Last Medal

Germany 1790

Description: Medal by Reich, commemorating coronation in Frankfurt of Leopold II of Austria as 'Holy Roman Emperor'.
Obverse: Uniformed three-quarter bust left. "LEOPOLDUS II D•G•R• IMP• S•A•G.H• B•REX•A•A•B•L•D."
Reverse: Germania, protected by a knight, hands Leopold the crown of Charlemagne, God's all-seeing eye in clouds above. "DIGNISSIMO". In exergue "INMO• CTOR./1790"
Statistics: Tin/Pewter 48mm 36.66gm
Reference: Foerschner 397.2
Comment: Medal by Reich, signed both sides - with his characteristic copper plug just above the date.


His coronation as 'Holy Roman Emperor' took place in Frankfurt on the 9th of October 1790. From 855 the German kings and emperors had been elected in Frankfurt and crowned in Aachen. From 1562 the kings/emperors were also crowned in Frankfurt, Maximilian II being the first one. This tradition ended in 1792, when Franz II (Leopold's son) was elected.

However, Leopold lived for barely two years after his accession as Holy Roman Emperor, and during that period he was hard pressed by peril from west and east alike. The growing revolutionary disorders in France endangered the life of his sister Marie Antoinette of Austria, the queen of Louis XVI, and also threatened his own dominions with the spread of a subversive agitation. His sister sent him passionate appeals for help, and he was pestered by the royalist emigrants, who were intriguing to bring about armed intervention in France.

From the east he was threatened by the aggressive ambition of Catherine II of Russia and by the unscrupulous policy of Prussia. Catherine would have been delighted to see Austria and Prussia embark on a crusade in the cause of kings against the French Revolution. While they were busy beyond the Rhine, she would have annexed what remained of Poland and made conquests against theOttoman Empire. Leopold II had no difficulty in seeing through the rather transparent cunning of the Russian empress, and he refused to be misled.

Back to main page