Anastasius I – 491-518 AD

Anastasius I

491-518 AD


Anastasius was born in Dyrrhachium about 430 AD. Anastasius became an obscure court official under Zeno, usher at the Imperial Palace. At the time of the death of Zeno in 491 AD, he had left no heir to the throne. The task then passed to his widow, the Empress Ariadne. The Empress selected Anastasius and crowned him the patriarch on April 11th, 491 AD. Six weeks later he was married to Ariadne.

Anastasius, although elderly, provd to be an execllent choice. He was a very conscientious ruler, and he paid particular attention to the finances of the Empire. In is in this area that his reign marks the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Byzantine Empire due to his drastic monetary reforms which took place in 498 AD.

Unfortunately, Anastasius held unorthodox relgious opinions, and this led to frequent riots at Constantinople culminating in an armed rising in Thrace in 513 AD. Anastasius died on July 9th, 518 AD, at a very advanced age, having outlived Ariadne by three years.


Monetary System

Mints: Constantinople, Thessalonica, Nicomedia, Antioch

Obverse Legends:

D N ANASTASIVS PP AVG
D N ANASTASIVS PP AVG
D N ANASTASIVS PP AV
D N ANASTASIVS PP
D N ANSTASIYC PP


Monetary Reform

In 498 AD, Anastasius carried out a monetary reform to the bronze coinage which was desperately needed. Prior to these reforms, the only denominations that were in regular issue were all gold coins – Solidus, Semissis and Tremissis. All silver coinage was rarely issued and bronze coinage had been reduced to a tiny coin with a weight of 0.76 grams. The Roman monetary system had undergone such inflation in the postConstantine era, that virtually a single monetary standard had emerged – that of gold.

The new bronze coins of Anastasius’ reform were based upon that tiny nummus coin of the late Empire. However, it purchasing power had become so insignificant, that it was maintained as a unit of account but disappeared in the form of coinage. Instead, three new bronze coins were introduced with the largest being of a respectable size, similar to the old Roman As of Augustus. Each of these bronze coins bore its mark of value in Greek plainly on the reverse (e.g. M=40 nummia, K=20 nummia, I=10 nummia, etc.). The bronze denominations were as follows:

FOLLIS equal in value to 40 nummi
HALF-FOLLIS equal in value to 20 nummi
DECANUMMIUM equal in value to 10 nummi
PENTANUMMIUM equal in value to 5 nummi

Instead of the bronze coinage declining in size and weight, as had been the case following Diocletian’s reforms, Anastasius continued to increase the weight standard. Between 512 and 518 AD, another bronze denomination was introduced – the PENTANUMMIUM equal to 5 nummi. The large Follis was increased from 23-27 mm in diameter to 35-37 mm.


DENOMINATIONS

AU Solidus (4.50 grams)
AU Semissis (2.25 grams)
AU Tremissis (1.45 grams)
AR Miliarense (4.50 grams)
AR Siliqua (3.25 grams)

Bronze Denominations

Pre-Reform

Æ4 Nummus (0.72 grams)

Post-Reform

Æ Follis (40 nummi)
Æ ½ Follis (20 nummi)
Æ Decanummium (10 nummi)
Æ Pentanummium (5 nummi)


Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong