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Raymond Bérenger V of Provence, and his four (very) marriagable daughters


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Raymond Bérenger V of Provence, and his four (very) marriagable daughters

 Although some of the material here was reappropriated from posts to the other website, this is effectively original.  No fear!   


 Raymond Bérenger, Count of Provence 1209-1245. 'Menut marseillais' (Duplessy) /'obole' (Poey d'Avant) /’denier’ (Boudeau) /’diner’ (Crusafont). Issued c. 1243-1245.
Shield (Distinctive round bottom --sorry-- typical of Iberian and Occitanian shields) with the royal arms of Aragon, of which Raymond was a cadet.
+[R:] BE. COMES.  (Raymond Bérenger /Berenguer, the Count.)
Rev. Cross, dividing the legend.  [E]P / VI /N / CI (or, from 2 o’clock, something as easy as 'PVINCIE’).
Boudeau 810; Crusafont (Vol. IV) 176; Duplessy, Féodales 1615; 

Poey d'Avant 3935.  Variations with and without a pellet in the upper right angle of the cross.  Crusafont (who lists the variant with the pellet) suggests that the mint might be Arles instead of Marseille.

Yes, the ones that show up on the market are generally atrocious, both for their record-breakingly ratty billon composition, and their ensuing condition. (…I’m guessing Lots of tin, on a module which, even compared to later antoniniani of Gallienus, or a preponderance of 12th-century French deniers, was just Asking to get beaten up.)  Except, as such, they’re commensurately scarce.  This example at least has the initial ‘R,’ along with the variant pellet.



Despite this nadir in the coinage at the close of his reign, Raymond presided over a county which was as advanced economically as it was culturally, even relative to the kingdoms of France and England.  This was largely thanks to a convergence of Provence’s location on key medieval trade routes, both maritime and overland, with the conspicuous fiduciary acumen of Raymond’s advisors. 

The obole below, from Marseilles, is on the same module as the examples above, but of noticeably finer composition.


AR obole of Marseilles; anonymous, but first issued by Raymond’s grandfather, Alphonse I, Rey de Aragon (from 1137) y /et Comte de Provence (from 1166); d. 1196. 

Obv.  Crowned profile, facing left; top of crown with two lines; two locks of hair below the crown.

+REX [annulet] ARA [annulet] GONE.

Rev.  Cross, each arm extending to the outer border, and terminating in three pellets.

PO [/] VI [/] NC [/] IA.

Boudeau 808, Crusafont 171; Duplessy, Féodales 1611. 

Boudeau notes that, after the death of Alphonse in 1196, this type was continued as a civic issue of Marseilles until 1243 (ibid.). Duplessy echoes this, dating the type ‘1186-1243?’.  The civic nature of the immobilization is given emphasis by the fact that, after the death of Alphonse I (also Alfonso II, Rey de Aragon), the crown of Aragon passed to the senior line (later represented by Jaume I, ‘el Conquistador,’ who issued his own variant of this type.  One could guess that Jaume issued his variants from Aragon, although Crusafont (174, 175) attributes them to Marseille.)  Meantime, the county of Provence descended as an appanage to a younger son, Raymond's father, Alphonse II (de, merci, la comte de Provence) –who, in reference to the obverse legend, had no royal title.  …Any more than Jaime I was ruling Provence.  Resulting in a case of mutual anachronism, just where the legends are concerned.  The sort of thing you might get with two effectively simultaneous immobilizations, especially late enough to be associated with specific reigns.  …Some of us love this sh-t.


Seal of Raymond Bérenger, dated 1234.  The legend reads, “+SIGILLVM R/[\IM]VNDI: BERENGERI.  (From a French website on tourism and history in Languedoc /the Midi: http://www.midi-france.info/191600_seals.htm#louisix.)



Another early one, from the Musée des Archives de France, Paris, with the Aragonese coat of arms a little more readily discernible.  This is undated, but also attributed to Raymond V. 

The legend reads, +COMITIS / PROVI / NCIE.


Raymond had only one son, a namesake who predeceased him.  This left four daughters, each a potential heiress.  The advanced economy of Provence, along with the celebrated beauty and sophistication of the  daughters, made them, um, a hot ticket on the dynastic marriage market.  (Sorry, but we are, after all, in 13th-century Europe.) 

Two married reigning kings.  Marguerite (b.1221; married 1234; obit 1295) married Louis IX of France, and Eleanor /Eléonore (1223 /1236 /1291) married Henry III of England.  Sancha /Sancie (1228 /1243 /1261) married Richard, Earl of Cornwall, a younger brother of Henry, while the youngest, Beatrice (1231/2 /1246 /1267), married Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of Louis.  Charles wound up with the county of Provence itself, despite being a youngest son marrying a youngest daughter.  Meanwhile, Eleanor was instrumental in, just for one, securing the Archbishopric of Canterbury for her maternal uncle and Raymond’s brother-law, Boniface of Savoy.  Along with being a key behind-the-(battle)-scenes player during the ‘Barons’ War,’ during the later phases of Henry’s reign.



Louis IX (r. 1226-1270).  Denier tournois, second coinage, c. 1245/1250 -1270.  (Earlier variants, especially of the legends, are coidentified with his father, conveniently known as Louis VIII.)

Obv. +LVDOVICVS [annulet] REX.

Rev. Châtel tournois; +TVRONVS [annulet, barely visible in hand] CIVIS. 

Duplessy, Royales (2nd ed., 1999), v. 1, 193A.





Louis IX, gros tournois of Tours, c. 1266-1270. 

Obv.  Cross.  (Legends in 2 concentric circles.) 

(Inner legend:)  +LVDOVICVS.REX.  (Outer legend:)  +BNDICTV: SIT: NOME: DNI: NRI: DEI: I-h-V:XPI

(‘B[E]N[E]DICTV[M] SIT NOM[IN]E D[OMI]NI N[OST]RI DEI IH[ES]V XP[IST]I ([/ CHRISTI]);’ Blessed be the name of our Lord God, Jesus Christ.)

Rev.  Châtel tournois; outer border of fleurs de lis.  +TVRONV.S. CIVIS.

Duplessy, Royales 190D; variant, reversing the points in the legends.


Seal and counterseal of Marguerite, from the priory of Saint-Louis de Poissy in France; sadly, undated, without any help with the legends.  I can squint out her name at the beginning of the seal, and “AVE MARIA ORA PLENA” on the counterseal.


From Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sous_le_sceau_du_roi_-_Prieur%C3%A9_Saint-Louis_de_Poissy_sceau_et_contre_sceau_de_marguerite_de_provence.JPG 


Meanwhile, Eleanor married Henry III in 1236, at the age of 12.  Henry’s own minority had ended only nine years before, but the marriage was still a cradle rob –granted, for the time, nothing to break any records. 


Illustration of the marriage, from the earliest, nearly contemporaneous ms. of the Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris, in the Parker Library of Cambridge University.  (From an old download.)  


Eleanor of Provence, from a 13th-century sculpture in Westminster Abbey, c. 1250’s.



Here’s a harness stud, found in the UK, evoking the fact that Eleanor’s entourage would have been all over the country.



Harness stud with arms of Aragon, c. earlier 13th c.  Detector find, UK.

(For the chronology of square harness pendants, see John Baker, “The Earliest Armorial Harness Pendants.”  The Coat of Arms, 3rd. Ser. 11 (2015), no. 229, pp. 12 ff.and Plate 2.   Cf. Stephen Ashley, “Medieval Armorial Horse Furniture in Norfolk.” East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 101, (2002), p. 18, figures p. 19.)  

I don’t have pics of more than one earlier, ‘short cross’ penny of Henry, in an unremarkable state of preservation.  Here’s one of the voided long cross coinage (1247-1272), late even for the issue. 

Class Vb, c. 1251-1272.

Obv.  Henry facing, crowned; right hand holding a scepter topped by a fleur de lis; the hand and fleur variously interrupting and punctuating the legend.  (From ten o’clock:) hENRICVS REX [/] III. 

Rev.  Long cross, voided to facilitate cutting to make ha’pence and farthings (as in the Long Cross pennies of AEthelred II, most of a quarter millennium before).  NIC [/] OLE [/] ON L [/] VND  (Nicole [moneyer] “on Lund[e];“ in London.  (North p. 227, and so forth.)

 Well, on second thought, having run into still more unforeseen formatting issues, let's skip this.  The example below, class IIa, allegedly  ex Brussels Hoard, is earlier, anyway.  


Which brings us to Sancha, who married Richard of Cornwall in 1243.

Here’s a seal of hers, from Wikimedia Commons; sans date or other details, as usual, but you can squint out “...PVINCIE ET COM[TESSA?]....”



Richard was the primary force behind the introduction of his brother Henry’s Long Cross type, becoming exorbitantly wealthy in the process.  He warrants another example of the same coinage.  


Henry III, penny of London, long cross type, Class IIa, 1248.  Identified by the dealer as ex Brussels Hoard.

Obv.  Henry facing, crowned.  

[With ellisions of the letter ‘R’:] *hEN2ICVS REX TE2CI’  (“HENRICVS REX TERCI[VS]).

Rev.  Voided long cross, three pellets in each angle.

[From 1 o’clock:]  HIC [/] OLE [/] ON L [/] VND (“NICOLE ON LVND[E];” [the moneyer] Nicole of London).

North 985/1 (and p. 228 for mint and moneyer); Spink (2009) 1361 (and p. 146 for mint and moneyer); Stewartby pp. 80-82.

I have to love how English pennies, all the way back to late Anglo-Saxon, and up to the ‘New Coinage’ of Henry’s heir, Edward I, are bilingual; the obverse legend always in Latin, and the reverse, with the mint and moneyer, no less relentlessly in Old and Middle English.  Never mind the moneyers’ names, which range, over the whole interval, from Anglo-Saxon to Scandinavian to French. 

Another thing I need about Henry’s long cross coinage is the way that even the lettering begins to catch up with contemporary, High Gothic conventions in other media.  Not only in terms of increasing ‘Lombardic’ letter forms, but  ligatures that evoke contemporary practice, even in manuscript.  Up until this point, most coin legends are reducible to variations of post-Carolingian /Romanesque letter forms.  Right, relative to die-sinking, part of the lag was effectively technological.  With the legends being ‘engraved’ primarily by punches, it took a substantial redesign of the ‘type face.’ 

This brings us to the youngest of the sisters, Beatrice, the actual heiress of Provence, who married Louis IX’s youngest brother, Charles of Anjou.  From the springboard of Provence, Charles went on to acquire the Hohenstauffen kindgdom of Naples /Sicily, by papally-sanctioned conquest, and to entertain the prospect of a ‘crusade’ against Constantinople, under similar aegis.

Now we got some cool pics.


A 14th-century illustration of Beatrice and Charles, later in their careers, the caption identifying them as ‘Regina’ and ‘Rex.’  A knight in the livery of the crown of France kneels before Beatrice, while another, with the coat of the Lusignan counts of La Marche and kings of Cyprus, faces Charles.



A seal of Beatrice, with the legend: “S[ignum] BEATRICIS COMITISSE PROV[...]INC[IA] ANDEG[AVORUM; Anjou] ET FOLQVALQVERII [Forcalquier, a vassal county of Provence].”




A 13th-century statue of Batrice, from a church in Marseille, now in the city’s historical museum.


Meanwhile, the only representation I have of Charles is his initial issue as Count of Anjou, from his marriage to Beatrice in 1246 to his conquest of Naples /Sicily in 1266.  …During the same interval, he did issue deniers of Provence (Duplessy, Féodales 1616-24), but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention.


County of Anjou.  Charles I.  Denier, issued prior to his acquisition of the Kingdom of Naples /Sicily, 1246-1266.  Riffing off of earlier Angevin issues, effectively immobilized in the 12th century.

Obv. Cross, fleur de lis (in place of an Alpha) in lower left angle; omega in lower right.  (From 6 o’clock:) +CAROLVS.COMES.

Rev. Altered ‘FVLCO’ monogram.  (From 3 o’clock:) +ANDEGAVENSIS.

Duplessy, Féodales 380.


Historical and genealogical references.  –Right, consulted; not cited.

Cawley, Charles.  HIs inimitable Medieval Lands website, which aspires –with remarkable success– to rely on contemporaneous primary sources  at every point.  Here’s the opening page for Provence: https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/provintro.htm 

Carpenter, D. A.  The Minority of Henry III.  “First U.S. edition.”  Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1990.

Howell, Margaret.  Eleanor of Provence.  1998.  Oxford and Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2001.

The Illustrated Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Observations of Thirteenth-Century Life.  Richard Vaughan, ed. /trans.  Alan Sutton /Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1993.

Pécout, Thierry.  L’invention de la Provence: Raymond Bérenger V (1209-1235).  (N.p.:) Perrin, 2004.  (I could only wish I could read more than a frankly humiliating fraction of this book with a grain of comprehension.  But the Tableaux de filiation are helpful for putting the whole immediate genealogical context in one place.  …And you have to like the dedication (with Pécout’s own italics:)

“Des chevaliers, des princesses, des rois, 

pour Adéle, ma fille.”

Runciman, Steven.  The Sicilian Vespers: A History of the Mediterranean World in the Later Thirteenth Century.  1958.  Cambridge UP, 2002.


…Please, and that gets to mean, Please, post anything of the general milieu, or Whateve else this reminds you of!


Edited by JeandAcre
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