Featured Marguerite de Constantinople - la comtesse noire de Hainaut et Flandre

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Last year I started a new chapter in my numismatic foray, a venture into an older interest that I had but didn't quite pursue: the coinage of the Netherlands.

    The field is as complex as the French royal and seigneurial coinages, with many extraordinary and interesting parts. One of them I have tried to reveal in my last entry here about Albrecht van Beieren (Albert of Bavaria) as Ruwaard and then Lord of Hainaut during one of the most economically lucrative periods in the history of the Netherlands.

    This entry is focused on an earlier period, marked in part by the legacy of a great (or infamous) crusader lord Baudouin IX de Flandre (VI de Hainaut), better known as Baldwin of Flanders, the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople (1204-1205).

    Baudouin had two daughters, who both succeeded him in the Netherlands, while his brother Henry succeeded him in Constantinople. Jeanne ruled Flanders and Hainaut between 1205 and 1244 and Marguerite ruled the same realms between 1244 and 1280.

    Marguerite took the domains of Flanders and Hainaut at the death of her older sister Jeanne in 1244. As the daughter of Baudouin, she was reffered to as "de Constantinople" following her father's titulature. Her reign was marked by the War of Succession of Hainaut and Flanders, between her sons of her two marriages -- first with Bouchard d'Avesnes (until 1221) and then to Guillaume II de Dampierre (who died in 1231) -- arbitrated by Louis IX of France in 1246 and 1256 and which eventually ended with the separation of the counties, the Avesnes faction getting Hainaut while the Dampierre faction got Flanders.

    Her rule also saw a greater autonomy and rise in power of the Flemish urban centers and a strong development of international trade, specifically with France, Castile, Gascony and England, which came also with one of the first trade wars between Flanders and England between 1270 and 1275.

    AR25mm 1.90g billon double esterlin (baudekin), minted at the city of Valenciennes, after January 1269.
    + mOnЄTA - VALЄnC - ЄnЄnSIS; knight on horseback galloping to left, brandishing sword in right hand.
    + mARGARЄTA ' C0mITISSA ' on the outside; + * SIGNVM CRVCIS; on the inside; cross with crescents in each quarter.
    Chalon 19, Lucas - Hainaut 36, Boudeau 2086
    from an old collection in Normandie

    In this context, her new coinage, the baudekin (or double esterlin) served the development and diversification of Flanders in particular, with support from Hainaut silver.

    The large denomination of Hainaut begins with the baudekins au chevalier a l'epee, with a knight in tournament attire galloping to left and brandishing a distinctly mid 13th century sword, and was possibly inspired by the french gros tournois of Louis IX. It first appeared in January 1269 (January 16 according to Grierson BCEN 12, 1975 pp. 7-8) and this particular specimen is one of the first of the first type minted in 1269 and is rare as such.

    Soon after, this design with a left-galloping knight in full tournament regalia was replaced with a new design... of a knight in full tournament regalia but galloping... right. The die cutters were feeling rather adventurous in 1270.

    AR24mm 2.34g billon double esterlin (baudekin), minted at the city of Valenciennes, cca. 1270s.
    + ' m0NЄTA VAL[ЄNCЄ] - ' NЄNSIS; knight on horseback galloping to right, brandishing sword in right hand.
    + mARGARЄTA ' C0mITISSA ' on the outside; + * SIGNVM * CRVCIS *; on the inside; cross with crescents in each quarter.
    Chalon 13, Lucas - Hainaut 39, Boudeau 2087
    from a different collection in Normandie

    The sword was also changed a bit, the new series showing the knight brandishing a sword more up to date, similar to Oakeshott type XIV, a sword shape that saw serious action during the Eighth Crusade in Tunis.

    The Oakeshott classification of European medieval swords.

    The new coins were a success and they continued to be minted throughout the 1270s. It is likely that they were still in circulation in the early 1300s during the French-Flemish Wars of Philippe IV.

    Marguerite remained in history as "la Noire" for her cruelty and supposed lack of morals. She was likely a very disruptive factor in the lives of her children from her two marriages and her influence was possibly one of the catalysts for the ongoing feud between the Dampierre and Avesnes branches of the House of Flanders. The bad blood continued even after the arbitration by Louis IX of France who gave Guillaume de Dampierre the County of Flanders and left Hainaut to Jean d'Avesnes, a conflict to which Marguerite was no stranger, taking the side of Guillaume against Jean.

    The wars and intrigues saw many knights perish, which is why the chronicler Matthew Paris popularized her image as a vicious mother and ruler.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  3. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Interesting design; it looks pretty sophisticated for the times.

    Nice write up as well.
  4. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Very nice! I’ve been wanting to delve into this area too - far too many options with medieval coins! Here is my relevant piece (I still need a good reference for these):

    Med-07a-LFC-1194-Baldwin IX-M-1245.jpg Low Countries - Flanders
    Baldwin IX, r. 1194-1205
    Ghent mint, AR Mailles, 11.3 mm x 0.4 grams
    Obv.: +G+A+N+T Head left with helmet in circle of pellets, one lis in the helmet
    Rev.: B . COMES Ornamented cross with one pellet in each angle
  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I think Boudeau also covers Flanders. Will return with more details when I get to the book later.
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  6. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    As I had remembered, Flandre is covered by Boudeau, both civil and comital coinages. Your coin is listed at p. 283 #2203.

    Another image of the blue-pistol baudekin from the 1270s, closer to the actual color of the coin:

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  7. AnYangMan

    AnYangMan Well-Known Member

    Excellent topic @seth77! I’m glad you are pursuing the coinage of the low countries in more detail! If you want to try your hand at the more northern Dutch counties, duchies and minor lords, I'd love to discuss!

    By the way, the last baudekin you post can be attributed to the fourth emission under Margaretha. The first type with the knight advancing right was introduced around 1272 in the previous emission, but of course lacks the crescents in the cross of the reverse (Lucas 38). The fourth emission, with such crescents, dates to roughly 1278 and with its 2.64 grams of pure silver (2.81 at 0.94 purity) was struck slightly below the intrinsic silver content of two sterling. It was thus overvalued and started to slowly push the heavier sterling out of circulation. With the revaluation of the sterling in 1279, this overvaluation more than doubled and the process snowballed. It started to become internationally accepted (whereas the earlier emissions had circulated primarily “locally”) and especially in the northern Netherlands and its trade with northern Europe it became popular. Many of the local seignories with questionable legitimacy, such as Coevorden and Kuinre, began to strike imitations of this type of Baudekin.

    Apparently, they also flowed outwards to royal France as during Easter 1279, Philip III banned the baudekin from circulating in France (as it was also overvalued in content when compared to the French Tournois). The issuing of Baudekins in Flanders was thus put to a halt by Margareta, only to be continued under her succesor and grandson Jean I in 1284 (likely at a different standard). This fourth emission can thus securely be dated to the period of 1278-79!

    Also something interesting to note: a comparable yet reversed situation likely happened with the first emission of the Baudekin, although it is not quite as well documented. At its first emission in 1269, the silver content of the Baudekin was set to 2/3 of a Gros Tournois (double tierce de gros, 8 Tournois), but its course was set to two sterling, which was a slight undervaluation based on the content. The baudekin thus initially failed to find acceptance as it was hoarded and melted down to produce lighter sterlings. A slight debasement and a new emission of Baudekins (Lucas 37) quickly followed in 1270, which addressed this undervaluation. The relatively short duration of this first emission due to its undervaluation and the fact that many did not circulate thus contribute to Baudekins from this emission being quite hard to find nowadays. A real gem, even in this condition. Congrats!
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  8. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the detailed notes, they are very useful and appreciated. I would like to get more in depth with the Netherlands coinages, but they seem to be rather conspicuously unavailable. I'm not sure I have seen Flemish or Hainaut coins being offered by firms other than Elsen. There is always ebay, but there is always the issue of browsing through hundreds of entries, mostly of either junk, erroneously identified or absurdly overpriced material.
  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    New image for the first series:

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  10. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Extraordinarily hard to photograph.

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