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    Description

    Exceptional Irene Solidus

    Irene, as sole ruler (AD 797-802). AV solidus (20mm, 4.41 gm, 5h). NGC Choice MS 5/5 - 4/5. Constantinople. ЄIRIhH bASILISSH, crowned facing bust of Irene, wearing loros, crown with two pinnacles, holding globus cruciger in right hand and cross-tipped scepter in left / · ЄIRIhH bASILISSH?, crowned facing bust of Irene, wearing loros, holding globus cruciger in right hand and cross-tipped scepter in left. Sear 1599. DOC 1b. Rare. Crisply struck on a full flan, with full legends and an unusually well-modeled portrait.

    The brief sole reign of the Empress Irene marked the first time a woman ruled the Roman or Byzantine Empires in her own right. Alas, the experiment could not be called a success. The wife of the short-reigning Emperor Leo IV, Irene soon came to dominate domestic affairs in his government. When Leo died in 780, Irene ruled as regent for her adolescent son Constantine VI. In 790 she was temporarily ousted by her son, but he showed no talent for ruling and Irene, in turn, had him ousted and blinded in 797, seizing sole power for herself. She tried to win popularity with generous handouts, but soon ran out of money just as the empire faced a series of military disasters. Furthermore, the accession of a female promoted the Pope in Rome to declare the imperial throne vacant, and he crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne "Emperor of the Romans" in 800. In 802 Irene was ousted in a coup led by her finance minister Nicephorus. The novel coinage of Irene's sole reign depicts the Empress on both sides in similar poses.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    20th-23rd Friday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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