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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.


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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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In a religious context, votum, plural vota, is a vow or promise made to a deity. The word comes from the past participle of voveo, vovere; as the result of the verbal action "vow, promise", it may refer also to the fulfillment of this vow, that is, the thing promised. The votum is thus an aspect of the contractual nature of Roman religion, a bargaining expressed by do ut des, "I give that you might give."
RS56053. Silver siliqua, RIC IX Constantinopolis 77(a) (R), RSC V 71c, SRCV V 20251, VF, toned, weight 1.864 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, c. 384 - 28 Aug 388 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VOT / X / MVLT / XX in four lines within wreath, CONS in exergue; rare; SOLD


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In 386 or 387, Magnus Maximus crossed the Alps into the Po valley and threatened Milan. Valentinian II and Justina fled to Theodosius in Thessalonica. The latter came to an agreement, cemented by his marriage to Valentinian's sister Galla, to restore the young emperor in the West. In 388, Theodosius marched west and defeated Maximus. Although he was to appoint both of his sons emperor (Arcadius in 383, Honorius in 393), Theodosius remained loyal to the dynasty of Valentinian I.
RL11795. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Antioch 59(b) (4th officina not listed), LRBC II 2749, SRCV V 20266, Cohen VIII 21, Choice EF, weight 5.072 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 25 Aug 383 - 28 Aug 388 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, helmeted, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, spear in right hand, shield in left hand; 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, T left, cross upper right, ANT∆ in exergue; SOLD


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On 9 August 378, in Rome's greatest defeat since Hannibal, Valens was defeated by the Visigoths at the Battle of Adrianople. The emperor was killed along with two-thirds of his army. Rome was left with no choice but to ally with former enemies. In 379, the Visigoths were settled in the Balkans. In 380, the Germans, Sarmatians and Huns were taken into Imperial service. Barbarian leaders began to play an increasingly active role in ruling the Roman Empire.
RL71419. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 51.5, LRBC II 75 corr. (no star), SRCV V 20330, Cohen VIII 80, gVF, perfect centering, flat areas, weight 2.746 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, 4th 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, Θ left, star over Φ right, ANT∆ in exergue; SOLD


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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.
RL30432. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 51.1, LRBC II 2670 corr. (no star), SRCV V 20330, Cohen VIII 80, Choice gVF, attractive "desert" patina, weight 2.625 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, 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; SOLD


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Theodosius appointed his trusted general, Arbogast (a Frank), as magister militum and Valentinian's guardian. Acting in the name of Valentinian, Arbogast was subordinate only to Theodosius. When Arbogast prohibited Valentinian from leading the army into Italy to oppose a barbarian threat, Valentinian responded by formally dismissing the general. Arbogast 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. Zosimus writing in the early sixth century from Constantinople, states that Arbogast had Valentinian murdered, ancient authorities are divided in their opinion.
RS72468. Silver siliqua, SRCV V 20235 ff. (various mints), VF, toned, clipped, die wear, marks and scratches, weight 1.051 g, maximum diameter 13.0 mm, die axis 0o, obverse D N VALENTINIANVS IVN P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG (victory of the three emperors), Victory advancing left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, mintmark in exergue (off flan); SOLD


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In 383, Theodosius I ceded Dacia and Macedonia to Valentinian II. They both recognized Magnus Maximus as Augustus.
RL04556. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Cyzicus 14b (R2), VF+, weight 5.46 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, 4th officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, 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, SMK∆ in exergue; from the Aiello Collection; rare; SOLD


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

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On 9 August 378, in Rome's greatest defeat since Hannibal, Valens was defeated by the Visigoths at the Battle of Adrianople. The emperor was killed along with two-thirds of his army. Rome was left with no choice but to ally with former enemies. In 379, the Visigoths were settled in the Balkans. In 380, the Germans, Sarmatians and Huns were taken into Imperial service. Barbarian leaders began to play an increasingly active role in ruling the Roman Empire.
RL85608. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 51.5, LRBC II 75 corr. (no star), SRCV V 20330, Cohen VIII 80, Choice EF, well centered and struck, black patina with some bare copper high spots, edge cracks, weight 2.846 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, 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 Roma's right hand, spear vertical behind in left hand, Θ left, star over Φ right, ANTB in exergue; SOLD


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Valentinian himself seems to have exercised no real authority, and was a figurehead for various powerful interests: his mother, his co-emperors, and powerful generals. Since the Crisis of the Third Century, the empire had been ruled by powerful generals, a situation formalized by Diocletian and his collegiate system. While Constantine I and his sons had been strong military figures, they had also re-established the practice of hereditary succession, adopted by Valentinian I. The obvious flaw in these two competing requirements came in the reign of Valentinian II, a child. His reign was a harbinger of the fifth century, when children or nonentities, reigning as emperors, were controlled by powerful generals and officials.
RL88048. Bronze centenionalis, Hunter V 48 (also 2nd officina), RIC IX Antioch 45(b)2, LRBC II 2696, SRCV V 20301, Choice VF, dark patina with earthen deposit highlighting, well centered and struck, a few scratches, some porosity, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.788 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd 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, right leg bare, globe in right hand, reversed spear in left hand, Θ and Φ / K at sides, ANTB in exergue; SOLD


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In 386 or 387, Magnus Maximus crossed the Alps into the Po valley and threatened Milan. Valentinian II and his mother, Justina, fled to Theodosius in Thessalonica. They came to an agreement, cemented by Theodosius' marriage to Valentinian's sister Galla, to restore the young emperor in the West. In 388, Theodosius marched west and defeated Maximus. Although he also appointed both of his sons emperor (Arcadius in 383, Honorius in 393), Theodosius remained loyal to the dynasty of Valentinian I.
RL43477. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Constantinopolis 83(a)2 (S), LRBC II 2177, SRCV V 20283, Cohen VIII 57, Choice gVF, weight 5.099 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 25 Aug 383 - 28 Aug 388 A.D.; obverse D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS EXERCITI (courage of the army), emperor standing right, vexillum (standard with banner) vertical behind in right, globe in left hand, left foot on kneeling captive, P (staurogram) in left field, CONSB in exergue; scarce; 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).

Catalog current as of Sunday, October 20, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Valentinian II