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562607. Sold For $1275

Maurice Tiberius. 582-602. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.44 g, 6h). Constantinople mint, 4th officina. Struck 583/4-602. Helmeted, draped, and cuirassed bust facing, holding globus cruciger / Angel standing facing, holding staff surmounted by staurogram and globus cruciger; ∆//CONOB. DOC 5d; MIBE 6; SB 478. Lustrous, a few light marks. EF.

Ex El Medina Collection.

The most capable of Justinian’s immediate successors, Maurice Tiberius commanded armies during the Persian wars of Tiberius II and was raised to the rank of co-emperor shortly before the latter’s death in AD 582. Maurice vigorously pursued the Persian war and was able to take advantage of their internal disputes by restoring the exiled Great King Khosroes II to the Sasanian throne in AD 591, resulting in a favorable peace treaty. This freed up soldiers for the Balkan campaign against the invading Avars and Slavs, who proved difficult to dislodge. Maurice reorganized the Empire’s western possessions by appointing viceroys called Exarchs in Italy and Carthage, enabling them to hold out for another century or more. The cost of continuing war had to be met by harsh taxation, making his regime unpopular, and the severe weather of the “little ice age” in the AD 600s-700s made for miserable fighting conditions on the northern front. In AD 602 the Balkans army mutinied and proclaimed a half-barbarian junior officer, Phocas, as emperor. Despite reigning with competence and integrity for 20 years, Maurice was overthrown and executed along with his entire family. His downfall opened the floodgates to a deluge that soon swept away the East Roman state entirely, replacing it with a diminished and very different entity we now call Byzantium.