Ancients Michael IV the Paphlagonian (AD 1034-1041). AV histamenon

Michael IV the Paphlagonian (AD 1034-1041). AV histamenon nomisma (28mm, 4.42 gm, 6h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 4/5. Constantinople. + IhS XIS RЄX RЄϚNANTIhM, bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus cruciger with square and four pellets in each arm, pallium and colobium, right hand raised in benediction, book of Gospels cradled in left; triple border / + mIX-Ah-L bASILЄЧS Rm, bust of Michael IV facing with short beard, wearing crown with pendilia and loros with square pattern, labarum with five pellets on banner surmounted by cross in right hand, globus cruciger in left; manus Dei above from left, triple border. Sear 1824.

Ex Leu Numismatik, Auction 4 (25 May 2019), lot 858.

A commoner from the Black Sea coast of Anatolia--from the coastal region of Paphlagonia, between Bithynia and Pontus--Michael IV was the brother of John the Orphanotrophos (keeper of the state orphanage), a crafty eunuch who had gained a dominant position in the Byzantine court. Through John's influence, the handsome Michael was introduced to the Empress Zoe and became her lover. Upon the suspicious death of Zoe's husband, the elderly Emperor Romanus III, Michael married Zoe and was himself acclaimed as Emperor. Although an epileptic, he soon proved a strong ruler and a brave soldier, leading Byzantine armies to victory against the Arabs, Fatamids and Bulgarians. Sicily was partially reconquered and a favorable treaty signed with Fatamid Egypt. But the stress of office and military campaigns took a toll on his fragile health and Michael died after a too-brief reign of seven years in December 1041. In the realm of coinage, it was under Michael IV that the now familiar scyphate, or "cup-shaped" fabric was first employed for the gold histamenon nomisma. The reasons for its adoption are not well understood, but it became the standard model for Byzantine coinage for the next three and a half centuries.


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