In the decades around the millennium the issues of bronze coinage of the Byzantine Empire, except at Cherson, were exclusively ‘Rex Regnantium’ folles. In accordance with the theocratic political philosophy of the time, the portrait they bore was that not of the emperor but of Christ, ‘the King of those who Rule’. The inscriptions were analogous: Ἐμμανουήλ and Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Βασιλεὺς τῶν Βασιλευόντων. Some issues were similar in size and fabric to the earlier issues of the Macedonian dynasty, but others were large, heavy coins, superior to any that had been generally available since the days of Justinian the Great. Quite probably, indeed, they were modelled on the sixth-century folles, as those of Constantine IV certainly had been, with the intention of recalling the glories of the past. The intervening period had witnessed an almost total decline in the circulation of petty currency in the provinces. It is to be seen as evidence of a corresponding decline in city life, for which, in turn, a complex of causes is to be discerned—demographic decline; the Islamic expansion into the eastern provinces and into the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean; the pressure of the Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars in the north-west; the strain imposed on the Byzantine treasury by the military effort expended in containing these threats; provincial self-sufficiency, and lowered standards which necessarily followed from the impoverishment of the state and its peoples. The revival of the Empire's fortunes began in the ninth century, and reached a climax under Basil II (976–1025), who re-established Byzantine rule firmly over territories extending from the Adriatic coasts to the upper valley of the Euphrates. By the end of Basil's reign the use of petty currency, which during the ninth and tenth centuries had still been significantly restricted to a few cities of the Aegean and Black Sea coastlands, was spreading much more widely through the Balkans and Asia Minor. Also, the reconquest of Antioch and the cities of Cilicia added to the needs that the imperial coinage had to meet.