Crusader Coin Showing Fascinating Medieval Armor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    This is one of the gems I picked up recently from AMCC 2. I do not have very many medieval coins but I always enjoy the posts from our medieval specialists. This was a fun coin to research and I owe @seth77 a big thanks for helping me better understand the way these are cataloged and providing me some suggestions for further reading.

    Crusader Antioch
    Bohemond III (Minority 1149-1163, Majority 1163-1201)
    AR Denier, Antioch mint, struck ca. 1163-1188
    Wt.: 1.06 g
    Dia.: 17 mm
    Obv.: +BOAHVHDVS; Helmeted head left marked with cross pattee, coif mail composed of crescents, five pointed star right, crescent left.
    Rev.: +ANTIOCNIA; cross pattee, with crescent pointing downward in second angle.
    Ref.: Malloy 65/Class A to B cf. Metcalf
    Ex AMCC 2, Lot 289 (Nov. 9, 2019)

    Some Notes on the Coins of Antioch
    Antioch was captured by the crusaders in AD 1098 under the leadership of Bohemond I. Within a few years Bohemond began minting bronze coins that closely resembled the Byzantine coinage of the time. Similar Byzantine style coins would be the standard at Antioch for about the next 50 years.

    Bohemond III’s father, Raymond of Poitiers, began minting silver and billion deniers in the middle of the 1100s that drew stylistic inspiration from French coins. This was a major shift in design and introduced coins that were very unlike the currency that had previously been circulating in the near east.

    Bohemond III continued to strike deniers but introduced a fascinating new obverse design; the helmeted crusader knight! This iconic design (the OP) was unique to Antioch from the reign of Bohemond III till the end of the Principality of Antioch in 1268.

    The Crusader Armor Shown on the Coin
    The coin shows the head of a crusader knight in profile wearing a mail coif under a nasal helmet.

    The nasal helmet is characterized by the prominent metal nose guard and was a popular type of helmet in Western Europe from at least the Early Middle Ages. For most of the history of its use it featured a conical top. However, for a brief period in the 12th century the rounded top style became popular. This is the type of helmet shown on the coins of Bohemond III. Comparing this helmet design to contemporary artistic representations of crusaders in France shows how much cultural influence the Kingdom of France had on the crusader states in this period.

    The left shows an illustration of a rounded nasal helmet from a French publication in the 1870s. Comparing the realistic representation to the coin is helpful (at least to me) in visualizing what the die engraver was attempting to convey through the coins.

    This is an illustration that was made in France between 1190 and 1200. The circular plan view is meant to represent the city of Jerusalem. Along the bottom we see knights riding while wearing the distinctive helmet and chain mail armor.

    This is a painting from the chapel of Cressac-Saint-Genis in western France. It shows mounted knights riding out from the magnificent castle at Krak des Chevaliers to fight in the Battle of al-Buqaia in 1163. The knights are unmistakably wearing the same type of helmet depicted on the coins. Bohemond III was one of the major players in the battle.

    I can't help but think that the people looking out from the battlements in the above painting are just waiting for the battle to be over so they can have an opportunity to be like...



    The Crusader caslte at Krak des Chevaliers.

    Please post your;
    • Crusader coins
    • Coins showing helmets or armor
    • Your favorite medieval silver or billion coins!
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  3. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    Thats an awesome coin! That's the one that got me into Crusader coins as I just fell in love with the obverse. Here are a few bucket heads:

    Crusaders: Bohémond III (1163-1201) AR Denier, Antioch (Metcalf, Crusades-378)

    Obv:+ BOAИVHDVS, helmeted and mailed head left; crescent before, star behind
    Rev:+ AИTI:OCHIA, cross pattée; crescent in second quarter


    Bosnia: Štefan II Tomaševič (1461-1463) AR Dinar (Jovanovic-62.2)

    Obv: crowned and veiled helmet left set on royal coat-of-arms; R and five-rayed star set in six-rayed star on either side of helmet; Legend around - STEFAn •CRAGL
    Rev: St. Gregorius standing facing, raising hand in benediction and holding crozier; Legend around - S GREGO RI • PAPE

  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's cool, @Curtisimo ! Well researched and informative. Having the illustrations really helped me to see what the coin was depicting.
    Orielensis and Curtisimo like this.
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Glad you ventured into Crusader coinage and history. Here is a denier of Antioch minted for Bohemond III during the Regency (very likely Reynald de Chatillon and Constance of Antioch 1153-1160/1), from Timeline UK:

    TypeCoin971793, VD76, TheRed and 15 others like this.
  6. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Beautifull coin/ fantastic write Curtis!

    Here is one of mine...
    AV Zecchino ND Achaia Mint
    Robert d'Anjou of Taranto

    These Crusaders sacked Constantinople and seized Byzantine Territories and created the so-called "Crusader States" Picked up this beauty fom Heriatage as "unsold" lot. lf (34).jpg lf (35).jpg
  7. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Wow @Quant.Geek , that Bohemond III denier might be one of the best I have seen... and I have seen a lot of these during my recent research. Congrats!

    I also love the Bosnian example. Bosnia wis one of my favorite places I’ve visited. It is beautiful and has lots of history. I took these pictures in Mostar.

    This is a write up I did on a really fascinating ancient site I visited while in Bosnia.
    Daorson: How a Handful of Coins Preserved the Memory of a Lost Civilization
    TypeCoin971793, VD76, TheRed and 13 others like this.
  8. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    Ah, the original coin head,, cone head (apologies to Ackroyd, et al.) :D:joyful::eek:

    Seriously, great coin & info! ;)
  9. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    These are hard not to love. :) Here's mine, which used to belong to Nobel prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann:

    Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 1.11.50 PM.jpg

    And here's an example of the earlier folles that you mentioned, issued by the Norman knight, Tancred, as regent for Bohemond II. He also captured the castle you picture, Krak des Chevaliers. I find it interesting that he adopted the turban for his headgear, as the coin shows. Perhaps he was less ethnocentric than some of the other crusaders.
    Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 1.13.21 PM.jpg
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  10. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks for the kind words RC :)

    Thank you Seth and great coin. Particularly thank you again for answering some of my questions about this example. It is nice to have specialists here on CT such as yourself to that are willing to answer questions and help out those of us who aren't as familiar with medieval coinage.

    Predictably beautiful coin Pman :wideyed::D

    Haha I love that movie! (both Monty Python & Cone heads :))
  11. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Great write-up @Curtisimo. I have one of these coins of Bohemund III, and I love the detailed depiction of medieval Crusader armor:
    Bohemund III.jpg
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  12. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Well-Known Member

    I've been looking at crusader coinage alot recently will have to get some soon. Really love how you have your coin images with the background. Might have to learn how to do that as well :D
    Curtisimo likes this.
  13. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    This thread (& many like it) are the reason I routinely (read: addictively) follow CT is impossible (for me, anyway) to accumulate all the coinage I want to possess, but I can live adequately, successfully & vicariously through the generous postings here. At my age, I am wont to reduce my acquisition activity...but thankfully, I have you...:happy::singing::singing::singing:;)

    (Btw, before all you spelling & grammar hounds respond, the word I used is "wont" not "won't"...look it up! :smuggrin::smuggrin::smuggrin:)
  14. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    That is a cool example. It certainly looks like a turban to me but I read while researching my OP coin that some of the top specialists in the field (like Metcalf and Bendall) think that it is just a (poorly rendered?) representation of a halo. I don't know enough about the arguments to have an opinion unfortunately. :oops:

    This coin has very nice facial features intact. I don't know if fine style is the right word for it but I like it. It makes the features clearer and looks more like an actual person than most of the coins I have seen. Nice one!
  15. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    This guy had to suffer the invading Second Crusade (1147–1149) soldiers going through his territory. Not a good relationship with the Germans nor the French during this episode...

    BZ Manuel I Comnenus 1143-1180 CE Aspron Trachy 35mm 4g Christ Gospels Labaran globus cruciger Virgin maphorium SB 1966 scyphate
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  16. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Lovely write-up! I’m afraid the types of crusader coins I own have already been posted, but here are my examples for good measure:
    Crusader - Antioch
    Tancred, Regent, r. 1101-1103, 1104-1112
    AE Type 2 Follis, 20.3 mm x 3.3 grams
    Obv.: Bust of Tancred facing, wearing turban, holding sword
    Rev.: Cross pommetée, fleuronnée at base; IC XC NI KA in quarters
    Ref.: De Wit 4079

    Med-16-CrAnt-1149-Bohemond III-D-4085-7.jpg
    Crusader Principality of Antioch
    Bohemond III, r. 1149-1201 (1149-1163)
    AR Denier, Class B, 16.53mm x 1 gram
    Obv.: +BOANVNDVS, bare head right
    Rev.: +ANTIOCHIA, cross in circle
    Ref.: De Witt 4085-7
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  17. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Very interesting, thanks! I will have to look into this. Though I have a hard time believing that my example is supposed to show a halo... o_O Also, apparently some of the Crusaders were specifically criticized for wearing Eastern dress, though I don't know if Tancred is mentioned specifically in this connection.
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  18. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coin and write-up, @Curtisimo!

    I consider the helmeted Antioch deniers to be one of the most appealing and interesting high medieval coin types, and they are usually even affordable.
    MA – Crusaders, Antioch, Bohemond III.png
    Bohemond III, Principality of Antioch, BI denier, 1163–1201 AD. Obv: +BOANVIHDVS (slightly blundered for BOAMUNDVS); helmeted head left in chain mail, flanked by crescent and star. Revers: + AHTIOCHIA (slightly blundered for ANTIOCHIA); cross pattée with crescent in upper right angle. 17.5mm, 0,88g. Ref: CCS, 65/66.

    This coin, struck for Baldwin of Bourcq as Count of Edessa, shows the count in full armor wearing a conical nasal helmet, a chain mail hauberk, and a a sword belt. Baldwin of Bourcq moved on to become King Baldwin II of Jerusalem in 1118 AD.
    MA – Crusaders, Edessa, Baldwin II.png

    Baldwin of Bourcq, County of Edessa, AE Follis, 1110–1118 AD. Obv: Baldwin in conical helmet and chain-armor, standing l., sheathed sword at hip, holding globus cruciger, BA[Λ] - ΔOI[N] around. Rev: Ornamented cross in Byzantine style. 20mm, 4.01g. Ref: Schlumberger I,9; Metcalf 109–112; CCS 10.

    Though not showing armor, this coin has a schematic depiction of the Tower of David. The tower is part of the Jerusalem citadel where the royal palace of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was located. The crusader citadel, though altered substantially over time, is still in an impressive state of preservation and today houses a museum with exhibits on the history of the city.
    MA – Crusaders, Jerusalem, Baldwin III denier (neues Foto).png
    Baldwin III, Kingdom of Jerusalem, BI Denier, 1142–1163 AD, Jerusalem mint. Obv: BALDVINVS REX; cross pattée. Rev: + DE IERVSALEM; Tower of David. 16mm, 0.97g. Ref: CCS 21.

    Here is a photo of the tower depicted on the coin that I took when visiting the Jerusalem citadel. (It's not completely clear to me which one of the two towers is shown on the Jerusalem deniers, though. Supposedly it is the tower to the left, whose base dates to Herod's reign and is often identified with the Tower of Phasael mentioned by Josephus.)
    Bildschirmfoto 2019-12-01 um 15.31.37.png

    Another picture of the citadel, this time shot from top of the tower. The building to the right of the minaret, which was added in the 17th century, used to be the palace of the crusader kings.
    Bildschirmfoto 2019-12-01 um 15.31.57.png
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  19. dadams

    dadams Well-Known Member

    Great new addition and excellent short history lesson. I've not paid much attention to Crusader coins since many of them lack the detail and eye appeal I enjoy but yours and the others shown will definitely make me reconsider. I've only a few coins dating to the medieval period and still only one with armour:
    FRANCE, Provincial. Lorraine (duché).
    Thiébaud II. 1303-1312. AR Double Denier (17mm, 1.02 g, 3h). Nancy mint.
    Obv: +T DV X LOTOR ЄGIЄ, knight on caparisoned horse charging right; annulet stops
    Rev: MOИЄTA D Є ИAИCЄI, sword flanked by eagles.
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  20. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The illustration on the left has an awfully tall helmet. I reckon it goes 5 inches or more above the top of the head. That would make a bigger target, and quite a bit of leverage if, say, a blow was struck to it sideways. Is the illustration mistaken, or is there some reason to have such a tall helmet? [He carries his lunch in it? :)]

    Here is a Bohemund IV, struck 1201-1216:


    18 mm. Coins of the Crusader States, Antioch 76a, page 219.
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  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    From the number of us that have one, I'd say you are right. I have to wonder if Bohemund had a chin.
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