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35. Byzantium Emerging

AeliaVerinaCoin AnastasiusCoin AsparDisc Basiliscus_AeliaVerina2 KawadhCoin LeoBust_Coin LeoII_LeoII&Zeno-coins LeontiusCoin MAPAfricanDebacle MAPEmpire490 MarcianCoin ZenoReturnCoin

Marcian defied Attila and the Huns left Constantinople alone as they went to ravage the Western empire. But his freedom was largely illusory, since he was as much the creature of his Teutonic patrician Aspar as was Majorian of Ricimer in Ravenna.

This ivory disk celebrates the Patrician Flavius Aspar’s pre-eminent position in the Byzantine government with the inscription:


Bust and coin of Leo I, another man raised to supreme power by Aspar, but one who proved to be no piuppet in the Patrician's hands.

Leo's wife Aelia Verina continued to have a profound effect on the affairs of the Eastern empire after her husband's death, both in concert with and against her brother Basiliscus.

Leo’s son-in-law Zeno (left below) expected to be next in line but was passed over for his own son Leo II (left). However, through the offices of his mother Ariadne, infant Leo

       raised his father to be

              co-Augustus with him, as

                  the lower coin indicates,

                    with its simple

                       inscription of

                         LEO ET ZENO.

Basiliscus (right) – an ineffective and clumsy ruler – was usually at loggerheads with his far more able but meddlesome sister, the empress-dowager Aelia Verina (coin right below)

Above: after a seven-month “sabbatical,” Zeno returned to the throne in the summer of 477, only to find himself entangled in the political machinations of his mother-in-law Aelia Verina.

Leontius (coin right) who is thought to be Isaurian in origin, managed to mint coins as a usurping Augustus during the 12 days he ruled in Antioch, before being ousted by Zeno’s forces and besieged for four years in the Isaurian fortress of Papirius.

Anastasius brought common sense to the government.

A coin of Kavadh, the Sassanian king who broke the 60-year peace.

Illustrations © Oliver Frey; Maps © Roger M. Kean


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