Italy Monetation Part II

By | February 12, 2022

Passing Salerno to the Normans in 1077, the issues of fullers continued under the new sovereigns, until 1194, with a notable series of ever-different types, perhaps due to renovationes currency and of fiscal origin. Types include frontal and profile busts and heads, fortifications, palm trees and other plants, vegetal and geometric decorative motifs, animals of all kinds: lions, panthers, peacocks, eagles, and perhaps a wild boar, apparently copied from an ancient coin from Paestum, an example among others of the presence of the Ancient in Norman art. Fullers were also issued in Capua and Gaeta depicting fortifications with towers and busts of local saints (11th-12th centuries). The coins of Capua also depict the princes, but not those of Gaeta, for the reasons mentioned by the sources: when in Gaeta the Duke Riccardo di Carinola, in 1123, wanted to issue a type with his own effigy, he unleashed a popular uprising that forced him to withdraw the project and promise that the local currency would remain unchanged; a very precise sign of how the expressive and programmatic potential of money were felt, both by the sovereigns and by the public (Travaini, 1995).The Mint of Mileto, in Calabria, issued for Ruggero I count of Sicily and Calabria (1060-1101) full-scale follari, where the armed count on horseback was represented with great effect, and the figure of Mary seated with the Child in her arms, in original forms, completely detached from Byzantine iconography: coin-symbol of the Normans, crusaders ante litteram for having stolen Sicily from the Arabs. Also the copper coins of Roger II (1105-1154), struck in Messina, and in 1140 the silver ducal of Palermo, offered the field to images that exalted the power of the count then duke and also king of Sicily: the and the attitudes in which the sovereign is portrayed precisely underline his political career and clearly indicate what his self-consciousness was, as the Christian ruler of a trilingual people, who issued coins with legends in Arabic, Greek and Latin. On the Norman copper coins, moreover, local saints were represented, earlier than the coins of the Italy northern, apart from S. Michael on Lombard coins, s. Pietro on the Roman antiquiores and s. Gennaro on copper coins in Naples in the 9th century.The end of the Norman domination and the advent of the Swabians in 1194 brought about an abrupt change in the southern monetary traditions: Henry VI (1190-1197) abolished the copper coins, which had represented until then the liveliest ground for figurative expressions, and imposed as its main currency the deniers of low silver (approx. 25% silver in alloy), similar to those of the North. Swabian money depicts eagles, crosses, busts – the latter only for Frederick II (1220-1250) -, stars and crescents, and most of them are mainly epigraphic. The gold tarì remained in use, coins of Arab origin, which still under Henry VI and Frederick II kept legends in correct Arabic, then gradually deformed into a pseudocufic decoration that is also found in other Norman and Swabian artistic forms. The golden tarì of the Swabians are often characterized by eagles: among these we note a type of Manfredi (1258-1266) with perhaps his diademed bust placed on the body of an eagle (v.), As if rising from the eagle itself (Spahr, 1976, p. 213, no. 184). An authentic novelty was the augustal (v.), Introduced by Frederick II in 1231 and produced in the mints of Brindisi and Messina, with its bust-portrait of classical plasticity, which, however, remained an isolated fact in coinage. northern became iconographically more varied by the end of the 12th century. The introduction of large coins, of almost pure silver, and with a wider field of several millimeters, opened up new possibilities for artistic expression.

According to Holidaysort, the first big one was probably that of Venice, with S. Marco and the doge, and Christ enthroned, soon followed by other big ones of various municipal mints. The saints are often present on the coins of the Italy northern, chosen as representatives of the city identity: in addition to s. Marco, represented in a bust from the century. 11 ° on the money of Venice, the holy bishops played an important part; for example. Ciriaco in Ancona, Gaudenzio in Rimini, Donato in Arezzo, Emidio in Ascoli Piceno were depicted on the ‘big agontani’ of the century. 13 °, issued with such similar characteristics as to suggest an inter-municipal monetary agreement. Other recurring saints are Ambrose in Milan, Petronius in Bologna, Giovanni in Florence and, moreover, the Virgin in Pisa. But not only saints were chosen to represent the city’s identity: Virgil stands out on the coins of the Municipality of Mantua (Corpus Nummorum Italicorum, 1910-1943, IV, p. 221, nr. 1), and Ovid, through the initials of the reverse ” Sulmo mihi patria est “, was the symbol of Sulmona on the coins struck in that mint in the secc. 14 ° -15 ° by Angioini, Durazzeschi and by Carlo VIII. If the medieval coins of the Italian municipalities often present a repetitive and partly monotonous iconography, with immobilization of the types for decades, if not for centuries (e.g. the coins of Genoa, Siena, Florence, Venice), yet it is possible to grasp the innovations of forms and style (for the identification of evolutionary elements in the types of florins of Florence, unchanged from 1252 to 1533: Ives, 1952; Bernocchi, 1974-1985, II). Studying the long series of Venetian duchies, issued from 1284 with the same types until the end of the century. 18 °, one can very well grasp the meaning of those changes, often gradually introduced without personal intervention, the result of the ‘taste’ of new figurative eras that almost imperceptibly changed the hand of the engraver. This is the case of the gradual introduction of Gothic forms in central-northern municipal coins, while in Naples it was the will of Charles I of Anjou (1266-1285) to radically change the local tradition, introducing the lively scene of the Annunciation on the pugs of 1278 (Travaini, 1994). More rarely, finally, the change could also be the work of real artists, as in the case of a rare duchy by Antonio Venier (1382-1400), on which for the first time in the series we can see a portrait intent, with the notation of the beard, an element that must be linked to the presence in the mint of Venice of exceptional engravers such as the brothers Lorenzo and Marco Sesto, authors of ‘proto-medals’, if not of the first Renaissance medals, to be identified in some rare bronzes coined to celebrate the Paduan lords towards the end of the century 14 ° (Stahl, 1993; see Moneta). Among the first coin portraits, after those on the augustal of Frederick II and on the ‘royal’ of Charles I of Anjou, we can remember the one on a silver coin by Pandolfo Malatesta (1404-1421) of the mint of Brescia (Corpus Nummorum Italicorum, 1910-1943, IV, p. 84, no. 11): a still isolated episode, before the fifteenth-century flowering, but which constitutes a clear sign of the now mature environment for the representation of the sovereign in his individual characters, even if idealized. Another element that deserves attention, but still to be deepened in specific studies, is that of the movement of engravers and models from one mint to another in the countless cases of imitations (Gamberini di Scarfea, 1956). Exemplary in this regard is the type of the Virgin enthroned with the Child of the Pisan series, found almost identical on the deniers of Aquileia (Corpus Nummorum Italicorum, 1910-1943, XI, p. 29, nr. 44ss., P. 303, nr. 14ss. .; Bernardi, 1975, pp. 108, nr. 131-132; Travaini, 1983, pp. 42-47).

Italy Monetation 2