Galla Placidia, Augusta, 421-450. Solidus (Gold, 21 mm, 4.49 g, 6 h), Constantinopolis, 423-429. AEL PLACIDIA AVG Pearl-diademed and draped bust of Galla Placidia to right; above, crowned by manus dei appearing above. Rev. VOT XX MVLT XXX / CONOB Victory standing front, head to left, holding long jeweled cross in her right hand; above, small star. Depeyrot 75/4. RIC 230. Rare. A lustrous and splendid example with a particularly charming portrait. Minor weakness on the reverse, otherwise, good extremely fine.
From a European collection, acquired before 2021.
Galla Placidia was the daughter of Theodosius I and his second wife, Galla, and one of the most influential figures in late Roman politics. Born in circa 391-394, she became a pawn in the hands of the powerful early on, in particular after she was captured by Alaric in 408 and married to his successor Athaulf. Both of her sons from this relationship, Theodosius and Athaulf, died at a very young age, and she was eventually released from Gothic captivity in 416 after her husband was assassinated. Back in Ravenna, her half-brother, Honorius, forced her to marry the new strong man Constantius III in 417, with whom she had a daughter, Honoria (*418), and another son, Valentinian (*419). The latter became a central figure in the Western Roman Empire when both Constantius III and Honorius died in 421 and 423, respectively, as he was appointed to Caesar by Theodosius II in 424 and to Augustus in 425 after the defeat of the usurper Johannes (423-425).
Valentinian III was only six years old and his mother Galla Placidia now ruled the West de facto as regent with the help of the various rivalling magistri militum, whom she played off against each other. By the mid 430s, however, the general Flavius Aëtius emerged as the winner of the infighting within the officer corps, which drastically reduced Galla's influence, all the more since Valentinian was rapidly approaching maturity. In 437, the emperor turned eighteen, and his mother stepped down as regent and retreated to Rome, where she died on 27 November 450.