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CNG Feature Auction 126

Lot nuber 983

Nicephorus I, with Stauracius. 802-811. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.46 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 803-811. Good VF.

CNG Feature Auction 126
Lot: 983.
 Estimated: $ 750

The Family of Constantine Collection, Coin-in-Hand Video, Gold

Sold For $ 800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

Nicephorus I, with Stauracius. 802-811. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.46 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 803-811. Crowned facing bust of Nicephorus, wearing chlamys, holding cross potent and akakia / Crowned facing bust of Stauracius, wearing chlamys, holding globus cruciger and akakia; Θ at end of legend. DOC 2b.3; Füeg 2.A.1; SB 1604. Lightly toned with some luster. Good VF.

From the Family of Constantine Collection, assembled with guidance by Roland Michel, Geneva.

Nicephorus’ career came to an abrupt end at the battle of Pliska on 26 July 811 during his Bulgarian campaign. The initial campaign was a rousing success, and the battle came immediately after the sack of Pliska (the Bulgarian capital) by Byzantine forces. The Bulgarian Khan Krum attempted to sue for peace after the disastrous loss of his capital city, but Nicephorus, confident from his great victory refused and planned to retake all of Bulgaria. While the Byzantines were plundering the city, Krum blocked their exit from the valley with traps and fortifications including a wooden palisade. Nicephorus was unwilling to assault the newly-constructed battlements and elected to set up camp. This proved unwise. The Bulgarians spent the next few days across in their camp rattling their shields in an effort to intimidate the Byzantine forces. By the time the two armies met in battle, the Byzantine army’s morale had evaporated. Despite the Byzantine’s possessing superior numbers, the army was completely routed by the Bulgarian Khanate. Very few members of the approximately 30,000 strong Byzantine army escaped the slaughter. Emperor Nicephorus himself was slain and his son and successor Stauracius received a serious wound to his spine which left him partially paralyzed. Theophanes the Confessor summarized the aftermath in his Chronographia as follows: “Among the victims were ... the patrician Romanus, who was strategos of the Anatolics, and many protospatharioi and spatharioi, the commanders of the tagmata, including the domestic of the excubitors and the drungarios of the Imperial Watch, the strategos of Thrace, many officers of the themata, and an infinite number of soldiers so that the flower of Christendom was destroyed ... May not Christians experience another time the ugly events of that day for which no lamentation is adequate” (Theophanes, 491).

Nicephorus’ body was not recovered and Theophanes records that the Khan Krum “cut off the head of Nikephoros and for several days hung it on a pole so as to exhibit it to the tribes that came before him ... After that, he bared the skull, reveted it on the outside with silver and, in his pride, made the chieftains of the Sklavinians drink from it” (Theophanes, 491-2). This follows the ancient Skythian custom recorded by Herodotus in The Histories Book 4.65. Thus ended Nicephorus and Stauracius.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 126 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 28-29 May 2024. This lot is in Session Four, which will begin 29 May at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 22.5% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 25% for all others.

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