One of the key rarities in the Byzantine gold series
Lot 331
Michael IV the Paphlagonian, 1034-1041. Histamenon (Gold, 24 mm, 3.79 g, 6 h), Thessalonica. + IhS XIS RЄX RЄςNANTIҺm Christ, nimbate, seated facing on backless throne, wearing tunic and pallium, raising his right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left. Rev. + MIXΛHL ΔЄSΠOt Archangel Michael, nimbate and wearing chlamys, standing facing on the left, holding labarum with Michael IV, wearing loros and crown with pendilia, standing facing on the right, left hand on breast and crowned by manus Dei. DOC 2. Füeg 2. SB 1826 (Michael V). Extremely rare. Of great historical interest and one of the key rarities in the Byzantine gold series. Areas of weakness on the obverse, otherwise, very fine.

From a European collection, formed before 2005.

Although the Macedonian dynasty (867-1056) saw the pinnacle of Byzantine power and prestige after Late Antiquity, its final years was marred by domestic strife. When Constantine VIII died in 1028, he left no sons to succeed him, and power passed to his son-in-law, Romanos III, who had married Constantine's daughter, Zoe. Little love was lost between the two, however, and in 1034, Romanos died, possibly poisoned or murdered while bathing at his wife's instigation.

Zoe now married her lover, Michael IV, but the relationship soon soured, and Michael, perhaps fearing a similar fate as Romanos, made sure to curb the empress' power. Though an intelligent man, the emperor's economic policies caused resentment, and his reign was plagued with conspiracies. Moreover, both the Serbs and the Bulgarians revolted, though the latter were eventually soundly defeated, even as the emperor was dying of illness. Upon his death, Zoe was forced to adopt his nephew, also named Michael, who would only reign a few months before a popular revolt deposed him in favor of Zoe and her sister, Theodora.

As for this extremely rare histamenon, there has been much debate about its attribution, since no less than four emperors named Michael reigned in the 11th century. The most likely candidates are Michael IV and V, with some preference given to the former as the latter was sole emperor only for a few days, and a series of silver pennies struck for the Danish king, Sven Estrithson, circa 1047 clearly copy these spectacular histamena. These must have reached Scandinavia as part of the booty of Harald Hardrada, the later Norwegian king, who served as a Varangian under Michael IV in the campaign against the Bulgarians, and who was most likely paid with exactly such histamena (see M. Hendy: Michael IV and Harold Hardrada, in: NC 10 (1970), pp. 187-197).
7500 CHF
Starting price:
6000 CHF
Hammer price:
12000 CHF
Bid increment:
Minimum bid:
Number of bids:
Time left:
All winning bids are subject to a 22.5% buyer's fee.


We use cookies to enhance your online experience. By using our website, you accept our data privacy policy and the use of cookies.

Connection lost

You have lost your connection. Because we present current bids in real-time, your browser may display outdated or incorrect bidding information.

Please check your network connection and try again. We recommend refreshing the website to display the accurate bidding information again.