Athawulf was King of Spain and Western Roman Emperor from 762 to 780. The son of Alaric III, he continued his father's ambitious policies of expansion. Among his first acts was to wage war against the Alemanni, and by 764 he had all but destroyed them as a nation. The survivors were deported to Spain where they intermingled with the majority Gothic population, and Alemannia was left depopulated.

In 765 Athawulf revived the Spanish claim to mastery over the Western Empire, which has lain dormant since the days of Emperor Ardo . Using his imperial title as a justification, he invaded Burgundy and deposed its king, making himself its ruler instead. Two years later he occupied Annonarian Italy as well, which prompted Italy and Africa to ally against him in opposition. The resulting war, which raged for the next fourteen years, would devastate the western Mediterranean countries and leave them vulnerable for years to come.

In 780 Athawulf was killed by an African arrow at the Battle of Myrtea, causing the Spanish army to rout. His brother and successor, Theoderic IV , sued for peace, agreeing to surrender all conquered territories and to pay a large indemnity. The peace settlement badly weakened Spain, leaving it wide open to the Frankish conquests twenty years later.

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