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CNG Feature Auction 126

Lot nuber 990

Michael III "the Drunkard", with Theodora and Thecla. 842-867. AV Solidus (21.5mm, 4.40 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 842-circa 843. VF.

CNG Feature Auction 126
Lot: 990.
 Estimated: $ 7 500

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

Sold For $ 22 500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

Michael III "the Drunkard", with Theodora and Thecla. 842-867. AV Solidus (21.5mm, 4.40 g, 6h). Constantinople mint. Struck 842-circa 843. Crowned facing bust of Theodora, wearing loros, holding patriarchal globus cruciger and cruciform scepter / Crowned facing half-length figure of Michael, wearing chlamys, and holding globus cruciger, and crowned half-length figure of Thecla, to right, wearing loros, and holding patriarchal cross and akakia. DOC 1d; Füeg 1.B.2; SB 1686. Toned, slightly wavy flan, minor metal flaws, some die breaks and spots of die rust on reverse, minor dig, a few light scratches. VF. Very rare.

From the Family of Constantine Collection, assembled with guidance by Roland Michel, Geneva. Ex Malcolm W. Heckman Collection (Triton VIII, 11 January 2005), lot 1418.

Michael III was only two years old when his father Theophilus died in 842. His mother Theodora as regent was the effective ruler of the empire, and the first coinage of his reign gives her prominence on the obverse. Michael was generally kept in the background, even overshadowed on the coins by his sister Thecla. With Michael in isolation, Theodora maintained the empire with the assistance of her brothers, Bardas and Petronas, along with Theoktistos, the logothete of the dromos. During Theodora’s regency, she brought an end the second iconoclastic controversy and demonstrated herself an effective and capable ruler. In a typical example of Byzantine family intrigue, Theoktistos moved against Bardas, who in turn conspired with the young emperor in 856 to remove his mother’s regency along with Theoktistos. Theoktistos was killed and Theodora removed from power and confined to a convent. The conspiracy continued and Bardas was murdered in 865 by Basil, an ambitious court official who befriended Michael and soon became co-emperor. He proceeded to promptly eliminate his benefactor shortly thereafter.

Although Michael was given the unflattering epithet the "Drunkard," this smear on his name was perpetuated by Basil to justify his seizure of power. Michael appears to have been a conscientious ruler and capable military leader, his only and fatal failing being that he was too easily swayed by his unscrupulous associates.

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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