In Byzantium, mothers governing in the names of their underage sons were not unusual. But none one of them succeeded in establishing an independent authority – except Irene. She was the first woman in Eastern Roman history to rule the empire at her own discretion as an empress (797-802). Self-consciously, she appears on the front and on the back of her coins. Such a political self-propaganda was hitherto unheard-of. This solidus, the first standard gold coin of the empire, was issued during the years of Irene's sole reign in huge numbers. Uncommonly, both sides bear the same design. The reverse is distinguished from the obverse only by the special mark at the end of the legend and a pellet above the globe.