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Description

Catastrophic Defeat

Valens (AD 364-378). AV solidus (22mm, 4.35 gm, 12h).  Nicomedia, AD 364-367. D N VALENS - P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Valens right / RESTITVTOR REI PVBLICAE, emperor standing facing in military dress, head right, vexillum emblazoned with Christogram in right hand and Victory on globe in left; in exergue, SM NE. Cohen 34. RIC 2(d). Lustrous. A little lightly struck, otherwise Mint State.

Born around AD 328, Flavius Julius Valens was the second son of Gratianus the Elder, a member of the Roman military aristocracy in Pannonia. He followed his brother, Valentinian, into the imperial Household Guard, but did not take well to soldiering and opted instead for a bureaucratic career. In February of AD 364, his life took an unexpected turn when the emperor Jovian died only a few months into his reign and Valentinian was proclaimed emperor his stead. Valentinian quickly decided the empire was too unwieldy for one man to rule and elevated Valens to the rank of joint emperor on March 28, AD 364. The brothers met at Sirmium two months later and divided the empire between them, with Valentinian taking the more seriously threatened West while Valens ruled the seemingly stable East. Valens had a sullen, suspicious disposition, however, and his persecution of other imperial candidates brought about the rebellion of Procopius in AD 365-366, which was only put down with great difficulty. Seeking military glory, Valens invaded Visigothic territory in AD 367 and 369 and fought the Persians to a standstill in AD 376. In that same year, the Huns poured into eastern Europe and started a chain reaction that would shake the Empire to its foundations. Hard pressed by the Huns, the Goths petitioned Valens for entry and settlement within Roman territory. Seeing the hardy Goths as an answer to his military recruitment problems, Valens agreed, but the orderly migration quickly got out of control and greedy Roman merchants and bureaucrats began exploiting the immigrants, forcing them into open revolt. Under the leadership of their chieftain Fritigern, the Goths ravaged the Balkans and defeated the small Roman forces sent against them. Gathering a substantial field army, Valens moved to meet the Gothic host near Adrianople, Thrace, in AD 378. His unduly hasty attack, utilizing atrocious tactics, led to the most catastrophic Roman defeat since Cannae 600 years earlier. His position overwhelmed, Valens was killed in the fighting. His body was never identified among the more than 30,000 Roman corpses littering the battlefield..

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Auction Dates
January, 2013
6th-7th
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