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Architecture on Ancient Coins

Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea, Louis of Burgundy, 31 Jul 1313 - 2 Aug 1316

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Louis of Burgundy was a younger son of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy and Agnes of France. On 31 Jul 1313, he married Matilda of Hainaut to whom Philip I of Taranto gave the Principality of Achaea. Louis ceded his family lands in Burgundy to his elder brother in exchange for the title of "King of Thessalonica." Matilda and Louis arrived separately in Achaea, she sailing directly from Marseille to Navarino with 1,000 troops. Matilda's army was defeated on 22 Feb 1316 by Ferdinand of Majorca, who also claimed the principality. Louis came by way of Venice to solicit aid from the Republic. He defeated Ferdinand, who was killed in the battle, on 5 July 1316. Four weeks later, Louis died. The Chronicle of the Morea attributes his death to a fever, while the Catalan Declaratio summa states that he was poisoned by John, count of Cephalonia. His death left Achaea in an unsettled state, with his brother Eudes, his wife, and the Angevins all attempting to gain it.Arms_of_Achaea
CR88490. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 29; Metcalf Crusades pl. 40, 993; Schlumberger XII 23, aVF, excellent centering, coppery spots, strike a little soft, tiny edge chip, weight 0.640 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 135o, Clarentza mint, 5 Jul - 2 Aug 1316; obverse + LODOVIC'•D'•B'•P•AChE, cross pattée; reverse (annulet) DE CLARENCIA (annulet), castle tournois, surmounted by cross, annulet left of castle; from the Louis G Estate; very rare; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
 


Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea, Ferdinand of Majorca, Pretender, Jun 1315 - 5 July 1316

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Ferdinand of Majorca, as the third son of King James II, was an infante (prince) of the Kingdom of Majorca. It is this title on the obverse of this coin. He was also Viscount of Aumelas and Lord of Frontignan. Ferdinand married Isabella, daughter of Margaret of Villehardouin and they had a son who held the claim on the Principality of Achaea. Margaret and then his wife died in 1315, and soon after he set out with a small company for the Morea to uphold the claim now held by his son. He seized Clarenza in June 1315 and briefly took control of the Morea. In the autumn of 1315 he took a second wife, Isabella of Ibelin. However, his rival claimant Matilda of Hainaut, and her husband Louis of Burgundy returned to the Morea in the spring of 1316 with Venetian aid. Ferdinand's expected aid from Majorca and Sicily was tardy, as was the Catalan Company from Athens. Facing superior numbers, he was killed at the Battle of Manolada on 5 July 1316.Frankokratia_Map
CR88491. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 31a, Metcalf Crusades 987 - 992, VF, well centered, clashed dies, weak strike, part of edge ragged, weight 0.684 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 270o, Clarentza mint, pretender, Jun 1315 - 5 July 1316; obverse +IFANSFD'MAIORK, cross pattée; reverse (annulet) DE CLARENCIA (annulet), castle tournois, surmounted by cross, surmounted by cross, annulet left and right of the castle; from the Louis G Estate; extremely rare; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
 


France, Philip IV the Fair, 1285 - 1314 A.D.

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King Philip IV, deeply in debt to the Knights Templar, took advantage of rumors about the Order's secret initiation ceremony. On Friday, October 13, 1307, he had the Order's members in France arrested (the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition). Pope Clement, under threat from Philip, instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Many Templars were tortured into giving false confessions and burned at the stake. Grand Master Jacques de Molay, burned alive in Paris in 1314, called out from the flames, "Dieu sait qui a tort et a pëché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort" ("God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death"). Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died in a hunting accident before the end of the year.
ME87718. Silver Gros Tournois, Van Hengel 432.02; Duplessy 213, Ciani 201, Roberts 2461, Lafaurie I 217, VF, well centered and stuck, part of edge a little ragged, weight 3.966 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 270o, 1285 - 1290; obverse outer legend: + BNDICTV: SIT: NOmE: DNI: nRI: DEI: IhV: XPI (the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed, N's as H, m open, triple pellet stops), inner legend: + PHILIPPVS' REX (King Philip, no stop); cross pattée; reverse TVRONVS CIVIS (City of Tours, R with tail, round O, N reversed, pellet at top of second V, no stop), Châtel tournois topped with a cross, border of twelve lis within arches; $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The reverse legend translates, "The gates of Janus' temple are closed because peace of the Roman people is set on both land and sea." On the rare occasions when Rome was not at war the doors of the 'Twin Janus' were ceremonially closed, an event Nero commemorated extensively on the coinage of 65 - 67 A.D. -- Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1 by David R. Sear
SH89524. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 438, BMCRE I 319, BnF I 73, Mac Dowall WCN 419, Cohen I 146, SRCV I 1958, Hunter I -, F/aF, brown fields with brassy high points, obverse slightly off center, beveled obverse edge (typical for this issue), weight 20.807 g, maximum diameter 35.3 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head right, globe at the point of the bust; reverse PACE P R TERRA MARIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT, view of the Temple of Janus from the front left corner, temple front on the right with garland over closed doors within arch, the left side of the temple to the left with long latticed window, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00
 


Crusaders, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Guy De Lusignan, 1186 - 1190 A.D. Or Kingdom of Cyprus, 1192 - 1194 A.D.

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Guy of Lusignan, a French Poitevin knight, son of Hugh VIII of the Lusignan dynasty, was king of the crusader state of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1192 by right of marriage to Sibylla of Jerusalem, and of Cyprus from 1192 to 1194. As the health of his brother-in-law, Baldwin IV, deteriorated, Guy was appointed regent for his stepson by Sibylla, Baldwin V. Baldwin IV died in 1185, followed shortly by Baldwin V in 1186, leading to the succession of Sibylla and Guy to the throne. Guy's reign was marked by increased hostilities with the Ayyubids ruled by Saladin, culminating in the Battle of Hattin in July 1187, during which Guy was captured, and the fall of Jerusalem itself three months later. Following a year of imprisonment in Damascus, Guy was released by Saladin. After being denied entry to Tyre, one of the last crusader strongholds, by Conrad of Montferrat, Guy besieged Acre in 1189. The siege, during which Guy's wife died, developed into a rallying point for the Third Crusade, led by Philip II of France and Richard I of England. Guy entered a bitter row with Conrad over the kingship of Jerusalem; despite Richard's support for the widower king, Conrad married Sibylla's half-sister Isabella and was elected king by the nobility of the kingdom. Conrad was assassinated by the days after the election; Richard's and Guy's involvement in the incident is suspected, but unproven. Nevertheless, Guy was compensated for the dispossession of his crown by being given lordship of Cyprus in 1192, which Richard had taken from the Byzantine Empire en route to the Levant. Guy ruled the Kingdom of Cyprus until his death in 1194, when he was succeeded by his brother Amalric. Metcalf attributes this coin to Guy's rule in Cyprus.
CR91205. Billon fractional dinar, Malloy Crusaders 32b, Schlumberger III 25, Saulcy IX 4-5, Metcalf 628 (Metcalf dates this type to Guy's rule in Cyprus, c. 1192 - 1194), F, earthen deposits, areas of light corrosion, weight 1.425 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Jerusalem or Cyprus mint, 1186 - 1194; obverse + REX GVIDO D, bust facing, wearing crown with trefoils, pellet left and right; reverse + E IERVSALEm, Church of the Holy Sepulchre with dome; $260.00 SALE PRICE $234.00
 


Philip II, July or August 247 - Late 249 A.D., Zeugma, Commagene, Syria

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Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.
SL89808. Bronze AE 27, Butcher 31c; SNG Cop 35; BMC Galatia p. 128, 35; SGICV 4142, NGC Ch VF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4094544-007), weight 15.63 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma (Belkis, Turkey) mint, 247 - 249 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛI ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ZEYΓMATEΩN, tetrastyle temple with peribolos enclosing the sacred grove of trees, below Capricorn right; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

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Trajan's "bridge reverse" is usually identified as the monumental bridge built across the Danube by the famous architect Apollodorus of Damascus, an amazing example of Roman engineering. Apollodorus' bridge is believed to have differed greatly from the bridge on coin and G.F. Hill suggested the bridge is the Pons Sublicius, a revered ancient wooden structure in Rome, often damaged by floods and presumably restored under Trajan. We believe the Danube Bridge is a more likely subject. Architecture is notoriously schematized on ancient coins and both bridges required piers in the riverbed, so the artistic departure from reality would be the same in both cases.

While Apollodorus' own writings on the bridge are lost, it is depicted on Trajan's Column, and discussed in the writing of Cassius Dio and Procopius of Caesarea, among others. The bridge, constructed with wooden arches set on twenty masonry pillars, is estimated to have been 1135 meters long and the river about 800 meters wide. Each gateway was protected by a castrum. Procopius tells us that during construction the river was diverted and about half of the pillars were built on dry land. Cassius Dio tells us that Hadrian removed the wooden arches to protect Moesia from northern invasions. Since Dacia continued to be a province for about the next 150 years, the bridge must have been rebuilt. Aurelian likely demolished it when he abandoned Dacia. In 1856, when the Danube was at a record low, all twenty pillars were seen out of the water. In 1906 two were demolished to ease navigation. In 1982 archaeologists could only find the remains of twelve pillars. Both end pillars are still standing on the Serbian and Romanian shores.
RB89360. Orichalcum sestertius, Woytek 314bC, BMCRE III 847, Hunter II 320, BnF IV 315, RIC II 569, Strack I 385, Cohen II 542, SRCV II 3207, aF, bare toned brass, spots of corrosion, light marks, weight 24.040 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 107 - 110 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust right, from behind, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI, arched single-span covered bridge over river, gateways surmounted by statuary, right one with flight of steps; boat sailing left on river below, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $175.00 (€154.00) ON RESERVE


Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea, Charles I of Anjou, 1278 - 1285

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Charles I (early 1226/1227 – 7 January 1285), commonly called Charles of Anjou, was a member of the royal Capetian dynasty and the founder of the second House of Anjou. He was Count of Provence (1246–85) and Forcalquier (1246–48, 1256–85) in the Holy Roman Empire, Count of Anjou and Maine (1246–85) in France; he was also King of Sicily (1266–85) and Prince of Achaea (1278–85). In 1272, he was proclaimed King of Albania; and in 1277 he purchased a claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.Carlos_I
CR88453. Billon denier tournois, Metcalf Crusades pl. 39, 950; Tzamalis Frankish KA203; Malloy Crusaders 11 (S), VF, toned, small edge cracks, overstruck on an earlier coin(?), weight 0.680 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 270o, Corinth mint, 1278 - 1285; obverse + ▼K• R• PRINC' ACH' (R with wedge shaped foot = Corinth mint), cross pattée; reverse ▼CLARENCIA▼(R with wedge shaped foot = Corinth mint), castle tournois surmounted by cross; from the Louis G Estate; scarce; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
 


Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea, Charles II of Anjou, 1285 - 1289

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Charles II succeeded his father, Charles I, in Achaea as well as Sicily (now reduced to the Kingdom of Naples), but he was a prisoner in Aragonese hands. In the interim, the rule of Achaea devolved upon a series of baillis chosen from the Morean nobility. Not long after his release and coronation in 1289, he granted the Principality to Isabelle of Villehardouin upon her marriage with Florent of Hainaut, in part to redress the greedy application of the Treaty of Viterbo at William's death. However, he retained feudal overlordship over the Principality, and his grant provided that neither Isabelle nor any daughter who was her heir might marry without his consent.Frankokratia_Map
CR88454. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 12 (S); Metcalf Crusades pl. 39, 942; Tzamalis Frankish KA101; Schlumberger XII 17, VF, toned, light marks, weight 0.974 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 90o, Clarentza mint, 1281 - 1289; obverse + • K• R• PRINC ACh• (curly foot R = Clarentza mint), cross pattée; reverse :DE: CLARENCIA: (colons indicate double x stops, DE probably abbreviates denarius, curly foot R = Clarentza mint), castle tournois surmounted by a cross; from the Louis G Estate; scarce; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
 


Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea, Florent of Hainaut, 1289 - 1297

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Florent of Hainaut was Prince of Achaea in right of his wife, Isabella of Villehardouin. He was the son of John I of Avesnes and Adelaide of Holland. From his father he received the stadholdership of Zeeland. After he left Zeeland, he took up service with Charles II of Naples, who made him constable of the Kingdom of Naples. Florent settled with his wife in Morea. He negotiated the Treaty of Glarentsa with the Byzantine Empire in 1290; however, the situation for the Franks in Greece was hopeless by this time. The fall of the Angevins in Sicily meant that they were preoccupied with recouping territory there and few Western governments would send troops to defend Morea. Florent thus made peace and maintained it until 1293, when the Greeks retook Kalamata. Florent did not despair and did not reopen the war which had been ongoing until his succession: he instead sent an embassy in protest to Andronikos II Palaiologos, and the emperor returned Kalamata. In 1296, the Greeks retook the castle of Saint George in Arcadia. Florent besieged the castle, but died before it could be taken.Arms_of_Achaea
CR88457. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 13c; Metcalf Crusades type F4, pl. 39, 961, VF, well centered, toned, weight 0.785 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Clarentza mint, 1289 - 1297; obverse + ⚜FLORENS P AchB, cross pattée; reverse DE CLARENCIA', castle tournois surmounted by a cross; from the Louis G Estate; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
 




  



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REFERENCES

Price, M.J. & B. Trell. Coins and Their Cities: Architecture on the Ancient Coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine. (London, 1977).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
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Architecture