Robert II, ‘le Jeune,’ Comte de Dreux 1188-1218. AR denier parisis of Dreux. Obv. [in two lines, partly retrograde:] HC-O [/] M[E]S (‘A COMES;’ of the Count.) (Apparently a combination of the genitive case in Old French, à, with the more conventional, formulaic Medieval Latin comes. Other feudal issues, at least from the 12th century, have a similar juxtaposition of linguistic elements. Reminiscent of the formula of later Anglo-Saxon -Angevin English pennies, with the royal name and title in Latin, and the moneyer's signature in Old -Middle English.) [From 3 o’clock:] X MI: ROBERTVS (“+ME[I?] ROBERTVS;” [of?] me, Robert). Rev. Cross, Alpha (‘/\’) in lower right and (inverted) upper left angles. +DRVCAS CASTA (Castle of Dreux). (Boudeau 4, Duplessy 421, Legros 113, Poey d’Avant 91, Roberts 3935.) This is one of a relatively few instances of French feudal coinage which imitate the royal Capetian denier parisis, a type first issued by Robert's paternal uncle, Louis VII (1137-1180). (Cf. Duplessy, Royales 143-8; Roberts 251-253 (/pp. 134-5) for the prototype; ibid., pp. 236-7 for its diffusion in the feudal series.) Of the feudal imitations, most of them share two resonant characteristics. They occur during or shortly after the reign of Philippe II, under whom the expansion of the Capetian royal demesne accelerated exponentially. ...Not only thanks to the liquidation of most of the so-called Angevin Empire, across the west of modern France. (Broadly evocative of Voltaire, regarding a vaguely comparable polity: 'neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.') Within his own, internationally undisputed borders, Philippe was cleaning up. Notably in the northeast, where most of the feudal imitations of the parisis type came from. There, a town or small county at a time, the process involved the adroit and relentless exploitation of existing feudal law. Left: Tomb of Robert II at the Abbey of Saint-Yved de Braine. The comital necropolis includes the tombs of Robert's sons, Robert III of Dreux and Pierre 'Mauclerc' of Brittany. (Cf. the Wikipedia article on the abbey (en francais): http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Église_abbatiale_Saint-Yved_de_Braine). Above his head are the arms of the senior branch of Dreux, checquy or and azure. (Picture from Wikimedia Commons: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Robert2Dreux.jpg.) Right: Tomb of Robert's son and heir, Robert III, Comte de Dreux, obit. 1233. (Scanned from a plate in Adhemar, Jean. Gazette des beaux-arts. Vol 84. Paris: Gazette des beaux-arts, 1974. Now accessible from Wikimedia Commons.) Within the confines of his milieu, Robert II kind of did the whole thing. He was in the Third and the first of the Albigensian crusades, going on to command a wing at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. (...Frankly more than I care to get into at the moment. The English Wiki article is concise and, for the genre, impressively documented: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_II,_Count_of_Dreux .) Back to the numismatics, though, this is the kind of convergence that collectors of earlier feudal coins, especially French ones, live for. (Thank you, largely in place of the aesthetics.) In this instance, you get a coin from a conspicuously small feudal polity, issued in an individual's name, with relatively minimal or negligable immobilization. (i.e., reliably contemporaneous. The whole French series is notorious for immobilizations, continuing for centuries at a time, over the later 10th -13th centuries. The extreme cases are datable at all by engraving style, and other criteria, of increasing arcanity, pertaining to hoard evidence. --Alexander III: take a back seat!) Add to this an issuing authority who, in turn, is better known from primary sources than the lot of them, and you've hit all three bases. Instead of that, can we talk about castles? Especially Really Cool ones? Aerial view of the Chateau de Nesles-en-Dole (/Seringues-et-Nesles), Ile-de-France, built by Robert III, c. 1219-1226. The donjon and twin-towered gatehouse are in the foreground of the first picture. (See esp. Mesqui, Chateau Forts, 1997, pp. 265-6. Picture from the website of the French newspaper, L'Union: http://www.lunion.presse.fr/diaporama/vu-du-ciel?idx=4. Here's one web page that's okay for an outline of its construction: http://www.castles.nl/nesles-castle.) To (otherwise) cut to the chase, what I like so much about this castle is how the donjon, to the left of the main, twin-towered gateway (foreground), is placed so as to actively defend the primary approach (at least with archery, etc.), rather than being your stereotypical 'keep,' cowering in a far corner of the courtyard, as the final resort of the defenders. ...A principle to which even its then state-of-the-art prototype, Dourdan (built by Philippe II at the end of his reign; finished in 1222), continued to adhere. (Cf. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus, 1986 /'91, pp. 300-1.) This single innovation marks Nesles as a primary transition point in the evolution of castle architecture over the course of the 13th century. Robert III's architects were effectively reinventing the function of the donjon /keep, anticipating Edward I's famous 'concentric' castles in Wales (built c. 1280s to 1300s) by better than a generation. ...While providing a temporary check to Edward's (and his architect, Peter of Savoy's) more avant garde feature, the abandonment of the keep altogether. ...More broadly, the first three decades or so of the 13th century represent a kind of crystallization in European medieval history, only more resonantly from a multidisciplinary approach. It might be most explicit in France. In reference to the 'anarchy' of the preceding millennium and a half, Petit-Dutaillis asserts that "[a]t the beginning of the thirteenth century, this anarchy seemed irremediable, for the French baron was master in his own house." (The Feudal Monarchy in France and England. Tr. E. D. Hunt. 1964. P. 289.) From the reign of Philippe II, the tide of royal hegemony finally began to turn. But meanwhile, Gothic art, starting with architecture, was on its way toward its first, fully realized apogee. And the aristocracy were still able to appropriate this, along with other salient features of what was happening culturally. From their varied, and no less substantive origins in the 12th century, things like heraldry, the ethos of courtly love, and what, more generally, would evolve into the ideals of chivalry --very much as such-- were given a key handful of decades to reach their first full coalescence.