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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Late Empire ▸ Valentinian IIView Options:  |  |  | 

Valentinian II, 17 November 375 - 15 May 392 A.D.

Valentinian II was the son of Valentinian I and declared Augustus shortly after his father's death. He seems to have exercised no real authority, and was a figurehead for various powerful interests: his mother, his co-emperors, and powerful generals. His influence steadily waned, and after the death of Gratian, he only controlled Italy. Although he and Theodosius II quickly repulsed the invasion of Magnus Maximus in 387 A.D., Theodosius remained in Milan until 391 and Valentinian took no part in the triumphal celebrations. Valentinian and his court were installed at Vienne, Gaul. Theodosius appointed his trusted general Arbogast, a Frank, as magister militum for the Western provinces (excluding Africa) and guardian of Valentinian. Acting in the name of Valentinian, Arbogast was actually subordinate only to Theodosius. While the general campaigned successfully on the Rhine, the young emperor remained at Vienne, in contrast to his warrior father and his older brother, who had campaigned at his age. Valentinian II was strangled, probably on the order of Arbogastes.


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In 380, Rome's enemies the Germans, Sarmatians and Huns were taken into Imperial service; barbarian leaders began to play an increasingly active role in the Roman Empire.
RL74501. Bronze half centenionalis, RIC IX Thessalonica 62(a)1 (S), LRBC II 1864, SRCV V 20340, Cohen VIII 12 corr., VF, interesting turrets, tight and slightly irregular flan, weight 0.925 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 345o, 1st officina, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, c. 384 - 28 Aug 388 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, pearl diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse GLORIA REIPVBLICE (glory of the Republic), campgate with two turrets, A left, TES in exergue; $80.00 (68.00)


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The ruins of Antioch on the Orontes lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey. Founded near the end of the 4th century B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch's geographic, military and economic location, particularly the spice trade, the Silk Road, the Persian Royal Road, benefited its occupants, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East and as the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period. Antioch is called "the cradle of Christianity," for the pivotal early role it played in the emergence of the faith. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents are known as Antiochenes. Once a great metropolis of half a million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes following the Mongol conquests, which then no longer passed through Antioch from the far east.6th Century Antioch
RL88044. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Antioch 40(b)2, LRBC II 2719, SRCV V 20265, Cohen VIII 22, Hunter V -, Choice gVF, glossy black patina, highlighting earthen deposits, scattered areas of minor porosity, weight 4.980 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, 5th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 378 - 383 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, helmeted, draped and cuirassed bust right holding spear and shield; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Emperor standing slightly left on galley, head right, wearing helmet and military garb, paludamentum flying behind, raising right hand in salute, Victory seated steering at stern, wreath left, cross upper right, ANTE in exergue; $80.00 (68.00)


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After the defeat of Maximus, Valentinian and his court were installed at Vienne, Gaul. Theodosius' trusted general, the Frank Arbogast, was appointed magister militum for the Western provinces (except Africa) and guardian of Valentinian. Acting in the name of Valentinian, Arbogast was actually subordinate only to Theodosius. Arbogast's domination over the emperor was considerable, he even murdered Harmonius, Valentinian's friend, suspected of taking bribes, in the emperor's presence. The crisis reached a peak when Arbogast prohibited the emperor from leading the Gallic armies into Italy to oppose a barbarian threat. Valentinian, in response, formally dismissed Arbogast. The latter ignored the order, publicly tearing it up and arguing that Valentinian had not appointed him in the first place. The reality of where the power lay was openly displayed. Valentinian wrote to Theodosius and Ambrose complaining of his subordination to his general. On 15 May 392, Valentinian was found hanged in his residence in Vienne. Arbogast maintained that the emperor's death was suicide. Most sources agree, however, that Arbogast murdered him with his own hands, or paid the Praetorians. Valentinian's Christian beliefs make suicide unlikely.
RL88045. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 46(d)3, LRBC II 2690, cf. SRCV V 20308 (controls), Hunter V 48 (same), Choice VF, black patina with red earthen fill, weight 2.324 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 9 Aug 378 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGGG (harmony among the three emperors), Roma seated facing on throne, head left, helmeted, left leg bare, globe in right hand, reversed spear in left hand, Θ (control) left, ANTΓ in exergue; $80.00 (68.00)


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Valentinian II tried to restrain the despoiling of pagan temples in Rome. Buoyed by this instruction, pagan senators, led by Aurelius Symmachus, the Prefect of Rome, petitioned in 384 for the restoration of the Altar of Victory in the Senate House, which had been removed by Gratian in 382. Valentinian, at the insistence of Ambrose, refused the request and, in so doing, rejected the traditions and rituals of pagan Rome.
RL88046. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 51.1, LRBC II 2670 corr. (no star), SRCV V 20330, Cohen VIII 80, Choice VF, dark patina, earthen highlighting, slightest porosity, weight 2.351 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 9 Aug 378 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS IVN P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VRBS ROMA (City of Rome), Roma seated left on cuirass, Victory on globe offering wreath in right hand, spear vertical behind in left hand, star right, ANTB in exergue; $80.00 (68.00)







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

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REFERENCES

Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Nepotian to Romulus Augustus, plus tesserae & cotorniates. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Constantin II Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Hahn, Wolfgang. Moneta Imperii Romani-Byzantinii. (Vienna, 1989).
King, C.E. & D.R. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Pearce, J.W.E. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume IX, Valentinian I - Theodosius I. (London 1933).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Saturday, February 16, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Valentinian II