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ANCIENT ROMAN COINS - Imperial

Late Empire

Late Empire: Diocletian ( after AD 284) to the end of the coinage reform of Anastasius in AD 496.

*Click on images to see larger images.*

(Reference: S=Sear Roman Coins and Their Values (2000 edtion), RSC=Roman Silver Coins, RIC=Roman Imperial Coinage, MILNE=Catalogue of Alexandrian coins; GIC=Greek Imperial Coinage by Seaby)

Julian II. AD 361 to 363. AE 1.

Julian II. AD 361 to 363. AE 1.


Denomination: AE 1.
Mint: Thessalonica, 2nd officina
Size: 25.6 x 29.1 mm.  Weight: 8.05 grams.
Reference: RIC VIII, 225. Sear 4072.
Grade: XF/gVF with a dark brown glossy patination.   A little nicer in the hand than the image would suggest.
Obverse: Head of Julian II right, with DN FL CL IVLIANVS PF AVG around.
Reverse: Bull standing right, with two stars above, SECVRITAS REIPVB around, and the mint mark TESB below.

SOLD


Order # 3659


Marcian, AD 450 to 457. Gold solidus. AS STRUCK.

Marcian, AD 450 to 457.
 Gold solidus. AS STRUCK.

Denomination: Gold solidus.
Mint: Constantinople, 6th officina.

Size
: 19.8 x 20.5 mm. Weight: 4.48 grams.
Reference
: RIC X, 510-S (officina Z).
Grade: As struck, with full orignal mint luster (nearly perfect surfaces).

Obverse
: Head of Marcian 3/4 facing, with DN MARCIANVS P F AVG around.
Reverse: Victory standing left holding a long cross, with
a star in the middle right field, with VICTORIA AVGGG around,
followed by the officina mark Z, with CONOB below.

SOLD


Order # 3193


Carausius, AD 287-293. AE antoninianus.

Carausius, AD 287-293. AE antoninianus.


Denomination: AE antoninianus.
Mint: London (MLXXI).
Size: 24.0 x 26.8 mm.  Weight: 4.03 grams.
Reference: Sear - 3562.
Grade: XF for wear but signficant weak areas on both sides, with a dark brown patination with traces of the original silvering.
Obverse: Head of Carausius right, with IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG around, with just the last few letters in not struck up in the weak area.
Reverse: Pax standing left holding a branch and sceptre, with PAX AVG around but the middle of the inscription along with Pax's head are not stuck up, with the mint mark MLXXI below, with the control marks B to the left and E to the right of Pax.


SOLD


Order # 3910


Jovian, AD 363-364. AE-1

Jovian, AD 363-364. AE-1

Denomination: AE 1.
Mint: TESA (Thessalonica, 1st officina)
Size
: 26.4 x 27.3 mm. Weight: 8.00 grams. Reference: Sear-4085
Grade
:  gVF but very slighty rough.
Obverse
: Head of Jovian right, with DN IOVIANVS P F P P AVG around.
Reverse
: Jovian stannding forwared, head left, holding a labarum and small figure of victory, with VICTORIA ROMANORVM around, with the mint mark TESA below.


SOLD


Order # 1079


(Reference: S=Sear Roman Coins and Their Values (2000 edtion), RSC=Roman Silver Coins, RIC=Roman Imperial Coinage, MILNE=Catalogue of Alexandrian coins; GIC=Greek Imperial Coinage by Seaby)



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THE TETRARCHY OF DIOCLETIAN

DIOCLETIAN, AD 284-305

Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor by his troops late in AD 284, following the murder of Numerian. Carinus held power in Rome, but was soon defeated by Diocletian who become sole Emperor in mid-285. Realizing that the Empire was too vast for one man to control, and proving himself an able administrator, he elevated Maximian to the rank of Caesar (and later Augustus), with control over the Western Provinces.

In A.D. 293, Diocletian realized that two was still not enough, so he devised a system based on two Augusti (himself and Maximian) and two Caesars, to which rank he appointed Constantius I and Galerius, thus forming the first tetrachy. If one then includes the rebel Carausius, who was not officially recognized, but did effectively control the province of Britannia, there was actually a total of five men in power.

The system worked well while Diocletian was in control, but upon his abdication things got very complicated, resulting in a very interesting series of coins. It is not within the current scope of this web site to go into detail about the power struggle that followed, but you can find a good summary of it in ROMAN COINS AND THEIR VALUES by David Sear.


CARAUSIUS, AD 287-293

As a general under Maximianus, Carausius was given the task of clearing the sea of Frankish and Saxon pirates. He soon rebelled and declared himself Emperor while taking control of Britannia and part of Gaul. He appears to have been an able general, surviving several attacks by Maximianus, but in AD 293 lost his possessions in Gaul and was soon after murdered by his chief minister, Allectus.


MAXIMIANUS, 1st Reign AD 286-305, 2nd Reign 306-308

Many of the coins of Maximianus and Galerius are very similar. Both were named Maximianus, and the portraits are very similar, so there is often confusion in telling them apart. All issue of Maximianus as "Caesar" are of Galerius, as are all issues that include "GAL" in the inscription (although Maximinus II also uses "GAL". For issues as "Augustus" without "GAL", one must pay careful attention to the exact inscriptions to determine who is who.


GALERIA VALERIUS, wife of Galerius

Galeria Valeria was the daughter of Diocletian and second wife of Galerius.


CONSTANTIUS I, AD 305-306


MAXIMINUS II, AD 309-313


MAXENTIUS, AD 306-312


LICINIUS I, AD 308-324



THE HOUSE OF CONSTANTINE

CONSTANTINE THE GREAT, AD 307-337

Constantine the Great was elevated to the rank of Caesar in AD 306 and then Augustus in AD 307 as part of the tetrarchy established by Diocletian. The tetrarchy continued to function (in a manner of speaking) with two Augusti and up to three Caesars until AD 324 when Constantine defeated Licinius, leaving himself as Augustus with this three sons, Crispus, Constantine II and Constantius II holding the rank of Caesar.

Through much intrigue and murder, the family of Constantine held the reins of power until Julian II (nephew of Constantine) was killed in battle against the Sassanians in AD 363.

The house of Constantine was briefly restored in September of AD 365 when Procopius, a relative of Julian II, led a revolt against Valens of the house of Valentinian. He held Constantinople for eight months until defeated and killed by Valens in May of AD 366.

The denominations of the bronze coinage of this period are not fully understood. For ease of classification, they will be referred to by the letters "" followed by the size rating as follows:

1 = more than 25 mm.
2 = 21 mm to 25 mm.
3 = 17 mm to 20 mm.
4 = less than 17 mm.



HELENA, mother of Constantine the Great


CONSTANTIUS II, AD 337-361



THE SOLDIER EMPERORS

In AD 350, the general Magnentius rebelled against the family of Constantine and proclaimed himself Augustus. Shortly thereafter, Constans died and Magnentius' rule was accepted throughout the Western Provinces. In AD 351 he granted the title Caesar to his brother Decentius.

To counter this threat, the general Vetranio was raised to the rank of Augustus (by Constantius) and given the job of keeping Magnentius at bay while Constantius II was looking after affairs in the East. In AD 351, Constantius II arrived and defeated Magnentius, at which time Vetranio abdicated and was rewarded with an estate where he lived out his life in peace (unusual for anyone ever who held the title of Augustus).


JOVIAN, AD 363-364

On the death of Julian II, the army proclaimed the general Jovian to be Augustus. He showed little promise as an emperor and, while on his way to Constantinople, died of carbon-monoxide poisoning caused by a brazier of charcoal left in his bed-chamber (this may or may not have been an accident).



THE HOUSE OF VALENTINIAN

Valentinian I was proclaimed Emperor in AD 364, filling the void left by the death of Jovian. As one man could not rule such a vast Empire, he immediately raised his brother Valens to the rank of Augustus with control of the East.

Gratian, the seven-year-old son of Valentinian, was raised to Augustus in AD 367. When Valentinian died in AD 375, Gratian found himself ruler of the Western Empire at the age 15, with Valens still ruler of the East. Gratian immediately granted the title Augustus to his four-year-old half-brother Valentinian II. In AD 378 Valens was killed by the Visigoths who took control of the East and being unable to rule alone Gratian was forced to grant the rank of Augustus to Theodosius, who proved very able and quickly regained control of the Eastern Provinces.


VALENTINIAN II, AD 375-392

In AD 383, Gratian was killed by the usurper Magnus Maximus, who took control of the far West leaving the young Valentinian II with only Italy under his control. Theodosius I, in charge of the East, took the opportunity to raise his son Arcadius to the rank of Augustus. Theodosius then turned his attention west and defeated Magnus Maximus in AD 388. In AD 392 the murder of Valentinian II brought the House of Valentinian to a close, leaving the House of Theodosius firmly in power.



THE HOUSE OF THEODOSIUS

Theodosius came to power in AD 379, his son Arcadius in AD 383, a second son Honorius in AD 393. Theodosius I died in AD 395. In AD 402 Theodosius II (son of Arcadius) was given the rank of Augustus, although his sister Pulcheria may have been the real power.

The history of this dynasty then becomes complex as marriage ties become more important than bloodlines. Constantius III was Augustus briefly in AD 421 following his marriage to Galla Placidia, the half-sister of Honorius and their son, Valentinian III, became Augustus in AD 425. In AD 450, Pulcheria married Marcian, who was then proclaimed Emperor.

In AD 455 Petronius Maximus was proclaimed Emperor when he married Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of Theodosius II, after murdering her husband Valentinian III. The house of Theodosius came to an end 70 days later when Petronius was killed by a mob panic-stricken by the approach of the Vandalic fleet out of Carthage.


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