Andronicus II – Basilikon

Andronikos II Palaiologos , 1282-1328 , Constaninople

Obverse: IC XC, KVRIE BOHΘH, Christ enthroned, right hand raised in benediction,large dot either side.

The Inscription reads:


Reverse:  AVTOKPATO PЄC POMAIШN; Andronicus standing left and Michael standing right;holding between them a labarum.

 The Inscription reads: Autocrator (Emperor) of the Romans

  • Andronikos II Palaiologos
  • Constantinople
  • Byzantine Coinage, featured
  • Silver
  • 2.18gr
  • 21mm
  • Sear 2402

The basilikon was introduced shortly before 1304 by Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328), in direct imitation of the Venetian silver ducat or grosso, chiefly to pay the mercenaries of the Catalan Company. The Byzantine coin closely followed the iconography of the Venetian model, with a seated Christ on the obverse and the two standing figures of Andronikos II and his son and co-emperor Michael IX Palaiologos (r. 1294–1320) replacing St. Mark and the Doge of Venice on the reverse. The similarity was reinforced by the name of the new coin: the ducato, the "coin of the doge", became the basilikon, the "coin of the basileus", although the contemporary Greek sources usually call both doukaton.

The basilikon was of high-grade silver (0.920), flat and not concave (scyphate) as other Byzantine coins, weighing 2.2 grams and officially traded at a rate of 1 to 12 with the gold hyperpyron or two keratia, the traditional rate for Byzantine silver coinage since the days of the hexagram and the miliaresion. The actual rate, however, was usually lower, and fluctuated depending on the changing price of silver: contemporary sources indicate actual rates of 12.5, 13, or 15 basilika to the hyperpyron. Examples of half-basilika are also known to have been minted.

In the 1330s and 1340s, however, the basilikon's weight was much reduced, as a result of a silver shortage affecting all of Europe and the Mediterranean, falling to 1.25 grams by the late 1340s. It ceased to be struck in the 1350s, and was replaced circa 1367 with the new, heavier stavraton.

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