Featured Unusual and Pretty: A Coin of the Knights Hospitaller

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    The latest larger addition to my collection is something you don’t see everyday here on CoinTalk: a medieval gigliato struck by the Knights Hospitaller, a military order originally founded in 1099 in the context of the First Crusade:

    MA – Kreuzfahrer, Johanniter auf Rhodos, Raymond Berenger, Gigliato (neues Foto).png
    Knights Hospitaller (Order of St. John) at Rhodes, under Raymond Bérenger, AR Gigliato, 1365-1374. Obv: + F RAIMUNDVS BERENGERII D GRA M; Grand Master, wearing cloak with cross on shoulder, kneeling l. in prayer before patriarchal cross set on steps; arms of Raymond Bérenger to r. Rev: + OSPITAL ♣ S • IOhS • IRLNI : QTS • RODI •; cross fleury with arms of the Knights Hospitaller at the end of each arm. 28 mm, 3.64g. Ref: Metcalf 1208–1210; CCS 22.

    The History:
    After loosing their last foothold in the Holy Land with the Fall of Acre in 1291, the Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Order of St. John, first moved their base of operations to Cyprus. Yet, their position in Cyprus, where they had to depend on the goodwill of the Lusignan ruler and financial support from Europe, was rather difficult. The Order thus sought to found a territorial dominion of its own. In 1306–1310, the Knights Hospitaller invaded and conquered the island of Rhodes, which previously had been under Byzantine rule. At Rhodes, they established a de facto sovereign Crusader state which lasted until the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1522 and the subsequent withdrawal of the Knights Hospitaller to Malta.

    Under Grand Master Foulques de Villaret (r. 1305–1319), the Order first began to experiment with striking coins, shortly after their arrival at Rhodes. Foulques’ successor Hélion de Villeneuve (r. 1319–1346) introduced the large gigliato, which soon became the most important coin of the Order of St. John.

    The Obverse:
    On the obverse, we see the Grand Master kneeling in prayer in front of a patriarchal cross. This design derives from the obverse of the personal seals used by the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John. Below are the seals of Raymond du Puy (Grand Master, c. 1121–1160) and Garnier de Naplouse (Grand Master, c. 1189–1192), which testify to the use of this image by the Order almost two centuries before it appeared on coins:
    Bildschirmfoto 2020-08-04 um 15.15.23.png
    (Image sources here and here)

    The legend on my coin translates as “Brother Raymond Bérenger, Grand Master by the Grace of God.” Notable details added to the earlier sphragistic design include the small personal coat of arms of Raymond Bérenger in the right field, as well as the detailed depiction of the knightly cloak with the cross on the shoulder, which emphasizes Raymond’s status as cruce signatus.

    The Reverse:
    The reverse of my coin essentially copies the gigliati of the Kingdom of Naples first struck under Charles II in 1303 AD. Here is an example of a Neapolitan gigliato issued by Charles' son Robert “the Wise” a few years later:

    MA – Italien, Neapel, Robert der Weise (neu).png
    Kingdom of Naples, under Robert "the Wise" of Anjou, AR gigliato, 1309–1317. Naples mint (?). Obv: +ROBERT DEI GRA IERL ET SICIL REX; Robert sitting facing on lion throne, holding lily scepter and globus cruciger. Rev: + hOnOR. REGIS. IUDICIU. DILIGIT; floral cross, lilies in quadrants. 28mm, 3.93g. Ref: MIR Napoli 28.

    The Knights Hospitaller kept the general reverse design but replaced the Anjou fleurs-de-lis of the Neapolitan gigliato with four shields of the Order of St. John. Instead of the Biblical quote from Psalm 98:4, they added a strongly abbreviated legend translating as “The Hospital of St. John at Jerusalem, Convent of Rhodes.”

    The Denomination:
    In the early 14th century, the Neapolitan gigliato was an important trade coin in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was copied by different authorities including the Knights Hospitaller, the Genoese at Chios, and even some Muslim princes (see Schlumberger 1878, pp. 478–490). Henry II, the exiled Lusignan king of Jerusalem residing at Rhodes, also struck comparable large silver coins in the gros tradition. Schlumberger called their design “une imitation évidente des gigliati napolitains” (Schlumberger 1878, p. 192). The Knights Hospitaller probably encountered Henry's coins and recognized their value for trade during the short residency of the Order on Cyprus:

    MA – Kreuzfahrer, Zypern, Heinrich II, Gros grand, CCS 52.png
    Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus, under Henry II, AR gros grand (second series 1b), 1285-1324 AD (probably struck after 1310 AD), Famagusta (?) mint. + hЄnRI RЄI DЄ (triple pellet stops), Henry seated facing on throne decorated with lions, holding lis-tipped scepter and orb. Rev: + IЄRuSAL'M Є DЄ ChIPR; Jersualem cross. 26.5mm, 4.50g. Ref: Metcalf; The Gros grand and the Gros petit of Henry II of Cyprus, part 2 (1983), no. 279–280; CCS 52. Ex Künker.

    Generally speaking, the Neapolitan gigliato and its imitations in turn derived from the French gros tournois, a coin struck from fine silver and worth twelve deniers. First introduced in 1266, the gros tournois met the need for a reliable and large denomination created by the increased volume of supraregional trade, and constituted an attractive alternative to the smaller Venetian grosso that fulfilled a similar function especially in the Alpine-Adriatic regions. It inspired different similar large medieval silver coins, including the gigliato, the English groat, and different German Groschen. Here is an example of a gros tournois from my collection, issued by the French king Philippe IV, who is most famous for suppressing the Knights Templar and executing their last Master:

    MA – Frankreich, Philipp IV. der Schöne, Turnose, 1285–1314 n. Chr., Duplessy 213.png
    Kingdom of France, under Philippe IV "le Bel" ("the Fair"), AR Gros Tournois à l’O Rond, 1285–1314 AD (struck 1295–1314 AD), Tours mint. Obv: +BHDICTV SIT HOME DHI nRI DEI IhV XPI/+ PhILIPPVS REX, cross pattée; 3-pellet stops. Rev: +TVRONVS°CIVIS, châtel tournois; border of twelve lis. 26mm, 3.93g. Ref: Duplessy 213. Ex Knopik.

    Please post your gigliati, coins in the gros tradition, or crusader coins!
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  3. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    A French gros from Louis XI, the "Spider King" of France (AD 1461-1483), who kept wild turkeys as pets:


    France Louis XI Gros de Roi
    Silver, 30 mm, 3.27 gm, Lyon Mint
    Three fleur-de-lis
    Cross fleur-de-lis

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  4. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    VERY nice, @Orielensis ! Thanks for the explanations, and great coin examples!

    I believe I have their descendants from Malta:

    Malta Order of Knights of St John 1780 AE 5 Grani - Malta mint

    Malta Order of Knights of St John 1786 AE 10 Grani - Turino mint

    Malta Order of Knights of St John 1780 AE 1 Grani - Turino mint
    Curtisimo, Ryro, TheRed and 4 others like this.
  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Pretty cool coins all!
  6. AnYangMan

    AnYangMan Well-Known Member

    Simply fantastic @Orielensis ! An amazing find with an equally entertaining write-up. One of these gigliato has been on my wantlist for forever, but this topic made it jump a fair few places ahead! Thanks for that :shifty:, there goes my budget again...

    How about a coin from another Medieval Order to compliment yours? Grandmaster Wynrich Von Kniprode (1351-1382) of the Teutonic order was a contemporary of Bérenger, although located across Europe in Prussia! Not a gros sadly, but a somewhat related Schilling.

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  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ...Louie the eleventh?!?...oh lordie..now there's another i gotta get:rolleyes: (for my Louies de France collection:D)
    Alegandron likes this.
  8. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist

    Lovely write-up! I don’t have any gigliati, but have been meaning to bid on some of the Neapolitan one which seem to be available in abundance lately. I did recently pick up this crusader issue though:
    Med-16-CrAnt-1112-Roger of Salerno-Fol-Antioch-9.jpg Crusader - Antioch
    Roger of Salerno, Regent, r. 1112-1119
    AR Follis, 21.26 mm x 4.2 grams
    Obv.: OA (in monogram) - ΓεωΡ (St. George). St. George, nimbate, riding on horseback r., spearing dragon below
    Rev.: + / POTZP / ΠPIΓKΠ / ANT (Roger prince of Antioch). Legend in three lines
    Ref.: Malloy Antioch 9; De Wit 4083
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  9. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Great coin, @Orielensis. I've been wanting a gigliato for a while.

    Here are a few Crusader-era and gros coins.

    Sicily (Norman Kings): gold tari of Guglielmo I ("William the Bad"), ca. 1154-1166 AD

    Crusader States (Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus): silver gros petit of Henry II, ca. 1285-1324


    Italy (Venice): silver grosso of Antonio Venier, ca. 1382-1400

    France (Metz, Free Imperial City): silver gros, civic issue, ca. 1406-1588

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  10. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for the kind words and for showing your coins, everyone!

    @lordmarcovan , I very much like your Norman tari! Gold coins are usually out of my league, but I very much like this denomination and its history. Thus I have made it a habit to submit comparatively low bids on pretty much all reasonably attractive Sicilian tari that come up for auction on Biddrs – so far it hasn't worked, but if it will, you'll hear about it on this board.

    @Roerbakmix , that is an extremely attractive schilling. The coinage of the Teutonic Order is among my numismatic interests, too, though my collection and knowledge in this field are not as developed as I would like them to be. Here are some examples to complement your coin:

    MA – Deutschland etc., Deutscher Orden, Brakteat, Schild mit drei Kugeln, Waschinski 80b.png
    Teutonic Order, anonymous issue, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1290–1410, unknown mint. Obv: shield of the Teutonic Order, three pellets above. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 14mm, 0.17g. Ref: Waschinski 80b; Eggert 12a.

    MA – Deutschland etc., Deutscher Orden, Brakteat, Kreuz mit Sternen, Waschinski 158.png
    Teutonic Order, anonymous issue, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1290–1410, unknown mint. Obv: Latin cross flanked by two saltires. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 15mm, 0.15g. Ref: Waschinski 158. Ex Raffler.

    MA – Deutschland etc., Deutscher Orden, Wynrich von Knyprode.png
    Teutonic Order, under Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode, AR shilling,1351–1382, Thorn or Danzig mint (?). Obv: + MAGST WVNRICS PRIMS; eagle shield of the Grand Master. Rev: + MONETA DNORVM PRUCI; shield of the Teutonic Order. 21mm, 1.64g. Ref: Neumann 4. Ex FSR 111, lot 421.

    MA – Deutschland etc., Deutscher Orden, Schilling, Conrad V von Ehrlichshausen.png
    Teutonic Order, under Grand Master Conrad V von Erlichshausen, AR schilling,1441–1449, Thorn mint (?). Obv: + MAGST CORADVS QVIN; eagle shield of the Grand Master on long cross. Rev: + MONETA DNORVM PRUs; shield of the Teutonic Order on long cross. 20.5mm, 1.48g. Ref: Neumann 23.
  11. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    CRUSADERS. Rhodes. Grandmasters of the Order of St. John. Raymond Bérenger. 1365-1374. Undated. AR Gigliato (3.84 gm). Obv: Grandmaster kneeling before cross. Rev: Floreate cross. Metcalf LE 1208ff.
  12. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Rhodes, Order of St John, Dieudonné de Gozon (1346-53), Gigliato, AR (28mm, 3.79 gm, 6h). Obv: +FR: DEODAT: D: GOSONO: DI: GRAMR, Grandmaster kneeling left before cross, head facing. Rev: +:OSPITAL: S: IOHIS: IRINI: QT: RODI, cross fleury with shield at end of each arm (Metcalf 1191-92; Schl. IX, 19).
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  13. OutsiderSubtype

    OutsiderSubtype Well-Known Member

    I really like the obverse of the kneeling Grandmaster.

    It seems much more artistically creative and interesting than the facing obverse portraits on many medieval coins.

    I think there's a bit of angle and perspective there. This is about the time period when use of perspective was starting to become more sophisticated again.
    Orielensis likes this.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status

    That's a real beauty and fun write up on a very interesting piece of history.
    Here's my only hospitaler coin:
    Knights of St. John of Malta (Hospitalers). Alois de Wignacourt, 1601-1622 AD. Æ 3 Piccioli. 3 with legend around / Arms. RS.49v. VF, green patina
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  15. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Here's a "Crusaders" coin I could use some help on. My description is a guess:
    CRUSADERS, Principality of Achaea, Thebes mint? Ruler not legible. (Guillaume II de Villehardouin. 1246-1278?). Billon Denier
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  16. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist

    The Tari are difficult to find at a reasonable price that have visible legends around the outside. Mine was a lucky find at a coin show for about $200, but not much of the legends can be seen:

    Med-14-ISic-1140-Roger II-Tar-Palermo-202.jpg Norman Italy - Sicily
    Roger II, r. 1130-1154 (1140-1154)
    Palermo mint, AV Taris, 12.66 mm x 1.1 grams
    Obv.: Outer Cufic legend denoting date and mint, inner Cufic legend al-malik Rujar al-mu’tazz bi-llah, pellet in center of dotted circle
    Rev.: Outer cufic legend denoting date and mint, in center, cross potent on shaft with pellet between IC XC NI KA
    Ref.: NCKS 240, MEC 14.202, De Wit 3796

    I wonder if there is a way to determine the date of these coins with incomplete legends, but still portions of it visible. Another project to someday tackle...
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  17. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Another great tari in this thread, @FitzNigel ! Also, you got it at a fair price – I am very jealous...

    That looks like something @seth77 could maybe help with?

    Personally, I unfortunately know next to nothing about the coinage of Greece under Frankish rule. My only example of the Greek denier tournois type is probably the most common and thus was easy to attribute:

    MA – Kreuzfahrer, Achaea, Philipp von Tarent.png
    Principality of Achaea, Philip I of Taranto, BI/AR denier, 1307–1313, Glarentza mint. Obv: + PhS.P.ACh.TAR DR.; cross pattée. Rev: + DE CLARENCIA; chatel tournois. 17mm, 0.59g. Ref: CCS 25.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
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  18. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Depending on weight and alloy, this is either a denier tournois of Giovanni II Orsini as Despot of Arta from around 1325 or a "local" Albanian or southern Bulgarian variation of said type.

    Obv (cross side) should read (if you rotate the image 90 degrees to the right) + [IOHS DE]S'POTVS and rev reads + DE' ARTA' CASTRV. If it is a local variation of the Arta tornese, it dates up to around the first part of the reign of Stephan Dusan as emperor ca. 1346-1350.
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  19. MREE

    MREE New Member

    M0064 Metz - Robert 755.jpg Ok - posting a French gros image - Metz city coinage, after 1380. The greatest aspect of this issue, other than the consistent striking quality, is the presence of the faces in the letters "O" on the obverse. Similar engraver "signature" can be found on gros issues of Josse of Moravia with faces in the letters "O" and "M".
  20. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    I just picked this one up that is similar (but inferior) to the op. Mostly added for the historical significance.


    Philibert of Naillac, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalers. Obverse, the bearded Grand Master, wearing robe, kneeling before cross. Reverse, Cross-crosslet. Obverse well struck at center, though most of the legend is weak; reverse fairly sharp and centered.
  21. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Antioch, Bohemond III (1163-1201), denier. AR 18 mm, 0.92 g, 3 h.
    Obv. +BOAMVNDVS, mailed and helmeted bust of Bohemond left, cross on helmet, between crescent and star.
    Rev. +ANTIOCHIA, large cross pattée, crescent in upper right quarter
    Metcalf, Crusades 380.
    antioche bohémond.jpg
    (sorry, I just took the picture my my smartphone)

    This coin is very common but I like it because it is minted in Syria and displays the traditional image of the crusader, with his chainmail and nasal helmet marked with the cross.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2021
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