First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Zeno, the emperor, allotted the sovereignty to his son Leo the Second upon the death of Leo the First. Leo the Second, who was severely ill, prior to his death left the sovereignty to his father Zeno. This Leo, (who is mentioned above), who was called upon by his father to share the sovereignty with him, was secretly made a cleric by his mother, who was concerned about giving the imperial power to Zeno. Now when Zeno earnestly entreated her to bring forth her son, she brought him another who resembled her son in appearance. This Leo afterwards lived in the priesthood up to the time of the emperor Justinian. In the same year Little Augustus (Augustulus) marched against his uncle in Italy with an army. He drove him off, and proceeded with the rule of the empire. Over a year later Orestes (Horesce),[Orestes, regent in Italy, during the short reign of his infant son Romulus Augustulus from August 29, 475 to August 28, 476. He was a Roman by origin, but born in Pannonia, and when Attila conquered that province, he and his father Tatulus both entered the service of the conqueror until the death of the latter and the downfall of the Hun's empire. Orestes was secretary to Attila, and his ambassador at Constantinople. After Attila's death Orestes returned to Italy, where on account of his great wealth he soon rose to eminence, and obtained the title and rank of patrician. In 475, while at Rome, he received orders from the emperor Julius Nepos to assemble an army and sent it to Gaul, as fears were entertained that the West Gothic king Euric intended another invasion of that country. Being once at the head of an army, Orestes availed himself of his power and riches, to make himself the master of Italy, and immediately set out for Ravenna, where Nepos was residing. On his approach Nepos fled to Salona in Dalmatia, where he met with the deposed emperor Glycerius, his former rival, who was then bishop of that place; and on the 29th of August 475 Orestes had his son Romulus Augustulus proclaimed emperor, remaining, however, at the head of affairs himself. His first minister was Parmenus. He sent Latinus and Madusus to Constantinople in order that he might be recognized by the emperor Zeno. And he made peace with Genseric, king of the Vandals. The reign of Orestes was short. In 476 Odoacer rose in arms against him, and Orestes shut himself up in Pavia. He was taken prisoner after the town had been stormed by the barbarians, and conducted to Placentia, where he was beheaded by order of Odoacer on August 26, 476.] the patrician, made an alliance with Genseric, king of the Vandals. While matters were thus proceeding in Rome, Odoacer (Adovacer) with a strong force from the furthermost regions in Pannonia, began to overrun Italy; and for several years Italy and certain cities were in his power. In consequence Little Augustus was seized with so much fear that he willingly abdicated after having been ruler less than eleven months. And so with this Little Augustus the Roman Empire passed away in the year from the founding of the city (i.e., Rome) 1229, and in the year from the Incarnation of the Lord four hundred seventy-five. Zeno died at Constantinople in the 17th year of his reign.

Zeno, Roman emperor of the East (474-491) was an Isaurian of noble birth. Nothing is known of his early life. After his marriage to Ariadne, daughter of Leo I in 468, he became patrician and commander of the imperial guard and of the armies in the East. In 471 he procured the assassination of Ardaburius, the Goth, who had tried to occupy in the East the position held by Ricimer in the West. In 474 Leo I died, appointing as his successor Leo, the son of Zeno and Ariadne. However, Zeno succeeded in getting himself crowned also, and on the death of his son in the same year, he became sole emperor. In the following year, in consequence of a revolt in favor of his brother Basiliscus, he was compelled to take refuge in Isauria, where he was obliged to shut himself up in a fortress. The growing misgovernment of Basiliscus ultimately enabled Zeno to re-enter Constantinople unopposed (476). His rival was banished to Phrygia, where he soon died. The remainder of Zeno's reign was disturbed by numerous but minor revolts. Since 472 the aggressions of the Ostrogothic leader Theodoric had been a constant source of danger. In 487 he induced Theodoric, son of Theodemir, to invade Italy and establish his new kingdom. Zeno is described as a lax and indolent ruler, although he appears to have ably administered the finances of his empire.
In ecclesiastical history the name of Zeno is associated with Henoticon, which The Catholic Encyclopedia (Fortescue, "Henoticon." Vol. 7. New York: 1910) defines as follows:

The story of the Henoticon forms a chapter in that of the Monophysite heresy in the fifth and sixth centuries. It is the name of the unhappy and unsuccessful law made by the Emperor Zeno in order to conciliate Catholics and Monophysites. Really, it satisfied no one and brought about the first great schism between Rome and Constantinople.

When Zeno (474-91) came to the throne the Monophysite trouble was at its height. The mass of the people of Egypt abd Syria rejected the Council of Chalcedon (451) altogether, and found in Monophysitism an outlet for their national, anti-imperial feeling. The three Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were in schism. The Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Proterius, had been murdered in 457; a fanatical Monophysite, Timothy Aelurus (Ailuros), had been elected as his successor. He died in 477; the heretics elected one Peter Mongus—the "Stammerer"—to succeed him; the Catholics, John Talaia. Peter Gnapheus (Fullo), one of the most determined leaders of the heretical party, occupied the See of Antioch; Theodosius, also a Monophysite, that of Jerusalem. Over 500 bishops in these patriarchates were open partisans of Eutyches's heresy. Zeno found himself in a difficult position. On the one hand he was a friend of Peter Fullo of Antioch and sympathized with the Monophysites, on the other he was forced into the defence of the Catholic Faith by the fact that his rival Basiliscus (whom he succeeded in deposing) had made himself the protector of the heretics. Zeno, in spite of his personal feeling, came to the throne as the champion of the Catholic party. At first he protected the Catholic bishops (John Talaia, for instance). But he was anxious to conciliate his old friends in Egypt and Syria, and he realized how much harm this schism was doing to the empire. He therefore issued a law that was meant to satisfy every one, to present a compromise that all could accept. This law was the famous Henoticon (henotikon, "union"). It was published in 482.

As an attempt at conceding what both parties most desired, the Henoticon is a very skillful piece of work. It begins by insisting on the faith defined at Nicaea, confirmed at Constantinople, followed faithfully by the Fathers at Ephesus. Nestorius and Eutyches are both condemned, the anathemas of Cyril approved. Christ is God and man, one, not two. His miracles and Passion are works of one (whether person or nature, is not said). Those who divide or confuse, or introduce a phantasy (i.e. affirm a mere appearance) are condemned. One of the Trinity was incarnate. This is written not to introduce a novelty, but to satisfy every one. Who thinks otherwise, either now or formerly, either at Chalcedon or at any other synod, is anathematized, especially Nestorius, Eutyches, and all their followers. It will be noticed that the Henoticon carefully avoids speaking of nature or person, avoids the standard Catholic formula (one Christ in two natures), approves of Peter Fullo's expression (one of the Trinity was incarnate), names only the first three councils with honour, and alludes vaguely but disrespectfully to Chalcedon. There is no word against Dioscurus of Alexandria. Otherwise it offends rather by its omissions than by its assertions. It contains no actually heretical statement (the text is in Evagrius, "H. E.", III, 14; Liberatus, "Breviarium", XVII). Peter Mongus accepted it, explaining that it virtually condemned Chalcedon and thereby secured his place as Patriarch of Alexandria. His rival, John Talaia, was banished. Peter Fullo at Antioch accepted the new law too. But the strict Monophysites were not content, and separated themselves from Mongus, forming the sect called the Acephali (akephaloi, "without a head" – with no patriarch). Nor were Catholics satisfied with a document that avoided declaring the Faith on the point at issue and alluded in such a way to Chalcedon. The emporer succeeded in persuading Acacius (Akakios), Patriarch of Constantinople (471-80), to accept the Henoticon, a fact that is remarkable, since Acacius had stood out firmly for the Catholic Faith under Basiliscus. It is perhaps explained by his personal enmity against John Talaia, orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. The Henoticon was addressed in the first place to the Egyptians, but was then applied to the whole empire. Catholic and consistent Monophysite bishops were deposed, their sees were given to people who agreed to the compromise. But the emporer had not counted with Rome. From all parts of the East Catholics sent complaints to Pope Felix II (or III; 483-92) entreating him to stand out for the Council of Chalcedon. He then wrote two letters, one to Zeno and one to Acacius, exhorting them to continue defending the Faith without compromise, as they had done before (Epp. i et ii Felicis III in Thiel, "Epistolae Rom. Pontificum genuinae" Braunsberg, 1868, vol. I, pp. 222-39). Then John Talaia, exiled from Alexandria, arrived at Rome and gave a further account of what was happening in the East. The pope wrote two more letters, summoning Acacius to Rome to explain his conduct (Epp. iii et iv, ibid., pp. 239-241). The legates who brought these letters to Constantinople were imprisoned as soon as they landed, then forced to receive Communion from Acacius in a Liturgy in which they heard Peter Mongus and other Monophysites named in the diptychs. The pope, having heard of this from the Acoemeti (akoimetoi, sleepless) monks at Constantinople, held a synod in 484 in which he denounced his legates, deposed and excommunicated Acacius (Epp. vi, vii, viii, ibid., 243 sq.). Acacius retorted by striking Felix's name from his diptychs. Thus began the Acacian schism that lasted thirty-five years (484-519). The Acoemeti monks alone at Constantinople stayed in communion with the Holy See; Acacius put their abbot, Cyril, in prison. Acacius himself died in schism in 489. His successor, Flavitas (or Fravitas, 489-90), tried to reconcile himself with the pope, but refused to give up communion with Monophysites and to omit Acacius's name in his diptychs. Zeno died in 491; his successor, Anastasius I (491-518), began by keeping the policy of the Henoticon, but gradually went over to complete Monophysitism. Euphemius (490-496), patriarch after Flavitus, again tried to heal the schism, restored the pope's name to his diptychs, denounced Peter Mongus, and accepted Chalcedon; but his efforts came to nothing, since he, too, refused to remove the names of Acacius and Flavitas from the diptychs (see Euphemius of Consstantinople). Gelasius I (492-96) succeeded Felix II at Rome and maintained the same attitude, denouncing absolutely the Henoticon and any other compromise with the heretics. Eventually, when the Emporer Anastasius died (518), the schism was healed. His successor, Justin I (518-27), was a Catholic; he at once sought reunion with Rome. John II, the patriarch (518-20), was also willing to heal the schism. In answer to their petitions, Pope Hormisdas (514-23) sent his famous formula. This was then signed by the emperor, the patriarch, and all the bishops at the capital. On Easter day, 24 March, 519, the union was restored. Monophysite bishops were deposed or fled, and the empire was once more Catholic, till the troubles broke out again under Justinian I (527-65).

Anastasius came to the throne after the death of Zeno, in the 492nd year from the Incarnation of the Lord. He was an ornament to the Roman Empire. He sent a costly robe to Clovis, the king of the Franks, because the latter had wrested certain regions from the Visigoths (who followed the Arian heresy). But later, through the influence of Acacius, the Constantinopolitan bishop, he became a heretic. Although through papal emissaries he was many times admonished to renounce his heresies, he foolishly ignored them. And this, God did not permit him to go unpunished, for in the twenty-seventh year of his reign he was killed by a thunderbolt.[ Anastasius I (c. 430-518), was a palace official at the time of the death of Zeno (491), and bore a high character. He was raised to the throne of the Roman empire of the East through the choice of Ariadne, Zeno's widow, who married him shortly thereafter. He gained popular favor by judicious revision of taxes, and displayed great vigor in the affairs of the empire. The principal wars in which he was engaged were the Isaurian and Persian. The former was stirred up by the supporters of Longinus, brother of Zeno. The victory of Cotyaeam in 493 broke the back of the revolt. In the war with Persia both sides suffered until a peace was made in 506. To protect Constantinople and its vicinity against the invasions of Slavs and Bulgarians he built the "Anastasian Wall" from the Propontis to the Euxine. The emperor was a Monophysite, but his ecclesiastical policy was moderate. He endeavored to maintain the principle of Henoticon of Zeno and the peace of the church. Out of these religious controversies arose his unpopularity in the European provinces. Anastasius died July 9, 518.]

While these events were happening among the Romans, a new revolt occurred: The Heruli[Heruli (or Eruli), a powerful German race, said to have come originally from Scandanavia, although they appear on the shores of the Black Sea in the year 262 during the reign of Gallianus, when in conjunction with the Goths they invaded the Roman Empire. They were conquered by the Ostrogoths, and afterward formed part of the great army of Attila, with which he invaded Gaul and Italy. After the death of Attila, in 453, a portion of them at the command of Odoacer, who is said to have been an Herulian, destroyed the Western Empire in 476. Meanwhile the remainder of the nation formed a powerful kingdom on the banks of the Theiss and the Danube, which was eventually destroyed by the Lombards. Some of the Heruli were allowed by Anastasius to settle in Pannonia, and they served with great distinction in the armies of Justinian.] and the Thuringi,[In the fifth century the Thuringians lived between the Harz Mountains and the Thurigian Forest. They were tributary to Attila, the Hun, under whom they served in the battle of Chalons in 451.] survivors of the army of Attila, living on the Danube, marched into Italy from the remote regions along the Danube. Leaving Aquileia on the left, they turned toward the Tarvisians,[Tarvisium (Treviso) a town of Venetia, in the north of Italy, on the river Silis.] Vincentians,[Vincentia, (more correctly, Vicentia), a town in Venutia in the north of Italy.] and Brixians.[Brixia, a town in Gallia Cisalpina, on the road from Comum to Aquileia.] When the news reached the emperor Little Augustus, he sent his father, Orestes, whom he had made a general, to meet Odoacer. But as he was helpless, he fled to Pavia. Odoacer pursued him, besieging the city round about, and taking it by storm. He also killed the citizens and the Roman soldiers, and not only ravaged the city, but also the country, with fire and murder. Odoacer also captured Orestes, carried him to Placentia, and stabbed him in the presence of the army. Through such cruelty the rest of the Italian peoples became frightened, and one after another gave themselves up. And so Odoacer ruled Italy 14 years as he pleased. Zeno who ruled Constantinople, advised Theodoric to march into Italy to relieve the cities of those who had wrongfully obtained them. But the alliance did not last long, for each distrusted the other. And Theodoric circumvented Odoacer, inviting him to table, and then slaying him.

Odoacer, or Odovacer (c. 434-493), the first barbarian ruler of Italy, son of Aedico or Idico, was born about 434 and probably of the tribe of Scyrri who had invaded Pannonia about 430. It is said that as a tall young recruit for the Roman armies, dressed in skins, on his way to Italy, he entered the cell of Severinus to ask his blessing. The saint had an inward premonition of his future greatness, and in blessing him said, "Go forth into Italy. You who are now dressed in poor clothes will soon give precious gifts to many." Odoacer was probably thirty when he entered the imperial service. By 472 he had risen to some eminence. In 475 the Emperor Nepos was driven into exile, and the successful rebel Orestes was enabled to array in the purple his son, a boy of about 14, who was named Romulus after his grandfather, and nicknamed Augustulus ('Little Augustus'), from his inability to play the part of the great Augustus. Before this puppet emperor had been a year on the throne, the barbarian mercenaries rose in mutiny, demanding to be made proprietors of one third of the soil of Italy. To this request Orestes answered, No. Odoacer now offered his fellow-soldiers all they desired if they would put him on the throne. On August 24, 476, he was proclaimed king, and five days later Orestes was beheaded. Augustulus was compelled to leave the throne, but his life was spared. Odoacer became chief ruler of Italy at 42, and he reigned 13 years with undisputed sway. He conducted his administration as nearly as possible along the lines of the old imperial government.

In 477 or 478 the dethroned Nepos sent ambassadors to Zeno, emperor of the East, begging his aid in the reconquest of Italy. They met ambassadors from the Roman senate, sent nominally by the command of Augustulus, really no doubt by that of Odoacer, to declare that they did not need a separate emperor. The senate had chosen Odoacer, and they therefore prayed Zeno to confer upon him the dignity of patrician, and entrust the "diocese" of Italy to his care. Zeno returned a harsh answer to the senate, commanding them to return to their allegiance to Nepos. In fact, however, he did nothing for the addressed Odoacer as patrician. On the other hand, the latter sent the ornaments of empire to Constantinople as an acknowledgment of the fact that he did not claim supreme power. He does not appear to have called himself king of Italy, but only king of the barbarian tribes that followed him. By the Roman inhabitants of Italy he was addressed as "dominus noster" ('our master'), but his right to exercise power would in their eyes rest, in theory, on his recognition as patricius by the Byzantine Augustus. His internal administration was probably, on the whole, wise and moderate. The chief events in his reign were the Dalmatian and Rugian wars. In the year 480, the ex-emperor Nepos, who ruled Dalmatia, was traitorously assassinated in Diocletian's palace at Spalato by the counts Viator and Ovida. In the following year Odoacer invaded Dalmatia, slew the murderer Ovida, and re-annexed Dalmatia to the Western state. In 487 he appeared as an invader in his own native Dalmatian land. War broke out between him and Feletheus, king of the Rugians. Odoacer entered their territory and captured their king. This Rugian war was probably an indirect cause of the fall of Odoacer. His increasing power rendered him too formidable to the Byzantine court. At the same time Zeno was embarrassed by the formidable neighborhood of Theodoric, the Ostrogoth. In these circumstances arose the plan of Theodoric's invasion of Italy. He entered Italy in August 489, defeated Odoacer on two occasions, who then shut himself up in Ravenna, and there maintained himself for 4 years. Two sallies from the city met with defeat; but with the Goths despairing of ever taking the city by assault, negotiations were opened for a compromise, by which Ravenna was surrendered, Odoacer's life spared, and he and Theodoric set up as joint rulers of the Roman state. However, the relation was soon terminated by the treachery of Theodoric, who slew Odoacer at a banquet.

Theodoric (Theodoricus), son of Theudemir (Theodomiris), king of the Ostrogoths, by Erelieva (Arilena), his concubine, held sovereignty over all Italy in the sixteenth year of Emperor Zeno, and he alone with the Goths ruled the country. His rule was not very harsh. He allowed the cities and their citizens to govern themselves. He set up his throne at Ravenna, and lived there 37 years. Theodoric, while governing Italy, was most kind to the rude inhabitants; and although his throne was at Ravenna, yet he beautified the city of Rome by the erection and repair of various buildings, churches, etc. And for the good of his empire he married Audofleda (Andefledam), daughter of Clovis (Clodovei), the king of France; and he espoused his sister to Honoricus, the king of the Vandals; and his two daughters, one to Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and the other to Gundibato. But not long afterwards he warred against Clovis, his brother-in-law, because he had defeated Alaric and had taken certain parts of his kingdom. After that he warred against the Franks, and he performed many other celebrated deeds, except that in his last years he besmirched himself with savagery in slaying Symmachus (Simachum) and Boethius (Boetium). He surrounded the city of Trient with walls. Finally he suffered a stroke and died at once.[Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, and the greatest ruler of the Gothic nation, was born about 454 CE, the son of Theudemir, one of the three brothers who reigned over the East Goths, at that time settled in Pannonia. Erelieva, Theodoric's mother, was called the concubine of Theudemir. At the age of 7 he was sent as a hostage to Constantinople, and there spent ten years of his life. Soon after his return to this father he secretly attacked the king of the Sarmatians, and wrested from him the important city of Singidunum (Belgrade). He also took the chief part in an expedition into Moesia and Macedonia, the result of which was to settle the Ostrogoths in the heart of the empire. About 474 Theudemir died, and for the fourteen following years Theodoric was engaged in profitless wars, partly against the emperor Zeno, and partly against a rival Gothic chieftain. In 488 he set out with the sanction of the emperor to win Italy from Odoacer. The conquest took more than four years (488-493). He gained two victories over Odoacer, who fled to Ravenna, resulting in a long and severe blockade of that city and ending by a capitulation, the terms of which Theodoric disgracefully violated by slaying Odoacer with his own hand (493). Theodoric's reign of 33 years was a time of unexampled happiness for Italy. The venality of the Roman officials and the turbulence of the Gothic nobles were sternly repressed. Marshes were drained, harbors formed, taxes lightened, and agriculture improved. Theodoric, though an Arian, was impartial in religious matters, and during the contested papal election between Symmachus and Laurentius, Theodoric's mediation was welcomed by both parties. Unfortunately, at the very close of this reign (524), the emperor Justinian's persecution of the Arians led him into a policy of reprisals. He forced Pope John to undertake a mission to Constantinople to plead for toleration, and on his return threw him into prison, where he died. He caused Boethius and Symmachus to be executed. Theodoric died August 30, 526, and his grandson, a boy of ten years, succeeded him, under the regency of his mother Amalasuntha.]


Odoacer and Theodoric; in a dual portrait; they stand side by side; each wears a plain crown (not mitered); each carries a scepter, one in his right, the other in his left hand. Odoacer is on the left; Theodoric, ultimately his treacherous slayer, on the right.