A Visigothic siliqua minted in the name of Honorius in Septimania

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    In 414-415 the Visigoths based in Septimania and Aquitaine propped Priscus Attalus in his second usurpation and a local Gallic mint, located probably at Narbonne, started minting imitative siliquae in his name. By 415 though, under the pressure from general Constantius, the Visigoths abandoned him and he was captured by Honorius loyalists and taken to Ravenna. Afterwards, the mint in Septimania -- both Narbonne and Toulouse had been under the control of Athaulf, the King of the Visigoths, since at least 413 -- began issuing in the name of Honorius. The new coinage was the same style of imitative siliqua, of the same overall quality and design. These new siliquae minted in the name of Honorius are part of the "Gaul series" (RIC X p. 451) which means they must be connected with those minted for Attalus and are part of a cohesive coinage. The exergue of pseudo-Ravenna might have originated in 410 with Alaric's invasion of Italy (cf. DOC p. 223) and was used from then on to mint the Attalus siliquae and afterwards the coinage in the name of the rightful emperor Honorius, starting with around 415.

    honorius.jpg AR11mm, 0.91g siliqua, minted at Narbonne(?), around 415.
    [D]N HoNoRI - VS PF [AVG]; pearl-diademed, draped cuirassed bust right
    VICTOR - [IΛ ΛVGG]G; Roma seated left on cuirass, holding Victory on globe and spear
    PSR[V] - pseudo-Ravenna
    RIC X 3703 (R4)



    As a result of the campaign by general Constantius in 415, Athaulf had to move south, abandoning Bordeaux -- while possibly keeping control over Narbonne. He moved to Hispania, making Barcino his seat of power. It is possible that the minting of the series either continued under the direct authority of Athaulf and his wife Galla Placidia in Barcino, or that the minting operation remained in Narbonne. Either way, it likely continued after the murder of Athaulf in August 415.

    Mapgalli.jpg
    Gallia Narbonensis as part of the Western Empire

    J. P. C. Kent, in his address to the Royal Numismatic Society ("The President's Address," NC 149 [1989], pp. i-xvi) states that the Visigothic siliquae minted for Attalus date to 415 and that it is uncertain whether the ones minted in the name of Honorius were struck before, during, or after the ones struck for Attalus. They are very likely subsequent so should have a terminus post quem in 415. Judging by the rarity of the type, all of the Visigothic coinage relating to Attalus's second usurpation and the recognition of Honorius afterwards is very rare. The series was short-lived and perhaps did not continue for much longer after 415. Kent assigns all Honorius-related output from the pseudo-Ravenna mint in Gaul to around 418-423, but a more likely dating should start with 415 and end not long after, likely before 420.

    The return of Galla Placidia to Ravenna by Wallia, the new Visigothic King, assured the Visigoths with an official status of foederati, granting them (in 416/17) the Aquitaine that had been lost to Constantius in 415. This treaty with Ravenna very likely made for a stable base for the continuation of the "Gaul series" siliquae throughout the reign of Wallia (415-418), while their main area of circulation appears to have been Barcino-Septimania-Bordeaux in Aquitaine.

    This is a rare and historically important issue. Similar examples here, here (5 examples from CNG including the one linked to) and here among others known.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
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  3. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    Excellent write-up. I always liked these unusual types.

    Took me quite a while to find my example.
    Honorius Siliqua Visigoths.jpg
     
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  4. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    What is the most interesting aspect of this coinage is the fact that it is possible that this type had its beginnings in the 410 campaign of Alaric. Although Ravenna was not taken by the Visigoths, there are a couple of things we can gather from the pseudo-Ravenna PSRV mintmark -- the Ravenna coinage was the most numerous in Italy at that point and/or Alaric's entourage got in their possession dies and/or celators that they carried away to Gaul alongside Priscus Attalus and Galla Placidia. Which makes for a fascinating detail.
     
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