What happened to the last emperor of Rome?

By the later fifth century AD, the Emperor of Rome was a virtually powerless puppet of the barbarian warlords who ruled most of the west

Picture of the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus

In AD 475 the Pannonian general Orestes, and effective ruler of Italy, had his son Romulus made emperor.


The boy was aged about 14 and could become emperor as his maternal grandfather had been a Roman nobleman and senator. Less than a year later Orestes was defeated and killed by the German mercenary Odoacer. Romulus was instructed to abdicate, which he did on 3 September 476.


The teenager was sent to live with his mother’s relatives in southern Italy and given an annual pension to live on. He was probably still alive in 507, but his fate thereafter is unknown.

This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine