Byzantium, Justin I, AV Solidus

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Byzantine Empire, Anastasius I, 491-518, AV Solidus


Obv.Diademed, helmeted  and cuirassed bust of the emperor, spear over shoulder

Rev.Standing angel l. with long cross and globus cruciger



Justin I. (also "Justin the Great"); * c. 450 near Naissus; † 1 August 527 in Constantinople) was (Eastern) Roman Emperor from 518 to 527 and the first ruler of the Justinian dynasty (518-578 or 602).

Justin was admitted to the newly founded bodyguard of excubitores under Emperor Leo I (457 to 474) and subsequently rose through the ranks, although the stages of his career are unclear in detail.

In 503 he was already one of the generals of the great Eastern Roman army, whose offensive against the Persian Sassanids, however, failed miserably. He was more successful as an admiral during the battles against the rebellious general Vitalian in 515. A little later he rose to the rank of commander of the imperial guard (comes excubitorum). After the death of Emperor Anastasius, Justin was proclaimed emperor in 518 (probably on 10 July) at an already quite advanced age.

In his relations with the Catholic Church, Justin relied on diplomacy.
In a correspondence with the Roman bishop Hormisdas in 519, he succeeded in overcoming the Acacian schism (since 484) by the emperor yielding to Rome on practically all points and forcing the patriarchs of the Eastern Church to do likewise. This made it clear that the revived Eastern Roman Empire now had a renewed interest in what was going on in the West. It was also around this time that we first find evidence (in Marcellinus Comes) of the view that the Western Roman Empire had ceased to exist in 476, which is why the rights of rule in the West now lay with the Eastern Roman Emperor. Subsequently, under John I, the Roman Church took on a mediating role between the emperor and the Arian Ostrogoth king Theoderic; this policy failed, however, when Theoderic had the aged bishop imprisoned on the charge of having allied with Eastern Rome against the Goths.

Justin's reign was marked in foreign policy terms not least by the struggle against the Persian Sassanids on the eastern border (see also Kavadh I, Roman-Persian Wars).

Relations with the Ostrogothic Empire also deteriorated, especially since the pro-imperial (Eastern Roman) party, which had been gaining strength since the end of the schism, was being fought at the Ostrogothic royal court. The execution of the philosopher Boëthius should also be seen in this context.

In the Eastern Empire, on the other hand, the Arians were persecuted from 523 onwards, which the Ostrogothic court had to accept with displeasure, since the majority of the Ostrogoths also adhered to the Arian confession. The bloody Gothic war that Justin's successor was to wage from 535 onwards cast its shadow in advance.

Emperor Justin died on 1 August 527 and was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son Justinian, who had already been Caesar since 525 and had been elevated to co-emperor (Augustus) in April 527, which facilitated a smooth transition. 


Additional product information

Origin Byzantine Empire
Mint Constantinople
Grading EF
Additional specifications Box & Certificate
Material Gold
Full weight


Literature Sommer 2.2; Sear 56; MIBE 3

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