Attila having left Italy, Valentinian, emperor of the west, thought of restoring the country; and, that he might be more ready to defend it against the barbarians, abandoned Rome, and removed the seat of government to Ravenna. The misfortunes which befell the western empire caused the emperor, who resided at Constantinople, on many occasions to give up the possession of it to others, as a charge full of danger and expense; and sometimes, without his permission, the Romans, seeing themselves so abandoned, created an emperor for their defense, or suffered some one to usurp the dominion. This occurred at the period of which we now speak, when Maximus, a Roman, after the death of Valentinian, seized the government, and compelled Eudocia, widow of the late emperor, to take him for her husband; but she, being of imperial blood, scorned the connection of a private citizen; and being anxious to avenge herself for the insult, secretly persuaded Genseric, king of the Vandals and master of Africa to come to Italy, representing to him the advantage he would derive from the undertaking, and the facility with which it might be accomplished. Tempted by the hope of booty, he came immediately, and finding Rome abandoned, plundered the city during fourteen days. He also ravaged many other places in Italy, and then, loaded with wealth, withdrew to Africa. The Romans, having returned to their city, and Maximus being dead, elected Avitus, a Roman, as his successor. After this, several important events occurred both in Italy and in the countries beyond; and after the deaths of many emperors the empire of Constantinople devolved upon Zeno, and that of Rome upon Orestes and Augustulus his son, who obtained the sovereignty by fraud. While they were designing to hold by force what they had obtained by treachery, the Eruli and the Turingi, who, after the death of Attila, as before remarked, had established themselves upon the farther bank of the Danube, united in a league and invaded Italy under Odoacer their general. Into the districts which they left unoccupied, the Longobardi or Lombards, also a northern people, entered, led by Godogo their king. Odoacer conquered and slew Orestes near Pavia, but Augustulus escaped. After this victory, that Rome might, with her change of power, also change her title, Odoacer, instead of using the imperial name, caused himself to be declared king of Rome. He was the first of those leaders who at this period overran the world and thought of settling in Italy; for the others, either from fear that they should not be able to hold the country, knowing that it might easily be relieved by the eastern emperors, or from some unknown cause, after plundering her, sought other countries wherein to establish themselves.
State of the Roman empire under Zeno—Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths—Character of Theodoric—Changes in the Roman empire—New languages—New names—Theodoric dies—Belisarius in Italy—Totila takes Rome—Narses destroys the Goths—New form of Government in Italy—Narses invites the Lombards into Italy—The Lombards change the form of government.