Romanus, Christopher, and Constantine VII (913-959)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Earlier this year I wrote a web page
    on the complicated reign of the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII who was "born in the purple" and began his reign too young to actually rule. At first his mother was regent, but she was pushed aside by Romanus I, who then promoted his own son Christopher.

    I just added this coin (the fourth coin on the site), because it helps tell the story. The coin names three rulers. Note the order of the names.

    25 mm. 2.81 grams. Silver miliaresion.
    Obverse: Cross potent on four steps, globus beneath.
    IhSЧS XRI-STЧS ҺICA (Jesus Christ conquers)

    +ROmAҺO Romanus [and]
    XPISTOFOR' Christopher
    CЄ COҺSTAҺ' and Constan[tine VII]
    ЄҺ Xω ЄVSЄ in Christ pius [pious]
    b BASIL R' emperor of the Romans

    Sear 1754.

    Although Constantine VII was technically the legitimate emperor, the coin shows that Romanus was in power and Christopher was next in line. However, as is so often the case, events intervened and changed what had been planned by Romanus. You can read the rest of story on the site:

    Byzantine coins are not always beautiful, but the stories are great!

    Show, or tell, us something Byzantine!
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the write up! I've been reading through your Byzantine articles recently. Great stuff!
    In keeping with the Constantine VII theme, here is a follis of Nicephorous II, Phocas that used a follis of Constantine VII as the host coin:

    Nicephorus II Phocas, 963-969 AD, AE Follis, Constantinople.png
    Nicephorous II, Phocas
    Follis (overstruck on Constantine Follis, SB 1761)
    963-969 AD
    Obverse: NICIFR bASIL ROM, crowned bust facing with short beard, wearing loros, holding labarum and cross on globe
    (Reverse of Constantine VII, CONST-EN QEO bA-SILEVS R-OMEON under bust)
    Reverse: NICHF-EN QEW bA-SILEVS RW-MAIWN, legend in four lines
    (Bust of Constantine VII, upside down on top of legend)
  4. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Great website with amazing information.

    I do have a small lot of Byzantines on the way from the AMCC3 auction. They will not be high grade but will be a lot of fun to investigate.

    In the meantime here is my favorite:

    Byzantine Empire, Justinian I (527-565) AE follis
    Weight: 23.4 gram
    Diameter: 42.3 mm
    ... very large!!
  5. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    @Valentinian That's a nice Byzantine silver coin.
    The Byzantine silver coins are interesting. I've mostly collected the Byzantine bronze coins, because of the scarcity and therefore relatively high cost of nice Byzantine silver coins.
    @furryfrog02 That is a nice Nicephorus II Phocas follis. It's funny, that an Emperor would have the same name, as the infamous Phocas who reigned from 602 AD to 610 AD.
    @Clavdivs That's a really nice Justinian I follis. I like the green patina, and the size.
    Here is one of my Byzantine coins, a Basil II or Constantine VIII coin, a 40 nummus bronze follis, minted from 1023 AD to 1028 AD. It may have been minted, during the last few years of the reign of Basil II. Or, it may have been minted, during the reign of Constantine VIII. It doesn't have a portrait of the Emperor. It doesn't even have the name of the Emperor. Instead, it has a portrait of Jesus Christ. From 969 AD to 1059 AD, none of the Byzantine 40 nummus follis coins bore the portrait or name of the Emperor. This was because of the spirituality of the Emperors of this time period, according to some scholars. On the obverse, near the left edge, it says "EMMANOVHL", which is Greek for "Emmanuel", meaning "God With Us". Also on the obverse, to the left and right of the Jesus Christ portrait, it says "IC XC", which is an abbreviation for "IHSUS XRISTUS", which is Greek for "Jesus Christ". On the reverse, it says "IHSUS XRISTUS BASILEU BASILE", which is Greek for "Jesus Christ King Of Kings". Constantinople mint. Class A3. Sear 1818. Diameter = 28 mm. Weight = 9.27 grams.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
  6. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I don't collect late Byzantine coins, so I can't contribute much. However, there is a certain overlap with my medieval Russian interest. So below I show a recent acquisition of mine. The coin was described as imitation of a Miliaresion of Nikephoros III., 1078-1081 in the auction catalog.

    However, one can be a bit more specific. These imitations were made at Tmutarakan, a trading town and Russian principality on the Taman peninsula between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

    Screenshot 2021-07-29 at 08.32.51.png

    Tmutarakan was originally called Samkerz. It was ruled by the Khazars in the 9th and 10th centuries. In the early 10th century a Byzantine source called Samkerz Tamatarha. This name was adopted into Russian as Tmutarakan after Prince Svyatoslav overthrew Khazar rule of Samkerz in 965.

    Tmutarakan was ruled by Svyatoslav and later his son Vladimir (Saint Vladimir) from Kiev. Around AD 1000 Vladimir installed one of his sons Prince Mstislav as ruler in Tmutarakan. After Mstislav's death in 1036, the principality of Tmutarakan passed to his nephew Svyatoslav (of Tmutarakan and Chernigov) and then to his son Oleg.

    Most of the Tmutarakan imitations were minted in copper and probably date to the time of Svyatoslav (ie. around 1050). My coin was minted in reasonably good silver and may be early. These coins are customarily assigned to the reign of Prince Mstislav (hence the cataloger was probably wrong when he identified a coin of Nikephoros III., 1078-1081 as model).
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    I have a Romanus, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and Christopher Miliaresion as well...

    Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, with Romanus I and Christopher, 913-959. Miliaresion. Constantine was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty reigning from 6 June 913 to 9 November 959. He was the son of Emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, and the nephew of his predecessor Emperor Alexander. He was known as a scholar and the epithet "born in the purple" refers to his birthplace in the Imperial chamber adorned with the purple stone porphyry. Much of his reign was covered by regencies, first under his mother and later under Romanus I.

    (AR, 25 mm, 3.15 g, 12 h), Constantinople. IҺSЧS XRISTЧS ҺICA Cross potent set on three steps; below, globe. Rev. +ROmAҺO' / XPISTOFOR' / CЄ COҺSTAҺ' / ЄҺ X'ω ЄVSЄ/b' bASIL' R' in five lines. DOC 18. SB 1754.

    ex-Leu Auction April 2021

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
    ambr0zie, PeteB, philologus_1 and 6 others like this.
  8. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Supporter! Supporter

    I like this Byzzie denomination! :)

    Below is my (lesser) example of the same type as the specimen @Valentinian posted above.
    Sear Byzantine 1754. 2.43 gr. 24.5 mm.

    Here is another AR Miliaresion from the same century (10th):
    John I Tzimisces, (969-976).
    Mint: Constantinople.
    Obv.: Cross crosslet on globus and 2 steps, circular medallion at center containing crowned bust of John facing wearing loros, dividing the inscription
    I/W - A/n. Legend around: IHSUS XCRISTUS NICA.
    Rev.: Legend: + Iwann / En Xw AVTO CRATEVSEb / bASILEVS / RWMAIW.
    Diameter: 23 mm. Weight: 2.70 gr. Attrib.: SB_1792.

    And here is one more AR Miliaresion issued just a little later than above:
    Basil II Bulgaroktonos (976-1025) with Constantine VIII (989-1025).
    Mint: Constantinople.
    Obv.: EN TOVTW NICAT' bASILEI C CWNST'; Cross crosslet with central X set globe on four steps, between crowned facing busts of Basil & Constantine.
    Diameter: 21 mm*. Weight: 1.99 gr. Attrib.: SB_1810.
    * Per Sears, pg. 348: This type are normally clipped down to 21mm.

    My notes on the last coin above state that the reverse's legend translates, Basil and Constantine born in the purple by the grace of God king of the Romans.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
  9. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Looks very much like @philologus_1’s third coin immediately above. Was that the model copied?
    ambr0zie, Tejas and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  10. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Yes, there is an article "Imitations of 11th century Byzantine coins found on the Taman Peninsula", by Alexander Basok in The Celeator, Vol 12, No. 11, Nov. 1998, which confirms this. Apparently, studies by Russian scholars also identified coins of John I Tzimisces (969-976) as models, but most of the Tmutarakan coins imitate Basil II and Constantine VIII.

    The latter two were brothers-in-law of Vladimir the Saint. He supported them in 985 by crushing a rebellion in Asia Minor, which had threatened the entire empire. In 988, Vladimir accepted Christianity, but in 989 he turned against Basil II and Constantine VIII, sacking Khersonaesis, which never recovered, while trade shifted to Tmutarakan.

    I also have this piece, which is made of copper:

    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 08.13.27.png

    A poor silver/billon specimen
    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 08.14.27.png

    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 08.15.01.png
    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 08.15.36.png
  11. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    I do not collect Byzantine coins and my knowledge about them is very limited.
    However, I have one, I liked the naive style portrait.

    Theophilus (829-842). AE Follis. Syracuse mint. ThEOFIL bASIL, crowned bust facing with short beard, wearing chlamys, holding cross on globe / Large M, XXX to left, cross above, NNN to right, theta below. SB 1681, DOC 30.
  12. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Nice write up and great site, @Valentinian

    I have had a tendency towards budget coins when buying Byzantine. Here’s my Constantine VII:

    BCV 1755 Constantine VII.jpg

    CONSTANTINE VII PORPHYROGENITUS with ROMANUS I, STEPHEN and CONSTANTINE (913-959). Miliaresion. Constantinople.

    Obverse: IҺSЧS XRISTЧS ҺICA / Rω - MA. Cross potent set upon three steps; in central medallion, crowned facing bust of Romanus; pelleted cross below.

    Reverse: + ROMAҺO / COҺSTAҺT / STЄFAҺOS / CЄ COҺSTA / ЄҺ Xω Ь R. Legend in five lines; above and below, pelleted cross between dashes.

    Reference: Sear 1755.

    Condition: very fine. Weight: 2.41 g. Diameter: 23 mm.

    I bought another Byzantine coin recently, which I was quite happy with. It’s an anonymous follis class G, attributed to Romanus IV (1068-71):

    Romanus IV AN Follis.jpg

    Romanus IV Diogenes (1068-1071), Anonymous AE Follis, Constantinople.

    Obverse: Bust of Christ facing with nimbate cross, pallium and colobium, and raising right hand in benediction, scroll in left hand
    Reverse: MP ΘV; facing bust of the Virgin Mary, nimbate and wearing pallium and maphorium.

    Reference: BCV 1867.
    Weight: 10.2g Diameter: 27mm Conservation: Very Fine
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