The last Byzantine coin
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Turkey
Dimensions: 1.3 cm
Description: This low-value silver coin, one-eighth of a stavraton, was issued by Constantine XI Palaiologos (r. 1449–53), the last Byzantine emperor before Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. Very few such coins, minted in Constantinople, have survived. On the reverse is the bust-length emperor; the prependoulia of his crown are still visible in the schematic rendering. On the obverse is a cross-numbed bust of Christ, flanked by the abbreviation for "Jesus Christ" (IC XC) in Greek. As had been the case for centuries, the Byzantine emperor on one side of the coin was implicitly protected by Christ on the other. Nevertheless, contemporary sources report that the emperor had to melt down sacred church vessels to provide coins to pay his ill-fated soldiers.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 11
Repository and Online Resources: • For the development of imperial imagery on Byzantine coins, see this Dumbarton Oaks website.
Image Credits: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.; http://www.cngcoins.com (GNU Free Documentation License)