Michael VIII Paleologus. 1261-1282 AD. Constantinople

Michael VIII Paleologus. 1261-1282 AD. Constantinople


AV Hyperpyron Nomisma, 4.14g (26mm, 6h). Bust of Virgin orans within city walls with six groups of towers / Michael, l. kneeling before seated Christ who holds scroll, and supported by St. Michael.

Pedigree: Ex Harlan J. Berk Ltd. MBS 17, 4 December 1981, lot 46

References: Sear 2241; Grierson 1287

Grade: A coin in particularly pristine condition in comparison with those typically seen. No cracks, sharp strike for this type with most elements visible. Details on faces on reverse even present. EF for issue  (bz1019)

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In 1204, the fourth crusade raged in which Pope Innocent III attempted to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims. What ended up happening is that the the Crusaders entered Constantinople and sacked the city, thus marking the end of the Byzantine Empire at that time. Michael VIII’s reign marks the beginning of the last Byzantine dynasty and the near end of the Empire’s long history. After the last of the Latin Kings had been driven out, Michael entered the city in 1261. This coin is likely a recollection of that time with the city walls surrounding the Virgin. To cement his faith and grasp on the throne he accepted the Roman faith, although when he died at the age of 59 of natural causes, the church still viewed him as a heretic and buried him in this manner.