Home Contents Search

 

RIC Volume X - Divided Empire to Fall of Empire: Non-Imperial Coinage

Gallic 1: Attributed to the Visigoths

Visigoths in the name of Valentinian III, AV Tremissis, c.439-455, Toulouse (?)
D N PLA VALENTINIANVS P F AVG
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
(No legend)
Cross surrounded by wreath terminating in large jewel, decorated at base with curved disjointed ties flanking XIIX
COMOB in exergue
14mm, 1.50g
RIC X, 3722 (R4); Reinhart --; Cohen --
Ex Triton X, Lot 819, January 2007 (Misattributed as RIC X, 2064 - official Imperial Issue); Ex Marc Poncin Collection

Notes from David Sear CoA of April 19, 2007 (Note: David Sear misattributed this coin as RIC X 3721; Reinhart 32-6; Cohen 49 on the certificate. The difference being 3721 has rosette-diademed portrait and is common, versus 3722 showing pearl-diademed portrait and extremely rare. The pearl-diademed portrait is not listed in Reinhart or Cohen. Also, although the plate is too small to be certain, this coin appears to be from the same dies as the example on Plate 77):

Placidius Valentinianus was born July 2, 419. He was the son of the western co-Emperor Constantius III, who reigned briefly in 421 and the Empress Galla Placidia, half-sister of Arcadius and Honorius and granddaughter of Valentinian I. In the year following the death of Constantius III (422), Placidia quarreled with Honorius and fled the western court at Ravenna, taking with her her young children, the future Emperor Valentinian III and his older sister, Justa Gratia Honoria. The found refuge in Constantinople at the court of Placidia's nephew, the eastern Emperor Theodosius II, and there remained until the western throne was usurped by John (Johannes) following the death of Honorius on August 15, 423. Two years earlier, Theodosius II had refused to recognize the elevation by Honorius of the co-Emperor Constantius III and was now equally reluctant to extend recognition to Constantius' son, the young Valentinian. However, Theodosius soon realized the impossibility of trying to rule both East and West (the last Emperor to do this was his grandfather, Theodosius the Great, three decades before) and instead decided to support Valentinian's claim to the western throne by sending an army to overthrow John. This was accomplished in 425 and on October 23, Valentinian III was officially recognized by Theodosius II as his imperial colleague in the West. Valentinian III was to reign ingloriously for 30 years, a period which witnessed the steady dissolution of the western division of the Empire, before finally succumbing to the assassin's dagger on March 16, 455.

The coinage of this long reign is surprisingly scarce, a testament to the rapid decline in the power and financial resources of the Western Empire. Of the three monetary metals, gold was minted most abundantly, principally from Ravenna and Rome in the West, occasionally supplemented by issues from Constantinople made by Valentinian's eastern colleague Theodosius II. The western gold was frequently imitated by the barbarian tribes who had invaded and settled in much of the territory of the Western Empire.

This attractive gold tremissis (one-third solidus) has the characteristics of an issue attributed by Kent (in RIC X) to the Visigoths in south-western Gaul. Characterized by the distinctive form of the wreath and its ties, these coins were inspired by the contemporary imperial issues from the Ravenna mint (cf. RICX, pl. 51) and belong to the second half of the reign.

The Visigoths had crossed the lower Danube in 376 and two years later, under Fritigern, had defeated the Romans under Valens at the disastrous battle of Adrianople, in which the emperor lost his life. Later, under Alaric, they devastated Greece and migrated to Italy, where, in August of 410, they sacked Rome. Thereafter, they moved to Gaul and Spain and in 418 settled as Federates between the mouths of the Garonne and the Loire, with their capital at Toulouse. Here, they pursued a fluctuating relationship with Romans and during periods of peace they produced a surprisingly extensive imitative coinage using imperial issues as their prototypes. These issues may even have been sanctioned by the imperial government to make good a shortage of currency in the western provinces.

Gallic 2: Attributed to the Burgundians or Franks
Spanish: Attributed to the Suevi
Non-Imperial North African Issues

Vandal Kindgom-Gaiseric, in the name of Honorius, AR Siliqua, 428-477, Pseudo-Ravenna Mint in Carthage
D N HONORI_VS P F AVG
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
VRBS-ROMA
Roma seated left on cuirass, Victory on globe in right hand, reversed vertical spear in left
17mm, 1.69g
RVPS in exergue
RIC X, 3801 (S); Wroth 6; MEC 2-3; C. Morrisson and J. H. Schwartz, "Vandal Silver Coinage in the Name of Honorius," MN 27 (1982), 1-13