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Reign of Emperor Basiliscus

09 Apr 2021  Fri

Basiliscus was an Eastern Roman Emperor reigning from 475 to 476. He was the brother of Verina, wife of the Eastern emperor Leo I. Today on 9th April in the year 475 Basiliscus issues a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite Christological position.

His relationship with Emperor Leo allowed him to pursue a military career that, after minor initial successes, ended in 468, when he led the disastrous Roman invasion of Vandal Africa, in one of the largest military operations of Late Antiquity. Basiliscus succeeded in seizing power in 475, exploiting the unpopularity of Emperor Zeno, the "barbarian" successor to Leo, and a plot organized by Verina that had caused Zeno to flee Constantinople.

During his reign, a disastrous fire in Constantinople destroyed much of the city along with many Greek works of art. When Zeno returned to the capital in August 476, Basiliscus was exiled to Cappadocia and there beheaded.

The above shown gold Solidus was issued under his reign from Constantinople mint. The obverse of a coin depicts pearl-diademed, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Basiliscus facing, head slightly right, holding spear over right shoulder and on left arm shield with horseman motif. On the other hand, the reverse of a coin engraved Victory standing left, holding long jewelled cross; star in right field, CONOB in exergue.

Image Source: Heritage Auctions

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