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555929
555929.

Justin II. 565-578. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.46 g, 6h). Constantinople mint, 3rd officina. Struck 567-578. Helmeted and cuirassed bust facing, holding globe surmounted by Victory and shield / Constantinopolis seated facing on throne, head right, holding scepter and globus cruciger; Γ//CONOB. DOC 4 var. (unlisted officina); MIBE 5; SB 345. Lustrous, minor graffito in obverse outer margin. EF.


Justin II was the nephew of Justinian I the Great and inherited the throne after his uncle’s long, tumultuous reign, possibly through subterfuge. He immediately faced a multitude of crises caused by Justinian’s ambitious policies, and quickly proved unequal to the challenge. Much of Italy was lost to the Lombards and Justin’s refusal to pay tribute led to renewed conflicts with Persia and the Avars. After seven years the stress of ruling seems to have unhinged his mind, and he suffered from worsening bouts of insanity, which saw him careening around the palace on a wheeled throne and demanding loud organ music be played all the time. During one lucid interval his wife, Sophia, convinced him to adopt a capable young general, Tiberius, as his heir and surrogate ruler. Justin relinquished his power and died six years later in AD 578. His gold coinage differs from his predecessor’s in showing a figure of Victory on the obverse crowning him, while a seated figure of Constantinople replaces the angel previously depicted on the reverse; both elements are throwbacks to an earlier age and fit with his commitment to old Roman ideals.