Alaric's lost Booty

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by IMP Shogun, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Active Member

    In November, A. D. 401, the fearsome Goth Alaric invaded Italy and was soon encamped outside of Milan, placing it under siege. Milan was strongly fortified and Stilicho, Rome's most capable general of the time, ordered the garrison to hold out until he could bring his forces from the North. Rather than allow himself to be trapped between an armed city and an advancing army, Alaric withdrew. Stilicho caught up with Alaric and soundly defeated him in a great battle near Pollentia on Easter Sunday, in 402 AD. The Goths had been raiding the Roman Empire since Adrianople and were laden with booty.

    Stilicho recovered much of the booty the Goths had taken from the Romans since Adrianople, and took hostages, including Alaric’s wife. The Roman court was located at Ravenna where the below coin was minted in 402-406 AD. Possibly from dies made from this recaptured booty and intended to build the Western Roman empire with ethnic-Gothic troops.

    Alaric was still not forced out of Italy until he was defeated yet once again at Verona in 403. Rumors began to fly that Alaric was paying Stilicho off or that Stilicho was allowing their former friendship to get in the way of duty.

    At the battle of Faesulae in 406 AD, Stilicho went on to defeat the Gothic king Radagaisus and his combined Vandal and Goth army, only with the support of Gothic chieftain Sarus and Hunnic ruler Uldin. Was that recaptured booty used to buy support of Goths and Huns?

    Or maybe Honorius made this coin to keep under his favorite chicken's pillow:

    Honorius (395-423) AV Solidus
    21.5mm, 4.43 g
    Ravenna mint
    Struck AD 402-406.
    Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Honorius standing right, spurning captive, holding labarum and Victory on globe R|V//COMOB.
    RIC X 1287d

    I tend to think Honorius was not as fleckless as history remembers. But history does not look fondly on the purging of Stilicho and the ethnic Gothic troops and their families in 408 as Honorius was either was forced by anti-Germanic sentiment in the Army, was foiling a plot by Stilicho to create his own dynasty or was just insane. This ended up being a massive blemish on a 28-year reign and directly led to the sacking of Rome in 410 AD and eventual collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

    I'd love to see your Honorius coins.
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  3. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    That is a beautiful coin. I have a rather less impressive siliqua. Honorius's reign did at least do one good thing - it was such an uncertain time that everyone buried their coins, which we're now digging up in their thousands.

    Honorius, Siliqua, 407-408, Rome. 1.06g. D N HONORIVS P F AVG. VIRTVS ROMANORVM, Roma holding Victory on a globe and resting on a spear. (RIC X 1267; RSC [V] 59; Sear 20969). Found in Cambridgeshire, UK
    PeteB, Alegandron, Edessa and 10 others like this.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Wow, @John Conduitt, that one is amazing.
    ...Bringing us back to my very clipped example of Milan (another UK detector find; otherwise, no comparison), and, more to the point, your observations about how these were clipped to conform to the weight of the sceattas which were circulating a small handful of centuries later. (The thread was 'Criminally Undersized Flans.')
    ...Sure, why not, just for comparison. ...Other people have talked on the forum, often eloquently, about the dialectic between wear (no, really, starting with wear, vs. other modification) and social history. But with the context you provided, I'm liking how this one looks as if it could have circulated (slowly?) for the whole interval, c. early 5th to at least the 8th century.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    IMP Shogun, You've got a great looking solidus of Honorius with an exceptionally fine reverse die strike :D. I've posted my solidus a number of times but will post again for comparison. The obverse of my coin shows more detail but the reverse die has much more wear than your coin that was struck with a fresh die ;).

    Honorius Ravenna, Solidus.jpg

    Theodosius II, who reigned as the Eastern Roman Emperor longer than his counterpart Honorius, is pictured on the coin below. Theodosius managed to keep Attila from attacking the Eastern capital by offering huge bribes to the Huns. I bought this coin from Harlan Berk long ago :).

    Theodosius II, Sear 21127.jpg
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  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice write up and coin.

    GOLD, SILVER, and here is a little BRONZE...



    RI Honorius 393-343 AE3 15mm Arcadius and Honorius Stdg
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Nice coins all. I am not really a fan of Honorius' administration.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...At the safe distance of a millennium and a half, he's good for comic relief.
  9. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Active Member

    It's a tough job to get at ten and without any proof of competence. I do find the stories around Stilicho and the rejection of Romanized-Germanic troops of this era fascinating. What a disaster this was given the military situation at the time.

    "The fall of Stilicho was the signal for the Roman troops to massacre with brutal perfidy the families of the barbarian auxiliaries who were serving in Italy. The foreign soldiers, 30,000 of them, straightway marched to Noricum, joined the standard of Alaric, and urged him to descend on Italy."

    Knowing these coins were being desperately minted to save the empire [by an ill-equipped, xenophobic leader locked in a swamp-tower] is also really cool. It's also interesting to see from a numismatic perspective the change in composition of the monetary system where the frequency of gold coins increases quite a bit.

    I find it to be a fascinating period, but there are many others as well!

    Does anyone have any Hunnic or Gothic/Barbarous coins of this time period they could share?

    Doing a quick search looks like this website has quite the history on this subject - All from this year! (I've learned not to add to older posts):

    And a great one on how to represent the event just following this, the sack of Rome in 410, a very good thread:
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
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  10. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @IMP Shogun, the convergence of xenophia and violence brings me back to the "FEL. TEMP. REPARTIO" legend of, what, the preceding generation. Back to Mark Twain, history doesn't repeat itself, but it sure [...followed by stuff Twain said] rhymes.
    ...Yeah, 'comic relief' ends about here.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
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