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A very resonant 11th-c. ecclesiastical denar of Mainz


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Just paid for this one, from our very own Annes Kabel:






Archbishopric of Mainz.  Bardo, Archbishop 1031-1051.  AR denar, c. 1040-1060.

Obv. St. Martin of Tours (patron saint of the cathedral), tonsured, holding a crozier (as bishop of Tours, from 371).  +MARTIN(VS) EPIS(CO)P(VS).  (Extant ‘S’ retrograde.)

Rev.  City wall, with central tower and two flanking turrets; large gateway, crosslet in center.  (Likely a variant legend:) (MONOCIA) CIVITAS.  (Ending with another retrograde ‘S.’) 

Kluge 48; cf. Dannenberg 823 and Plate 35 (variant issue; similar motifs and legends). 

Here’s a broadly contemporaneous secular issue, of Heinrich III (‘King of the Romans’ from 1028; German emperor from 1046; d. 1056).  Unfortunately, this one lacks any title, whether ‘REX’ or ‘IMP(ERATOR).’  Only the obverse portrait suggests that it may date from the imperial phase of his reign.



Mainz.  Heinrich III.

Obv.  Heinrich, wearing neo-Byzantine crown, with pendilia.


Rev. Church facade (evoking Carolingian and early Norman ‘temple’ motifs of the preceding couple of centuries); christogram in center.  V(RBS MOGON)CIA.  Kluge 139.


Meanwhile, Bardo was on familiar terms with the Salians, going back to the patronage of Heinrich’s father, Conrad II, from 1029.

He’s also credited with overseeing the main phases of the (re)construction of the cathedral of Mainz, dedicated to St. Martin.  Along with several German cathedrals (some with obvious, but responsible rebuilding), it resonantly demonstrates the earlier but fully realized Romanesque style for which the Salian period is well known.







Edited by JeandAcre
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13 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

Bardo was on familiar terms with the Salians, going back to the patronage of Heinrich’s father, Conrad II, from 1029.

There are two hagiographically styled medieval biographies of Bardo of Mainz, the Monachi Fuldensis Vita Bardonis prolixior (edited in MGH SS 11, 323–342) and the Vulculdi Vita Bardonis (MGH SS 11, 318–321), which was commissioned by Bardo's successor Luitpold. These texts give quite a good portrait of Bardo's relationship to the Salians. In short, he was a relative of empress Gisela of Swabia, the wife of Conrad II. In early 1031, Bardo first became abbot of Hersfeld "suggestione Gislae imperatricis," as the Hildesheim Annals put it. Later in the same year, he was made archbishop of Mainz, probably also at the suggestion of the empress.

This was a highly political choice. The archbishops of Mainz traditionally played had an important role in the German royal election and coronation ceremonies. Bardo's predecessor Aribo, though, had been on less than friendly terms with the royal family – in 1024, he had even refused to crown Gisela. After Aribo's death, the Salians sought to install a more loyal bishop to make sure that such an embarassment didn't happen again. Due to being both a capable cleric and part of the extended royal family, Bardo was an obvious choice.

His appointment worked out quite well for the Salians: Bardo appears to have been quite close to both Conrad II and Henry III. For example, he anointed Henry's wife Agnes of Poitou in 1043 and took part in Henry's Bohemian campaign of 1040.

Edited by Ursus
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Many thanks for the illuminating background, @Ursus!  I'm going to trawl around online, just to make sure there aren't any translations of the hagiographies in English.

...And, Thanks for the opportunity to add one little detail to the thread!  Kickself- mode-accessing time: I neglected to include a link to Annes's listings.  For an easy couple of years, he's been the only medievals dealer listing on US ebay who I've bothered to give the time of day.  His shipping consistently gets Michelin three stars, for price, speed and reliability.  As a dealer, he's as solid as he comes across on his thread.  ...No worries; the feedback I've left him has already helped add to the competition among his clientele! :<}



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Many thanks for the information! I have a new denar raising questions. By motiv it is very close to Erfurt denar Dbg.881. The legends are incompatible with that in Erfurt and in obverse has a surprising motif- the surch is burning? 1,05 gm, 19mm. Stamps of the coin is work of master, with good details and proportions. It is moore of a German coin than a cross-border imitation, but the burning church raises unanswered questions, it is a pagan motive  for me.  Can someone have a good ideas about this topic? 



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Hi Annes,

Sorry I can't be of any more help than this.  I'm only checking Kluge, which happens to still be open on the side table right next to my chair.  But you're absolutely right; with completely different legends, it's annoyingly similar to the issue of Erfurt (Kluge 128), and similar issues (also Heinrich III) of Halberstadt (127) and Arnstadt (128).  (A real 'selling point' of Kluge is that, unlike Dannenberg, he has photographs on the page following each set of listings, rather than all mashed together in a separate volume.  But it's still true, in more cases than not, that Dannenberg is more comprehensive.)

The flames from the church are actually walls (perhaps of a city, as in your (brilliant) ecclesiastical example at the beginning of this thread.  They slant in either direction from the central gateway; perpetuating a kind of prototype of linear perspective, noticeable at least from Roman precedents in several media.

...Back to the wildly different legends from Heinrich III's issues.  There's precedent for ecclesiastical mints, and even ducal ones, issuing close imitations of royal and imperial coins, but with their own names and mints.  (Including ones I've gotten from you --Thanks!)

--Wait!  Another feature of Kluge is that he organizes the book by imperial reign, followed by separate sections for secular feudal (generally ducal), as well as ecclesiastical issues.  

...Well, Rats.  Can't find any matches from the plates in either category.  This could well be another instance in which Dannenberg is more comprehensive than Kluge.

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