Nicephorus II Phocas, 963-969 AD. Constantinople

Nicephorus II Phocas, 963-969 AD. Constantinople


AV Histamenon Nomisma (solidus), 4.36g (20mm, 6h). + IhS XΓS RЄX RЄGNANTIhM Bust of Christ facing, with decorated nimbus, wearing pallium and colobium, raising r. hand in benediction and holding Book of Gospels in l. hand / NICHFOR’CE bASIL’ A•Ч• ÇÇ b R’.

Pedigree: Ex Dr. Busso Peus Nachf., Frankfurt. Price List 9/1970. Nr. 104. Ex Auction Karl Kress. Munich July 1971. Lot 868

References: Sear 1776

Grade:  Rare. Lovely strike. EF (bz1009)

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Nicephorus II Phocas was a great military leader despite his short reign. His rise to power came together with the beautiful Empress Theophano. Theophano was the widow of the previous ruler, the short-lived emperor Romanus II who died at the age of 24. Just like Romanus, Nicephorus was enamored with the beauty of the Empress and quickly took her as his wife. Theophano bore two sons during her marriage to Romanus, Basil II and Constantine VIII, who were made co-emperors of Nicephorus. It was likely that Theophano only married Nicephorus in order to keep the throne within her grasp for her two sons. And that she did. Theophano eventually planned the murder of Nicephorus with the help of another great general, John I Tzimisces. While she did successfully kill off Nicephorus, she was quickly banished by John I once he became emperor. Luckily for Theophano John I contracted typhoid and the crown was left to the now adult Basil II and Constantine VIII as was certainly hoped for.