at twenty years old. - M.]

                      As the patron of the republic, it was the interest and duty
                 of the Gothic king to cultivate the affections of the senate ^58
                 and people. The nobles of Rome were flattered by sonorous
                 epithets and formal professions of respect, which had been more
                 justly applied to the merit and authority of their ancestors.
                 The people enjoyed, without fear or danger, the three blessings
                 of a capital, order, plenty, and public amusements. A visible
                 diminution of their numbers may be found even in the measure of
                 liberality; ^59 yet Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, poured their
                 tribute of corn into the granaries of Rome an allowance of bread
                 and meat was distributed to the indigent citizens; and every
                 office was deemed honorable which was consecrated to the care of
                 their health and happiness. The public games, such as the Greek
                 ambassador might politely applaud, exhibited a faint and feeble
                 copy of the magnificence of the Caesars: yet the musical, the
                 gymnastic, and the pantomime arts, had not totally sunk in
                 oblivion; the wild beasts of Africa still exercised in the
                 amphitheatre the courage and dexterity of the hunters; and the
                 indulgent Goth either patiently tolerated or gently restrained
                 the blue and green factions, whose contests so often filled the
                 circus with clamor and even with blood. ^60 In the seventh year
                 of his peaceful reign, Theodoric visited the old capital of the
                 world; the senate and people advanced in solemn procession to
                 salute a second Trajan, a new Valentinian; and he nobly supported
                 that character by the assurance of a just and legal government,
                 ^61 in a discourse which he was not afraid to pronounce in
                 public, and to inscribe on a tablet of brass. Rome, in this
                 august ceremony, shot a last ray of declining glory; and a saint,
                 the spectator of this pompous scene, could only hope, in his
                 pious fancy, that it was excelled by the celestial splendor of
                 the new Jerusalem. ^62 During a residence of six months, the
                 fame, the person, and the courteous demeanor of the Gothic king,
                 excited the admiration of the Romans, and he contemplated, with
                 equal curiosity and surprise, the monuments that remained of
                 their ancient greatness. He imprinted the footsteps of a
                 conqueror on the Capitoline hill, and frankly confessed that each
                 day he viewed with fresh wonder the forum of Trajan and his lofty
                 column. The theatre of Pompey appeared, even in its decay, as a
                 huge mountain artificially hollowed, and polished, and adorned by
                 human industry; and he vaguely computed, that a river of gold
                 must have been drained to erect the colossal amphitheatre of

     The life of Theodoric represents the rare and meritorious
                 example of a Barbarian, who sheathed his sword in the pride of
                 victory and the vigor of his age. A reign of three and thirty
                 years was consecrated to the duties of civil government, and the
                 hostilities, in which he was sometimes involved, were speedily
                 terminated by the conduct of his lieutenants, the discipline of
                 his troops, the arms of his allies, and even by the terror of his
                 name. He reduced, under a strong and regular government, the
                 unprofitable countries of Rhaetia, Noricum, Dalmatia, and
                 Pannonia, from the source of the Danube and the territory of the
                 Bavarians, ^44 to the petty kingdom erected by the Gepidae on the
                 ruins of Sirmium. His prudence could not safely intrust the
                 bulwark of Italy to such feeble and turbulent neighbors; and his
                 justice might claim the lands which they oppressed, either as a
                 part of his kingdom, or as the inheritance of his father. The
                 greatness of a servant, who was named perfidious because he was
                 successful, awakened the jealousy of the emperor Anastasius; and
                 a war was kindled on the Dacian frontier, by the protection which
                 the Gothic king, in the vicissitude of human affairs, had granted
                 to one of the descendants of Attila. Sabinian, a general
                 illustrious by his own and father's merit, advanced at the head
                 of ten thousand Romans; and the provisions and arms, which filled
                 a long train of wagons, were distributed to the fiercest of the
                 Bulgarian tribes. But in the fields of Margus, the eastern
                 powers were defeated by the inferior forces of the Goths and
                 Huns; the flower and even the hope of the Roman armies was
                 irretrievably destroyed; and such was the temperance with which
                 Theodoric had inspired his victorious troops, that, as their
                 leader had not given the signal of pillage, the rich spoils of
                 the enemy lay untouched at their feet. ^45 Exasperated by this
                 disgrace, the Byzantine court despatched two hundred ships and
                 eight thousand men to plunder the sea-coast of Calabria and
                 Apulia: they assaulted the ancient city of Tarentum, interrupted
                 the trade and agriculture of a happy country, and sailed back to
                 the Hellespont, proud of their piratical victory over a people
                 whom they still presumed to consider as their Roman brethren. ^46
                 Their retreat was possibly hastened by the activity of Theodoric;
                 Italy was covered by a fleet of a thousand light vessels, ^47
                 which he constructed with incredible despatch; and his firm
                 moderation was soon rewarded by a solid and honorable peace. He
                 maintained, with a powerful hand, the balance of the West, till
                 it was at length overthrown by the ambition of Clovis; and
                 although unable to assist his rash and unfortunate kinsman, the
                 king of the Visigoths, he saved the remains of his family and
                 people, and checked the Franks in the midst of their victorious
                 career. I am not desirous to prolong or repeat ^48 this
                 narrative of military events, the least interesting of the reign
                 of Theodoric; and shall be content to add, that the Alemanni were
                 protected, ^49 that an inroad of the Burgundians was severely
                 chastised, and that the conquest of Arles and Marseilles opened a
                 free communication with the Visigoths, who revered him as their
                 national protector, and as the guardian of his grandchild, the
                 infant son of Alaric. Under this respectable character, the king
                 of Italy restored the praetorian praefecture of the Gauls,
                 reformed some abuses in the civil government of Spain, and
                 accepted the annual tribute and apparent submission of its
                 military governor, who wisely refused to trust his person in the
                 palace of Ravenna. ^50 The Gothic sovereignty was established
                 from Sicily to the Danube, from Sirmium or Belgrade to the
                 Atlantic Ocean; and the Greeks themselves have acknowledged that
                 Theodoric reigned over the fairest portion of the Western empire.
                 ^51

My notes:

476-80 West theoretically still under Nepos, although Senate recognizes Odovacer as ruler.
480-89 Odovacer theoretically subservient to East, but Odovacer (king of Italy) recognized as Patrician.
483- Odovacer nominating a consul again.
489-93 war
493-97 Theodoric recognized by Senate.
after 497, Theodoric was Emperor in west in all but name.
after Theodoric, the Gothic kingdom was perhaps supposed to be under the Eastern Empire again, until
536 Goths attack Empire in Dalmatia.
 

Principles:

States recognized as "Roman Empire" must

a) be called Roman Empires OR have clear continuity with Roman Empire
b) have Rome or (after 334) New Rome (Constantinople) as a chief city
c) be an Empire: i.e. larger than a nation state, and with a unified government.
 

So there was

one Empire c.200 B.C. - 334 A.D. (sometimes with more than one leader)
two Empires 334 A.D. - 395 (sometimes with one leader)
two Empires 395-476 A.D.
?two Empires 476 A.D. - 536
one Empire (R+C) 536 A.D. - 751 A.D.
one Empire (C) 751-800
two Empires 800-855
?two Empires 855-925
one Empire (C) 925-962
two Empires 962-1206
one Empire (R) 1206-1261
two Empires 1261-1282
one Empire (C) 1282-c.1346