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Quentovic and the conundrum of Carolingian vs Feudal


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The story of the emporium at Quentovic is interesting and controversial in itself -- I really recommend S. Coupland's Trading Places: Quentovic and Dorestad reassessed, Early Medieval Europe, Nov. 2002 to anyone familiar with the theme of the maritime limes of the late Carolingian realm and not just from the uni-dimensional perspective of Viking encroachment and interconnection.


AR23x22mm 1.13g silver grand denier, ca. 750-700/1000, Quentovic mint, ca. 950-980.
+ GRAT[IA D-I R]EX (legend starts at 9 o'clock); Carolingian monogram H R L S
+ QVVENT[OVVICI]; cross with bezant in 2nd quarter and annulet in 3rd quarter
cf. Depeyrot 812, cf. Poey d'Avant 6591; Fecamp 6277-6323


At this time, around the middle of the 10th century and after, Quentovic's denier is based on the coinage introduced after the Edict of Pitres in 864, but with obvious 10th century characteristics, like a wider flan, the bezant and the annulet in the quarters of the cross and the variation of the monogram based on H R L S (or perhaps L H R S with a possible hint in the fact that the legend starts at 9 o'clock). The mint at the emporium of Quentovic minted these immobilizations extensively between ca. 920 and 980 and the coins were widely circulated from the continent to Anglo-Saxon England and (of course) Scandinavia. This specimen seems to be of the later part of the series, with lower weight and a less cared-for overall appearance, like flat strikes, legend variations and possibly over-used dies. Similar examples, very likely from the same general issue here, here, here, here etc. A similar coin was also in the De Wit Collection (Kunker 121 p. 88 245). In 'tresor de Fecamp' there were ca. 510 similar coins of different variations, dated mostly 920 to ca. 980 when the hoard was possibly closed (980-5, so the full extent of the 10th century mintage), in Anglo-Saxon England 6 similar coins were in the Cuerdale Hoard (Dhenin, Leclercq - The Coins of Quentovic from the Cuerdale Hoard in the museum of Boulogne-sur-Mer, BNJ 1982, pp. 104-7).

A very interesting and problematic aspect regarding these very late immobilizations of the 'Edit de Pitres denier' deals with the authority that disposed the minting and benefited from the seigneuriage. With these very late issues where the monogram degenerated from the name of Charlemagne, replacing the C (and K) with an H, a hint could be in the reading of the 'new' re-worked monogram, which could be alluding to King Lothaire III of West Francia, which in turn could point to the influence and authority that Herbert 'le Vieux' de Vermandois (ally of Lothaire and the most powerful power broker in Picardie and the Flemish coast) had over Quentovic at this time. Herbert had coins minted with Lothaire's name (at Troyes for instance) while a re-worked Carolingian monogram for Lothaire keeping this basic and generic form, carried over from Charlemagne's time, is recorded to ca. 980 at Bourges (see here for an example).

These circumstances would turn this coinage -- or at least this late phase of the series -- into a 'feudal' series, thus marking the difficulties of assigning issues to the end of the Carolingian period or the beginning of feudal coinage.

The location of Quentovic is still an ongoing conversation and the subject of some controversy, considering that by the 10th century when this immobilized coinage starts, the emporium was supposed to have been abandoned. The archaeological research started in the mid 1980s at La Calloterie on the Canche river adds the site to the possible candidates for the vicus, and the use of it until ca. early 11th century, instead of the 9th as seemed to be the general understanding from early medieval texts, allows also the 10th century issue of coinage (this late GDR type stopped ca. 980). If anyone is interested in more about La Calloterie being the ancient Quentovic, I recommend Quentovic defined which can be read here. And here is how numismatics probably helped in understanding the old emporium better (and extending its life).

Edited by seth77
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Very cool coin and great write up!

I'll contribute my only feudal coin from @Bing (I hope you come back old buddy)

Feudal coins


FRANCE, FEUDAL, Valence, Bishops of Valence (1157-1276), Silver Denier, 0.71g., stylized angel facing, +VRBS VALENTIAI, rev., cross annulet in fourth quadrant, +S APOLLI NARS, (Boudeau 1021), fine. Ex CT pal @Bing

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Brilliant explication of (the mysteries of) Quentovic, @seth77

....You're owed an apology for my having taken this long to respond; lately (as for lots of us, it's easy to imagine), there's been more than the usual level of distraction.

But your willingness to get into the weeds about how and when Carolingian mints transitioned from royal to feudal control, via wide, varied, and correspondingly nuanced intervals of immobilization, is keenly appreciated.  Here, as in your discussion of the location of Quentovic, your links are keenly appreciated. 

On a more prosaic level, I still like McKitterick's much broader, but (for me) admirably succinct overview of the process:

"[Even in the declining number of coins issued in Carolingians' names, over the course of the 10th century, ...T]he coin evidence can be deceptive.  The presence of the king's name on a coin does not necessarily mean that the revenue from seigneurage went to the king, or that the mints were still within royal control.  It is possible that the maintenance of the royal name on coins struck by the nobles or bishops constituted a symbolic acknowlegement of royal power, but use of a Carolingian king's name on coins from, for instance, Poitou as late as the twelfth century (in the name of Charles the Bald!) make one wary of leaping too readily to this conclusion." 

(The Frankish Kingdoms Under the Carolingians, 1983/8; pp. 334-5.  --A relatively early example of an academic historian even beginning to take numismatic evidence fully on board.)

...And, why lie, I need to include a link to this post.  Especially in reference to the evolution of the Carolingian monogram, over the same, resonantly transitional interval.   Thank you, with a comparable set of dynamics, both numismatic and political, but in another, neighboring but distinct context. 


...After which, there's this funnage.  Here are newly rediscovered pictures (with thanks to Elsen) of my example of the co-issue of Lothaire and Heribert le Vieux.


Just citing Dumas, Trésor de Fecamp (6677), it kind of goes: 

Obv. Bearded profile to left; hopelessly blundered legends, ostensibly naming Lothaire.  (Here beginning: "++L[O?....].)

Rev.  Cross, pellets in three angles.  (Very important, especially when the legends are blundered this badly --especially over a mintage which was relatively brief in the first place.  Generally, issues of the 10th century, over the northeastern part of modern France, are notorious for this.   Even as compared to later immobilizations, from elsewhere in the Carolingian -Capetian kingdom, as noted by McKitterick.)  Here you can see 'HC (....), ostensibly 'HE,' for 'Heribert.'


Edited by JeandAcre
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