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Stupor mundi: A Bracteate of Frederick II


Ursus
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Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194–1250 AD) is one of the most intriguing figures in European medieval history. Born as the son of emperor Henry VI, Frederick grew up in Palermo, the capital of the realm of his mother, Constance of Sicily. His ascension to the German throne in 1215 marked the end of the power struggle between the House of Hohenstaufen and the House of Welf. In 1229, he peacefully entered Jerusalem after negotiating a treaty with sultan al-Kamil. As king of Sicily, Germany, Italy, Jerusalem and as Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick ruled over a vast multinational realm. At his cosmopolitan court, Italian, German, and Arabic influences created a unique cultural atmosphere in which art and science flourished. Much of Frederick's reign was shaped by an ongoing conflict with the papacy, which led to drastically different contemporary opinions about his rule and person: While one contemporary chronicler called him stupor mundi ("the astonishment of the world"), pope Innocent IV declared him the preambulus Antichristi ("the predecessor of the Antichrist").

I had long wanted a coin showing Frederick II, and I am happy to have won the bracteate below. It was minted at Ulm, a city in the Swabian heartland of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. In the high medieval period, Ulm was the location of both a royal palace (Königspfalz) and a royal mint presumably located at this palace:

1071249646_MADeutschlandetcUlmBrakteatFriedrichII.png.bfa8e570202414bc48bfb171f03ce1f2.png

Ulm, royal mint, under Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, 1215–1250 AD. Obv. crowned bust of king facing, branch to l., tower to r. Rev: incuse design (bracteate). 23mm, 0.33g. Ref: Berger 2598–9; Cahn 168 (for Lindau); Slg. Wüthrich 303.

 

Please post your coins of Frederick II or his contemporaries!

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5 hours ago, Ursus said:

I had long wanted a coin showing Frederick II, and I am happy to have won the bracteate below. It was minted at Ulm, a city in the Swabian heartland of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. In the high medieval period, Ulm was the location of both a royal palace (Königspfalz) and a royal mint presumably located at this palace:

Is this from a auction last days? I think I see the coin the last days at biddr - but not sure what auction house it was.

I dont collect this area - but fantastic coin! 👍

 

What I have always wondered. How do you store these coins? 

Am I right in thinking that the coins are made of very thin metal and are also very fragile over the centuries? I can also imagine that due to the outwardly curved design - especially the edges are very sensitive (breakage).

How do you take such coins in your hand? 
Like a "normal" antique coin?
More like coin tweezers?
And how is such a coin stored? In a coin capsule or do they just lie open in a drawer for coins?

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Stunning example, @Ursus, and a brilliantly concise account of his memorable achievements!  (I can't do "concise" to save my life, and can't not admire people who know how to.)  @seth77, that's a really cool pfennig; I've never seen that type, and the combination of motifs (replete with the Staufen eagle) is terrific.

I had trouble finding pics of even one Frederick, of which I have more than one Sicilian dinero (...but nothing German).  Found this one, finally, by searching  for 'Sicily' instead of his name, which I'd dumbly abbreviated.

image.jpeg.55cfef0fc300c40c9c1c929bbbcb3521.jpeg

Frederick II and Costanza of Aragon (d. 1222).  Half denaro of Messina or Palermo.

Obv.  Crowned eagle; two crescents in upper field.  FREDERIC. REX

Rev.  Cross fleury, extending to the outer border; star and crescent in each angle.

(Oops, from 3 o'clock; blame the dealer:) +.C. [/] .RE. [/] .GI. [/] .NA. 

D'Andrea, The Hohenstaufen's Coins in the Kingdom of Sicily (citing MEC, Spahr, Travaini, and an earlier collaboration of D'Andrea), 96.

And here are two of Frederick's main, later contemporaries, Louis IX and Henry III.  With apologies, the first is posthumous to Frederick, but only by a few years.  ...I have pictures of one of my more contemporaneous deniers of Louis, but here, I went for the 'bling.' 

image.jpeg.5c02030d19e09b4637c592e66c088636.jpeg

image.jpeg.fd26d154314f8c1b1089720818c5a7dc.jpeg

Louis IX, 1226-1270.  Gros tournois, c. 1266-1270. 

Issued shortly after the completion of his Sainte-Chapelle, on Ile-de-France, to house the undoubtedly dazzling array of relics (for the time) that he'd bought from Baldwin II, the last emperor of Latin Constantinople.  (Along with pawning the Crown of Thorns, Baldwin was reduced to taking the lead off of church roofs to cover his bills.)  ...With that as context, I like how the concentric legends and fleurs de lis evoke rose windows.

And here's a kind of doggy short cross penny of Henry, nearer Frederick's reign.

image.jpeg.d031e5e99e4295f4800485ca0299b996.jpeg
image.jpeg.3031b73c85490d9b748183400bcf5057.jpeg

Henry, 1216-1272.  Short cross penny.  Class 6c (his first)?  The moneyer is of record in London into Class 7.

Obv.  Henry facing, holding sceptre, which, with his hand, extends into the outer border. 

 From 11 o'clock: [HE]NRICVS R [/] EX.

Short voided cross.  (Along with the obverse motif and legend, going back to later issues of Henry II.  --Yes, quite a run, for a royal issue immobilizing itself, in contrast to feudal issues in France, which merely immobilized Carolingian ones, effectively second-hand.)  (From 9 o'clock:) RAVLF ON. LVNDE.  North 976 et seq. (if I'm right).

 

Edited by JeandAcre
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If we're talking Sicilian coinage for Frederic II, here's a rare mezzo denaro from Messina, ca. 1244-5:

1788354_1616948588.jpg.b8ecf5cf78a25dfdd2c3a4336eb12d59.jpg

This coin is 13mm and 0.27g at a title of 62.5/1000. Travaini dates it to 1244 and Spahr dates it to 1245.

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1 hour ago, Prieure de Sion said:

Is this from a auction last days? I think I see the coin the last days at biddr - but not sure what auction house it was.

I dont collect this area - but fantastic coin! 👍

 

What I have always wondered. How do you store these coins? 

Am I right in thinking that the coins are made of very thin metal and are also very fragile over the centuries? I can also imagine that due to the outwardly curved design - especially the edges are very sensitive (breakage).

How do you take such coins in your hand? 
Like a "normal" antique coin?
More like coin tweezers?
And how is such a coin stored? In a coin capsule or do they just lie open in a drawer for coins?

@Prieure de Sion, that's a really good question, regarding what to do with bracteates.  The small handful (<--as a Metaphor; Not recommended handling procedure!!!) I've gotten from Naumann have all been shipped in capsules, with a little bit of plastic foam on one side.  But from there, it's worth emphasizing how to ship them, versus how to keep them. What I generally do afterward is to put them in archival /acid-free envelopes, inside of a smaller, standard sized letter envelope, just big enough to hold a 3" x 5" index card, which is generally enough to fit the pertinent numismatic information, including documentation.  From that point, it can be reducible to handling them with an appropriate measure of respect.  After all, they did circulate, and they're not quite as frighteningly thin as they look.

...Granted, it was more fun to do all of that earlier on in my latest phase of collecting, from the early 2000's.  I'm Waaaay behind  catching up with all of what's happened over the past couple of years!

@Ursus, what do you do?  ...Anyone else?

Edited by JeandAcre
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I have one coin of Frederic II.

Type : Multiple de tari d’or

Date: n.d.

Mint name / Town : Messine

Metal : gold

Diameter : 14 mm

Orientation dies : 9 h.

Weight : 3,14 g.

Rarity : R1image.jpeg.50585ff4f83b010ff4bcfd32e6ca5f65.jpegimage.jpeg.5525d7af0fdc9653729a2bed6c2fb99f.jpeg

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@Hrefn, that's a brilliant example; I've wished I could find one tari, whether Norman or Staufen,* for a long time.  In light of Frederic's own literacy in Arabic, it's frankly ironic that, this late, the quasi-Kufic legend elements are so stylized.  In the 12th century, under Frederic's maternal Norman forebears, some of them included accurate A. H. dates.

Whether or not this is of any use, yours corresponds to d'Andrea, Hohenstaufen, 135; citing v. 14 of MEC (Grierson et al., Italian coins), Class D /page 3, with photos 518-20; along wih Spahr no. 82, Martorana (never heard of him, but the reference is as of 2007), and the same collaborative work of d'Andrea cited above (from 2013), no. 116.

*(Edit:) Well, wait, I did just get one, of no less a hoodlum luminary than Robert Guiscard --with legends entirely in Arabic. but it hasn't shown up yet.

Edited by JeandAcre
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@JeandAcre many thanks for the scholarly information about the multiple tari of Frederic II.   I clearly need to purchase MEC 14.   I believe the Spahr collection was just auctioned off by Bertolami this past Spring.  I bid on several coins but won nothing.   I would love to see Volume One of Spahr’s book on Sicilian coinage to see if it is worth buying.  Copies cost about 175 dollars if you can find one.      

Although recently posted, the ducat in the photos can still serve to provide an idea of the size of the adjacent coin which is a Tari of Norman Sicily.  Roger II 1130-1154 AD.  Palermo mint.  Obverse shows a Kufic legend;  reverse features a long cross with legend IC Ximage.jpeg.8582032846937a36d272df8f98086e93.jpegimage.jpeg.2cb02015dba26f919c673d8a9c325620.jpegC NI KA which translates as Jesus Christ Conquers.   Spahr 63.  From CNA, Ltd auction VIII lot#711  9/27/1989.  

These little taris are perhaps the most affordable medieval gold coins.   

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Yes, @Severus Alexander. Just, Yes!!!!!!!!  I'm really liking the resemblance of the profile to @seth77's pfennig from Nurnberg. 

This is one I have an example of.  A recent enough acquisition that, by rights, there should be dealer's pics of it, anyway; but so far, even those are eluding capture, even on the thumb drive that has the fun half of my life on it. 

I like the combination of titles.  For the benefit of whoever this might benefit, the D'Andrea listing goes like this (paraphrasing the English version).

Messina, c. 1225.  Rev.  Crowned profile; +IERL' SICIL' .RE[X] 

Obv.  Cross, trefoil /three pellets in two angles; F I[M]PERATOR

This issue is cool for having an early instance of Frederick's title as King of Jerusalem, along with Sicily.  As @Ursus noted in his OP, the 6th Crusade was remarkable for being the second, and last of the numbered crusades that actually achieved its stated objective --only the return of Jerusalem itself to Frankish control-- entirely by diplomatic means.  Have some, Bush and Putin.

Granted, in the process, Frederick effectively usurped the ensuing kingdom of Jerusalem from Jean de Brienne, who had acquired it by marriage, but whose own daughter had just married Frederick.  (Cf. esp. Perry, John of Brienne.)  From that point, Jean spent an interval in the service of the Papacy, before being appointed as the regent and effective emperor of the already crumbling Latin empire of Constantinople.

...And, why not, this is a recent repost, but it's the most solid example I've ever landed of Jean's principal issue as king and regent of 'Jerusalem' /Acre.  Probably issued from Acre, in the immediate aftermath of Jean's return there, from the briefly successful siege of Damietta, in the Nile delta, during the 5th Crusade.  As of the earlier-mid 13th century CE, Egypt was still ruled by the Ayyubid dynasty, founded by Saladin, who, thank you, had recaptured Jerusalem from the Franks.  The 5th Crusade gave Louis IX precedent for beginning his 7th Crusade in the delta.  It was only after a disastrous defeat there, followed by a brief imprisonment of Louis himself, that the same crusade turned its attention to Palestine.  

Most of the Muslims I've ever known were from Chicago, if you get my drift.  (--Sunni, thank you.)  But if I ever met one of mid-eastern descent, I'd want to say, 'Congratulations on the Crusades.  You kicked our ass.'  One episode of the 5th Crusade that warrants mention is that it was on this one that St. Francis of Assisi travelled to Egypt, to personally speak with the Ayyubid sultan, al-Kamil.  Merely in the interests of full disclosure, I'm not an adherent, and this might smell like revisionism.  But scholarly Roman Catholic sources have characterized this as a peace mission.  Sounds a lot like St. Francis to me.  At the end of his life, Jean de Brienne became a lay brother of the Franciscan order (cf. Perry, 180 ff.).  After a lifetime of war, this has to strike me as being poignant, at the very least.

ROYAUME DE JERUSALEM, Jean de Brienne (1210-1225), billon denier, 1219-1221, Dam...

Jean de Brienne, King of Jerusalem 1210-1212; Regent (of his daughter) 1212-1225.  Denier, likely of Acre, c. 1219-1221.

Rev. Jean, facing, crowned. +DAMIATA.  Obv.  IOh'ES: REX.  Malloy, Jerusalem, 43; cf. Perry, John of Brienne, esp. 108-110.

Edited by JeandAcre
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15 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

Is this from a auction last days? I think I see the coin the last days at biddr - but not sure what auction house it was.

I won it in Teutoburger 149, about a month ago.

15 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

What I have always wondered. How do you store these coins? 

Am I right in thinking that the coins are made of very thin metal and are also very fragile over the centuries? I can also imagine that due to the outwardly curved design - especially the edges are very sensitive (breakage).

How do you take such coins in your hand? 
Like a "normal" antique coin?
More like coin tweezers?
And how is such a coin stored? In a coin capsule or do they just lie open in a drawer for coins?

14 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

@Ursus, what do you do?  ...Anyone else?

In my eyes, the easy and safe way of storing bracteates is to put them in a hard plastic coin capsule with a small piece of cotton wool or medical gauze underneath. That way, they are fixed in place and don't rattle around. To illustrate the point, I'll post a picture:1581434071_Bildschirmfoto2022-10-21um11_14_11.png.377babbf6eb7720b2652e4c859338400.png

Due to concerns about possible PVC damage over time, I do not use plastic foam. Some auction houses do, though.

When outside of their capsules, bracteates can be handled like "normal" coins, just with a bit of extra care due to their fragility.

14 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

Stunning example, @Ursus, and a brilliantly concise account of his memorable achievements!  (I can't do "concise" to save my life, and can't not admire people who know how to.)

Thanks for the compliment – and for posting your great Henry short cross penny! That is a fabulous coin.

 

14 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

I had trouble finding pics of even one Frederick, of which I have more than one Sicilian dinero (...but nothing German).  Found this one, finally, by searching  for 'Sicily' instead of his name, which I'd dumbly abbreviated.

8 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Here's another Sicilian coin, a portrait denaro from Messina:

14 hours ago, seth77 said:

If we're talking Sicilian coinage for Frederic II, here's a rare mezzo denaro from Messina, ca. 1244-5:

13 hours ago, Hrefn said:

I have one coin of Frederic II.

Type : Multiple de tari d’or

Date: n.d.

Mint name / Town : Messine

The coinage of the Kingdom of Sicily is quite fascinating, especially due to its bilingual nature. A tari with both Arabic and Latin legends similar to the one @Hrefn posted is still on my wish list. A couple of nice examples went under the hammer recently, but my pockets unfortunately were too empty to get one.

So for now, here is Frederick's predecessor and maternal cousin William II:

1380693010_MAItalienSicilyWilliamIIfollaro2.png.0245efa1a7ee448010afc000518c5cd9.png

Norman Kingdom of Sicily, under William II "the Good" follaro, bronze 1166–1189 AD, Messina or Palermo mint. Obv: Lion's head left. Rev: Kufic legend: "al-malik Ghulyalim al-thani" ('King William the second'). 14mm, 1.87g. Ref: Spahr 118.

 

And here are both of Frederick's parents, Henry IV and Constance of Sicily:

311919945_MAItalienSicilyHeinrichVIdenaro.png.7b31a3b06b2c598e65a5a8be0a31459f.png

Kingdom of Sicily, under Heinrich VI of Hohenstaufen, BI denaro, 1194–1196 AD, Brindisi mint. Obv: .HE. INPERATOR; cross with two stars in quadrants. Rev: .C. INPERATRIX; AP with omega-stroke above. 16mm, 0.52g. Ref: Spahr 30; MEC XIV 485–487.

 

 

Edited by Ursus
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1 hour ago, Ursus said:

I won it in Teutoburger 149, about a month ago.

Yes! I see that. And even though I'm not interested in bracteates - but these coins immediately caught my eye. Really beautiful. Congratulations.

 

1 hour ago, Ursus said:

In my eyes, the easy and safe way of storing bracteates is to put them in a hard plastic coin capsule with a small piece of cotton wool or medical gauze underneath. That way, they are fixed in place and don't rattle around.

Ah Thank you. Very interesting execution.

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Italy, Sicily. Frederico II, AD 1197-1250. AR Denarius (16mm, 0.92g, 3h) Brindisi or Messina mint. Circa AD 1242. Obv: AVG, above Omega, + F.ROM.IP.SEMP. Rev: Cross, + .RIERL ET.SICIL Ref: Spahr 124.

image.jpeg.3a5bb02f385e06a703d4f2526dfd3c5f.jpeg

Italy, Kingdom of Sicily. Frederick II, AD 1197-1250. Billon Denaro (18 mm, 0.73g, 5h). Obv: + F ROMANORVM; Ω/IP in circle. Rev: + R IERL’ ET SICIL’; Cross pattée in circle. Ref: MEC 14, 562; Spahr 137. About Very Fine, high copper content.

image.jpeg.e2513659e1b9281abdddacf48fa6bb72.jpeg

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  • 4 weeks later...

The reign of the Staufer dynasty over Sicily is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating epochs in medieval history. As I grew up in "Schwaben", only a few miles from their ancestral castle, the "Hohenstaufen", I would like to show you some pieces from my collection from the sicilian and south-italian mints.

Frederick II. denarius (Silver) undated, Messina mint (Sicily) ca. 1225 AD. Obv.: IRL' SICIL' REX, crowned head left. Rev.: + F IPERATOR, base with three points in two angles. Weight: 0.6 gr. Ref. Spahr 113; Grierson/Travaini 545. "F(ridericus) i(m)perator / I(e)r(oso)l(yme et) Sicil(ie) rex" - "Frederick, Emperor / of Jerusalem and Sicily king".

MA.05.jpg

Edited by justus
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Conrad I. denarius (silver), Messina mint (Sicily) 1250-1254 AD. Obv.: + CONRADVS, base with crosses in two angles. Rev.: + IERL' ET SICIL' around arc over RX. Weight: 0.7 gr. Ref. Spahr 157 (RR); Grierson/Travaini -. "Conradus / R(e)x - Ier(oso)l(yme) et Sicil(ie)" - "Conrad / King of Jerusalem and Sicily".

 

MA.02.jpg

Edited by justus
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Manfred denarius (Billon), Manfredonia or Brindisi mint 1258-1266 AD. Obv.+ NFRIDVS REX (Manfridus Rex); MA/y, above omega. Rev. SI-CI-LI-E; long cross dividing the inscription. Weight: 0.8 gr. Ref. MEC 14, 610; Save 200.

MA.12.jpg

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Henry VI. denarius (silver), Messina mint (Sicily) 1194-1197 AD. Vs: +E.INPERATOR. cross in circle. Rs: C. INPERATRIX. eagle in a circle. Weight: 0.7 gr. Ref. Spahr 28. Uncleaned, still in state of discovery!

MA.14.jpg

Edited by justus
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