Hold this ancient Byzantine copper follis and hear the clash of swords against battle-axes and cries of warriors in hand-to-hand combat. Fearless Vikings, sent from the Kiev, helped Basil II save the Byzantine Empire.
When Basil II became emperor in A.D. 976, the empire was besieged on all sides and teetered on the brink of disaster. Its greatest peril came in A.D. 987 when powerful generals, who commanded the eastern armies, rebelled. Left with little military, Basil II asked for aid from Prince Vladimir of Kiev and received 6,000 elite Viking fighters. Putting down that rebellion, Basil then created the famous Varangian guard (bodyguards) and set out to reclaim territory taken by the Bulgarians. Progressively retaking lands, his campaign finished in 1014 with the Battle of Kleidon Pass. There he defeated the Bulgarians, took thousands of prisoners and earned the title “Bulgar-slayer.” Still nicely detailed and attractive after nearly 1,000 years, this bronze follis displays the bust of Christ with the gospels. Recall the great emperor and his fierce Vikings with this coin.