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    Rare Italian Mint Solidus of Justinian II

    Justinian II (second reign, AD 705-711). AV solidus (18.5mm, 4.46 gm, 6h). Rome or other Italian mint, ca. AD 706-711. DN IhS ChS REX REGNANTIuM, half-length bust of Christ facing with short curly hair, short beard, wearing pallium and colobium, raising right hand in benediction, cross behind / dN IUST-IN-IANUS MULTUS AN, half-length bust of Justinian I facing with short beard, wearing crown and loros, and holding cross potent on three steps in right hand and patriarchal cross on globe inscribed PAX in left. Hahn, MIB 3, 26 (Rome) var. (no M in obv. right field). Sear 1439 var. (same, Uncertain Italian Mint). Extremely rare, one of the few Western solidi of this ruler. Good Extremely Fine.

    Justinian II's rule of his Italian provinces was every bit as despotic and capricious as his reign of terror in Constantinople. In 692, during his first reign, he had assembled the Council of Trullo, packed it with suppliant Eastern bishops, and directed it to draw up a series of harshly repressive measures outlawing many of the festivals and rituals used by the Western Church. Pope Sergius I refused to back many of its canons and Justinian sent an army to Rome to arrest him. The Papal guards and local militia rallied to his cause, however, and Sergius escaped punishment, only to die of natural causes in AD 701. During Justinian's bloody second reign, he ordered a punitive expedition against Italy in AD 709 to punish Ravenna and Rome for their resistance. This time the new Pope, Constantine, forestalled further bloodshed by traveling to Constantinople and appealing to the emperor in person. Justinian seems to have had a sudden change of heart and greeted the Pope warmly. Emperor and Pope arrived at a surprisingly even-handed compromise over the Council of Trullo, allowing the Western church to retain many of its practices. Alas, both men would soon be dead-- Justinian was overthrown the following year and Constantine was murdered by mutinous troops in November 711. By Justinian's second reign, much of Italy had been wrested from Byzantine control by the Lombards. A few Imperial enclaves hung on, mainly Rome and Ravenna, although both were effectively autonomous. This remarkable gold solidus, probably struck at Rome but possibly at Ravenna, conforms to the revolutionary types adopted by Justinian II in Constantinople, showing Christ with a head of short, curly hair and a close-cropped beard, much different from the traditional portrait. It may have been influenced by the so-called Mandylion, a miraculous portrait of Christ dating from his lifetime.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2012
    6th-11th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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