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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 265. Estimate CHF6500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF5200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Constantine VI & Irene. 780-797. Solidus (Gold, 4.52 g 6), 780-790. S IRInI AVΓ MA... Crowned equal sized and facing busts of Constantine VI, beardless, on the left, wearing chlalmys and holding cross on globe, and Irene, on the right, wearing loros and holding cross on globe; between their heads, cross and pellet. Rev. COnSTAnTInOS... Figures of Constantine V, Leo III and Leo IV seated facing, all crowned and wearing chlamys. DOC 1. SB 1593. Rare. A very clear and fresh piece. Flan a little tight, otherwise, virtually as struck.

Constantine VI was the son of Leo IV and Irene Sarantapechaina - Irene of Athens - the daughter of an important Greek family (there is a Sarantapichou street in Athens today). He was just a child when he came to the throne under his mother’s tutelage (born in 771, he had been crowned co-emperor in 776). He turned into a vacillating and cruel emperor after he had finally managed to oust his mother from the regency in 790. He faced a number of revolts, including one by his uncle, which he suppressed with great cruelty. Finally Irene managed to return and depose him in 797; he was blinded with such ferocity that he died shortly thereafter. This early solidus shows him and his mother as equals.