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  5. The Tremissis: The Roman Legacy in Visigothic Spain


The Tremissis: The Roman Legacy in Visigothic Spain

Room 23, showcase 8 Tremissis of Reccesvinth. Toledo, 653-672. Gold. Pulse para ampliar Tremissis of Reccesvinth. Toledo, 653-672. Gold.

In the late fifth century, the Western Roman Empire collapsed under the pressure of the Germanic migrations. Of the peoples who settled in Iberia, only the Suebi and Visigoths minted coins, and of these two only the latter developed a truly unique monetary system, based on the tremissis, to service the vast kingdom they ruled for two centuries.

The tremissis first appeared in 384 as a small Roman gold coin, worth one third of a solidus, in a world where gold had become the preferred method for all payments related to taxes and government affairs.

Accustomed to using it in their dealings with the imperial administration, the Visigothic kings adopted its weight, Latin script and imagery, albeit in their own particular schematic style.

Tremisses were coined in numerous towns until the Islamic invasion in 711. However, Visigothic society no longer used coins as the Romans had. Their system was based exclusively on gold and intended specifically for the payment of taxes, an essential means of consolidating the monarch’s power. For everyday expenses, people would have used the old Roman bronze coins or alternative methods, such as payment in kind.