Byzantine Empire, Constans II - Murdered with a Bucket

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This hexagram was struck late in what was a tumultuous and turbulent reign. It bears a similar design to the emperor’s late solidi, with the bearded Constans on the obverse and his three sons on the reverse (cf. DOC 42-43 and MIB 41-42). That so few are extant today suggests that it was minted in very small numbers, perhaps in part due to the emperor's sudden death.

A precocious and dynamic ruler, Constans ascended to the purple at the age of 11 after the murder of his father in 641. Throughout his reign there was constant political and religious disorder. Invasions threatened the empire, Armenia and Asia Minor were invaded by the Muslims and Egypt was abandoned, although Sicily and Constantinople were preserved. The young emperor had immediately to establish his power and strength against his enemies, and he did so by making sure his navy and army were unyielding.

The Christological doctrine of Monotheletism, being the idea that Christ had two natures, but one will, had had the Church divided for quite some time before the accession of Constans: monks, priests and even the Pope were persistently fighting for or against its acceptance. Although the 17 year old emperor lacked much of an opinion or interest in the subject, he could clearly see the potential for it to have an adverse effect on the stability of the empire, and therefore issued the Type of Constans in 648. This imperial edict condemned the discussion of the concept in any form in an effort to defuse the problem.

Constans actively maintained the law and persecuted those who spoke out against Monotheletism, bringing a semblance of peace to the subject and effectively passing the discussion on for his successors to settle. Having moved to live in Syracuse on Sicily, rumours that the capital of the Empire would be formally moved to the island were ill-received, and in September 668 Constans was murdered while bathing, according to Theophilus of Edessa, by his chamberlain using a bucket.

Constans II AR Hexagram. Constantinople, AD 666-668. VICTORIA AVGV, facing bust, with long beard and moustache, wearing crown with frontal plume and chlamys, and holding globus cruciger / Constantine IV (in centre), Heraclius (on right) and Tiberius (on left) all standing facing, each wearing crown and chlamys and holding globus cruciger; S in right field. DOC -; MIB -; Sear -; Cf. Nomos 9, 21 October 2014, lot 320, Rauch 96, 10 December 2014, lot 647 and Gorny & Mosch 228, 9 March 2015, lot 756. 6.66g, 24mm, 6h.

Near Extremely Fine. The fourth known example of this interesting type.