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Funky Old Medieval: Tiny Billon Denar Of Stephen II Of Hungary, 1116-1131

 
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 Posted 09/23/2018  11:23 am Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
A unique and rather interesting tiny little coin, 10-11mm and a scant 0.3g. The cracked-off section of rim is not uncommon on these early Hungarian denar, apparently due to the method used to strike the coins.

Stephen II was King of Hungary from 1116-1131 and spent most of his reign waging war campaigns around the region.

Around 1127 he decided to declare war on the Byzantine emperor John II Komnenos in retribution for a violent and unprovoked Byzantine attack against a Hungarian trade caravan and envoys in the Byzantine Serbian city of Branicevo. The vengeful king and his army went through Serbia and into Bulgaria, sacking towns and looting, before retreating back to Hungary. John II Komnenos responded with a counter-attack against the Hungarians and impudent Byzantine Serbs, taking the Hungarian-held cities of Frushka Gora (Frangochoria) and Nova Palanka (Chramon).

A second expedition by Stephen II resulted in the sack of Branicevo; King Stephen had heard that the Byzantine army defending the area was ill-equipped, fatigued and malnourished, and he planned an offensive to recapture the town. Unknown to the King, a spy among Stephen's royal court (possibly a courtesan or the wife of a noble landowner) who was secretly loyal to the Byzantine Empire brought news of the impending attack to John II Komnenos; the Byzantine emperor made haste to withdraw his forces to prevent a rout and slaughter. Supported by Czech soldiers, the town fell to the Hungarians.

After regrouping, a few minor skirmishes ensued, with the Byzantine Emperor regaining the advantage, and John II recaptured Branicevo; a peace treaty was signed between King and Emperor in late 1129. It was less than favorable for the Hungarians, who lost Belgrade, Branicevo, and the wealthy Frushka Gora.

Stephen II's father, the half-blind King Coloman, had wanted to ensure his son's ascent to the Hungarian throne, namely by blinding his own brother (Almos) and his brother's son (Bela), both of whom were imprisoned and later exiled from Hungary after numerous attempts to overthrow Coloman. After Stephen's death in 1131, and by Stephen's own request, Bela was crowned King of Hungary as Bela II, known as "The Blind".

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 Posted 09/23/2018  11:36 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add EddieDiz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
These "rims" can frequently be partially missing. This one has nice details other than that. I have several from Stephen II,but not this one.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  2:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good write-up and really nice coin, Adam. I like the type. I've spent quite a bit of time in Quadran's Hungarian galleries over at Forum, especially those devoted to the Árpád Dynasty. The designs of these coins are so bold and decorative - very appealing.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  3:03 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Excellent write-up and nice coin.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  6:10 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks all!

It's a nice change from the usual "cross/bust", "cross/arms" or "two crosses" motifs that seemed to dominate European and English coinage at the time.

Hungarian coinage output from Stephen I through Coloman (early Árpád) is somewhat meager, but from Stephen II and Bela onward it really takes off -- the 9 Kings of Hungary before him can have their entire numismatic history detailed in 40-50 or so catalog entries, whereas Stephen II has 20+ entries just for coins from his reign.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  6:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add orfew to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
An interesting coin. I really like these Hungarian dinars. I may have to pick up one or two.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  7:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Super pick-up! I really like the triaxial symmetry on the obv.
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 Posted 09/23/2018  9:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I love these geometric, anepigraphic Hungarian types! I've never seen a straightforward answer though... how were these ever attributed?
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 Posted 09/23/2018  9:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It's a nice change from the usual "cross/bust", "cross/arms" or "two crosses" motifs that seemed to dominate European and English coinage at the time.


We can add "bust/church" for the episcopal centers of the Germanic world.

The comment has been made elsewhere that Hungarian coinage in this era really distinguished itself by its craftsmanship. The comparison with the examples on the thread on medieval Polish coins is duly noted and very educational!
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 Posted 09/23/2018  9:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Kushanshah to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I've never seen a straightforward answer though... how were these ever attributed?

Some attributions are far from certain. Different students can and do reach differing conclusions from the same evidence. Even coins with names are attributed differently by different authors and opinions change.

Take the common scyphate coppers of Hungary inscribed REX BELA / REX STS. Everyone agrees that STS is an abbreviation for STephanuS (Stephen) but which Bela and which Stephanus? Early writers such as Engel & Serrure regarded these coins as an issue of Bela IV with Stephen V, the only co-regents of Hungary with those names. Huszár's popular reference attributes the same issue to Bela III. Rčthy & Probst assign the type to Stephen IV.

As an eminent numismatist once said to me, "We're not just plugging Lincoln pennies into a folder"! Part of the lure of ancient and medieval coins is that much is yet to be learned.
Edited by Kushanshah
09/23/2018 10:04 pm
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