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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Late Empire| ▸ |Valentinian II||View 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.

|Valentinian| |II|, |Valentinian| |II,| |17| |November| |375| |-| |15| |May| |392| |A.D.||centenionalis|
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.
RL112089. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 46(d)3, LRBC II 2690, cf. SRCV V 20308 (controls), Hunter V 48 (same), VF, nice desert patina with highlighting earthen deposits, weight 2.624 g, maximum diameter 19.9 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; from the Michael Arslan Collection; $80.00 (75.20)


|Valentinian| |II|, |Valentinian| |II,| |17| |November| |375| |-| |15| |May| |392| |A.D.||centenionalis|
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.
RL112090. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 46(d)3, LRBC II 2690, cf. SRCV V 20308 (controls), Hunter V 48 (same), Choice F, well centered, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 2.082 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, 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; from the Michael Arslan Collection; $70.00 (65.80)


|Valentinian| |II|, |Valentinian| |II,| |17| |November| |375| |-| |15| |May| |392| |A.D.||solidus|
The mint mark in the exergue may be read MD for Mediolanum, OB for obryzium (refined gold).
SH57454. Gold solidus, RIC IX Mediolanum 5(c) (R4); Depeyrot p. 167, 6/3; SRCV V 20179; Cohen VIII 36 (20 fr.), Choice EF, weight 4.466 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Mediolanum (Milan, Italy) mint, 9 Aug 378 - 25 Aug 383; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AVGG (victory of the two emperors), Emperors enthroned facing, Valentinian II smaller on right, together they hold a globe, palm frond between their legs, Victory facing in center above behind throne with spread wings, MDOB in exergue; bold, well centered strike; very rare; SOLD







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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

DNVALENTINIANVSIVNPFAVG
DNVALENTINIANVSPFAVG


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).

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