Jump to content

The Usurper of Cyprus 1184-1191, The Evil Coin Collector.


Recommended Posts

  • Benefactor

The empire had many pretend Emperors, some took it to the next step and created coins.

My collection only contains one such Usurper, the only one who made tetartera in the 12th century.

Isaac Usurper Of Cyprus, interesting and evil. Nephew of Manuel captured, rescued, and then betrays the empire by taking control of the territory of Cyprus. A lucrative spot for taxes and treachery, picks a fight with Richard the Lionheart by stripping one of his stricken ships. Richard in force quickly defeats Isaac of Comnenus.


I gave his very brief history, As for his coinage, I only have the tetartera, he creates coins in Electrum, and Billion. The tetartera was based off the city tetartera and it also contained a small amount of silver.

I have always believed he was a coin collector because in his short reign he created over 17 types of coinage, For a complete list look at this sample Chapter of CLBC.


Now D.M Metcalf proposed a theory that coin types were created in Constantinople exclusively for Cyprus or Cyprus minted its own exclusive types, that was in regard to coins of Alexius and perhaps John II. I believe the mint in Cyprus existed and was in use before Isaac Comnenus Illegal rule occurred.

Michael Hendy had mentioned copper mines were known in Cyprus, he made that a point in his argument that these coins were minted. Interesting enough several of these coins were confused with the legitimate Emperor Isaac II Angelus who rules after Andronicus I. In the last 50 years we figured out who’s was whose.

I have several of the issues he created, all of his coins are rare. The more common, are also some of the most unique designs. Here are three types of a similar coin, each has subtle differences.

Main issue SBCV-1998


Variation mentioned CLBC, the legend on the obverse is circular. 


And this one, more than likely a mistake but it does get its own Sear number SBCV-1999, I have only seen one other example on the web.  The virgin is now on the left instead of the right. 


Now for other designs. 

SBCV- 1994, this was purchased at CNG, the beginning of expensive coins for me. That price is in the rear-view mirror now.


This one shows up at labarum showing it not as rare as Sear and CLBC mark it at.  Interesting type, with the virgin standing right in in the Orans position. Mine is worn but a clear example. 


This one again using the Virgin, this example is better than most.  SBCV-1993



I do not have any of his other denominations, if you do please feel free to share.  In the meantime, Here is one of my favorite examples that I purchased years ago as uncleaned. The reverse was a Fine but the Obverse I was very uncertain. Turned out it was a treasure and a great example of the art of Cyprus during the time. ( This was purchased many years ago and cheaply.) The legend was gone but the image is still beautiful. Hard to believe what was under the crust.



So if you have the coinage of ANY usurper of any time period (Roman, Eastern Roman, Greek, ETC), feel free to post, I know history has many Wana bees but I am curious how many took it as far as creating coinage. 

Hope you enjoyed checking out Isaac Comnenus Usurper of Cyprus and perhaps an evil coin collector. 

  • Like 17
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to, but the useless and insidious restrictions make it harder to pick up Isaac.  A retiring overseas dealer offered to sell me one, but I had just purchased a gold coin and it wasn't in my budget.

The uncleaned vs. cleaned coin is an interesting comparison.  Some of my dirtyoldcoins' pieces look like that - not the type, the current state.  One wonders if there's actually something there under the surface.  Given that I'm not too patient and don't have much time to fool with uncleaneds, it's a mystery which will endure.

That's quite an admirable collection of a rare usurper.

After listening to the History of Byzantium podcast, Isaac Angelus wasn't quite the useless numpty I had always envisioned; he was merely over his head in a very difficult period.  Nor was he an old man.  I had always pictured him as elderly, as some had suggested that he had died of 'old age' in 1204.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...