Featured A Catalan dinero of Urgel in the 13th century

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    During the first half of the 13th century, and while the Spanish Reconquista was in full effect, gathering barons and knights from Provence to Lorraine, Burgundy, England and Germany to fight against the Moors in the Iberian territories, a rather obscure conflict took place between James I King of Aragon (Jaime I) and the nephew of Ermengol VIII de Sant Hilari, Guerau de Cabrera, for the succession of the County of Urgel, in Catalonia. Starting after the death of Aurembiaix, Ermengol's daughter in 1231, the conflict between King James (who had supported Aurembiaix and now supported her husband Peter (Pere) of Bourgogne-Portugal), and the Cabrera faction raged until 1235/6, when an impoverished Ponc de Cabrera, the younger son of Guerau, accepted the King's terms under the mediation of the bishops of Lerida and Urgel, and surrendered the cities of Lerida and Balaguer to the crown of Aragon.

    In turn, Peter abandoned his claims to Urgel and received Majorca, Ibiza and some Balearic fiefs and the castle of Alvarez (Alaro), while Ponc was recognized by the Crown of Aragon as Count of Urgel and received as fiefs the cities of Linola, Agramunt and Menarguenz, the castles of Ager and Calasanz and a couple other fortifications in Catalonia.

    Starting with 1236 or perhaps 1237, Ponc began minting denarii in his own name at Agramunt, as hereditary Count of Urgel, becoming the first exponent of the Cabrera clan to be recognized as Count of Urgel.

    His coinage is rather scarce and is seldom found in good condition, not to mention in almost uncirculated condition.


    Specs are:

    AR18mm, 0.7g, dinero vellon, minted at Agramunt, cca. 1236-1243.

    + PONCI ` ' COMES; bishop staff, flanked by reclining crosses and pellets.
    + VRGELLENSIS; Cross with pellets in each quarter.
    Balaguer 131.3; Crusafont VS-126.

    Ponc died in 1243 but the Cabrera clan ruled Urgel until 1314.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
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  3. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I see that there wasn't much interest in this post, but maybe this follow up might spark some interest:

    Here is an extremely rare diner of Guerau de Cabrera, Ponc's father:


    AR18mm 0.96g, vellon diner, minted at Balaguer or Agramunt(?), cca. 1223-1226.

    OBV: + GERAD ' : COMES; bishop staff standing between leaves.

    REV: + VRGELLENSIS; cross

    REF: Crusafont VS 123, Balaguer 127.5.

    After the death of Ermengol VIII in 1208, Guerau de Cabrera (Ermengol's nephew) claimed the County of Urgel as his, usurping the right of succession of Ermengol's daughter Aurembiaix, who in turn was supported by King Peter of Aragon.

    Guerau claimed the County again in 1213, after the death of King Peter, and invaded while Aurembiaix was at the Castilian court with her first husband, don Alvaro Perez de Castro. Between 1213 and 1220, a conflict kept going between the new regime of Guerau and the regency of Elvira de Subirats (Aurembiaix's mother). In 1220 the regency collapsed when Elvira died and Guerau remained the only authority by rule of conquest.

    In 1228, having her marriage annulled, Aurembiaix returned to Urgel with the support of King Jaume I of Aragon and drove Guerau back to Ager. He would die in 1229 having lost the Countship, but still in control of Ager and his ancestral fief of Cabrera. Aurembiaix ruled Urgel until her death in 1231, after which the succession conflict arose again between the Cabrera faction and Peter of Portugal, Aurembiaix's second husband and Count by jus uxoris.

    The coinage of Guerau is rare and was probably minted at either Agramunt or most likely Balaguer, around 1223-1226, when we have information about the use of the baronial coinage of Urgel (Anna M. Balaguer - Historia de la moneda dels comtats catalans, p. 243).

    This particular example with GERAD legend is distinctly rare, possibly one of a handful known specimens. Another similar example (with the obverse struck with the same die as this spec?) was the only known specimen of this type by Balaguer and Crusafont, and thus extremely rare.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  4. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coins and very interesting read! I was intrigued by Aurembiaix, so started to do some research, which led me to this website, which is a 46 page list of female hereditary rulers, who ruled or reigned over a political jurisdiction in their own right or by right of inheritance.


    Thanks @seth77, you made my day!
    Theodosius likes this.
  5. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Fun write up and cool coin!
    I had no idea "Urgel" minted coins...
    Johndakerftw likes this.
  6. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The conflict between Aurembiaix and the Cabrera is somewhat similar, at a smaller scale, to the English "Anarchy years" when Mathilda battled Etienne de Blois for the Crown of England.
  7. George McClellan

    George McClellan Active Member

    Spanish Reconquista...
    Background for everything between Buenos Aires and San Francisco.
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