Description

    Rare Majorian Tremissis, Ex Huntington

    WEST ROMAN EMPIRE. Majorian (AD 457-461). AV tremissis (14mm, 1.43 gm, 11h).  Pseudo-Imperial issue, style of Arles, attributed to the Visigoths. D N IVLIVS MAIORI - ANVS P F AVG, half-length bust of Majorian right, helmeted and holding spear and shield emblazoned with Chi-Rho / Cross within wreath, COMOB in exergue. LRC 885 (obverse legend separated differently). RIC 3748 (this coin cited).  Extremely rare. Graffito X in obverse field behind head, otherwise a pleasing Very Fine.

    Ex Archer M. Huntington-American Hispanic Society Collection (Sotheby's New York 8 March 2012, part of).

    The last truly heroic character to occupy the western Roman throne, Flavius Julius Valerius Majorianus was born ca. AD 420 to an aristocratic Roman family. His mother was daughter of the elder Majorianus, who served as Master of Soldiers to Theodosius I (AD 379-395), while his father was a financial officer on the staff of the the generalissimo Flavius AĆ«tius during the long reign of Valentinian III (AD 430-455). Majorian entered military service at an early age and distinguished himself in battle, as well as cutting a dashing figure at court. Majorian allied himself with the powerful barbarian general Ricimer, master of soldiers under the emperor Avitus, whom they deposed late in October of AD 456. After a six-month "interregnum," Majorian was hailed as emperor by Ricimer and his troops on April 1, AD 457. The East Roman Emperor Leo I agreed to the appointment only reluctantly, for Majorian did not formally accept the title until December at Ravenna. His letter to the Roman Senate setting forth his military and domestic policies is one of the few reliable documents to have survived from this shadowy period. Majorian spent most of the next two years leading military expeditions into Spain and Gaul, regions that had virtually broken away from Roman authority. Defeats were dealt to the Visigoths, Burgundians, and Vandals, the first such Roman victories in decades. He next prepared to launch an invasion of North Africa to eject the Vandals, but before he could embark, the Vandals attacked and captured his fleet at Cartagena late in AD 459. The disaster fatally crippled Majorian's regime. Forced to conclude a humiliating peace treaty, Majorian attempted to return to Italy and resume his campaign of reform and revival. But after dismissing his bodyguard in Gaul, he was intercepted, arrested and executed by his former ally Ricimer, who appointed the docile Libius Severus in his stead. 


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    18th-23rd Thursday-Tuesday
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