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Heraclius Hexagram (632-635), "Deus Adiuta Romanis" May God Help The Romans

 
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Netherlands
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 Posted 01/16/2021  04:27 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Quintillius to your friends list Get a Link to this Message


For long time I've wanted this coin to be in my collection. It may not be a beauty like an appealing Greek tetradrachm or a sweet Marcus Aurelius denarius, but the history behind it is far more thrilling!

The hexagram is rare Byzantine silver from confiscated church plates with the famous inscription: "Deus Adiuta Romanis" (May God help the Romans), it is believed that this shows the desperation of the empire at this time.


The year Heraclius came to power, the Byzantine Empire was threatened on multiple frontiers. The Avars and Slavs poured through the western Adriatic, as well as through the southern and eastern portions of the Aegean area. Their sweeping movement into Dalmatia engulfed several Byzantine cities. Heraclius had also to take charge of the Byzantine-Sasanian War of 602-628.

In 613, the Byzantine army suffered a crushing defeat at Antioch, allowing the Persians to move freely and swiftly in all directions. This surge caused the cities of Damascus and Tarsus to fall, along with Armenia. More seriously, however, was the loss of Jerusalem, which was besieged and captured by the Persians in three weeks. Countless churches in the city (including the Holy Sepulchre) were burnt and numerous relics such as the True Cross, were now in Ctesiphon, the Persian capital. Egypt was also conquered, resulting in a significant loss in manpower, food supplies and revenue. The Persian army fought their way to the Bosphorus. However, the situation was not entirely hopeless. Constantinople's walls were as powerful and well-defended as ever, and Heraclius still had a large, better-trained, and better-armed fleet than any of his "barbarian" opponents (especially the Slavs and Avars). The Persians had no vessels in the Bosporus, and thus unable to effectively besiege the city. Heraclius was able to avoid total defeat. Soon after, he initiated reforms to rebuild and strengthen the military. Heraclius drove the Persians out of Asia Minor and pushed deep into their territory, defeating them decisively in 627 at the Battle of Nineveh.

He succeeded in returning the True Cross, one of the holiest Christian relics. Thus, it was at the head of the True Cross that Heraclius entered the Capital on September 14, 628 triumphant. Leading a procession which included four elephants, the True Cross was placed high atop the altar of the Hagia Sophia.

By this time, it was generally expected by the Byzantine populace that the Emperor would lead Byzantium into a new age of glory. However, all of Heraclius' achievements would come to naught, when, in 633, the Byzantine-Arab Wars began.

Heraclius took for himself the ancient Persian title of "King of Kings" after his victory. Later on, starting in 629, he styled himself as Basileus, the Greek word for "sovereign", and that title was used by the Byzantine Emperors for the next 800 years. The reason Heraclius chose this title over previous Roman terms such as Augustus has been attributed by some scholars to his Armenian origins.

One of the most important legacies of Heraclius was changing the official language of the Empire from Latin to Greek in 610, marking a definite end of late antiquity and the beginning of the medieval era.

Heraclius lost many of his newly regained lands to the Muslim conquests. Emerging from the Arabian Peninsula, the Muslims quickly conquered the Sasanian Empire. Within a short period of time, the Arabs conquered the Mesopotamia, Armenia, Syria, Egypt and the Holy Land.

Looking back at the reign of Heraclius, scholars have credited him with many accomplishments. Heraclius's reign was one of mixed fortunes. He started his reign by losing the eastern provinces, brought it to its peak by retaking them against all odds, and ended it by losing them again. It was Heraclius who first withdrew the eastern field armies into Anatolia, sowing the seeds of the Theme system, and it was he who, through depopulation and the razing of fortifications, stabilized the Anatolian frontier, which would remain largely unchanged for the next 350 years.
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 Posted 01/16/2021  05:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Novicius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A most interesting coin and write-up. An amazing piece of history.

Thanks for sharing.
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582 Posts
 Posted 01/16/2021  05:43 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


Very interesting indeed, a special coin that reflects dramatic events in history. One of the things that make collecting coins so interesting. Thanks for sharing a great write-up!
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 Posted 01/16/2021  07:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Splendid write up on an historic coin!
The best thing I have read over my morning coffee in a VERY long time.
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 Posted 01/16/2021  08:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hexagrams were the heaviest of Byzantine silver coins, and a very scarce denomination.

One of the greatest benefits of collecting ancient coins:-
it motivates you do do a lot of supporting research behind a new and interesting acquisition.

Thanks for the write-up; it makes it easy, but no less interesting for the rest of us.
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 Posted 01/16/2021  10:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Byzantine silver is always nice, but this one is really special. Well Done.
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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 Posted 01/16/2021  10:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Palouche to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Quintillius.....Very nice coin!.....
Thoroughly enjoyed the write up and although it isn't my area of collecting, found it very informative, great to learn something new ...Thanks!
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 Posted 01/16/2021  8:13 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting scarce coin and excellent write up. Nice to see a Byzantine silver coin, there are so few of them.
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5588 Posts
 Posted 01/16/2021  8:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Excellent post and very interesting coin.
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 Posted 01/16/2021  9:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Arkie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Was listening to the History of Byzantium podcast, and had just gotten to where Heraclius became emperor. I have never heard of a hexagram.
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Netherlands
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 Posted 01/17/2021  06:01 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Quintillius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you kindly!
Indeed I knew you would appreciate this write-up. Heraclius is such an interesting figure that I just ordered a book on his life.
The hexagram was named after their weight of six grammata (6.84 grams), hexa means six.

Here's a snippet of what M.F. Hendy says about the confiscation of church silver:



This does remind me of a mention by Pericles that the statue of Athena in the Parthenon could be used as a gold reserve if that was necessary to preserve Athens during the Peloponnesian War, 1000 years before.

The book continues and tells about the disappearance of the hexagram:



Not sure what what the author exactly means, is the coin too inflexible to maintain a stable exchange rate to the solidus? But why?



Quote:

One of the greatest benefits of collecting ancient coins:-
it motivates you do do a lot of supporting research behind a new and interesting acquisition.

This
Edited by Quintillius
01/17/2021 06:02 am
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