Ostrogothic Kingdom

Theodahad, King 534-536

COI 89b; MIB I 81; MEC 1, 143, Extremely Fine

Rome. D N THEODA-HATVS REX, mantled bust of Theodahad right, wearing ornate helmet. Reverse: VICT-ORIA PRINCIPVM, S C acrosss field, Victory advancing right on prow of galley, holding wreath and palm.

Upon the death of Athalaric, Amalasuntha, the daughter of Theodoric the Great, invited her cousin Theodahad to become king of the Ostrogoths since she was not permitted to rule as queen alone. Theodahad agreed, but proved to be a poor associate on the throne. In AD 535 he ordered the arrest of the queen and sent her into exile, where she was later murdered. As Amalasuntha had been a recognized agent of the Byzantine Empire—at least on paper—this situation provided an excuse for Justinian I to begin the reconquest of Italy. In an attempt to forestall disaster, Theodahad promised to cede the rights over his kingdom to the Emperor, but this only served to enrage the Ostrogothic nobility, which chose Witiges to replace him. Theodahad was killed while trying to escape to his capital at Ravenna. This bronze issue reflects Theodahad’s interest in Classical art and letters. The obverse type seems to reflect the influence of coins of Constantine the Great while the Victory reverse with its indication of senatorial approval (SC) looks back to early Roman Imperial coins.