Michael II Comnenus-Ducas, despot of Epiros, 1237-1271. Weight of 3 Nomismata (?) (Bronze, 20 mm, 11.09 g, 7 h), a round coin weight with plain edges. ΔЄCΠ/OTHC O / Δ૪KAC in three lines; all within incuse circle. Rev. MIXA/ΗΛ OPΘ/OΔOΣOC in three lines; all within incuse circle. A beautifully engraved weight of great historical interest. Good very fine.
From an interesting European collection of Byzantine coin & commercial weights.
This very interesting weight carries the name of Michael II Comnenus-Ducas, the first ruler of the so-called Despotate of Epirus to actually bear the title 'despote', which was granted to him in 1237 by Manuel Comnenus Ducas (1230-1237), the ruler of the Empire of Thessalonica. What makes this piece even more fascinating is the fact that the reverse proudly calls Michael 'orthodox', which is undoubtedly a reaction to the tumultuous ecclesiastical history of his realm. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1204 to the Fourth Crusade and the appointment of a new Patriarch of Constantinople by Theodore I Comnenus Lascaris in Nicaea, Michael I Comnenus Ducas, the founder of the Epirote Despotate, offered a possible union between the Orthodox church of his domains and the Roman Catholic Church to Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). While these plans were never carried out, Michael and his successors continued to pursue independent ecclesiastical politics. We don't know much about the position of Michael II in these highly complex disputes - he spent most of his reign waging wars against a multitude of Latin, Byzantine and Bulgarian foes - but this coin weight is a remarkable testimony to his firm conviction that his creed was, naturally, the orthodox one.