Nicephorus I, 802-811. Solidus (Gold, 20 mm, 3.79 g, 6 h), 802-803. hI-FOROC bAS Facing bust of Nicephoros, wearing cross-topped crown and chlamys, holding cross potent on base with his right hand and akakia in his left. Rev. IhSUS XRIS-TUS nICA X / C - I Cross potent on base and three steps. Anastasi -. DOC-. Ricotti-Prina 22. SB-. Same dies as Gorny & Mosch 240 (2016), 626. Of great rarity; remarkably sharp and well preserved. Virtually as struck.
From a European collection.
Nicephorus I was a good emperor with bad luck. He had been appointed as Irene's Minister of Finance but, thanks to the shock of Charlemagne's proclamation as Roman Emperor in 800 in Rome, led the conspiracy that resulted in her dethronement in 802. He was faced by military revolts, which were put down, as well as international problems: with Charlemagne in the West, Harun al-Rashid in the East and the Bulgarian Krum in the Balkans. Since a treaty was concluded with the Franks, and a succession struggle over the Caliphate preoccupied the Arabs, Nicephorus was free to deal with the Bulgarian menace. The Byzantine forces were successful, but on their return march they were ambushed and heavily defeated: Nicephorus was captured, sent to Krum's capital and decapitated, after which his skull was made into a drinking cup.