The Origins of Quarantine and a Contemporaneous Coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Medieval Croatia
    Republic of Ragusa
    Anonymous AR Dinar, Dubrovnik mint, struck ca. AD 1337-1438
    Dia.: 18 mm
    Wt.: 1.11 g
    Obv.: St. Blaise standing facing, holding cozier and raising hand in benediction
    Rev.: IC – XC; Christ Pantokrator standing facing with mandorla
    Ref.: D&D 6.4.1

    I've had this coin since 2018 but with both new coin purchases and trips falling victim to the year 2020 I figured now is a good time to give this coin its own thread and to share some photos of my previous trip to the beautiful city of Dubrovnik (medieval Ragusa).

    Republic of Ragusa
    Ragusa (today Dubrovnik) was founded by Roman refugees fleeing from the incursions of the Slavs and Alans into Dalmatia in late antiquity. The city would eventually develop into a prosperous aristocratic maritime state whose wealth was based on trade. The city would survive as a republic until 1808 when it was conquered by Napoleon's army.

    One interesting fact about Ragusa that resonates with current world events is that it is usually given credit for having "invented" the legal concept of a quarantine. In a law dated to 1377 all ships and caravans coming from stipulated areas had to isolate at specified locations for 30 days (trentine). The number was later changed to 40 days which is where the word quarantine /quarantino comes from. This concept seems to have developed from lessons the city learned fighting the Black Death in the mid 1300s.

    The building along the waterfront to the left was a "Lazaretto" built to isolate people with illness and was built ca. 1590 to replace older buildings that had been serving that purpose since before the Black Death.

    Ragusa / Dubrovnik is famous for its extensive and completely intact medieval walls. You may also recognize it from Game of Thrones where it was used to represent King's Landing. It is probably the most beautiful city I have ever been to.

    The entrance staircase to reach the top of the walls. Today you can walk the entire circuit of the walls which is an amazing experience.

    Ragusa derived its wealth from trade. I took the picture from the hills east of the city along the coast and you can clearly see the city's main fortified port. I got to use this port to catch a boat the the nearby island of Lokram.

    A view of Dubrovnik from on top of the walls. You can see the island of Lokram in the background. Richard the Lionheart was said to have shipwrecked on the island on his way home from Crusade.

    If you get thirsty from exploring the city you can crawl through a hole in the wall and have a drink at one of the most unique bars I've ever been to.

    Coins of Ragusa
    Ragusa used the still circulating late Roman bronze coins long after the western empire fell. Its first locally struck coins were crude imitations of the late Roman types. Staring in the 1300s the city began striking coins in silver with a St. Blaise / Christ Pantokrator design.

    St. Blaise (d. ca. AD 316) was regarded as the protector of the city. Legend claims he appeared to warn the city of a surprise attack from Venice in AD 971. He was said to have appeared to a priest of the city as an old man with a long white beard, holding a Bishops mitre and staff.

    From left to right: Sculpture of St. Blaise ca. 1465 holding the city of Ragusa in his left hand. Painting showing St. Blaise holding a bishops mitre and staff. St. Blaise on the coins of Ragusa. St. Blaise holding the city and mitre, ca. 1431-1453.

    St. Blaise Cathedral

    The Rectors Palace: This is where the coins of Ragusa were struck. Unfortunately my OP coin is too old to have been struck in this building as it dates to after a fire in AD 1435. It is not known where the mint was housed before it moved into this building.

    Well that is it. Even if you don't have a coin from Ragusa please feel free to post some related coins. Perhaps medieval coins dating to around the time of the great plague or from the eastern Mediterranean.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2020
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  3. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Staggering coin... and write up!:artist::cigar:
    Great stuff @Curtisimo:wideyed:
    Thanks so much for sharing. Just in awe...
    Since, I've nothing in this area, though do have several reminders of what happened when we didn't worship the old gods:depressed:, here's some fun!
    You better have offered your lambs bones to this little creeper so he would keep you healthy:
    Of course the god of health Asklepios would keep you in good health:
    Mysia (van Alfen type 2) Kingdom of Pergamon
    282-263 BC Bronze, with countermark: owl. Head of Athena with Attic Helmet / Serpent of Asclepius. SNG BN 1650 ff. 2.99 g .; Nice
    Secret Saturlanlia gift

    SICILY. Syracuse.
    Ae (Late 2nd-early 1st century BC).
    Obv: Laureate head of Asklepios right.
    Staff entwined with serpent.
    HGC 2, 1529.
    Condition: Very fine.
    Weight: 2.13 g.
    Diameter: 13 mm.

    And then, a very modern concept, but a great excuse to share a bunch of Macedonian shields, the caduceus.
    "In 1902 the US Army Medical Corp adopted the caduceus as their symbol. The reason isn't clear as the American Medical Association, Royal Army Medical Corp and the French Military Service all would happily adopt the staff of Asclepius."
    IMG_5822.jpg IMG_3247.jpg 20190503_142335_3D152D27-EA49-48FC-862D-7B24EA1C39E5-489-000000ADF1F19056(1).png 20190610_144900_B90B850C-CBDF-4A6A-B87F-D4B0B316312C-2352-000002BDE296A928(1).png 20200229_150121_IMG_4415.JPG share4555472243834321294.png
    galba68, +VGO.DVCKS, thejewk and 11 others like this.
  4. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks Ryan! Great group of coins there. I especially like the Asklepios.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Ryro like this.
  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    While I have no relevant coin to add, a great post @Curtisimo! Thanks for the interesting coin, write-up and photos! Wouldn't mind a drink at that hole-in-the-wall :)
    +VGO.DVCKS and Curtisimo like this.
  6. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..kool story & coins @Curtisimo !...good 2 C ya again :)
    Curtisimo likes this.
  7. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    No coins from Ragusa, but I've been to Dubrovnik.

    Pretty neat place.
  8. Robidoux Pass

    Robidoux Pass Well-Known Member

    Wow! Great writeup, Curtisimo. It brings back poignant memories as I've been to Dubrovnik twice. The second time was last year. The first time, in 1985, was a little more exciting as a week before our departure I changed our itinerary of Egypt back to the States to surprise my wife whose heritage is half Croatian and thus a surprise visit to Dubrovnik. By changing our itinerary from T.W.A. to the Yugoslav airline JAT, I ended up taking us off the T.W.A flight between Athens and Rome piloted by Cpt. Testrake which was the well-known flight that was hi-jacked and traveled back and forth between Algiers and Beiruit for about 17 days. But that's another story.

    I especially appreciated your information on the quarantine. Quarantines in the Mediterranean area are something I've been studying. I'm going to have to research the info you provided on Dubrovnik. I'll be looking more into it. Thanks for sharing.

    I truly enjoy medieval walled cities such as Dubrovnik. Others worth visiting are Lucca, Italy and also Budva and Kotor in Montenegro.
  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A most informative write-up.

    Not ancient, or medieval, but I think this might be about the last of the coins issued from Ragusa, in 1793. It is a big thaler-sized chunk of silver I found on eBay in the jewelry section a few years back (some interesting coins turn up there from time to time, but holed or mounted). It is a "2 Ducati = 4/3 Tallero (4/3)", according to Numista:

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that this was Ragusa's attempt to imitate the Maria Theresa thaler of that era.

    Ragusa - 1793 2 ducati (0).jpg
    +VGO.DVCKS, thejewk, Edessa and 6 others like this.
  10. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Great write up! Dubrovnik has been on my travel list for a while now. It is quite easy and cheap to get to from the UK, so I should have visited it by now, but I always ended up somewhere else... Now who knows when we will be able to travel like we used to before the current situation. I have a plague coin to show, as it was minted just the year before people realized there was a plague on. And that one was a properly devastating plague that makes coronavirus look like the common cold in comparison. It is a follis from Justinian, and the plague has gone down in history as 'Justinian's plague'.

    +VGO.DVCKS, thejewk, Edessa and 7 others like this.
  11. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That is a great coin @Curtisimo and a really enjoyable post to read. The bar on the outside of the city wall looks like a fun place to drink a beer. Talk about an unbeatable view. I've always want to see the city, but never had the chance.

    While I don't have any coins of the Republic of Ragusa, I do have one that is similar. It is a grosso, also called an Agontano, of the maritime Republic of Ancona. The city, which is situated on the Adriatic coast of Italy, was a rival of Venice and had trade connections all over the Mediterranean world. The grosso features the patron saint of the city, Saint Cyriacus.
  12. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks @Sulla80 ! That bar was a really neat experience. You can’t see it in the picture but there was a place you could climb down the rocks and swim in the sea to work off the caleries from your beer and wine. It was good times.

    Thank you for the kind words, my friend.
    +VGO.DVCKS, DonnaML and ominus1 like this.
  13. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Great photos! You really get a sense for how the city is situated from that second one. As I said above I think Dubrovnik is the most beautiful city I’ve been to and Croatia is probably my favorite vacation spot I’ve been to as well.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Herodotus like this.
  14. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    A later type:
    Croatia. Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Taler. 1747. AR (44mm; 28.55 gm, 11h). Obv: Bust of Rector, left. Rev: Crowned coat of arms on scepter and sword. Dav. 1637; Mimica 956. Uncleaned; as found.
  15. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    WOW Curtis absolutely fantastic coin and your holiday pics are a treasure in themselves. Definitely on my bucket list of places to visit.....if where ever allowed to. :rolleyes:
    Curtisimo likes this.
  16. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    At the height of the Black Death in Italy, Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop and Lord of Milano minted these coins after the death of his brother Luchino (1349):


    Under the Visconti brothers, Milano had one of the strictest and most ruthless anti-pandemic measures to be imposed on any medieval city against the Black Death.
  17. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Wow, that sounds like going to Dubrovnik was a the right choice for you in more than one way. Scary, close call though.

    Also, I completely agree with your recommendation of Kotor and Budva. I have also been fortunate enough to have visited Montenegro in the past and was particularly impressed with Kotor. I had to insist on hiking all the way up to the Venetian fortifications overlooking the city in the heat of summer to get a better view. Totally worth it.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2020
  18. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thank you sir! Nice coin of Ragusa as well. I have also considered buying one of these later silver coins. They are large diameter and a cool reminder of just how long this little republic manage to survive and thrive.

    Excellent plague coin addition. I recently listened to a lecture series on the Black Death on audible from Prof. Dorsey Armstrong that talks about both the medieval plague and touches a bit on the Plague of Justinian. I highly recommend the series. Great coin.
  19. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    A great medieval coin @TheRed . Thank you for sharing. You are also right about the similarities between the two cities. You could almost swap their basic biographies.

    Nice! That is a big medallion of a coin.
    +VGO.DVCKS and TheRed like this.
  20. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks AA. I can’t recommend Croatia strongly enough for anyone who likes history. It has everything from Greek and Roman to Medieval and modern sites to visit.

    Great coin Seth! I knew you would have some cool coins to share. I just finished an audible series on the Black Death and they talked a lot about the Visconti and Milan’s successes in combating the first wave.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  21. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Well as the bay of Kotor has been mentioned twice already in this thread, I can't resist adding a pic of a flintlock pistol from my antique arms collection that was most likely manufactured there:

    kotorflint (2).jpg

    This was most likely originally an ottoman pistol as evident from the Islamic calligraphy on the barrel. In the start of the 1800s there were a lot of skirmishes and mini rebellions against the Turks in the region, so it is quite likely that this was a captured pistol that was redecorated in the typical Kotor style for the Greek market of the era. The Balkan regions of Kotor, Prizren in Kosovo, and Ioannina in Greece were quite famous for the silver-ornate pistols that they produced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Unfortunately this is not silver, but white metal, so a poor man's version. The carbine in the background is a dutch snaphaunce lock that dates from the 16th century and was originally a wheellock.
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