About this artwork
Romanos III Argyros (c. AD 968–1034, r. 1028–34) was marked for succession to the throne by his father-in-law, Constantine VIII, whose reign lasted only three years. Romanos managed a six-year reign that was riddled with ill-conceived and poorly executed policies, including a disastrous attempt to reform taxation that left the empire’s finances in disarray and drove the less fortunate into enforced servitude. In an effort to halt the growing threat posed by Arabs along the eastern frontier, Romanos personally led the army to confront them, only to be thoroughly routed in a surprise attack. Later conquests and victories did little to improve his reputation, and he died, possibly at the hands or order of his entirely disillusioned wife, Zoe. On the front of this histamenon, the enthroned and haloed Jesus holds the Gospel book in his right hand. The inscription reads “Jesus Christ, King of Kings.” On the reverse, the Virgin Mary crowns the richly bedecked Romanos, who holds a globus cruciger, indicating that the emperor wields earthly power on behalf of the Christian God.
- Histamenon (Coin) of Romanus III Argyrus with Christ Enthroned
- OB: ΘΕΟDΟΝΟ RωΜΑnω MΘ REV: +IhSXRSREX REgNANTlnm (sic)
- Diam. 2.5 cm; 4.40 g
- Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne