Revolt of the Heraclii, 608-610. Solidus (Gold, 20 mm, 4.30 g, 7 h), military mint in the East, 608. D N ЄRACLIO CONSVLI BA Busts of Heraclius the Younger and of his father the Exarch Heraclius, both bare-headed, bearded and wearing consular robes; between their heads, a cross. Rev. VICTORIA AVGG Γ / CONOB Cross potent set on four steps. DOC 10. MIB 4 ('Cyprus'). SB 718 ('Alexandria'). Extremely rare and in exceptional condition for this very important issue. A coin of tremendous historical interest, well struck and unusually complete. Extremely fine.
Heraclius the Elder was a successful Byzantine general of Armenian descent who made a career in the later years of the Roman-Persian War of 572-591. In 595, the emperor Maurice Tiberius appointed Heraclius to magister militum per Armeniam and ordered him to crush the revolt of Samuel Vahewuni and Atat Khorkhoruni, the details of which are reported by the 7th century Armenian bishop and historian Sebeos, who thus sheds a brief light on the general's earlier career due to its connections to Armenian history. We only hear of Heraclius again in 608, when he was serving as the Exarch of Africa and, together with his son and future emperor Heraclius the Younger, decided to put the might of the Exarchate in the balance in an attempt to remove the emperor Phocas from power. We are being told that the main motive behind the Revolt of the Heraclii was their loyalty to the previous emperor Maurice Tiberius, who had been overthrown and killed by Phocas in 602, but the disastrous failures of the usurper's reign and the own personal ambitions of the Heraclii no doubt played a great role in the decision-making. In a very unusual step, the Heraclii initially abstained from declaring themselves emperors but assumed a joint consulship instead. The present issue was struck by the Heraclean forces somewhere in the East (in Alexandria or on Cyprus?), where the general Niketas led a successful offensive against Egypt in 608-610. Its obverse shows us the two Heraclii uncrowned and in consular robes, presenting them as Roman traditionalists defending a just cause against the illegitimate usurper Phocas. It was only when Heraclius the Younger, sailing from Carthage, captured Constantinople in the fall of 610 that he was crowned emperor, the news of which reached his father in Carthage later that year, just shortly before he died.