Featured Bohemond III the Prince of Antioch

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Cachecoins, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Born: 1148 (est)
    Prince: A.D. 1163-1201


    Obverse: Portrait helmeted head right with crescent moon to left and star to right - BOAMVNDVS

    Reverse: Cross with crescent moon top right of cross (Five pellets on A) - ANTIOCHIA

    Easily one of my favorite, and probably one of the most recognizable, coins of the middle ages. The use of crescent punches to make the chain mail is a great low tech way to to represent armor. They really utilize the tools they had well to make a very recognizable, really iconic coin design that embodies the crusader states of the kingdom of Jerusalem in the Levant often refered to as Outremer.

    This coin was minted for the Principality of Antioch, a state established during the first crusade that was at various times, and for most of its history, a vassal to Constantinople, The Kingdom of Jerusalem, or the Kingdom of Armenia before being conquered by Muslim forces under Baibars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt. The coin and its distinctive abstract portrait of a crusader knight was minted and issued during the long reign of Bohemond III, prince of Antioch from 1163 to 1201 AD.

    The Principality of Antioch was founded in 1098 by Bohemond of Toranto (Bohemond I), a crusader prince of Norman ancestry whose father, Robert Guiscard, from the minor royal Hauteville family, invaded and conquered Southern Italy and Sicily ruling as Duke of Apulia and Calabria and the Duke of Sicily (refered to as Italo-Normans).

    Bohemond led a Christian army in a siege of the Syrian city of Antioch held at the time by Seljuk Turks.

    The once great city had been in steady decline for more than 300 years since it found itself on the front lines of the wars between Muslim and Christian rulers. During this time the city would change hands several times. It was in the possession of the Sultanate of Rum who had only held the city for 14 years by the time of the crusaders arrival. After a long and grueling siege of the city which boasted formidable defenses, Bohemond gained entry to the city and captured it only to be forced to immediately defend it against relief forces sent by the Sultan of Mosul. The crusaders defeated the relief force and, after some dispute over who would control the city, Bohemond declared himself Prince of Antioch and the rest of the crusaders moved on to Jerusalem.

    Detail of a medieval miniature of the Siege of Antioch from Sébastien Mamerot's Les Passages d'Outremer

    Bohemond had, like most crusaders, promised the emperor of Constantinople to return all lands recaptured from the Muslims. He instead kept Antioch for himself and looked to expand his holdings through further conquest of Muslim and Byzantine lands further angering the Byzantine emperor. Instead of aid from the west, the crusaders had proven to be far less altruistic and in some cases as troublesome as the Muslims they had come to help defend against.

    In the end, Bohemond chose to go to war against Constantinople and was soundly defeated by forces under the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos at the Siege of Dyrrhachium and was forced to accept a humiliating defeat which made him a vassal to Constantinople. By all accounts Bohemond I was a broken man and died six months later leaving Antioch in the hands of several regents who ruled in the name of his young son, Bohemond II. Just three years old at the time of his father's death, Bohemond II would take control of the principality upon coming of age.

    The emperor Alexios I Komnenos defeated Bohemond and made Antioch a vassal stare.
    Bohemond II married Alice, the daughter of Baldwin II king of Jerusalem, who gave birth to a daughter, Constance of Antioch. In 1130 Bohemond was killed in battle and Antioch was handed down to Constance, then four years old. Constance would rule under the disputed regency of the Kings of Jerusalem and her mother Alice who vied for control of the principality. At just ten years of age, Constance was married to Raymond of Poitiers who ruled as the Prince of Antioch from 1136 until his death in 1149 at the hands of Nur Ad-Din Zangi.

    Bohemond III and Raymond III of Tripoli ride to Jerusalem.​

    Bohemond III was the son of Raymond and Constance. Born in 1144 he was just five years old when his father died. Constance married the.cunsumate crusader Raynald of Chatillon, a man generally typified by contemporary sources as a loose cannon. Raynald ruled as prince until his capture and subsequent seventeen year imprisonment for plundering Muslim lands in 1160 leaving Constance as regent. By this time Bohemond III was fifteen and was legally able to rule but Constance attempted to block his accession and retain sole rule of the principality. King Baldwin III of Jerusalem intervened and declared Bohemond III ruler of Antioch. Constance asked for aid from the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in 1163 but was instead forced into exile and died later that year allowing Bohemond to take full and undisputed control of the principality.

    The following year Bohemond III and Raymond III of Tripoli moved to aid the city of Harim. Harim was a strategically important city that had changed hands between Muslim and Christian several times. It had been in Crusader control since 1158 but was again being threatened by Seljuk Turk forces under Nur ad-Din Zengi. The crusader force attempted to break the siege of the city but was soundly defeated at the Battle of Harim. Harim fell and both Bohemond and Raymond were captured. They were released the following year for a ransom of 150,000 dinars arranged by the emperor at Constantinople, Manuel I and Amalric I of Jerusalem who also served as regent for Antioch during his captivity.


    Mleh of Armenia, a Templar turned Muslim, entered into an alliance with Nur ad-Din Zengi prompting an invasion of Armenia in 1172. With blessing and aid from the Emperor, Bohemond III and Raymond III were joined by Philip, the Count of Flanders, in a failed assault to reclaim the city of Harim in 1177.

    The Emperor Manuel wanted more direct control over Antioch. He was married to Bohemond's sister so he was not only his nominal overlord but his brother in law as well. Bohemond agreed to re-install a Greek Patriarch, Athanasius II, in Antioch angering Latin Patriarch Aimery of Lemoges. Bohemond would further tie himself to the Emperor by marrying his niece, Theodora Komnene, around 1176. To marry Theodora, Bohemond probably divorced his first wife, Orguilleuse d'Harenc, mother of his two eldest sons Raymond and Bohemond IV.

    In 1180 Bohemond and Raymond III of Tripoli looked to install an ally, Baldwin of Ibelin, as King of Jerusalem. The troubled kingdom had enemies and was ruled by Baldwin IV, a childless leper. Without an heir and in poor health he searched for a suitable person who could marry his sister Sibylla. Sibylla's son from her first marriage, Baldwin V, would become nominal king upon his death and would need a regent. Bohemond III and Raymond III entered Jerusalem in force to assert their claims but Sibylla instead married Guy of Lusignan, a prominent and well-connected knight in her brothers service. It is unknown whether Baldwin approved of this marriage but he did not take steps to reverse it. On the death of Baldwin IV in 1185, and the death of his successor, Sibylla's son Baldwin V, soon after, Guy was made King by Sibylla who handed him her crown. An attempted coup failed to materialize leaving Guy on the throne. Guy and Sibylla’s rule would prove disastrous. In just two years Guy would face humiliating defeat at the Battle of Hattin and Jerusalem would fall to Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria and founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty.

    Miniature from a French translation of William of Tyre's Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, It depicts William's discovery of leprosy in the future Baldwin IV​

    Saladin executes Reynald of Châtillon after the disasterous battle of Hattin from William of Tyre, Historia

    Bohemond III divorced Theodora shortly after her uncle's death and married Sibylle de Burzey. This marriage was strongly contested by the clergy who claimed the woman was wicked. Bohemond could not be deterred from the marraige. He imprisoned or banished church leaders and nobles who opposed him and confiscated their property. He was excommunicated by Pope Alexander III but still refused all attempts to mediate the situation.

    Bohemond negotiated a peace treaty with Saladin who had been harassing Antioch in 1183. He then took steps to consolidate and strengthen Antioch's defenses. Guy of Jerusalem instead engaged Saladin and suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Hattin in 1187, Jerusalem would fall soon after. Raymond III of Tripoli and Bohemond's eldest son Raymond fought in the battle but escaped. Saladin then invaded Antioch but Bohemond was able to mount a successful defense. Bohemond's eldest son Raymond was made Count of Tripoli on the death of his godfather, Raymond III, shortly after the Battle of Hattin. He ruled Tripoli as Raymond IV but after only two years he was recalled by his father who wanted his eldest son and heir at his court. Raymond was replaced as Count of Tripoli by his younger brother, Bohemond IV.

    In 1194 Leo II of Armenia took the castle of Bagras from Saladin who had previously taken it from Bohemond and the Knights Templar who now demanded it be returned to them. Bohemond was led to believe that Leo wished to negotiate but when Bohemond came to meet with him, Leo instead captured and imprisoned Bohemond who was released only after he relinquished all claims to Armenian lands. Bohemond further allied himself with Leo by marrying his son Raymond to Leo's niece Alice in 1195. Raymond died in 1199 leaving an heir, Raymond-Roupen, his son by Alice.

    When Bohemond III died in 1201 the succession was disputed between his second son, Bohemond IV, and Raymond-Roupen, his grandson through Raymond. Bohemond IV initially prevailed but the issue came to blows leading to the War of the Antiochene Succession and Raymon-Roupen, with help from his uncle Leo II of Armenia, took Antioch in 1216. Raymon-Roupen's reign would be short lived as Bohemond IV was able to retake Antioch three years later. Bohemond IV would rule both Antioch and Tripoli while Raymond-Roupen would die trying to claim the throne of Armenia.

    Bohemond III, with a rule that lasted almost 40 years, was one of, if not the longest serving princes of the kingdom of Jerusalem and he was certainly one of the most influential as members of his family had become high ranking members of the royal houses of Constantinople, Hungary and Cilician Armenia among others.

    Less a crusader and more an opportunist, Bohemond, as a native of the Levant, was far more concerned with the survival and enlargement of his realm and preservation of his rule than the business of crusading. He often sought peace treaties just as much if not more than war which is one reason he survived so long in the cut throat harsh world of Outremer.

    All coin images mine own, all others linked. As always, please feel free to share.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    That is quite an impressive example! I had one of these (decent, but not as nice as yours above) - but it was stolen. I've kind of been on the lookout for another.

    You're certainly right about this being perhaps the iconic Crusader coin design.
    Cachecoins and +VGO.DVCKS like this.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    There are still that many of them for sale online, via ebay (including European sites) and ...pretty much all over the place, esp. on Biddr, Numisbids and Sixbid.
    Purely on the basis of anecdotal evidence, you could guess that a couple of significant hoards have made it to the market over the last couple of years. From ...somewhere. (Another good reason to admire the UK 'Treasure Trove' laws, in synergy with the Portable Antiquites and UKDFD websites. Just regarding provenance.) They run to looking as if they're nearly as struck. With the caveat that, as with so many medieval coins, a bad strike can bring the esthetic effect down from something like XF to more like a disappointing F. But they don't cost preemptively scary money, and some are within loud shouting distance of Cachecoin's example.
    Cachecoins likes this.
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    So I have noticed. There are plenty of affordable examples, but I just haven't yet found one that had the right intersection between my taste and my budget, if you know what I mean. Something along the lines of @Cachecoins' example would be what I would look for. @Aethelred has a PCGS AU-something, I believe.
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    A terrific example, with historical context to match. Reminiscent of what people on this forum do with ancients every day.
    ...Speaking of which, trust you've seen Seth77's recent post on Jean de Brienne. Of serious relevance to the later phases of the history you get into here.
    Cachecoins likes this.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Cool. On your page here. :<}
  8. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That was quite the riveting read! Thanks so much for putting that together
    Cachecoins and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  9. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    I have had this coin for about a decade and it's been on my website for about as long.

    I do know what you mean about looking for that one coin of the type that checks off all those boxes. I don't buy multiples and I don't sell. I am more than willing to wait until that right one that catches my eye. I am not a collector just to own coins and currency, I collect to write about coins and history (to compile into a book about the history of money, and money as history which will probably never be published) and I don't want to do so with other peoples coins for various reasons. This coin is far from perfect and especially with this type, they never will be, but the details were clear enough and the price was worth it.

    All my coins go on display for public information. I have never made a penny off coins and do it only for the history they represent of money that is, in my opinion, as important if not more important than any other human endeavour. Money, physical currency, has been so important to our lives and has been so ubiquitous yet for some reason it is often treated as a hobby or frivolous.

    They say money does not buy happiness but ask a person who doesn't have enough of it how content they are. Sure, people with money aren't always happy but at least their misery does not stem from the pressing need to eat and pay rent...they can be miserable in comfort. As a person who at one time had nothing, I can attest to the fact that the pressing urgency of the misery of being without money and being unable meet your needs is far worse than the misery of a person with money who has the luxury to contemplate their misery in a comfortable home and with a full belly. But I digress...my mind races in the early morning.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  10. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Oh, and one reason there are so many of his coins out there I would think...and this is just supposition, is that he had a very long rule in comparison to other crusader states. Not only that but Antioch was one of the most important crusader states, in some ways more so than Jerusalem, and there is little doubt about the wealth garnered by the Princes of Antioch. They were well connected with family ties to the Byzantine Emperors, other crusader states and in Europe. Certainly large amounts of these were minted over the decades of his rule.
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  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    This type was so popular that it was kept as a virtual immobilization to around the 1250s, covering the reigns of Bohemond III, IV and V, with a peak of minting in the 1170s. Yours seems to be, if I'm not mistaken, Malloy 68a, Metcalf Ash 274-5, Class D, Allen Type 4, possibly during this peak.

    The types can be determined following the letter shapes and style of the engraving of the helmeted knight. From Malloy et al:


    Similar to yours, though possibly a little later to 1180:


    The quintessential denier of 1170, with the most common mark in the reverse legend + ANTI ♣ OCHIA:


    Bohemond IV, possibly from before the Revolt of Tripoli in 1207:


    Bohemond IV, possibly from before the reign of Roupen:


    Bohemond V, after ca. 1235:


    And a personal favorite, an in-between type Class F-G from the 1190s or 1201-1203, late Bohemond III or very early Bohemond IV:

  12. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Excellent write-up @Cachecoins , thanks for sharing. I don't collect very much medieval, but I did add an example of this type to my collection a couple of years ago:
    Bohemund III.jpg
  13. ewomack

    ewomack Senior Member Supporter

    This is one of my favorite hammered coins - from the above, mine seems to look like either a Bohemond III or IV, but I've never done a detailed attribution.

    HelmDenierObverse.png HelmDenierReverse.png
  14. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Yours is Bohemond III, but you can use the table from Malloy to pinpoint the class.
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  15. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Quick question @serh77...how do they date these? I can see the difference in types but do they have mint records? Also, what does the 5 pellet on the A mean?
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  16. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    As always in the case of such old but copious coinage, there is a sequencing of types according to lettering and device details that make up the types/classes. From that you go to the primary sources that imply that Antioch was an economic powerhouse especially in the 1170s and then it fell off after Saladin's campaign in 1187-8 to rise again slowly with the 1190s-1200s. You couple that with the reigns of the 3 Bohemonds and the material found in hoards that adds some grounding for the terminus of some types (Metcalf's "Billon coinage of the crusading principality of Antioch" is a good example of such research) and you end up with a ballpark dating for the distinct classes and some room for the "experimental" and/or "transitional" phases.
    PaulTudor, +VGO.DVCKS and Cachecoins like this.
  17. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Interesting, looks like I might need to get my hands on that book I am very curious as to the methodology of the research and how they come to their conclusions. I also wonder, but could not find info about the 5 pellets on the A. I am sure they must signify something. :) Thanks!
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  18. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Enjoyed the coins and especially the story great thread thank you.
  19. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Coinage in the name of Bohemond III was also minted under the Regency of his mother Constance of Antioch and then of Constance and her new husband, Reynald de Chatillon, who was actually Prince of Antioch from 1153 to 1161.

    An example of Antiochene coinage during the Regency period for Bohemond under Constance and Reynald, minted possibly while Reynald ruled Antioch ca. 1153-1161:

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  20. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Reynald is an interesting certainly an character.
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  21. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the summary of a truly chaotic piece of history. Nicely done. My contribution to the cause. If you collect this period and subject I can recommend an excellent book with plates : Coinage of The Crusades and The Latin East in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford by D.M. Metcalf. My copy had tucked into it Price Guide To Coins of the Crusader States byAlex Mallow and Allen Berman as a
    CruBohmdIII.jpg bonus.
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