The dark ages and middle ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire were a dangerous period for western culture. For one thousand years the kings of the Byzantine Empire, held up within the walled city of Constantinople, repelled countless invasions of the Muslim tide, and thus preserved the cultural identity of Europe.
This was no mean feat considering they were located at the very crossroads of Asia and Europe, and were vulnerable to attack on many fronts. To support their economy and facilitate trade the Byzantine emperors authorized coinage to be struck. This particular coin was struck between 527 and 565 AD, during the reign of Justinian I, who is portrayed on the front. The reverse depicts an angel standing with a long linear cross and globe.