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    Nicephorus: Reform and Disaster

    Nicephorus I (AD 802-811), with Stauracius (AD 803-811). AV solidus (21mm, 4.43 gm, 5h).     Constantinople, AD 803-811. hICI-FOROS bASILЄ', crowned facing bust of Nicephorus, wearing chlamys pinned at right shoulder, holding cross potent in right hand and akakia in left / STAVRA-CIS ?ЄSPO' X, crowned facing bust of Stauracius, wearing chlamys pinned at right shoulder, holding cross potent in right hand and akakia in left. Sear 1604. DOC 2c. NGC Choice MS 4/5 - 5/5.

    From The Lexington Collection of Jonathan K. Kern.

    The former imperial treasurer, Nicephorus I came to power in the coup that toppled the controversial Empress Irene. Nicephorus was a strict conservative with considerable military and administrative experience, and soon repaired much of the damage caused by Irene's mismanagement. He revoked many of her tax reductions and found new sources of revenue that put the state on a sounder footing. His achievements in foreign affairs were more of a mixed bag. His refusal to pay tribute to the Arabs aroused their anger and invited attacks, but he reconquered central Greece from the Slavs, who had overrun it two centuries before, and created several new Themes, or military districts, by which the army could be replenished. In AD Nicephorus and his son and co-ruler Stauracius invaded Bulgaria, which had become a major threat under the ferocious warlord Krum. The invasion at first met with great success, taking and sacking the Bulgarian capital city of Pliska. But Nicephorus unwisely pursued Krum into the mountains, where he and his army were ambushed and slaughtered. Though grievously wounded, Stauracius managed to escape and made it back to Constantinople before expiring. Krum had Nicephorus' skull made into a drinking cup, which became part of the Bulgarian royal regalia.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    3rd-10th Wednesday-Wednesday
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