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Carolingian Deniers and Obols

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Charlemagne Denier

King of the Franks 768-814

Emperor 800-814

 

Class 2 Denier, 771 - 793/4

MEC 730, Depreyot 7

 

909288.jpg

 

A Carolingian type collection covers the rise of the silver penny and its dominance over the former gold standard of the Dark Ages. The Carolingian Dynasty begins with Mayor of the Merovingian Palace, Charles Martel in the early 700s. His son, Pepin the Short became the first king of the dynasty in 751. The first deniers--pennies--were struck by Pepin. They are rare, crude, but collectible for a price (beyond my limits, but less than a good used car).

 

Most collectors know Charlemagne, Pepin's son. My denier is chipped, rare, but readily collectible in a variety of types for a price similar to the coins of Pepin. Charlemagne's brother, Carloman, also ruled and they struck similar coins with a M in the monogram of those of Carloman. Both types are extremely rare.

 

Grierson's Class 2 deniers are collectible and in reach depending on states of preservation. Mine was about a third to a quarter of the price of a well preserved example. The RxF reverse appeared early in the series in France. Some mints can be distinguished by elements on the reverse. Mine is uncertain, but Depeyrot suggests it was struck at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle).

 

Class 3 deniers are virtually indistinguishable from those of his grandson, Charles the Bald. Unles the coin was struck at a mint that only struck coins for Charlemagne (extremely rare), it takes an expert to distinguish true Charlemagne period pieces. I have examined a few, but not enough to make that call myself. The last Charlemagne type with a bust are far beyond my collecting means and I have not seen one for sale in my short history of collecting the series.

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Louis the Pious Denier

King of Aquitaine 781-813

Co-Emperor 813-814

Emperor 814-840

 

Class 2 Mint Name Denier, 819-822

Paris

MEC 781, Depreyot 759

 

916280.jpg

 

Louis was one of three of Charlemagne's sons who stood to inherit his kingdom, and he outlived them to become co-emperor with his father shortly before Charlemagne's death. Coins were struck in Louis's name as King of Aquitaine (781-813) and a bust series was struck after he became emperor. Bust coins are rare, but are offered once or twice a year. The first collectible type for my budget are the Class 2, Mint Name deniers.

 

Class 2 deniers are relatively common if you are not picky about the mint. Relative is the operative word here representing a measure of number available in contrast to the number of active collectors. The coins pictured above was struck in Paris, still a relatively small place at the time. Paris carries a magic spell for me and is one of the towns I'm trying to collect to represent Carolingian types when I can find them.

 

A second coin of the type from Bourges is more common than those from Paris.

 

Bourges

MEC 766, Depreyot 177

 

916279.jpg

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Louis the Pious Denier

King of Aquitaine 781-813

Co-Emperor 813-814

Emperor 814-840

 

Class 3 Temple Denier, 822-840

MEC 792, Depreyot 1179

 

916293.jpg

 

Probably the most common Carolingian coin you will encounter and the first that I purchased in 2002. This coin sparked my interest in the series. The temple and legend, XPISTIANA RELIGIO, promoted the Carolingian's support of the Christion church. The XP in the legend is the Chi-Rho, so it reads Christian Religion. The temple is the familiar temple from Roman coins indicating the legitimacy of the emperor (by the grace of God), except a cross appears inside instead of a Roman god. People may not have been able to read Latin, but the could readily recognize the image.

 

While the deniers are common by medieval standards, obols (half deniers) are not. I was fortunate to locate this beautiful example a couple of years ago:

 

907971.jpg

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Awesome coins Bill! I love the continuity with the past that the temple represents.

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Class 1a Mint Name Denier, 840-864

MEC 833, Depreyot 761

 

916776.jpg

 

Charles was the son of Louis's second wife and thus in conflict over inheritance with his three step-brothers. He out lived them all and went on to become the most educated, perhaps most successful of the post-Charlemagne emperors. Three cities struck mint name deniers. Grierson suggests that it was the Paris mint that resurrected this type following the death of Louis.

 

This was my first Paris coin. I hadn't really been looking for one, rather I saw it featured in a dealer's case and bought it with little reflection after holding it in my hand. It remains a favorite coin.

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Class 1e Temple Type Denier, 840-864

MEC 843, Depreyot 762

 

916777.jpg

 

Mints struck a variety of coin types after Charles became king. Louis's temple type continued in the name of Charles with and without a mint designation. The Paris mint struck the temple type (seen here) in addition to the mint name type. Grierson speculates the temple type was struck after the mint name type although both could have been struck anytime between 840 and 864.

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Class 1c Gateway Type Denier, 840-864

MEC 835, Depreyot 725

 

916778.jpg

 

The Gateway type of Orleans is another of the range of coin types resurrected by mints following the death of Louis. The temple and gateway designs originally appeared on a series of coins late in Charlemagne's reign. One can only speculate why the mints so quickly abandoned the discipline imposed by Louis. Perhaps they balked at the loss of the use of their local name on the coins. For whatever reason, their seems to be some sense of independence being expressed,

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Class 1d Monogram Type Denier, 840-864

MEC 933, Depreyot 606

 

916779.jpg

 

The Monogram type denier of Melle is the other common Carolingian coin. This style is indistinguishable from the same coin of Charlemagne. Silver mines located at Melle operated throughout the Middle Ages and are still open as a museum. The deniers of Charlemagne can be distinguished by more graceful lettering, a finer flan fabric, and a minute chevron inside the Karlos monogram. I do not have enough experience with the coins to make that distinction myself, so this denier of Charles the Bald represents both types in my collection. Other deniers of this style from some mints were only produced under Charlemagne, but they are outside my current budget.

 

A second example from Toulouse. Toulouse also struck a denier under Charlemagne that is distinctive by the spelling of the mint name. The following coin was definitely struck in the time of Charles the Bald.

 

916780.jpg

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Charles the Bald Obol

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Monogram Type Obol, 840-864

MEC 934, Depreyot 622

 

916781.jpg

 

The obol version of the monogram type denier. This style coin was struck only at Melle. Here you can clearly see the chevron in the center of the monogram. These obols were struck only during the reign of Charles the Bald, so the chevron does not help distinguish a coin of Charlemagne in this instance and is a clear indication that the chevron alone is not necessarily diagnostic of Charlemagne's coins.

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Wonderful stuff! And I love the history, without it they're just hunks of metal after all, even if beautiful in their own right. :ninja:

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Thank you for this presentation.

 

jeggy

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Charles the Bald Obol

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Gratia Dei Rex Type Obol, 864-875

MEC 895, Depreyot 880

 

917011.jpg

 

Charles sought to bring his coinage under control, eliminate counterfeits, and stabilize the monetary system. His June 25, 864 Edict of Pitres designated nine official mints in addition to the Palace mint. The obol shown above was struck in Rouen, one of the nine official mints. Eventually, some 110 mints struck the Gratia Dei Rex (King by the Grace of God type), but the obol shown here is an early example of the official issue. All obols are rare in relation to deniers.

 

Denier of the Palace Mint

MEC 884, Depreyot 750

 

917012.jpg

 

Denier of Orleans

MEC 880, Depreyot 727

 

917013.jpg

 

The large cud on the reverse detracts from the coin in my opinion even though it might be an interesting error on a modern coin.

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Gratia Dei Rex Type Denier, 864-875

MEC 897, Depreyot 896

 

917065.jpg

 

The other 110 mints striking Gratia Dei Rex deniers were likely producing coins to payoff the Viking raiders, although many had a long tradition as established mints. The denier of St. Denis above is well made and certainly appears to be professionally produced.

 

The next denier from Courcessin [Courgeon (Orne)] is relatively common for coins of the period.

 

Denier of Courcessin

MEC 860, Depreyot 375

 

917063.jpg

 

Finally, another common piece, not as well produced.

 

Denier of Le Mans

MEC 872, Depreyot 559

 

917064.jpg

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Charles the Bald Denier

King of France 840-875

Emperor 875-877

 

Imperial Type Denier, 875-877

MEC 915, Depreyot 198

 

917104.jpg

 

Denier of Bourges. Charles was crowned emperor in Rome on December 25, 875. A revolt in France forced his return in the summer of 877. He died in route at the foot of Mont Cenis pass on October 6, 877. Only thirteen mints struck imperial coins which likely means no instructions were issued to change the national coinage. The brief period between the coronation and his death leads some scholars to attribute the abundant imperial coinage to Charles the Fat. Grierson assigns the Bourges coins (as shown here) to Charles the Bald while Belaubre attributes them to Charles the Fat.

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That ends the string of deniers of Charles the Bald. His death left the empire unsettled and beginning to disintegrate. Charles III, also known as Charles the Fat, was the third son of Louis the German and grandson of Louis the Pious. He entered the political fray created by the royal coronation of Boso of Provence. Boso claimed imperial heritage through his sister’s marriage to Charles the Bald. The direct Carolingian descendants closed ranks in opposition to Boso’s challenge to their heritage.

 

Charles led an allied army against Norse invaders in mid-882. Rather than fight, he negotiated a treaty allowing them to settle in Frisia. Nevertheless, the nobles of west Francia invited him to rule France following the death of Carloman. A month later, Danish chief Sigifrid began moving up the Seine and laid siege to Paris in November 885. Despite the vigorous defense of the city led by Odo and his brother Robert, Charles the Fat ransomed the city and allowed the Danes to move into Burgundy. Crippled by the loss of public confidence and debilitating headaches, Charles agreed to abdicate his throne in November 887. He died January 13, 888 at Niedingen on the Danube.

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Odo (Eudes) Denier

King of France 888-887

 

Misercordia Dei Type

MEC 982, Depreyot 1043

 

917142.jpg

 

Denier of Tours. As noted in the previous post, the power vacuum created by Charles the Fat led to inter-regional warfare as local leaders competed for power. Count Odo, defender of Paris, was elected King of France despite challenges from the Carolingians. Odo, son of Robert the Strong, count and lay-abbot married the daughter of Hugh of Tours. Odo's election foreshadowed the rise of the Robertians. Odo became the Neustrian marquis, count of Anjou and Blois, abbot St. Martin of Tours and Marmoutier, and count of Paris. The Robertians extended their influence in the region through Theobald the Elder in Blois and Viscount Burchard I, father of Buchard the Venerable in Vendôme. (See my posts on the Tete Chinonaise of Blois in this section.)

 

Odo arranged for the election of the yound Carolingian, Charles the Simple, on Odo's death.

 

Denier of Blois

MEC 980, Depreyot 163

 

917141.jpg

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Charles the Simple Denier

King of France 897-922

 

Gratia Dei Rex Type Denier

MEC 998, Depreyot 812

 

917143.jpg

 

Immobilized denier of Quentovic. Charles the Simple, son of Charles the Bald, inherited the crown on the death of Odo. He was well educated, pious, and he sought to re-establish the Carolingian tradition. He died in 929, prisoner of his cousin Herbert II. The coin pictured here may be from the Fecamp hoard and was likely struck late 800a, early 900s. Immobilized coinage indicates the continued use of a recognized, legitimate design long after the death of the individual in whose name the coin was struck.

 

Note the degeneration in the quality and fabric of the coins as the political situation is degenerating.

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Raoul Denier

King of France 923-936

 

Gratia Dei Rex Type Denier

Depreyot 308B

 

917306.jpg

 

Odo’s brother Robert led the opposition to Charles the Simple and was elected king after Charles fled to Lotharingia. Robert died in battle at Soissons on June 15, 923. His son, later to be known as Hugh the Great, refused the crown, so the rebels turned to Robert’s son-in-law, Raoul or Ralph of Burgundy. Raoul’s position was secured when Herbert II of Vermandois seized and imprisoned Charles. As nephew of Boso of Provence, Raoul was connected to the Carolingian dynasty. His reign was marked by numerous battles against those seeking to gain advantage from the imprisonment of Charles.

 

The coin pictured here is most likely an immobilized (and clipped) example of a Gratia Dei Rex denier from Château Landon (Castis Landni). The central device on the obverse is a degenerated version of a Raoul monogram in the Carolingian style. Examples of Raoul’s coins are rare.

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Hi Bill

If you want to read more about the coins of Louis the Pious, you can do so here:

http://francia.digitale-sammlungen.de/Blatt_bsb00016293,00033.html

 

And there's an up-to-the-minute discussion of the coins of Charlemagne (up to 2014, at least!) here:

http://charlemagne.hypotheses.org/

you have to go to Section 5, 2 hours and 37 minutes

Lovely collection!
All good wishes

Simon

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