Nicephorus II Phocas proclaimed Emperor

02 Jul 2020  Thu

Nicephorus II Phocas was the Byzantine emperor reigning from 963 to 969. He was born around 912 to Cappadocian Greek family which had produced several distinguished generals, including Nikephoros' father Bardas Phokas, brother Leo Phokas, and grandfather Nikephoros Phokas the Elder, who had all served as commanders of the field army.

His military achievements against the Muslim Arabs contributed to the resurgence of Byzantine power in the 10th century. Nicephorus was a fearsome commander who conquered Crete, Cilicia, and much of Syria. While he is known as a great military commander, he was a poor politician, and his reign was cut short by his murder.

Depicted here is a Histamenon Nomisma issued under his reign from Constantinople mint. The obverse of a coin depicts the bust of Christ wearing nimbus cruciger with three pellets in each arm, pallium, and colobium, raising right hand in benediction, the book of Gospels cradled in the left arm. On the other hand, the reverse of a coin engraved busts facing of Nicephorus II, with short beard, on left, wearing crown and loros, and Basil II, beardless on right, wearing crown and chlamys, holding long patriarchal cross between them.

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