King of the Ostrogoths, Regent of the Visigoths, Patricius of the Roman Empire
493-526. AV Solidus (20mm, 4.53 g, 6h). In the name of Anastasius I. Ravenna mint. Struck circa 491-518. D N ANASTA SIVS P F AVG, helmeted, diademed, and cuirassed bust right, holding spear and shield decorated with horseman motif / VICTORI A AVCCC, Victory standing left, holding jeweled cross in right hand; star to right; ß
//COMOB. COI 15; MIB 131
; Lacam –; Fagerlie 704-5; MEC 1, –. EF, areas of light toning at periphery, slightly bent flan at edge. Very rare and desirable with monogram of Theoderic.
Ex Giessener Münzhandlung 102 (24 May 2000), lot 657.
The Ostrogoths were one of a number of Germanic tribes that ravaged the Roman Empire while under the domination of the Huns. After the Hunnic kingdom fell in AD 454, the Ostrogoths were settled in northern Pannonia as foederati. In AD 488, the emperor Zeno called on the Ostrogothic king, Theoderic, to overthrow Odovacar, who had been ruling Italy for the emperor, but had recently become an opponent. Theoderic complied, and hostilities lasted until Odovacar was finally defeated in AD 493. In addition to receiving several honorific titles, befitting his ‘Roman’ status, Theoderic was tasked to rule Italy until the emperor arrived – hence continuing to strike coinage in the names of the current emperors at Constantinople – but Zeno died before this occurred. Although our coin was struck in the name of his successor, Anastasius I (AD 491-518), the addition of the Theodericus monogram at he end of the reverse legend demonstrates that Theoderic had become the de facto ruler of Italy by this time. Over the following thirty years, under Theoderic and then his grandson, Athalaric, Italy experienced a period of relative tranquility. The prosperity of the kingdom was shattered in AD 535, when the Byzantine emperor Justinian I sent his general Belisarius to return Italy to ‘Roman’ rule. Although Belisarius was on the brink of accomplishing this goal, Justinian was forced to recall him to lead the imperial forces against the Persians in the east. Afterward, a quick succession of inept kings followed, until Baduila ascended the throne in AD 541. A popular king, he restored most of Italy to the Ostrogoths and sparked a revival of their fortunes, but was eventually killed in action against the Byzantines at Busta Gallorum in AD 552. His successor, Theia, died that same year, and only a few independent pockets of Ostrogothic resistance held out until the last stronghold was taken in AD 562.