Featured A few coinages of Milan more than 1000 years apart

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The city of Milan is one of the most important urban centers of Italy and has been so for the past 2000 years, while also recognized as vital for the control of Italy at least since the third century. Milan was also (before Ravenna) at the center of a historical shift in the manifestation of power and politics. How?

    In the summer of 268, while Gaul had been effectively separated and ruled by Postumus as an independent kingdom -- the "Secessionist Empire" -- Aureolus, a general and knight under Gallienus openly rebelled against the rightful emperor and, after a botched attempt at taking Italy, he retreated to Mediolanum, where he offered his support to Postumus. Besieged by Gallienus and his generals -- including the scoffing Claudius (the future Claudius II Gothicus 268-270) and Aurelian (the future emperor Aurelian 270-275) -- his political gambit manifested itself in the coinage he minted in Milan for Postumus. This coinage was a series of EQVIT coins (a nod to the cavalry he had commanded under Gallienus) struck in billon at the contemporary low title. Today this coinage is kind of scarce, but still available.

    AUREOLUS-removebg-preview.png
    20mm 2.66g
    IMP POSTVMVS AVG; radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Postumus right
    FIDES EQVIT; Fides seated right, holding patera and signum.
    Pin exergue, first officina of the mint in Mediolanum.


    During this hectic period, Gallienus was assassinated by a military plot and Aureolus received no acknowledgement from Postumus in Gaul. So he surrendered to Claudius only to be lynched by Gallienus loyalists soon after. Milan returned under the control of the rightful Roman emperor, but the power brokering that Aureolus tried to wield, not just through back-dealing but by showing open signs of an independent local policy, would prove to be very relevant in the 4th century also, most notably in the revolt of Trier against Magnentius and Decentius in August 353. Driven by Poemenius, this civil revolt against a ruler by recognizing his antagonist, might have saved Trier from the wrath of Constantius II.

    Fast forward 1000 years, the city of Milan is part of the Holy Roman Empire as a free city and commune. It had been punished for rebellion by Frederick Barbarossa (1162) and also had its glory restored by 1200. As Frederick II ruled as King of the Romans and eventually emperor of the Holy Empire, the city kept its administrative system while minting coinage that might be considered immobilized, keeping with the traditional type which had started under Barbarossa in 1185.


    4822480l.jpg
    AR19mm, 0.85g, denaro imperiale scodellato, minted in the City of Milano, immobilized in the name of Frederick I Barbarossa, cca. 1185-1240.
    ● ♧ ● / + MED / IO ● LA / NVM / ● ♧ ●
    + FREDERICVS; I / P / R / T in center flanked by 4 dots, dot in center;
    cf. CNI V p. 52 #14; Murari 1981 p. 42 #26; BdN Online Materiali 23 (2014) p. 140 #212.


    By 1250, the denaro imperiale of Milan moved from the scodellato style (similar to a Byzantine trachy, with a convex and a concave side) to the piano (a flat flan coin), a change that happened before the death of Frederick II and was continued throughout the later part of the 13th century and the first years of the 14th.

    4822482l.jpg
    AR17mm, 0.78g, denaro imperiale piano, minted in the City of Milano, cca. 1250(?) and later.
    + FREDERICVS; I / P / R / T in center flanked by 4 dots, dot in center;
    ● ♧ ● / + ME / DIOLA / NVM / ● ♧ ●
    cf. CNI V p. 54 #2; Murari 1984 p. 276 #27; BdN Online Materiali 16 (2014) p. 95 #299.

    Before moving to a local lordship and practically advertising the city-state's independence, the mint in Milan struck one of its rarest coinages: the denaro imperiale for Henry VII as King of the Romans (1308-1313) and King of Italy (1311-1313):

    4581954l.jpg
    AR15x14mm, 0.60g, denaro imperiale, minted at the City of Milano, cca. 1311-1312.
    ● ♣ ● / + ME / DIOLA / NVM / ● ♣ ●
    ● hENRICVS REX; cross pattee
    Crippa (1986) #4, MIR 74, CNI 26/29, Negrini-Varesi 55


    Henry VII tried during his short reign as King of the Romans, King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor to strengthen the imperial authority in Italy. In 1311 he called the Visconti from exile and appointed Matteo Visconti as Imperial vicar of Milano. With him starts the growing power of the Visconti in northern Italy and the city moves towards almost full independence as the power base of the Visconti.

    The coinage reflected this change fully, naming fully the new regime as early as the 1330s -- with Azzone, Luchino and Giovanni Visconti minting denarii imperiali in their own names:

    s-l1600.jpg

    AR15x14mm, 0.60g, denaro imperiale, minted at the City of Milano, cca. 1340-1349.
    + LVChIN ♣ VICECOES; croce gigliata
    ♣ Visconti dragon coat of arms ♣ / + ME / DIOLA / NVM / ♣ Visconti dragon coat of arms ♣
    CNI V, p. 70 #1; Gnecchi 1, 2, 3; Crippa (1986) p. 34 #1; BnD (2014) #459-468.


    By the 1340s when the Black Death visited Milan, the change of power structure and perspective was done. From a free commune minting for the Holy Roman Emperor not 50 years before, Milan was now under the full control of the Visconti and the denarii imperiali no longer named the emperors but the lords of Milan.

    The shift that had started with Aureolus in 268, towards decentralization and local, actual and nominal power came to a feudal conclusion in the 1330s.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  3. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Thank you for a very informative post.
    I feel the need to chip in with a coin here too. A follow-up from your last one:

    12A63F23-4C8C-44C5-9E57-71711832434B.jpeg
     
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  4. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Very interesting write up.

    I thought that the legend "FIDES EQVIT" is local vulgarization of "FIDES AEQVIT". Both forms were used on the coins of Aureolus. It stands for "fides aequitas" and would thus not refer to the cavalry.

    This link argues for FIDES EQVIT to be an erroneous FIDES AEQVIT:
    https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3258828

    On the other hand, there are legends like "VIRTVS EQVIT" and I have a "CONCORD EQVIT" and a "PAX EQVITVM" in my collection. These legends unmistakably refer to the cavalry.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  5. Ryro

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

    2 great write ups! Always great to read your posts @seth77. Thanks for sharing the knowledge and the coins.
    Though I don't have any coins from Milan post Postumus I do have this sweet ex @Bing coin:
    086B0858-59C3-4249-A466-C0D9073EAE4C.jpeg
    AUREOLUS
    Antoninianus
    OBVERSE: IMP POSTVMVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Postumus right
    REVERSE: VIRTVS EQVIT, Virtus advancing right, holding transverse spear and shield; T in ex.
    Struck at Mediolanum, 268 AD
    3.17g, 19mm
    RIC V 388
     
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  6. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Milano is a very generous theme, with many different and interesting coinages, both ancient and medieval. After the death of Luchino Visconti, who became Signore di Milano after years of service for the Ghibelini as condottiero di ventura, and who ruled together with his brother Giovanni, the Archbishop of Milano, the latter minted the denarii imperiali of Milano in his own name, at the height of the Black Death in 1349-1350.

    s-l1600.jpg

    AR15mm, 0.65g, denaro imperiale, minted at the City of Milano, cca. 1340-1349, or 1350.
    + IOhS * VICECOES; croce gigliata
    ♣ Visconti dragon coat of arms ♣ / + ME / DIOLA / NVM / ♣ Visconti dragon coat of arms ♣
    CNI V p. 73 10b; Gnecchi 7, Crippa (1986) p. 45 #4; BdN Online Materiali 23 (2014) pp. 123-124 #487-488.


    This specimen shows a better rendition of the Visconti coat of arms.
     
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  7. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That was another great post @seth77 I really like your denaro scodellato in the name of Frederick. I recently picked up a denaro scodellato in the name of Henry. These are fun little coins and I would really like to start collecting them. What reference would you recommend for them? Thanks for another great post.
    Screenshot_20200227-202308~2.png
    Screenshot_20200227-202317~2.png
     
  8. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Great example, these are hard to come by in full scodellato flan. I think your specimen is similar to this: CNI V p. 48 #2; Murari 1981 p. 41 #18; BdN Online Materiali 12 (2013) p. 105 #177.


    s-l500.jpg
     
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    These issues of Trebonianus Gallus with the IMP CC VIB TREB GALLVS AVG legend have been traditionally attributed to the mint at Mediolanum. Sear (RIC 5, vol. III, p. 227) notes there is considerable uncertainty about not only the location of the mint traditionally attributed to Mediolanum, but its actual operation during Gallus' reign. He writes,

    "Rome continued to be the principal mint throughout this reign and was supplemented ... by antoniniani from Antioch .... Attempts have been made to identify a second provincial mint which produced silver coinage with a more abbreviated form of obverse legend than the regular products of Rome (IMP C C VIB instead of IMP CAE C VIB). Both Milan and Viminacium have been proposed as the source of these coins and it is also possible that they represent a separate issue from Rome itself. In the following listings they are described as 'uncertain mint'."​

    I don't believe the coins with the IMP CC VIB TREB GALLVS AVG legend are simply a product of the Rome mint with an alternative obverse inscription. In addition to stylistic differences in the portraits, the silver content of these issues is different than those of the Rome and Antioch mints. Gallus's coins of the Antioch mint average only 18.9% silver, whereas those issued in Rome were less debased (30.9%), with the least debased being the unknown branch mint previously believed to have been Mediolanum (37.9% silver). See Pannekeet's interesting paper about debasement here.

    The issues raised about the circumstances and location of its mintage resulted in a thought-provoking discussion.

    [​IMG]
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.14 g, 23.5 mm, 5 h.
    Branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum), AD 252.
    Obv: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: IVNO MARTIALIS, Juno seated left, holding corn-ears (?) and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 69; Cohen 46; RCV 9631; Hunter 49.

    [​IMG]
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.01 g, 25 mm, 12 h.
    Branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum), AD 252.
    Obv: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: LIBERTAS PVBLICA, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and transverse scepter.
    Refs: RIC 70; Cohen 68; RCV 9636; Hunter 50.

    Trebonianus Gallus PAX AETERNA antoninianus Milan.jpg
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.90 g, 21.4 mm, 7 h.
    Branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum), 2nd emission, AD 252-253.
    Obv: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: PAX AETERNA, Pax standing left, holding branch and transverse scepter.
    Refs: RIC 71; Cohen 76; RCV 9639, Hunter 51; ERIC II 40.

    [​IMG]
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR Antoninianus, 3.69 g, 20.2 mm, 7 h.
    Branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum), AD 252-253.
    Obv: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: PIETAS AVGG, Pietas standing left and raising both hands; altar at feet.
    Refs: RIC 72; Cohen 88; RCV 9643; ERIC II 41.

    [​IMG]
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.60 g, 21.3 mm, 7 h.
    Branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum), AD 251-253.
    Obv: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: FELICITAS PVBL, Felicitas standing facing, head left, holding long caduceus and cornucopiae.
    Refs: RIC 75; Cohen --; RCV --; ERIC II --; Wiczay 2509; Banduri p. 59.
     
  10. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    In 1334/5, Azzone Visconti took hold of Como and probably started his coinage there almost immediately, making use of the local mint that had been in use since the late 12th century. It is possible that this denaro imperiale type with croce gigliata was introduced at Milano, Como and Cremona around 1334-1335. There are many variations of this type, with different privy marks, which should indicate a continuous minting throughout the whole rule of Azzone (1335-1339), but despite this, the type seems to be rather scarce on the market for some reason.


    s-l1600.jpg

    AR15mm, 0.51 denaro imperiale, minted at Como cca. 1335-1339.
    . ✿ . / . AZ0 . / . VICЄ . / . COM . / [
    . ✿ . ]
    + ✿ CVMANVS ✿; croce gigliata
    MIR 278, CNI 7/13, Bellesia 8/B
     
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