A denier tournois from the usurpation of Infante Ferdinand de Majorca in Morea

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The deniers tournois of Ferdinand de Majorca at Glarentza are rather scarce1 and as such, bringing new specimens to the attention of the numismatic community is an endeavor worth pursuing.

    The present specimen stems from an old Italian private collection but has not been published before in lack of a positive identification. Now, with a full proper attribution, the coin is2:



    AR18mm 0.71g billon denier tournois, minted at Glarentza, cca. 1315-1316.
    OBV: + IFAnS · F · D’ · mAIORK · ; cross pattee
    REV: + ° DE CLARENCIA ° ; chateau tournois flanked by two annulets.
    REF: Malloy 31a3, Schlumberger XII, 224, Cecchinato fig. 315
    NOTE: Well worn by circulation but in good identifiable condition, full

    legends and mint marks.

    Ferdinand was the son of the King of Majorca James II (1276-1311) and in 1311 he became Lord of Frontignan and Viscount of Aumelas. Since the early 1300s he had been a frontman for the Grand Catalan Company, and as such involved in the complex political and military context of the Angevin-Aragonese conflict in Sicily and South Italy and in the Byzantine-Frankish situation in Greece6.

    In 1313 he entered the Villehardouin family by marrying Isabella de Sabran, the grand-daughter of Prince Guillaume II of Achaea (1246-1278), in a bid by this faction of the Villehardouin family to regain power in Achaea. By early summer 1315, Isabella had died but not before giving birth to a boy who inherited the claim. In his name, Ferdinand organized a band of Italian and Aragonese knights and Catalan mercenaries and set sail for Glarentza, which he conquered in June or July 1315. Shortly after, his authority was established in Morea and he took the title of Prince.

    By June 1316 the lawful rulers of Achaea, Louis de Bourgogne and his wife Maude de Hainaut, reached the Morea in an alliance with Venetian interests and Greek support from Mystras and defeated Ferdinand's band of knights on July the 5th at Manolara (Manolada). The death of Ferdinand either on the battlefield, of injuries or by execution at the order of Louis made sure that, by October 1316, the Catalan Company – which had already overran the Duchy of Athens (1311) and was trying to extend its conquests in Greece for the Aragonese kings of Sicily – would not encroach upon the Angevin dominion of the Principality of Achaea.

    The coinage minted for Ferdinand's short-lived usurpation in Glarentza follows the usual monetary system of Achaea of deniers tournois. These coins were issued in what appear to be two series (Malloy 31a and Malloy 31b)7, both following the quality and weight of the standard early 14th century Frankish Greek tournois8.
    The legend – IFAnS F D mAIORK – can be interpreted as either Infans filius domini Majoricarum or Infans Ferrandus de Majorca. Both interpretations are possible as we know that he was often referred to as such during his lifetime, from Ramon Muntaner9.

    Being of rather good billon and measurements, his coins might have circulated long after his ill-fated usurpation, like the specimen presented here obviously did.

    The circulation wear evident on this particular coin is consistent with many years of use and circulation. This coin might have reached Italy via trading or military routes, as an effect of an economic and monetary policy, started by Charles I d'Anjou when he inherited the Principality of Achaea at the death of Guillaume II in 1278 and tried to start a monetary unification throughout his realms from Provence to the Morea10.
    From the 1280s to the early 1330s – when the debasement of the Frankish tournois became evident and with it came the downfall of its prestige and acceptance, many deniers tournois minted by the Greek mints entered mainly Neapolitan circulation and usage11.

    The defeat of Ferdinand's claim in 1316 entrenched Angevin control in Morea and supported the continuation of the acceptance of Greece-minted coin in the Kingdom of Naples and the realms around it for another 15 years, during which time it is possible that the specimen presented here might have found its way to the Italian markets.



    1. A similar coin from the same issue was offered by Baldwin's Auctions Ltd, Auction 49, lot 1710, from the Crusader coin collection of Alistair Lilburn: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=323607

    2. Dealer's photos, 2016.

    3. Alex G. Malloy, Irene Fraley Preston & A. J. Seltman – Coins of the Crusader States 1098-1291, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its vassal states of Syria and Palestine, the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus (1192-1489), and the Latin Empire of Constantinople and its vassal states of Greece and the Archipelago, Attic Books Ltd, New York, 1994, p. 365.

    4. G. Schlumberger – Numismatique de l'Orient Latin, Paris, 1878-1882.

    5. R. Cecchinato – Il Denaro Tornese della Grecia Franca, LaMoneta.it, 2011, pp. 44-45.

    6. Ramon Muntaner – Chronicle, pp. 471-480 et al.

    7. Idem 3.

    8. Malloy p. 354.

    9. Muntaner, op cit, p. 471.

    10. Cecchinato, p. 22.

    11. Idem 10.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up, Seth77 - very informative. A while back I got what I think is an Obol Tournois - my ignorance of the "Tournois" series is pretty much total. This one seems to have been issued a couple years before yours by Philip IV. At least that's what I think it is...

    Lot - Aureolus Post, Edw II, Obol Tournois Con (29).JPG

    France - Obol Tournois
    King Philip IV the Fair
    (c. 1290-1295 A.D.)
    Tours Mint

    + PhILIPPVS R(V)X, cross
    pattée / TVRONVS CIVIS,
    Châtel Tournois surmounted
    by a cross.
    Duplessy 226 - C.227 - L.231
    (0.40 grams / 15 mm)
  4. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The denier tournois started as a local coinage before Philip II Augustus turned it into a royal coinage around 1205. From there it spread to the Greek territories acquired by the Frankish knights after the Fourth Crusade, where it was the local dominant coin from around the 1270s to the 1330s. From there it spread in the Angevin territories after the 1280s. With the fracture of the Frankish rule in Greece, the denomination became less and less relevant as it became irregular and debased, although it was still minted and used thoroughout the Aegean Archipelago in the 14th and 15th centuries.
    By the end of the 14th century the Anjou-Durazzo overlordship started minting denarii tornesi in Italy and during the Barons Revolt of 1459-1463/4 the tornesi of Molise were the main coinage used by the local barons supporting the Angevin side.

    This is a very brief history of the denomination.
  5. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Thanks for posting this! Very interesting and entertaining. It is an area I am completely ignorant in...or at least was until I read your very well executed (pun intended) write up.
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  6. alde

    alde Always Learning

    Thank you Seth for the very interesting history lesson. Every time I read a great writeup like this I realize how much there is to learn.
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  7. talerman

    talerman Supporter! Supporter

    As Seth 77 (who are the other 76 ? ) says, the denier tournois started as a local coinage before Philip II Augustus turned it into a royal coinage around 1205. The first deniers tournois were struck by the St. Martin de Tours (hence the name) Abbey in the 9th century. King Charles the Simple (898-923) confirmed the abbey's right to strike its own types of coins. Philip II Augustus took over the abbey's mint in 1204-5. He later moved it from the abbey into the city of Tours.
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  8. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The denier tournois is a certain type of coinage and although it is generally associated with Tours, 1. not all coins struck at Tours were deniers tournois (the temple deniers or monogram deniers minted for Charles le Chauve or the "bust of Saint Martin" deniers minted in the 10th and 11th century for instance were not deniers tournois, although minted at Tours and Tours-Chinon) and 2. not all deniers tournois were minted at Tours. The specimen presented in this post was minted at Glarentza in Greece for instance. Many others were minted at Thebes, Arta, Ainos, Chios, Naupaktas, Sulmona, Campobasso, Limosano et al, so well outside France. In the French realms, this denomination was struck besides Tours at Montreuil-Bonnin, Pont-de-Sorgue, Poitiers, Riom, Rennes, Chateaudun et al. (not an exhaustive list, not to mention the HRE mints) for a wide range of barons and not just the Kings of France.

    In the same way that the denier parisis was not just minted in Paris and only for the French kings, the tournois was not only minted in Tours, but was rather a standardized denomination minted at many multiple mints and for multiple lords. As in the case of the parisis, the tournois -- wherever it was minted up until the 15th century (outside of France) -- was recognized by the same design: the chateau tournois (which seems to have originated in this known shape from a today rare coinage of Foulques V as Count of Anjou (1109-1129)).

    I hope this short explanation clears things a bit.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
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  9. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for the great post @seth77
    That is a fascinating coin with a great history from the tumultuous 13th and 14th centuries in Greece. Do any other examples of denier tournois minted in Greece you could post?
  10. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I have in preparation an article about the late 14th century tournois in Greece, from the reintroduction of the denomination by Robert de Tarento up until the Acciaiuoli's domination of the Duchy of Athens.
    Will post when I find a venue to publish it.
  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    And while we're at it, here is an extremely rare denaro tornese of Sulmona minted for Alfonso di Trastamara as King of Naples.
    The documentation says it's the second known specimen but there might be others.

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  12. talerman

    talerman Supporter! Supporter

    Very interesting. With regard to your article about the late 14th century tournois in Greece, I assume it would be of great interest to various specialist journals. However, if not, I would suggest you talk to Numismatics International Bulletin, who publish articles on a wide variety of topics.
    seth77 likes this.
  13. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, will take into consideration.
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