Pulcheria, Augusta 4 July 414 - July 453 A.D.

Sister of the emperor Theodosius II and wife of the emperor Marcinian. Hailed as Augusta at 15 years old, Pulcheria was the true ruler of the Empire during her brother's reign from 414 to 450 A.D. It was under her influence that Theodosius II ordered the destruction of all Pagan temples in the mediterranean. At age 51, she selected Marcinian as her husband to legitimize his rule, however she remained chaste. Her will left all her possession to the poor.

Obverse Legends


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PULCHERIA (Aelia), daughter of the Emperor Arcadius, sister of Theodosius the second, and the wife of Marcianus, was born at Constantinople (A.D. 399). This princess was associated in the imperial government by her brother, from whom she received the rank and title of Augusta (A.D. 414). Pulcheria's historical character is that of a woman, as virtuous as she was beautiful; no less distinguished for charity and beneficence than for sweetness of temper and affability of manners. That her piety, however, partook of the ascetic taint of the age in which she lived, is strongly indicated by the unconjugal condition on which, after the death of Theodosius (A.D. 450), she gave her hand in marriage, and a seat on the throne of the Empire, to Marcian - viz., that he should not claim his rights as a husband, but leave her to live chaste. Accordingly she remained in a state of perpetual virginity, and died in "the odour of sanctity" (A.D. 453). There are silver and gold coins of Pulcheria extant, but they are of extreme rarity. Bimard and Beauvais both assert the non-existence of any base metal coins of this empress, but Tanini gives two examples to her reign, which Mionnet recognises as genuine, and values at twenty francs each. - Her style is AEL PVLCHERIA AVG as on the coin pictured at the head of this biography.

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