Odoacer or Odovacar (434?–493), the first barbarian ruler of Italy. Odoacer, a German, joined the Roman army in Italy in his youth. In 476 German mercenaries, led by Odoacer, revolted when the Romans refused their demands for land allotments. They defeated the Roman general Orestes and deposed his son, the boy-emperor Romulus Augustulus. Unlike earlier German mercenaries, Odoacer did not install a new puppet emperor. Instead he recognized Zeno, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor, as his nominal overlord. The rule of Roman emperors in the West came to an end, and 476 is often considered the date of the fall of the Roman Empire.
Odoacer took the title of king and was recognized as ruler in the West by Zeno. He ruled all of mainland Italy and established his authority over Sicily and Dalmatia. Roman administration continued much as before. In 488 Italy was invaded by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. Theodoric and Odoacer agreed to rule jointly in 493. A few days later, however, Theodoric treacherously murdered Odoacer at a banquet.