TheTrachyEnjoyer Posted July 10, 2022 · Member Share Posted July 10, 2022 (edited) Here is a topic I had yet to come across: Byzantine coinage…from the despotate of the Morea! The despotate of Morea was a quasi independent byzantine appendage state founded by John VI Cantacuzene. The breaking off of land for younger sons who wouldn’t one day inherit the throne was rather new to Byzantium unlike the west. First introduced with the spouse of Andronikos II, a western princess, the once controversial and rejected idea seems to have become more palatable over time - especially with ever growing latin influence in the empire. Fast forward 30 years after the reign of John VI and the byzantine empire was in shambles. The Palaelogan-Cantacuzene civil war had all but ruined the empire. Even the imperial regalia reflected this sad state of affairs - the royal crowns were pawned to Venice by the Palaeologans to raise money during the war. The once most powerful rulers on Earth were humbled beyond centuries of territorial loss. From a crown of splendid jewels the rulers of Rome wore glass. From silver and gold dining ware, pewter was now used. From the darkness, one last glimmering light shone through. Manuel II Palaeologus, perhaps the most intelligent man to ever ascend the Byzantine throne, was crowned in 1391. This once exuberant youth who had provoked war with the Turks in Thessaloniki had aged into wisdom while waiting for the throne. Now 40, his story in many was reflects that of Marcus Aurelius over a millennium before. The seasoned, tempered, and experienced emperor first came to power as a scholarly philosopher. Writing a corpus of still existing letters, Manuel displayed an education of the highest quality. Forced to seek help for a dieing empire, Manuel understood that survival must come from Western aid, not Eastern submission. During the 1394-1402 siege of Constantinople, Manuel II wrote and sought aid from the Kings of France and England. Both suitably impressed, England was too bogged down by domestic turmoil to send support while France send a Marshal of the kingdom with over 1,000 men. Half a decade later in a seemingly never ending siege, the repeated advice from the French Marshal convinced Manuel to do the unthinkable: leaving his capital city while under siege and personally seek help from the West. Pictured above meeting Henry IV in London, Manuel wowed the courts of the west with a romano-greek education not seen in Europe since the days of Cassiodorus and not seen again until the full flowering of the Renaissance. Many almost fantastical episodes later, Manuel returned home with some money and vague promises. Undeterred, Manuel decided that without western aid, his best defense would be to entrench the Peloponnese with the Hexamillion wall. This defensive fortification blocked off the northern entrances of the land mass to the rest of Greece, recently fallen to the Ottomans. It is during this stay, perhaps, that the following coins were minted. The obverse of these coins show Christ in the Mandorla. The reverse shoes the 3/4 length bust of Manuel with an abbreviated legend. In a much finer style than the contemporary Constantinople coinage, these coins are seemingly only known from a series of excavations made at Sparta in 1926. A few other single finds from Delphi and Greece in the eighteenth century also are known. To my knowledge, none are held in private hands. I won’t delve too deep into the coinage series itself because the excellently written article which I stumbled across is available for free online.https://www.academia.edu/1333371/J_Baker_A_coinage_for_late_Byzantine_Morea_under_Manuel_II_Palaiologos_1391_1425_RN_162_2006_pp_395_416 Sadly I don’t have an example of this Peloponnesian issue to share (or even a coin from Manuel). I hope you all found this series of coins as interesting as I do! Edited July 10, 2022 by TheTrachyEnjoyer 19 1 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.