Constantius III, 421. Solidus (Gold, 21 mm, 4.43 g, 7 h), Ravenna, 8 February-2 September 421. D N CONSTAN-TIVS P F AVG Laurel-and-rosette-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Constantius II to right. Rev. VICTORI-A AVGGG / R - V / COMOB Honorius standing front, head to right, holding vexillum in his right hand and Victory on globe in his left and placing his left foot on captive below. Depeyrot 7/4. RIC 1325. Extremely rare and with an illustrious pedigree. A beautiful and well struck example of this important issue. Good very fine.
From an old Swiss collection, formed in the 1970s, and that of Dr. F. Sternberg, Sternberg I, 30 November-1 December 1973, 487, from the collections of A. Voirol, Münzen & Medaillen 38, 6-7 December 1968, 650, H. Platt Hall, Part II, Glendining & Co., 16 November 1950, 2087 and E. Bizot, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 19 November 1902, 398.
Flavius Constantius was a former officer of the magister militum Stilicho († 408), whose star rose as a consequence of the disastrous situation of the western empire after the Crossing of the Rhine on 31 December 406 (or 405), the usurpation of Constantine III in 407 and the Sack of Rome by Alarich on 24 August 410. In these desperate times, it was Constantius' military brilliance that initiated a wondrous revival of Roman might: as magister utriusque militiae ('master of both forces', i.e. commander of both the infantry and cavalry), he first defeated Constantine III in 411 (see above, lot 1843) and then expelled Alaric from Italy in 412. A year later, he overcame and killed his Roman rival, the comes africae Heraclianus, before successfully campaigning against the Visigoths in Spain and Gaul in 415-416, thus ensuring the release of Honorius' half-sister Galla Placidia from Gothic captivity. Once the brilliant general gradually gained back control over large parts of the western empire, his stellar ascent knew no limits: in 417, Constantius married Galla Placidia and became the brother-in-law of Honorius, who was merely a puppet in his hands and proclaimed him to his co-emperor on 8 February 421. Within a decade, Constantius had raised the western empire from the dead, married into the Theodosian dynasty and become the true power holder in Ravenna. However, on 2 September 421, the great general suddenly died of an illness, allegedly amidst preparations for war against Theodosius II, as the eastern emperor had declined recognition of Constantius' elevation to the rank of Augustus. The unexpected demise of Constantius has been termed by some modern historians the beginning of the end of the Western Roman Empire, as none of its later magistri militum would turn out to be nearly as successful. However, the dark prospect of another disastrous civil war looming on the horizon casts doubt on whether Constantius III would really have been able to stem the tide for the Western Roman Empire, as clashes with the Theodosian dynasty seemed unavoidable.
|Price realized||30'000 CHF|
|Starting price||16'000 CHF|