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".
Longhorn Coins & Exonumia
- EAC - TNA - SSDC - CCT #890
"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." -- Louis D. Brandeis