Hadrian I, Pope 772-795
Muntoni 1; Berman 10, Extremely Fine
Rome. H(AD)RI-ANVS PP, bust of Hadrian facing, I B at sides. Reverse: VICTOR-IA DNN, cross potent on steps, R m at sides.
In 772, Pope Hadrian I was forced to seek the aid of the Frankish king Charlemagne after the territory of the Duchy of Rome was invaded by the Lombards under King Desiderius. Charlemagne expelled the Lombards and expanded the territory of the Pope to include not only the Duchy of Rome, but also the Exarchate of Ravenna, the Duchy of the Pentapolis, and the Marches, all of which were no longer controlled by the Byzantine Emperors. This development marked the beginning of the Papal States in Central Italy and of an increasingly west-facing autonomy that would ultimately lead to the Great Schism between Roman Catholicism and Byzantine Orthodoxy in 1054. Ironically, when Handrain I struck the first papal coins to celebrate the expulsion of the Lombards and the expansion of his territories, the types he used (facing portrait and cross on steps) were taken directly from contemporary Byzantine imperial coinage.