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    Pulcheria, Empress In Chief

    Aelia Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius II (Augusta, AD 414-453). AV solidus (21mm, 4.38 gm, 6h). Constantinople, AD 414. AEL PVLCH - ERIA AVG, pearl-diademed and draped bust of Pulcheria right, seen from front, hand of God holding wreath reaching down from above / SALVS REI - PVBLICAE, Victory seated right on cuirass and shield, inscribing chi-rho onto shield that she supports on her left knee; star in left field, CONOB in exergue. RIC 205 (R2). Depeyrot 60/1. MIB 14. Rare! NGC MS 5/5 - 3/5, edge marks.

    Aelia Pulcheria was the daughter, sister and wife to three different East Roman emperors. Born circa AD 398 to Arcadius and Aelia Eudoxia, she had a more forceful and dominating personality than her timid younger brother, Theodosius II. When Arcadius died in AD 408 and Theodosius ascended the throne at the age of seven, Pulcheria became her brother's protector. In AD 414 the Senate declared her Augusta, or Empress, whereupon she dismissed the Praetorian prefects and took over the regency herself. She declared her intent to remain a virgin, possibly to avoid a political marriage and an end to her independent power. The Imperial Palace came to resemble a convent, with Pulcheria playing the Mother Superior. She saw to it Theodosius learned how to look, act, and perform rituals like an Emperor; however he lacked backbone, which she had to provide. Under her guidance the East Roman Empire intervened in the West and installed her nephew, Valentinian III, on the throne (AD 424-425); while to the East, a brief war against Persia was successfully prosecuted (AD 421). In the 430s her influence was temporarily eclipsed by Theodosius' brilliant and beautiful wife Aelia Eudocia, who fostered a brief swerve toward Pagan philosophy and learning. However, Pulcheria engineered adultery charges against Eudocia and forced her exile. When Theodosius was killed in a riding accident in AD 450, Pulcheria briefly ruled as sole empress before bowing to demands that she marry and thus chose a suitable man to rule as Augustus. She wisely chose the lowborn but capable Marcian, who proved to be the strong, even-handed ruler the Empire needed. Pulcheria died in AD 453, having kept her vows of virginity and defense of her Imperial dynasty for a half-century. 

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    8th-13th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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