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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton XII, Lot: 860. Estimate $5000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 5 January 2009. 
Sold For $5750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LOMBARDS, Lombardy & Tuscany. Aistulf. 749-756. Æ Follis (1.43 g, 6h). Ravenna mint. Struck 751/2. [D] N IST VLF[VS REX], facing crowned and draped bearded bust, holding globus cruciger in right hand; crown topped with cross / Large M; cross above, [A]/N/N/[O] I across field, RAV below. Bernareggi -; Ranieri 848 (same obv. die as illustration); BMC Vandals -; MEC 1, 324. Good VF, red-brown patina. Very rare.

Appointed Duke of the border Duchy of Friuli when his brother Ratchis became king of the Lombards in 744, Aistulf himself became king in 749 when Ratchis was forced to abdicate. During his tenure, Aistulf attempted to expand Lombardic interests in Italy by raiding both the Byzantine exarchate of Ravenna and the territories of the papacy. In 751, the Lombards took Ravenna and began to pressure Rome. In response, Pope Stephen II turned to the de facto Frankish king, Pepin 'le Bref' (the Short) for assistance. In return for a pontifical recognition of his crown, Pepin crossed the Alps, defeated Aistulf, and forced the Lombardic king to relinquish those territories he had extracted from the papacy. Now, much reduced, Aistulf spent the remaining few years of his reign in the pursuit of pleasure. In 756 he was killed in a hunting accident. With his death, the Lombardic kingdom lost even more territory and influence in Italy in the face of an increasing alliance between the papacy and the Carolingians.