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Thrasamund and the Vandal Renaissance



New Owners Comments posted regarding my 50 denarii coin featuring Vandal King Thrasamund...


Careful scholarship reveals that the ancient people known as the Vandals turned out to be quite civilized. As the Western Roman Empire dissolved, the Vandals were one of several successor tribes rising to prominence. During the reign of King Thrasamund (450-523 AD), the level of cultural sophistication achieved has even been described as a Vandal Renaissance.

When his brother, King Gunthamund died in 496 AD, Thrasamund ascended the Vandal throne as his royal clan’s eldest surviving male. Sometime Early in his reign, Thrasamund agreed to marry Amalafrida, whose brother, Theoderic the Great, ruled over the Vandals’ rivals to the north, namely the Ostrogoths. As part of the deal, Thrasamund received a rather sizable dowry, not to mention King Theoderic also sent him one thousand elite troops to serve as bodyguards, and yet another five thousand miscellaneous armed retainers. All those Gothic troops were now part of Thrasamund’s entourage, proving an effective foil against the Vandalic tradition of raiding the northern Mediterranean.

Evidence suggests that Thrasamund embraced many Roman traditions. For example, he struck coins, including this specimen, valued at 50 denarii in its time. The obverse features Thrasamund’s pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust, looking very much like the Roman Emperors of old. The accompanying obverse inscription, DN RG THRA-SAMVNDVS, credits Thrasamund with an eclectic mix of old imperial and royal titles. The reverse design, denoting the denomination within a laurel wreath, while not particularly interesting, nonetheless reflects the Vandal’s adoption of Roman designs.

Thrasamund died in 523 AD, his two and a half decade rule the longest Vandal reign excepting his grandfather Genseric’s. Over that period, Thrasamund displayed a keen interest in the arts, as well as religious matters, further evidence of his desire to nurture Roman traditions. As an illustration of Thrasamund’s patronage of such matters, he famously engaged in lively religious repartee with a Nicene priest named Fulgentius of Ruspe. Fulgentius even composed a short treastise, Dicto regis Trasamundi et contra ea responsionum, in response to Thrasamund’s queries. Evidently, Thrasamund’s court was a dynamic, intellectual center, where the literati of the period conversed and debated on subjects both religious and profane.

Additional Reading: “Out of Africa: The Vandal Court of Thrasamund,” Chapter 3 of Roman Barbarians by Yitzhak Hen, Palgrave Macmillian, 2007, pp. 59-93.

Coin Details: VANDALS, Thrasamund, 496-523, AR 50 Denarii (14mm, 1.01 g, 10h), Carthage, NGC Grade: XF, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 3/5, Obverse: Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, DN RG THRA – SAMVNDVS, Reverse: D • N/L (mark of value) in two lines; – above; all within wreath, References: MIB 6a; MEC 1, 17-18; BMC Vandals 12-14.


Here is a link to the coin...


The here is a link the greater collection, FYI...









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