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34. Puppet Emperors

PetroniusMaximusCoin RomulusAugustulusCoin OlybriusCoin MajorianCoin MAPRomulus-Empire JuliusNeposCoin GlyceriusCoin GaisericCoin AvitusCoin AnthemiusCoin SeverusIIICoin

When sexganerian Petronius Maximus demanded that Valentinian III's

young widow Licinia Eudoxia (coin below) marry him, it was said that she called on the Vandal king Gaiseric to help her.

Gaiseric, established in Africa, was to be the bane of the Roman empire for another 22 years. On this coin, he shows the face of Honorius rather than his own, a transparent bid for legitimacy.

Elderly Eparchius Avitus was elevated by the Gallic provinces after the death of Petronius Maximus. He would be declared unfit to rule by his own magister utriusque militae, the powerful Ricimer.

Majorian, the first of Ricimer’s many appointees to the purple, was the first military man to head the West in 70 years. But his sound military and administrative qualities worked against him, and Ricimer was soon casting about for a more amenable puppet ruler.

Of the second of Ricimer’s shadow-emperors, little more than his Lucanian provenance and “religious”

character are

known of

Severus III.

Anthemius and his wife Euphenia, daughter of the Eastern emperor Marcian.

Brother-in-law to the Vandal king’s son Huneric, Olybrius was Gaiseric’s choice for the West, but the effort was wasted when the emperor died after six months.

Glycerius was the Burgundian prince Gundobad’s choice, but he was abandoned by his patron and finally forced to abdicate under pressure from Constantinople.

Julius Nepos was appointed by the Eastern empire, but after a year, he was exiled to Dalmatia, where his confessor and bishop was none less than his imperial predecessor.

Romulus Augustulus, Ravenna's last  emperor, a child on his elevation, was still a child when the Herulian Odoacer deposed him.

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Illustrations © Oliver Frey; Maps © Roger M. Kean    © 2010–2016 Reckless Books, England