Featured The petty currency of the Crusader County of Tripoli by the mid 13th century

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by seth77, Oct 26, 2020.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    This small currency of the County of Tripoli was used towards the end of Christian rule on the mainland coast of the Eastern Levant. It is comprised of a small module lightweight silver billon denier and a copper fraction, or pougeoise:

    Bohemond V of Antioch (1233-1252) and later
    AE15/16mm, 0.51g, billon denier minted at Tripoli, cca. 1235/1240-1250s and later.
    + CIVITAS TRIPOL; eight-pointed star, annulets between the rays.
    + BAMVND' COMS; cross pattee 3 pellets in the 2nd quarter
    Malloy 19, Sabine Type 5, Metcalf 549.

    Bohemond V of Antioch (1233-1252) and later
    AE19x15mm, 0.66g, copper pougeoise, minted at Tripoli, after 1235/1240.
    + TRIPOLIS; Genoese tower or gateway, three crenelations.
    + CIVITAS; cross pommetee; pellet in circle at centre, pellets in each quarter
    Malloy 21, Sabine 308-31 (Type 6).
    ex-TimeLine Auctions

    Malloy in CCS followed Sabine and Schlumberger and dated the deniers after 1230 and before 1235, a dating based on the Hoard of Djebail (discovered near Tripoli in 1907, Malloy p. 163). But according to newer studies, this dating is too early and the Type 5 deniers should have a terminus post quem of at least 1240 (Marcus Phillips - A Late Hoard of Crusader and French billon pennies from Syria, 2004, NC) or even around 1250, being the last billon coinage to be minted at Tripoli and probably immobilized through the reigns of Bohemond VI and VII. They are also quite numerous, surpassing in numbers Types 3 and 4, which might again hint to a longer minting period.

    In the Venetian merchant book known as Zibaldone da Canal there is a reference from the 1270s or 1280s to the grosso di Tripoli, valuing this denomination at 14 precisi or 28 rialli: terms most likely used by the Venetians to refer to the local billon denier and its half, the pougeoise. This means that these small currencies were still in use as late as at least 1270 so very likely still being minted around the same period (Phillips, p. 302).

    The pougeoise is part of the last type of the so-called "castle coppers", minted anonymously starting with the reign of Bohemond V. They are probably the rialli referred to in Zibaldone da Canal, circulating as petty currency alongside the denier up to around 1270s or 1280s. The design showing the Genoese gate or tower is consistent with a larger trend taking place in the Mediterranean manifesting itself from around the mid 13th century, certainly under the influence of the expanding power and presence of the Genoese maritime empire.

    The conspicuous difference in the legends of these contemporaneous coinages, with the silver issues bearing the names of the hereditary counts while the coppers remained anonymous but bearing the Genoese symbolic tower or gate, might be an indication of different minting authorities -- the feudal authority striking in silver while the coppers were left to the Genoese interests in the city, to be minted at their free will or under a mutual understanding with the lord, and to be used for and by the citizens in the markets of the city.

    These fractions were probably minted and in use around the same time as the Antioch late pougeoise, which in turn bears the name of Bohemond, but the Tripolitanian coppers are much scarcer, perhaps adding more hints regarding their condition as Genoese money rather than the coinage of the count.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Fantastic writeup and coins, @seth77. Great to see you resurfacing, after a minute!
    Nearest I've got to these, besides a Tripoli denier of Raymond V which has been through the wars, at least metaphorically, start with an earlier pougeoise, of Raymond III. Nearly identical motifs and legends to your example; Malloy (p. 171: 12), who dates it to c. 1173-1187.

    And a pougeoise of Bohemond IV (late period, c. 1210-1216 or later), this time from Antioch (Malloy 92).
    ...On a purely subjective level, I do start to lose interest after Prince Edward's crusade of 1270. Given which, in the case of anything 13th-century, up to that point, surviving examples elicit keen interest. ...For the Crusade period, my center of gravity is around the 5th, and the era of Jean de Brienne. Already later than some people's, but your ability to forge ahead from that point is, reiterative but true, nothing less than admirable.
  4. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    These Tripoli "campgates" are some of my favorite Crusader coins. I have posted a thread about them here: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/raymond-iii-of-tripoli-and-the-crusader-campgate.330505/

    And your Antioch Bohemond IV pougeoise from the 1210s is also interesting, as it's of a distinctive thin and ragged style, something that makes me wonder if it shouldn't actually be earlier from the first part of the 1200s, contemporary with the "irregular types" of helmeted knight deniers of early first reign of Bohemond IV.

    This is ex-FORVM


    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... you've given me something new to think about. ...And with the news, who doesn't need some of that? Cordial thnks. ...Now that I've fallen into a copy of Malloy (still recently; complementing more xeroxes of Metcalf, 2nd ed., than are easy to navigate, even with stapling of different sections), it really warrants more perusal than I've given it.
  6. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Another pougeoise of Tripoli under Bohemond V of Antioch that could date as early as 1240:

    bohemond tripoli.JPG

    AE16mm, 1g, copper pougeoise, minted at Tripoli, after 1235-1240.
    + CIVITAS; cross pommetee; pellet in circle at centre, pellets in each quarter
    + TRIPOLIS; Genoese tower or gateway, three crenellations.
    Malloy 21, Sabine 308-31 (Type 6)
  7. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    More Bohemond V of Antioch:


    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    "And your Antioch Bohemond IV pougeoise from the 1210s is also interesting, as it's of a distinctive thin and ragged style, something that makes me wonder if it shouldn't actually be earlier from the first part of the 1200s, contemporary with the "irregular types" of helmeted knight deniers of early first reign of Bohemond IV."

    ... @seth77, Well, except that, in any historical context that involves this level of, may we say, structural instability, if you posit too close a correspondence between style and execution on one hand, and (earlier) chronology on the other, you're already going into the deep end of the pool. As your latest example demonstrates (along with that much of the French feudal series --cf. the term 'dégénérée,' and so forth), crudeness of style is a notoriously unreliable indication of a given issue's place in the operant series. ...Frequently enough, cruder examples are later, not earlier.
    ...As I have occasion to observe, looking out the window at the homeless people in my neighborhood, It's War, And There Are Casualties.
    ...No, I'm going somewhere with this. The same essential principle allows of easy extension to Crusader issues. --By way of contrast, it really takes a sufficiently stable context, like Roman (imperial and provincial), to give you the breathing room to begin to establish less ambiguous correspondences between style and execution, on one hand, and chronology on the other. ...The Franks in the Levant had 4-alarm fires going off for the duration of their regime. Stuff happened.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
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  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I would normally agree with you regarding the devolution of style and possibly fabric in time, but at least in this case I have not seen any reference to push this type later than the first reign of Bohemond IV. As I look at it, I too consider it of low enough quality to be put around 1250 or so, especially looking at that wire border between legend an mid field. Your specimen is the same story.

    On the other hand, the early part of the 13th century was marked by the War of the Antiochene Succession, in which Antioch itself was hard-pressed to recognize between the de facto ruler and the Frankish-Armenian faction of the extended "family." And the style and craftsmanship of the early Roupen coinage was lacking also.
  10. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Right. But for anything but the broadest narrative outline, from extant primary sources, we simply can't second-guess the sordid details of what was happening in real time.
  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Here are the later types on polygonal flans, typical for the 1240s, which I'd say are of better style and workmanship than what is assigned to the period between 1201 and 1216.



    Check out the wired border.
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