Julius Nepos, 474-475/480. Tremissis (Gold, 13 mm, 1.45 g, 5 h), Mediolanum, 474-475. D N IVL NE-POS P F AVG Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Julius Nepos to right. Rev. Cross within wreath; below, COMOB. Depeyrot 43/1. RIC 3221. Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. A wonderful example with an unusually clear and attractive portrait. Very light scratch in the left reverse field, otherwise, extremely fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, privately acquired from Bank Leu on 28 April 1969 (with a photocopy of the original invoice enclosed), and from the collections of Marchese R. Venturi-Ginori or Dott. P. Gariazzo, Santamaria 33, 24 January 1938, 1113.
The nephew of the eastern Roman emperor Leo I (457-474), Julius Nepos was appointed magister militum Dalmatiae in 468 and sent to Italy in 474 by his uncle to replace the weak Glycerius (March 473-June 474). He arrived in Rome in early summer, where he disposed Glycerius and was appointed to Augustus on 24 June and acknowledged as such by the new eastern rulers Leo II and Zenon, thereby becoming the last western emperor to achieve recognition from eastern Rome. In October 475, however, the magister militum Orestes ousted Nepos and appointed his son Romulus to Augustus. Less than a year later, in September 476, Orestes in turn was killed by Odoacer and Romulus Augustulus retired. The new strongman of Italy assumed the title King of Italy and sent the western imperial regalia to Zeno, thus marking the end of a five-hundred-year long succession of imperial rule in Rome.
Meanwhile, Nepos had fled to his original powerbase in Dalmatia, where he outlived the fall of the western Roman empire by several years. In fact, Nepos still regarded himself as the legitimate western Roman emperor, a view that was shared by Zeno in Constantinople, who had never formally recognized Romulus' rule and now urged Odoacer to receive Nepos back as the legitimate western Roman emperor. However, Odoacer largely ignored his powerless rival, although there is some evidence that he may have granted him a pension and struck coins in his name. Nepos was murdered on 9 May 480 in his villa near Salona (perhaps identical with Diocletian's Palace), either at the instigation of Odoacer or of his sworn enemy, Glycerius, the bishop of Salona whom he had disposed from the western Roman throne in 474. With Nepos now removed from the scene, Zeno refrained from appointing a new western Roman emperor, accepting Odoacer as a subordinate king. The western Roman Empire had finally and once and for all ceased to exist.