Raymond de Poitiers and the introduction of the Western silver/billon denier at Antioch

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    When Raymond was brought to marry Constance of Antioch, the Principality was in a dire political situation, caught up between the Byzantine interests and the conflicts with Zengids of Mosul and at the same time, an inner struggle between the interests of the Courtenays of Edessa and the Italo-Norman interests. At the insistence of King Fulk of Jerusalem, Raymond came to Antioch and in 1136 started his reign as princeps de jure uxoris. His reign was mostly marked by strife and warfare, Raymond accepted eventually the suzerainty of Constantinople while fighting off Zengid encroachment and actively pursuing the conquest of Aleppo.

    Raymond playing chess with Joscelin II de Courtenay-Edessa, around 1138/9.

    The coinage of Antioch up until the 1120-1130s had been mainly of Italo-Norman influence: copper folli or follari similar to the Byzantine and Italian types. From around the time of the regency of King Fulk of Jerusalem (cca. 1131), the folli/follari of earlier influence started to shrink and copper fractional deniers or pougeoises of Frankish influence started to be minted anonymously. Raymond possibly continued this trend of copper fractions in the first part of his reign, but after 1140, perhaps before and around 1145, he started the minting of completely Western denomination: the billon denier. The first two series were of high quality billon and are considered mostly the experimental phase of the denier at Antioch, while the third, the so-called "man-in-the-moon" type would become the blueprint for the antiochene billon deniers until the mid 1160s, being minted for Raymond at the end of his reign, and then copied for his son Bohemond during the regencies of Constance and Reynald de Chatillon.

    This new coinage of obvious European style at Antioch seems to have appeared around the time when the Baldwin III of Jerusalem introduced his royal denier and Raymond II of Tripoli started the series of "star" deniers, possibly around the fall of Edessa in 1144 and before the Second Crusade in 1147.

    Raymond (left) welcomes King Louis VII "le Jeune" of France and his wife and Raymond's niece Eleanor d'Aquitaine.

    As noted, these deniers of Antioch are rather rare and of very good style and struck in very good quality billon, with dies carved by skilled celators. The overall quality of the issue and the form of the lettering are similar to the deniers of Toulouse of the period, possibly the master celators responsible for Raymond's billon deniers were brought from Toulouse. These first two "experimental" types -- with "neck extending and interrupting the obverse legend" and "shorter neck but still crossing the dotted border into the legend field" types -- were very appreciated and hoarded, which may account for the high quality preservation of many of the known specs and the fact that the type gathered traction and became the blueprint for the future billon coinage of the Principality unde Raymond's successors.

    This summer, a German dealer offered a few deniers of Raymond, which is something that seldom happens. The coins were mostly of the first two "experimental" types:


    AR18mm, 1.04g.
    + RAImV - NDVS; beardless bare head right, neck extending and interrupting the legend
    + ANTIOCHIЄ; cross pattee.
    Malloy 14; Metcalf (NC 1969) 4; Melanges II (1877) p. 181; Lambros, Melanges I, p. 360.


    AR17mm, 1.19g.
    + RAImVNDVS; beardless bare head right, shorter neck but still crossing the dotted border into the legend field
    + ANTIOCHIЄ; cross pattee.
    Malloy 15; Metcalf (NC 1969) 4; Melanges II (1877) p. 181; Lambros, Melanges I, p. 360.

    Remembered mostly as a warrior prince, Raymond's reign was cut short at the Battle of Inab, where his vastly outnumbered army of knights and infantry was destroyed. Although he could've escaped the battlefield, he preferred to remain with his knights and soldiers and fight to the end. The death of Raymond in 1149 after the fall of Edessa in 1144 and the constant infighting among the crusader leaders marked the downfall of the Second Crusade, and by 1150 the whole campaign proved to be a failure.
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  3. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Very nice! I’ve been wanting to delve in to the Antioch issues more... anyway, here is a ‘pre-Raymond’ Follis, and then a Bohemond III which is clearly following Raymond’s design:

    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

    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
    Curtisimo, Alegandron, BenSi and 7 others like this.
  4. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Antioch had the most plentifull and varied coinage during its period as a Crusader state and the "helmeted knight" denier is probably the best known Crusader coin. The coins of Raymond on the other hand are all at best scarce, if not rare and very rare.
  5. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    I'm currently re-reading volume II of Steven Runciman's A History of the Crusades, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100-1187. If you happen to be interested in this period of Medieval outposts in the Holy Land this is a must series.

    I read the three volumes many years ago and needed a refresher. Raymond figures very large.

    While not a dedicated collector of Crusades numismatics one cannot help becoming somewhat familiar as this was the period when the Byzantine/Roman empire was deleted from the Eastern map and replaced by Crusader and Islamic potentates and princes.
    ancient coin hunter likes this.
  6. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    I am learning regarding this post, can you please post a picture of the most common?
  7. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Regarding the history of the Crusades, I'd recommend an up to date read, like Thomas Asbridge's "The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land" -- which is both remarkably thorough and makes for an exciting read.

    Regarding the common deniers of Antioch, the most common and the most representative for Antioch's zenith as an economic powerhouse is the "helmeted knight" denier of Bohemond III, from the series minted until around 1187/8.

  8. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Thank You, I have seen it before but I could not picture it in my mind, a picture is worth a 1000 words.
    seth77 likes this.
  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    You're welcome!
  10. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    There is also an issue of Bohemond III's "minority" which, aside from the legend, is just about identical to the issues inscribed RAIMVNDVS
    European Rulers of Antioch - Crusader Era
    Bohemond III, (1163-1201 AD.)
    Regency of Constance and Renauld de Chatillon, 1149-1163 AD.
    Billon Denier, minority issue -
    16mm, 0.67g, 4h.
    Obv: + BOAMVNDVS. Long-haired bare head right, crescent on neck.
    Rx: + ANTIOCHIA. Cross pattee, annulet in upper-left quadrant. Slanted A's, no annulets in O's.
    Metcalf 349; CCS 30.
  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    All of the issues minted during the regencies between 1149 and 1163 and possibly after as we don't really know when the denier moved from bare head to helmeted knight were variations to a degree of Raymond's deniers. Some are similar in style others are more schematic and degeneree. This is possibly due to the consecutive issues being further and further away from the original prototype or simply because of different celators with different skills. There are even theories that imply a second mint in the Principality. All of this needs proving though.

    Notice also that besides the obvious differences, the lettering is completely different too. Notice the uncial m on Raymond's coins as opposed to the large and broad M on Bohemond's for instance.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  12. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Those are very nice coins @seth77 and your post was an enjoyable read. Thank you for writing it. The coins of the Crusader states are such an interesting area to collect, and one I would love to devote more time to.

    My favorite coins of the Crusader states are the gros and demi-gros of Bohemond VI and VII from the County of Tripoli. These are not my coins, but indicative of the types I would like to purchase at some point.
    Bohemond VI AR Demi Gros .jpg
    Bohemond VII Gros .png
  13. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I for one am very weary of these large Tripoli denominations, as I have seen many forgeries being offered even by prestigious dealers.
  14. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    All the coins seems to be a part of one hoard . A lot of them have a die much . It’s a very significant find . But very important information is missing. Where, when and how this hoard was discovered. If any another coins was present ? There a few another coins was offered for sale same time, few Bohemond helmet deniers and anonymous Bishops of Valence , but I not sure if they are part of that hoard. On my few inquiries, I got the answer - “ we cannpt help you and please stop writing us.“
    So , here is my coins from this hoard.
    Group picture :)
    FitzNigel, Curtisimo, BenSi and 5 others like this.
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