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    Constans II: Emperor in Retreat

    Constans II Pogonatus (AD 641-668). AV solidus (21mm, 4.49 gm, 6h). Constantinople, 6th officina, AD 641-647. ?N CONSTAN-TINЧS P P AVI, youthful bust of Constans II facing, beardless, wearing crown topped by cross on circlet, chlamys pinned at right shoulder, and holding globus cruciger in right hand / VICTORIA AVΣЧ H, cross potent on three steps, CONOBK in exergue. Sear 937. DOC (Heraclonas) 2h. MIB 4a. Sharply struck. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 5/5 - 4/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, December 1994), lot 2031. 

    Constans II was the son of Constantine III and grandson of the great Heraclius (AD 610-641). During his minority, actual power resided in a council of Senators, who proved unequal to the enormous challenges posed by the initial tsunami of Islamic conquest. By AD 650, the Arabs had occupied Syria, Judaea and Egypt, and were building a fleet to terrorize the Greek islands. In AD 655, Constans II personally led a naval counterattack, but despite his personal bravery, he suffered a heavy defeat off the south coast of Asia Minor. It seemed Greco-Roman civilization was doomed to a running rearguard action, but ca. AD 656 the Islamic Caliphate was riven by internal upheavals, giving the East Romans a respite. The Slavs remained a major threat, however, and Constans spent many years campaigning against them in the northern Balkans. At some point, Constans determined to shift the Empire's center of gravity westward to better manage the Islamic onslaught. In AD 663 he removed his court to Italy and pondered making Rome his capital. But the great imperial city was now a virtual ghost town ringed by the hostile Lombards, and after a brief visit he instead set up court at Syracuse in Sicily. The citizens of Sicily soon came to resent his heavy hand. In AD 668, he was murdered while in his bath. The luxuriant beard grown by Constans led to his nickname Pogonatus ("bearded one"), sometimes mistakenly applied to his son and successor Constantine IV.  

    This coin from the Dimitriadis Collection has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    September, 2014
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