Gold Solidus of Leo III the Isaurian

2019-07-06 Sat

Leo III the Isaurian or Leo III the Syrian was the Byzantine Emperor (Eastern Roman Emperor) from 717 to 741. He founded the Isaurian dynasty which ruled until 802 CE. Leo’s reign saw several conflicts with the Arab world beginning with the successful defense of Constantinople and ending in the re-conquest of Asia Minor.

Born to a peasant family in northern Syria, Leo III rose to become commander of the Anatolikon Theme in Asia Minor. He also successfully defended the Empire against the invading Umayyad and engendered a century of conflict within the empire by banning the use of religious images (icons). During the reign, he issued first silver coins called Miliaresia to celebrate the coronation of his son, Constantine V, as co-emperor.

Depicted here is a gold Solidus issued under his reign from Constantinople mint. The obverse of a coin depicts the crowned facing bust of Leo, wearing chlamys pinned at the right shoulder, holding globus cruciger in the right hand and akakia in left. On the other hand, the reverse of a coin has cross potent set on three steps.

Image Source: Heritage Auctions