Featured Michael VIII and Andronikos II Dynastic Trachy Sear 2323 - Oddly Charming

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by The Trachy Enjoyer, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Michael VIII Paleologus and Andronicus II:
    1272-1282 AD, AE Trachy, Thessalonica mint.
    OAΓIT ΘE-OΔOΡ / St. Theodore, half-length facing figure, in military dress, holding spear and round shield decorated with eight-rayed star

    AΔΡ X..M // Michael and Andronikos, half-length figures, each wearing loros and holding labarum and sword between them; half-length bust of the Archangel Michael above. DOC 212-215; SB 2323. IMG_6467_scrubbed.png IMG_6469_scrubbed.png IMG_6471_scrubbed.png
    This trachy is one of my favorites, possessing a fun and charming style. It was minted at some point during the 10 year interlude of Andronikos II's elevation to co-emperor with Michael VIII until the eventual death of Michael VIII. The reverse is highly interesting in design, showing Michael VIII and Andronikos II each holding the Labarum over their respective shoulders and together holding up a sword, over all of which the half bust of Archangel Michael watches/blesses.

    The message of this type was one of a divinely blessed, Christian ruling, success bringing dynasty. About a decade before Michael VIII elevated his son Andronikos II as co emperor, Michael VIII himself stole power. Entrusted to watch over the empire as regent for young John IV Lascaris (himself the son of Theodore II Lascaris), Michael VIII shut the 13 year old boy out of his inheritance and blinded him.

    The success Michael VIII brought with the recapture of Constantinople among other things has tended to wash out his despicable deeds early in his reign. Michael VIII was a power hungry and greedy man, who put his own ambition above all else. He had the fortune to found the Palaeologan dynasty however, which ruled Byzantium for another 200+ years (ultimately serving as the longest dynasty in the history of the Roman empire). His later descendants glorified his reign to legitimize their own.

    The Palaeologans oversaw the decline and fall of Byzantium and Michael VIII doesn't escape his share of the blame...but ultimately, the message on this coin came to fruition. Michael VIII established a long lasting dynasty. He brought military success by recapturing the beating heart of the Roman empire and Eastern Christendom, Constantinople. Because of his early feats, the Palaeologans over saw the last and greatest renaissance of Byzantine art and knowledge. As the empire quite literally crumbled away, the culture in Constantinople grew (one only needs to see the Chora Church to truly grasp how vibrant this period was https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/chora).

    The likes of Theodore Metochites (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Metochites) advised Andronikos II personally, creating an environment of real intelectualism. Religious and scholarly debate filled the city with fervor and high stakes debates as losers found themselves being shipped off into exile (see the Hesychast controversy for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychasm#Hesychast_controversy). The most beautiful churches and buildings from Byzantium were built or over saw major renovations during this time. Monks worked at a feverish pace to copy classical Greek texts, whose work quite literally saved the most precious literary works known, lost everywhere else in the world during the fall of the Western empire. Scholastic pursuits were at all time high and the Western European Renaissance came as a direct result of this Byzantine explosion in learning.

    All in all, this is an interesting trachy of an interesting ruler whose greed and ambition incidentally kindled a love for learning and brought the West out of the dark ages some 200 years after his blinding and usurpation of a child...
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2021
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  3. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    Here is one that just arrived that I am thrilled about. There was a better one that came to auction a while ago, but it went for BIG bucks. It blew waaay past my bids. However, this is a awesome filler as these rarely come to auction:

    Byzantine Empire: Michael VIII Palaeologos (1261-1282) Æ Trachy, Constantinople (Sear 2251; DOC V 37; PCPC 13)
    Obv: "Prepared" throne with Gospel and instruments of Christ's passion
    Rev: Full-length figure of emperor on left, and of military saint; between them star on long shaft, at the end of which a globe; Emperor wears stemma, divitsion, paneled loros of simplified type and sagion; holds in right hand scepter cruciger; Saint wears short military tunic and sagion; holds sword point downward

  4. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    The designs featured on the coinage of Michael VIII are so interesting. There is a real growth in terms of creativity and boldness under his (and the following palaeologans) eye
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  5. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add this but share any trachys or later palaeologan coins you all have!
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Charming, I agree! And an interesting perspective on Michael VIII who, as you say, is usually represented favourably. My favourite trachy of his is this one, where he's holding a model of the city, restored to the Byzantine fold:
    michael viii.jpg
  7. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Wow, that is sharpest model city I have ever seen! Oftentimes that is one part of the design which doesn’t get struck well.
    1DF6EF22-FD49-4CE2-A643-F39640958FF6.png 42078CAB-62CB-4E73-A54C-E4C099BE86A3.png
    I have two model city trachys, both of Andronikos II as a winged emperor!

    Andronicus II. 1282-1328 AD. AE Trachy: Thessalonica mint. Facing bust of St. Demetrios, holding spear over shoulder; retrograde B in left field / Andronicus, winged, standing facing, holding model castle and cross-headed sceptre. DOC V 849; SB 2370.
  8. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    OP coin is really neat. I love seeing that winged angel seemingly protecting the two guys with his wings.
    The Trachy Enjoyer likes this.
  9. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Its a fun type for sure and very evocative which I like
  10. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    Wow! Those are really good, bold strikes on that model city! Instead of posting the same coin, here is a different one:

    Byzantine Empire: John V Palaeologus (1341-1391) Æ Assarion, Thessalonica (Sear 2525; DOC V.169; PCPC 317)
    Obv: St. Demetrius standing facing between two patriarchal crosses
    Rev: John standing facing, holding long staff surmounted by cross in circle and model of city; star to lower right

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