Featured Jean de Brienne: From Jerusalem, to Damietta and finally Constantinople

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Damietta, in the Eastern Nile Delta, was a high prize captured by the crusaders of the Fifth Crusade in November 1219 and was recognized as a domain of the King of Jerusalem.

    By this time, regnant King of Jerusalem was Jean de Brienne and the coinage of the realm was the reduced Holy Sepulchre denier, reintroduced at a lower standard and size and immobilized under Aimery de Lusignan around 1200:

    Immobilization under AIMERY de LUSIGNAN (1197-1205) and successors, possibly to the first part of the reign of Holy Roman Emperor FRIEDRICH II as King of Jerusalem, around 1225 and briefly after
    AR15x14mm, 0.45g billon denier, immobilized type, minted at Acre or Tyre(?) cca. 1200-1230.
    AMALRICVS RЄX o; Cross pattee, annulets in 2nd and 3rd quarters.
    + DЄ IЄRVSALЄM; The dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Degenerate Type C).
    Malloy 37c, Cox Class I.
    Ex TimeLine Auctions, Session of September 10 2018, Lot 4796

    But due to the international character of the crusader army, and in order to keep it well paid and in good order, Damietta began minting, soon after conquest, a denier of full weight and diameter in the name of King Jean de Brienne, similar to the European (especially French) coinage of the era (Guy Perry - John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem Emperor of Constantinople, p. 109).

    JEAN de BRIENNE (1210-1225) as King of Jerusalem
    AR18mm, 0.93g billon denier, minted at Damietta, cca. 1220 or Acre cca. 1221.
    IOhЄS : RЄX; Cross pattee, annulets in 2nd and 3rd quarters.
    + D A M I A T A; Head facing, with curled hair, wearing crown with three pellets.
    Malloy 43 p. 80, Metcalf 203, Schlumberger III, 31.
    Ex Erich Waeckerlin Collection, Münzen & Medaillen GmbH, Lörrach, Auktion 3, Stuttgart, 15. 10. 1998, lot 650, Münzen & Medaillen GmbH, Auction 47, Lot 28

    Metcalf considered that the location of the King's name and title on the cross side and not on the portrait side of the coin would fit with the fact that the city was under a baillie who ruled in his name, which would date this coinage after around May 1220 (Metcalf - Coinage of the Crusades and the Latin East, p. 81).

    The disagreements between the Papal legate Pelagius and the secular host of Holy Land knights and barons plus the purported ambitions of Jean to the throne of Cilician Armenia, to which he had a claim through his wife, Stephanie of Armenia (Levon's eldest daughter), led to his departure from the Crusade in May 1220. The context for this abandonment is that also present at Damietta for the Crusade was another claimant to the Cilician state -- the former Prince of Antioch Raymond Roupen, who had the support of both the legate and the Hospitallers. In these conditions the King of Jerusalem feared that Roupen might outrun and outmaneuver him to claim Levon's throne.

    So this part of the Damietta coinage could have been minted while Jean was trying to secure the throne of Cilicia in 1220, under a bailiage. There is also the possibility that it is part of a later coinage, minted by Jean at Acre in 1221, following his failure to secure his claim in Armenia, before the loss of Damietta, or even shortly after. This theory is based on the fact that there are two distinct issues naming Damietta -- one which looks earlier, is scarcer, seems to be of a different workmanship and has the legend naming the king on the bust side rather than the cross side, and this one presented here, of a better style, more elegant lettering and overall a nicer, more consistent look. Metcalf dates the latter to the bailiage of 1220.

    This specimen has also a peculiar first A in DAMIATA, similar to this example, and also similar to type 3h in "Numismatic Letterforms of A" in Koinon II p. 178, which might bring a hint about the circumstances of this second series, as it also looks similar to the first A in DAMIATA in this earlier first series specimen.

    What this could mean is that there is continuity between the two series and that it is at least possible that they were consecutive series minted at Damietta proper, the first being rushed into circulation as soon as the stronghold was captured, perhaps in the winter of 1219, lasting to the spring of 1220, while the second began probably at the departure of Jean towards Cilicia in May 1220 (as per Metcalf) and continued to August-September of 1221, when Damietta was lost to al-Kamil, thus accounting for it being more plentiful than the earlier series.

    Jean de Brienne is often considered as an adventurer and soldier of fortune before anything else, searching for personal gain and the prestige that was unobtainable for a baron of his stature in Champagne. But Guy Perry in his "John of Brienne: King of Jerusalem, Emperor of Constantinople, c.1175-1237" has a more nuanced version of him, as a "figurehead" Royal -- a person of considerable personal valor to keep the Kingdom united during a period of strife, but lacking in standing and stature to be revered and accepted as king for life by an already unruly Haute Cour of Holy Land barons and prelates and under the pressure of none other than the Holy Roman Emperor. With his wife -- his claim to the throne was through jus uxoris -- dead in 1212 and his daughter and rightful queen married off to the almighty Friedrich II in 1225, his fate as King of Jerusalem was sealed.

    But of a remarkable character and strength, Jean's career would continue in Italy as a bulwark against the Holy Empire throughout the second part of the 1220s, until the call came from Constantinople and Baldwin II of Constantinople's Court for him to become Emperor and defender of the city -- which he answered, with the blessing of Pope Gregory IX, assuring together with his retinue of Italian, Holy Land and Champagne knights the standing of the Latin Empire's Constantinople against both Bulgarian and Greek multiple sieges and blocades.

    Now, Latin Empire coinage is debased and emulative in nature -- following popular Byzantine trachaea and occasionally adding some interesting and unlikely types -- and that didn't change during the reign of Jean as Senior Emperor and defender of Constantinople, but as he retired with death knocking, a series of very interesting trachaea started being minted and used, and one of the rarest is this one:

    trachy latin.jpg
    AE21x19mm 2.35g small module late period trachy, minted at Constantinople, cca. 1237-1243.
    [O/A/Γ/I - N/K/Λ]; St. Nicholas facing, bearded and nimbate, wearing episcopal robe, omophorion and sakkos.
    [O/A/Γ] - Iω/[ΠPO/Δ]; Saint John the Baptist, facing, bearded and nimbate, wearing tunic and mantle, holding something in his right hand or in orans position.
    Malloy 24, DOC IV-2 21.3, cf CLBC 11.20.2, Sear 2052 corr. (St. Nicholas instead of Virgin), Hendy Type U.

    A coinage with saints on both sides and no appeal to the (largely imaginary) connection between the Latin Emperors and the previous dynasty of the Komnenoi was something of an outlier in both Latin and Byzantine trachaea of the time. The series of religious trachaea, some with obviously Catholic tones (see my post about the Western iconography here) began around 1235-7, while this rather rare type with Saint John the Baptist, possibly orans, starts -- according to the sequencing done by Ross Glanfield (end of Period 8, 1230-1237, see here) -- around 1237 or maybe a little earlier. Maybe this John the Baptist effigy around the time that Jean de Brienne was exiting history is just a coincidence.

    Or maybe the figure of John the Baptist was chosen as a nod, a small token of appreciation for the dying or dead former Senior Emperor and a man with an extraordinary career.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  3. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    Great post !!!
    Here is my few John of Brienne deniers .
    CCS 45 example only in bad condition:(
    1998C5E9-721C-47BE-9DD9-00B7229B5A3E.jpeg 4621CAC3-EDB7-478B-9521-A91667DE93C3.jpeg
    The second one is from Roberto Pesant collection
    CCS 44
    Kingdom of JERUSALEM .John of Brienne, 1210-1225 AD. AR Denier. 0.45 gr.
    reverse + DAMIATA, head facing with curly hair, wearing crown ornamented with three pellets
    obverse + IOhES : REX :, cross pattée, pellets in upper right and lower left quarters, triple pellet stops;


    Ex LAC
    CCS 43
    Kingdom of JERUSALEM .John of Brienne, 1210-1225 AD. AR Denier. 0.65gr.
    reverse + DAMIATA, head facing with curly hair, wearing crown ornamented with three pellets .
    obverse + IOhES : REX :, cross pattée, annulets in upper right and lower left quarters, triple pellet stops;

    and two other ones CCS 43 :)
    4FC8C391-F129-4324-BECC-7D2442D8E047.jpeg 8F0517D8-3AD5-4DD3-A542-F279777FADE4.jpeg
  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I don’t have anything to add but I just wanted to say that was an excellent post!!
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Thank you both!

    @VD76 your first coin is the first early series of Damietta, too bad that the reverse is hard to read and see the shape of the letters.
  6. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you @seth77 for another wonderful post. There are so many fascinating coins minted by the crusader states than I would have ever realized if not for your posts. I would love to add one of these denier of Jean to my collection.
  7. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Glad you liked it and good luck in your search for one.
  8. Broucheion

    Broucheion Supporter! Supporter

    I second that!!! I have learned so much in such a short time about subjects that I have had to skip over for lack of time. Thank you!

  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    So glad the Jeans are pilling up.
  10. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    Malloy suggest that this is a second type deniers (mitred portrait ) and they might have been struck during John’s absence from Damietta by Papal Legate Pelagius.
  11. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    @Broucheion “Obverse: Possibly countermarked with a cross over the portrait head in central circle. “
    There are no cross countermarks on the obverse on your coin . That is an incuse ghosting cross image . On very thin coins there isn't enough metal to fill both dies, so it tends to be sucked into one or the other leaving the incuse ghosting on the other side .
    Broucheion likes this.
  12. Broucheion

    Broucheion Supporter! Supporter

    Hi @VD76,

    Thanks for confirming that. I wasn’t sure and knew that was a possibility. I see the same effect on the Malloy 43 p. 80 and the CSS 43. Thanks again.

    - Broucheion
  13. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Here is a common trachea type that circulated starting with around 1230 in Constantinople, at the height of the conflict between Jean de Brienne and Ivan II Asen of Bulgaria and John III Vatatzes of Nicaea in 1235 and 1236 -- the Wars of the Three Johns. The coinage was not under the control of the Latin Emperor, but likely under the control of the Venetian podesta in Constantinople. So these imitative trachea weren't even Imperial coinage per se, more like a private enterprise by the Venetian interests, rehashing old types with some new features. The large modules were likely used mainly for daily trade in and around Constantinople.

    AE28mm 4.01g large module late period trachy, minted at Constantinople, cca. 1230s.
    MP - ΘV; Virgin in orans, with both hands raised
    Iω ΔECΠOTHC - O ΓE... emperor on the left wearing stemma, divitision, chlamys, Saint George on the right, nimbate, in military attire, holding sword in left hand, patriarchal cross between them.
    Malloy 14, DOC IV pl. L 14, Hendy type N

    This type circulated as far as hoards show until at least 1250, but if it was still being minted that late into the moribund Latin Constantinople is hard to tell. This spec is heavily circulated hinting towards a regular 1230s issue.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  14. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    Fascinating article.

    I have been reading Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades but haven't got to that part yet.

  15. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Thank you.

    I'd also recommend:

    K.M. Setton ed. - A History of the Crusades
    T. Asbridge - The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land
    G. Perry - John of Brienne: King of Jerusalem, Emperor of Constantinople, c.1175-1237
    VD76 and Broucheion like this.
  16. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    One more John CCS 43 :)
    C4B8BB2B-E80E-4513-BF31-50F04F7E3A6B.jpeg 27295C76-F40E-4AF0-AA10-0DAC5953AC56.jpeg

    Here are the two Hendy type U coins . I’m not really sure , but if I understand correctly, the large module is SBCV 2041 and the small is SBCV 2052 .
    ED7EE32A-ECB8-4B0C-BD72-BB5CAED00DEC.jpeg CADF89E2-78F6-4CE1-BA39-9208A9B7110F.jpeg 92441F46-3C61-453C-B980-65EBAD281260.jpeg 2790B827-CD91-4B92-A210-746DBF2AA2A8.jpeg

    2.9 g. and 2.1 g.
    seth77 likes this.
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