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Peter & Paul: western iconography on 'Latin' trachea


seth77
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To most, the 'Latin' issues of Crusader or Latin Constantinople are boring and attract no interest. When you see them on vcoins or in other places, they are mostly identified as just "Latin Empire trachy (1204-1261)" and, if lucky, assigned to a Hendy type.

Most of them are rather dull and the condition and clipping don't help either. The types are mostly variations of earlier Byzantine types, no Latin Emperor is named and the economic crisis at Constantinople and the galloping inflation meant that coins would become worse and worse each year. Occasionally though, during this period of inflation and general lack of interest in base metal coinage, when "new" types were minted probably yearly, interesting designs did pop up -- that is if we accept the (still) dominant theory that they are the product of Latin Constantinople or one of the special interests related to the Latin occupation of Constantinople (Sear, Malloy, Hendy, Baker, et al) rather than Metcalf's theory (see below).

One of these types and my personal favorite is the "Peter and Paul" type, Type T according to Hendy, which shows on the obverse the Virgin Hagiosoritissa and on the reverse saints Peter and Paul nimbate, embracing each other:

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AE24mm, 2.50g, late period trachy, large module clipped, minted probably at Constantinople around ca. 1237 to no later than 1241 or ca. 1243-1248.
[H AΓΙOCOPICITA]; Full-length figure of Virgin Hagiosoritissa nimbate, orans; manus Dei in upper right field.
[O AΓIOC ΠΕTPOC O AΓIOC ΠAYΛΟC]; Full-length figure of St. Peter on left and St. Paul on right, nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion, embracing each other.
Sear 2040/2051, Malloy 20 (large module), Hendy type T.

 

The main theory is that this coinage was struck under Venetian supervision, perhaps under the direct authority of the Venetian podesta at Constantinople, starting with around 1235-1237, for usage in Thracia and the Bulgarian territories, to around 1241/3, when the Mongol invasion destroyed much of Bulgaria and practically turned the tsarate into a tributary state. At which point most (if not all) monetized market in Bulgaria collapsed.

According to hoard evidence though, the type was still in use well into the 1250s and possibly after in the Danube trade (see below).

What is interesting about this type is the distinct western Catholic iconography of the reverse. Saints Peter and Paul were, of course, revered by both Churches, but their presence and posture on this coinage is distinctly Catholic, reminiscent of the famous representations on the Papal bullae:

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Papal bulla from the 1240s, of Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254)

This depiction of Catholic iconography on a specifically Greek Orthodox coinage might throw some light on the idiosyncrasies of the age at Constantinople, and in the larger context of the often-discussed and never-endeavored reunification of the Churches, which lingered off and on in the relationship between the Papacy and Constantinople until the fall of the latter to the Ottomans in 1453. The design of the copper coinage of Latin Constantinople was of course of very little significance in the big picture and especially to the impoverished population which used it before, around and after the devastating encroachment by the Mongols. It is nonetheless interesting to see such a juxtaposition of worlds and symbolism at the end of Latin rule, before Michael Palaeologos restored Greek-Romaion rule over the city and Baldwin II de Courtenay, the only Latin Emperor of Constantinople to be born in Constantinople, was forced to flee his home in 1261.

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AE22mm, 2g, late period trachy, large module clipped

 

s-l1600.jpg.db9c21204b00411ee979f88e03cef300.jpg
AE24x18mm, 2.18g, late period trachy, large module clipped

peter.jpg.f01da7815e91f8f4b50b5f578ca019f9.jpg
AE25x20mm, 3.06g, late period large module trachy
 

pp.jpg.19e3706998636dac6e41d6fd6863379d.jpg
AE22x17mm, 0.98g, late period medium-small module trachy

As this type appears mostly in small module (and/or clipped and later on in the Danube trade cut form), as a coin minted by the 'Venetians' for usage in Bulgarian territories -- according to Hendy, a theory that is still debated, DOC 4 pp. 670-2 vs Baker pp. 1227-9 who prefers the dual mints in Constantinople, the 'Imperial mint' minting on the larger standard and the 'Public mint' minting for commercial interests, including the 'Venetian' private interests -- it is most likely beginning, considering the hoard information and the sequence noted above, in the mid to late 1230s, not later then 1241, when the Bulgarian Empire collapsed under the Tatar invasion. Malloy dates this type and Type S (with Saint Peter and the Virgin Hagiosoritissa) to 1243-1248 or earlier, but R. Glanfield's sequence seems more accurate and convincing to me.

Another theory, although presently not as popular, was proposed by D. M. Metcalf (The Peter and Paul Hoard: Bulgarian and Latin Imitative Trachea in the Time of Ivan Asen II, NC Vol. 13 (1973) pp. 144-172) linking these later types (from D to U cf. Hendy) to the second part of the reign of Ivan Asen II and the eastern part of Thracia and Bulgaria, possibly minted in the 1230s at Veroe (Stara Zagora). In this situation also, the succession of types would put the 'Religious types' somewhere close to the end of Asen's reign, around 1240.

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AE18mm, 1.85g, late period trachy, small module

 

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AE20mm, 2.24g, late period medium module trachy

The Bulgarian theory is set into the general context of Ivan Asen's negotiations with Rome to put the Bulgarian Church in communion with the Catholic Church, a question all to present at Constantinople too. As such all 'Religious types' trachea fit rather well too as both 'Latin' types or 'Thracian/Bulgarian' types for Balkan use. The diplomatic channels between the Bulgarian emperors and Rome were already in full swing under Kaloyan, but it was Ivan II Asen's conquests and extended rule that saw an intensification of contacts with the Papacy. Metcalf notes in favor of his theory the lack of substantial finds of these types in Constantinople, while they are prevalent in the Balkans (the 'Peter and Paul hoard'), in the Danube trade and beyond, as Oberlander-Târnoveanu notes the 'Bals hoard' north of the Danube, some 100 miles inland from Severin. These hoards happen some years after Constantinple is considered to have stopped minting at all, but as both Metcalf and Oberlander note, they are accumulation lots of coinage minted ca. 1225-1250.

Metcalf also links this type with Hendy Type S (Saint Peter holding keys/Virgin Hagiosoritissa), which he considers to be later still, perhaps connected to the late 1240s to 1254 negotiations regarding the reunification of the churches of West and East (under Latin primacy). But that type deserves its own installment.

Edited by seth77
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  • seth77 changed the title to Peter & Paul: western iconography on 'Latin' trachea
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I do not have a Peter and Paul Trachy but ironically, I was just looking in my box of odds and ends and it had a tessera with the same subject matter. @quant.geek helped me attribute it a few years back. (Wassiliou-Seibt 126) 4.7gm and 23.59mm

c3.jpg.817e890d9793306f9f26231421f6f032.jpg

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Outstanding write up on these underappreciated coins! I have a few of these that came in lot purchases, especially the smaller modules.  The Latin exposure on these coins sets it apart from the normal issuance and thus makes it even more special.  Here are mine:

 

Latin Rulers of Constantinople: Anonymous (1204-1261) BI Large Module Trachy, Constantinople (Sear 2040; DOC 20)

Obv: MP ΘV H AΓIOCOPITICA in two columnar groups; Full-length figure of Virgin Hagiosoritissa nimbate, orans; Manus Dei in upper right field
Rev: O AΓIOC ΠЄTPOC O AΓIOC ΠAVΛOC in two columnar groups; Full-length figure of St. Peter, on left, and St. Paul, on right, nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion, embracing each other; St. Peter has short beard, St. Paul has a long one
Dim: 29.45 mm, 3.00 g

normal_Sear-2040_01.jpg

 

normal_Sear-2040(1).jpg

 

normal_Sear-2040(2).jpg

 

Italy, Papal States: Honorius III (Cencio Savelli) (1216-1227) Pb Seal, Rome (Serafini 1-3)
Obv: S PA S PE; Nimbate facing heads of St. Paul, bald and with a long, linear beard, on the left and St. Peter, with curly hair and beard composed of pellets, on the right; between them, Latin cross on a long staff and base; all within a circular, dotted border
Rev: HONO/RIVS/ •PP• III• in three lines, the whole within simple round dotted border
Dim: 42.5 mm, 48.77 g, 12 h

image.png.672e295cce2cdefeb122b9972b12a2e8.png

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8 hours ago, quant.geek said:

Outstanding write up on these underappreciated coins! I have a few of these that came in lot purchases, especially the smaller modules.  The Latin exposure on these coins sets it apart from the normal issuance and thus makes it even more special.  Here are mine:

 

Latin Rulers of Constantinople: Anonymous (1204-1261) BI Large Module Trachy, Constantinople (Sear 2040; DOC 20)

Obv: MP ΘV H AΓIOCOPITICA in two columnar groups; Full-length figure of Virgin Hagiosoritissa nimbate, orans; Manus Dei in upper right field
Rev: O AΓIOC ΠЄTPOC O AΓIOC ΠAVΛOC in two columnar groups; Full-length figure of St. Peter, on left, and St. Paul, on right, nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion, embracing each other; St. Peter has short beard, St. Paul has a long one
Dim: 29.45 mm, 3.00 g

normal_Sear-2040_01.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Your first specimen is probably in the best condition I have seen for these.

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