Dropping the Base: Why Does Follis Production at Constantinople Appear to Cease for 24 Years between 842–866?

Maria Vrij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Downloads (Pure)


This article considers a period of Byzantine numismatic history where production at its main mint, in Constantinople, appears to cease altogether for at least 24 years, and arguably 26 or more years. It almost needs no stating that this is extraordinarily unusual in the numismatic record, and yet the topic has never been covered in more than a paragraph before. In this article, based upon my paper of the same title given to the International Congress of Byzantine Studies in Nicosia in January 2020, I will explore the problem, setting it in its historical context and contrasting this cessation with others that scholars are aware of. I will argue that the pause in production was not accidental and can neither be explained in the context of the monetary contraction of the late seventh to early ninth centuries, nor by archaeological quirk. Rather, I will contend that this apparent cessation was a deliberate policy of the Empress Theodora and the regency council for Michael III, and that its subsequent continuation under the Caesar Bardas was perhaps more incidental, until the coronation of Basil brought the drive to restart production in Michael and Basil’s names.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages24
JournalEurasian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • numismatics
  • Constantinople
  • Amorian dynasty
  • monetary contraction
  • Byzantine economic policy
  • Byzantine imperial propaganda


Dive into the research topics of 'Dropping the Base: Why Does Follis Production at Constantinople Appear to Cease for 24 Years between 842–866?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this