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Tremissis from Constantinople in the second reign of Zeno. Tremissis-Zeno-RIC 0914.jpg
Tremissis from Constantinople in the second reign of Zeno.
Frankish gold Tremissis with Christian cross, issued by minter Madelinus [nl], Dorestad, Netherlands, mid-600s. Frankish gold Tremissis issued by minter Madelinus Dorestad the Netherlands mid 600s.jpg
Frankish gold Tremissis with Christian cross, issued by minter Madelinus  [ nl ], Dorestad, Netherlands, mid-600s.

The tremissis or tremis (Greek: τριμίσιον, trimision) was a small solid gold coin of Late Antiquity. Its name, meaning "a third of a unit", formed by analogy with semissis (half of a unit), indicated its value relative to the solidus. It was introduced into Roman currency in the 380s by the Emperor Theodosius I and initially weighed 8 siliquae (equivalent to 1.52 grams). [1]


Roman tremisses continued to be commonly minted into the reign of Leo III (717–741), but thereafter they were only rarely struck in the east of the empire, probably only for ceremonial uses, until the reign of Basil I (867–886), after which they disappeared. Nevertheless, the coin continued in common use in the Sicilian theme until the fall of Syracuse in 878. The trachy, introduced in the 11th century, was equivalent in value to the old tremissis. Although it was not made of gold, it was one third of the standard golden hyperpyron. It was not, however, called tremissis. [1]

Outside of the Roman empire, tremisses were minted by the Anglo-Saxons, Burgundians, Franks, Frisians, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Suevi and Visigoths between the 5th and 8th centuries. [2] The word tremissis was borrowed into Old English as thrymsa . [3]

In Frankish sources, the tremissis is sometimes called a triens, a term likewise meaning "a third", which originally referred to a bronze coin worth a third of an as. The historian and bishop Gregory of Tours calls the Frankish tremissis a trians or treans. The German form dremise is also attested. In French historiography the term tiers (third) or tiers de sou (third of a solidus) is often used. The French, in general, prefer to call the coin of the Merovingian kings a triens (but avoiding the plural form trientes), while British scholarship prefers tremissis. [4]

It was still used as an accounting currency until at least the 12th century in Sardinia. It appears as tremisse in the condaghe . [5]

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Solidus (coin)

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Canterbury-St Martins hoard 6th-century coin-hoard discovered in the 19th-century in England

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The thrymsa was a gold coin minted in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon England. It originated as a copy of Merovingian tremisses and earlier Roman coins with a high gold content. Continued debasement between the 630s and the 650s reduced the gold content in newly minted coins such that after c. 655 the percentage of gold in a new coin was less than 35%. The thrymsa ceased to be minted after about 675 and was superseded by the silver sceat.

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The Buis hoard was a hoard of Merovingian gold coins found in a vegetable patch at Buis around 1855. There were about 300 to 400 coins in the hoard when local antiquary Anatole de Charmasse saw them in 1873, identified 55 types, took down legends and drew sketches. They have since been dispersed. Most recently, Jean Lafaurie has identified 76 coins from the hoard: 75 Merovingian tremisses and one Arab-Byzantine dīnār from Damascus. Eleven of the coins came from the mint of Chalon-sur-Saône and the latest datable Merovingian issue was struck in the name of Chlothar II at Marseille between 612 and 629. Pierre Le Gentilhomme, who first published the find in 1938, concluded that it was most likely deposited in the 640s, based on the sequence of moneyers from Chalon. It may have been buried in connection with the battle of Autun and the death of Willibad in September 642 or 643, since according to the Chronicle of Fredegar this was followed by much unrest and plundering.

The Crondall Hoard is a hoard of coins and other articles that was found in the village of Crondall in the English county of Hampshire. The hoard was discovered in 1828 and is believed to date to the fifth century. It is the only large hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold coins that has ever been found. The coins are now in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.


  1. 1 2 Philip Grierson, "Tremissis", in Alexander Kazhdan, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford University Press, 1991 [online 2005]), vol. 3, p. 2113.
  2. "Tremissis", in Robert E. Bjork, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  3. "Thrymsas", in Robert E. Bjork, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  4. Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage: Volume 1, The Early Middle Ages (5th–10th Centuries) (Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 102.
  5. Il condaghe di Santa Maria di Bonarcado / a cura di Maurizio Virdis. - Nuoro : Ilisso, 2003

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