A first foray (or should I say fourée) into Byzantine Gold

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ycon, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    For the past several years I've been working on a collection of historically important ancient, medieval and early modern women. As this is a side-collection for me I can only dedicate limited funds to it, and I'm often hunting for bargains. The interest for me in this particular set is primarily historical rather than aesthetic, so I'm OK with some fairly junky looking coins.

    One ruler who I'm thrilled to have acquired recently is the 11th century Byzantine Empress Theodora. She ruled from 19 April 1042 to her death on 31 August 1056, first with her sister Zoë, and then as sole ruler from 11 January 1055.

    I never expected to own a coin of Theodora's: hers are quite scarce-- and almost always only found in gold, meaning they command steep prices. Fourées are in fact much rarer (I could only locate two others in online databases, one of which was just a core), but also much more affordable.

    IMG_2778 (1).jpg
    Zoe and Theodora together with Zoe's husband Constantine IX in a manuscript at St. Catherine's monastery (photo clandestinely taken by me!)

    I'll let wikipedia summarize some of why Theodora is such an interesting figure:

    Theodora became involved in political matters only late into her life. Her father Constantine VIII was co-ruler of the Byzantine Empire for 63 years then sole emperor from 1025 to 1028. After he died his older daughter, Zoë, co-ruled with her husbands then her adopted son, Michael V, keeping Theodora closely watched. After two foiled plots, Theodora was exiled to an island monastery in the Sea of Marmara in 1031. A decade later, the people of Constantinople rose against Michael V and insisted that she return to rule alongside her sister, Zoë.
    After 65 days Zoë married again to Constantine IX, who assumed the imperial responsibilities. Theodora seemingly retired to a convent after the death of Zoë in 1050. When Constantine died, the seventy-four-year-old Theodora returned to the throne despite fierce opposition from court officials and military claimants. For sixteen months she ruled as empress in her own right before succumbing to a sudden illness and dying aged seventy-six. She was the last ruler of the Macedonian line.

    Theodora, 1055-1056. Fourée Tetarteron nomisma (Gold plated copper, 18 mm, 2.30 g, 6 h). IC XC Facing bust of Christ Pantokrator, raising right hand in benediction and holding Book of Gospels in left. Rev. [[ΘЄΟΔωΡ ΑVΓΟVCT] Facing bust of Theodora, wearing crown with pendilia, saccos, and loros, and holding jeweled scepter in right hand, globus cruciger in left. DOC 2. SB 1838.

    Feel free to share your Theodoras, favorite medieval women, byzantine fourées or whatever else you feel is relevant!
    seth77, Edessa, ominus1 and 2 others like this.
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