Heraclius, Follis, Ravenna mint, 630-631 AD (year 21), Sear 914, celebrating the defeat of the Sasanid kingdom and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem.
Heraclius (610-641 AD)
630-631 AD (year 21)
Obverse: DD NN HЄRACLIVS ЄT HЄRA CONST PP AVCC (or similar), Heraclius, crowned, in military attire and holding long cross, standing facing, foot on prostrate figure (a Persian?) below; to right, Heraclius Constantine, wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger, standing facing
Reverse: Large M; Above, cross; To left, ANNO; To right, XXI ; Exergus, RAV
This issue commemorates the victory of Heraclius over the Sasanid kingdom in 629 AD.
After years of war between Romans and Sasanids, in 612, Heraclius launched a major counter-offensive in Syria in 613. He was decisively defeated outside Antioch by Shahrbaraz and Shahin, and the Roman position collapsed. Over the following decade the Persians were able to conquer Palestine and Egypt and to devastate Anatolia. Meanwhile, the Avars and Slavs took advantage of the situation to overrun the Balkans, bringing the Roman Empire to the brink of destruction.
During these years, Heraclius strove to rebuild his army, slashing non-military expenditures, devaluing the currency and melting down Church plate, with the backing of Patriarch Sergius, to raise the necessary funds to continue the war. In 622, Heraclius left Constantinople, entrusting the city to Sergius and general Bonus as regents of his son. He assembled his forces in Asia Minor and, after conducting exercises to revive their morale, he launched a new counter-offensive, which took on the character of a holy war. In the Caucasus he inflicted a defeat on an army led by a Persian-allied Arab chief and then won a victory over the Persians under Shahrbaraz. Following a lull in 623, while he negotiated a truce with the Avars, Heraclius resumed his campaigns in the East in 624 and routed an army led by Khosrau at Ganzak in Atropatene. In 625 he defeated the generals Shahrbaraz, Shahin and Shahraplakan in Armenia, and in a surprise attack that winter he stormed Shahrbaraz's headquarters and attacked his troops in their winter billets. Supported by a Persian army commanded by Shahrbaraz, the Avars and Slavs unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople in 626, while a second Persian army under Shahin suffered another crushing defeat at the hands of Heraclius' brother Theodore. Meanwhile, Heraclius formed an alliance with the Turks, who took advantage of the dwindling strength of the Persians to ravage their territories in the Caucasus. Late in 627, Heraclius launched a winter offensive into Mesopotamia, where, despite the desertion of the Turkish contingent that had accompanied him, he defeated the Persians at the Battle of Nineveh. Continuing south along the Tigris, he sacked Khosrau's great palace at Dastagird and was only prevented from attacking Ctesiphon by the destruction of the bridges on the Nahrawan Canal. Discredited by this series of disasters, Khosrau was overthrown and killed in a coup led by his son Kavadh II, who at once sued for peace, agreeing to withdraw from all occupied territories. Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem with a majestic ceremony in 629.
Sear 914, D.O. 297, B.M.C. 452, T. 282, B.N. 5, M.I.B. 253a.