Coinage of Phocas

2019-05-28 Tue

Phocas was the Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. His life before his usurpation of the throne is obscure, but it is known that he served as a low ranking officer under Emperor Maurice. In 602 he captured Constantinople and overthrew Maurice.

He was the first emperor from that time with a beard. It was under Phocas that beards began to be associated with manhood and even family lineage in Byzantium. His was the first imperial stubble on Byzantine coinage, setting a definite example for the jawline of emperors who followed after him.

During the reign he issued gold, silver and copper coins in the denomination of Solidus, Follis, and Nummi. The obverse of his coins features a crowned and cuirassed facing bust of Phocas, holding a cross. The reverse shows an angel holding a long staff surmounted by a staurogram (the monogram of the cross) and a globus cruciger (also known as the orb and cross).

Image Source: Heritage Auctions