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Western Roman Empire

Ruler: Honorius
Reigned: Western Augustus 393 - 423 AD
Denomination: AV Solidus
Mint: Constantinople
Date of Issue: 408-420 AD
Obverse: Helmeted and Cuirassed bust facing, holding spear and shield (horseman) "D.N. HONORI-VS P.F. AVG."
Reverse: Constantinopolis seated facing, head right, holding sceptre and Victory, right foot on prow. "CONCORDIA AVGG I" In exergue "CONOB"
Mint marks:
 
CONOB
(star)
Reference: RIC X 201 (Theodosius II), RCVM 20905
Weight: 4.5 gms
Nominal Weight: 4.5 gms
Diameter: 18.8 mm
Comment: CONOB = Constantinopolis Obryza, 'Pure Gold of Constantinople'. This form of mint mark, appearing in the exergues of late Roman and Byzantine solidi and fractional gold denominations, had its origins in the second half of the 4th century. 'Obryza', a word of obscure derivation, indicated that the gold from which the coin had been struck had been tested and was guaranteed pure. Initially, other mints employed a similar formula (ANTOB for Antioch, MDOB for Mediolanum, etc.) but eventually CONOB came to be utilized universally, without regard to the actual place of mintage. An important variation appearing at a number of western mints was COMOB. This may have had a slightly different meaning, the COM possibly indicating the office of Comes Auri ('Count of Gold'), the official charged with the responsibility of supervising the Imperial gold supplies in the western provinces of the Empire.

HONORIUS (Flavius Honorius)

  • Flavius Honorius was the younger son of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla. He was born in 384 AD and was raised to the rank of Augustus in 393.
  • On the death of Theodosius in 395 the Empire was divided between Honorius and his brother Arcadius, with Arcadius taking the Eastern half and Honorius the Western.
  • Flavius Stilicho was Magister Militum in the West during the reign of Theodosius I, continued in this capacity after Theodosius' death, protecting the young Honorius from barbarian attack and internal dissent.
  • There was public disapproval of the use of Germanic barbarian troops within the Roman army, and Stilicho was half Vandal. With the help of a corrupt official named Olympias, who had Honorius believe that Stilicho was about to murder him and put his son Eucherius on the throne, the anti-German faction managed to turn Honorius against Stilicho. On 22nd August 408, Stilicho was enticed out of sanctuary in a Ravenna church and beheaded by Count Heraclian.
  • With Stilicho dead, Alaric and the Visigoths that had been plaguing Greece and Italy for the past fifteen years were given a free hand.
  • Alaric laid siege to Rome, and aided by some disgruntled citizens or Gothic slaves, was let him in to Rome through the Salarian Gate on the night of 24th August 410. For three days Alaric and his men sacked the city.
  • In 410, the citizens of Roman Britain wrote to the Emperor Honorius and asked him to help them against Saxon and Pictish raiders. Honorius wrote back telling the Britons to 'look to their own defences'.
  • In 418, other Visigoths extracted a treaty from Honorius that gave them the area of Toulouse in southern France on which to settle and establish a kingdom, the first barbarian kingdom on Roman soil.
  • Matters improved slightly at the latter end of Honorius's reign, thanks largely to the efforts of the his general, Constantius (III), who was raised to the rank of Augustus in 421.
  • Honorius died at Ravenna in August 423 and was succeeded by the usurper Johannes.

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