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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Exceptional Theodahad Follis

Sale: Triton X, Lot: 873. Estimate $5000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 8 January 2007. 
Sold For $7000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

OSTROGOTHS. Theodahad. 534-536. Æ 40 Nummi–Follis (8.84 g, 7h). Rome mint. D N THEO DAHATVS REX, moustached and mantled bust right, wearing ornate Spangenhelm; pectoral cross with expanding arms / VICTORIA PRINCIPVM, S C across field, Victory standing right on prow of galley, holding palm frond in left hand across left shoulder and wreath in extended right hand. COI 89b (O-B1/R-L3); MIB I 81; MEC 1, 141; BMC Vandals 23; Arslan 159-61; Demo -. EF, red-brown patina, a hint of smoothing on obverse. Exceptionally well-preserved for issue. Rare.

Ex Auctiones 25 (19 June 1995), lot 1044.

Theodahad inherited the Gothic kingdom after the death of Athalaric, the immediate successor of Theodoric the Great (471-526), who had increased the small Gothic tribal lands in Pannonia to encompass an empire stretching all the way to Spain. Theodahad had not intended to inherit the kingdom, instead being content ruling over a fief that extended over much of Etruria, and indulging in a love for the arts and learning of the fading Classical world. But Amalasuntha, Theodoric's daughter and the senior member of the dynasty, was unable to rule in her own right and required her cousin at her side. It was a poor choice. In the succinct words of Warwick Wroth, Theodahad proved to be "vacillating, cowardly and avaricious." And ungrateful - in 535 he ordered Amalasuntha arrested and sent into exile. The queen had protected Byzantine rights in Italy, and her deposition provided Justinian with the perfect pretext for undertaking the re-conquest of the peninsula. Theodahad frantically tried to appease the emperor, offering fulsome apologies for his conduct, and promising to cede authority over Italy to Constantinople. This only served to aggravate the Ostrogothic nobles, who promptly elected Witigis as the new king. Theodahad was murdered in December 536 while trying to reach refuge in Ravenna.