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The Currency of deniers tournois in Frankish Greece1

  • D. M. Metcalf


The base silver deniers of the type from Tours which in the thirteenth century were the common currency of large parts of France served as the model for the later coinage of Frankish Greece. From the mid-thirteenth century onwards, for more than a hundred years, deniers tournois were the standard coin of Attica, Bœotia, the Peloponnese, and some of the Aegean islands. They were struck in very large numbers by the princes of Achaia and the dukes of Athens, and in smaller quantities by the rulers of several other territories. Three examples are illustrated in Fig. 1 dƒ, from which it can be seen that the design of all the coins was virtually identical, except for the names of the issuing authorities and of the places of mintage. On one side was a cross, and on the other the so-called ‘castle of Tours’, really a degenerated version of the design of a ninth-century coin showing a Christian temple (see Fig. 1a). There is a long series of Achaian coins bearing the names of Prince William of Villehardouin, Charles I king of Naples, Charles II, Prince Florent, Isabel, Philip of Savoy, Philip of Taranto, Louis, Maud, John, and Robert. Their dates of issue can therefore be readily determined. Most of the Athenian coins are from the reigns of William and Guy II de la Roche.



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1 I am much indebted to Mrs. I. Varoukha-Khristodhoulopoulou, the Curator of the Greek National Numismatic Collection, for the kindness with which she received me, and for her help in discussing the hoards of the Frankish period.

2 For a description see Bisson, T. N., ‘Coinages and royal monetary policy in Languedoc during the reign of Saint Louis’, Speculum xxxii (1957) 443 ff.

3 A list of the dates of the various princes who struck deniers tournois in Greece is appended to the catalogue of hoards at the end of the article.

4 There are a good many more references to money, but one cannot safely base conclusions about the coinage on them, since some of them name only moneys of account, and others describe payments which may have been made in other coinages or in kind.

5 Even a random sample must, for statistical reasons, be of a sufficient size if the proportions which it gives are to be reliable. The same theory which I discussed in ‘Statistische Analyse bei der Auswertung von Münzfundmaterialen’, Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte ix (1958) 187 ff., can be applied to hoards.

6 Twenty per cent., which may seem an unnecessarily high upper limit, is suggested because of the greater occurrence of the Epirote coins in their local region, discussed below.

7 The following rough calculation will show how a certain rate of regional circulation would be reflected in the proportions of the types in different areas. Assuming that the mints in territories A and B issued similar quantities of coinage, 100a and 100b, and that the rate of regional exchange was 20 per cent. of the currency each ten years, the subsequent occurrence of the coinage of that particular date would be: after 10 years, in territory A, 80a+20b, in territory B, 20a+80b. In the next 10 years the process of mingling would be slower, since the coinage moving from A to B would be 16a plus 4b, and vice versa. Thus, after 20 years, A = 68a+32b, B = 32a+68b. After 30 years, A = 61a + 39b, B = 39a + 61b. After 40 years, A = 56a+44b, B = 44a+56b. These figures, although they are very much of a simplification, draw attention to the differences which one should expect between hoards deposited shortly, and those deposited a long time, after the issue of the coins they contain.

8 See Lambros, P., Mélanges de Numismatique ii (1877) 246 ff., and Schlumberger, under the appropriate types.

9 A similar shred of evidence for the circulation of later Chiote coins (not tournois) is provided by the parcels auctioned in the Hoffmann sale (Collection H. Hoffmann: Médailles. Drouot, May 11th, 1898, lots 2826 ff.).

10 Sanudo, M., Istoria del regno di romania, ed. Hopf, K., in Chroniques gréco-romaines inédites ou peu connues (1870) 102.

11 e.g. Luschin's recovery of the Konventionsmünzung at Ptuj; see von Ebengreuth, A. Luschin, ‘Friesacher Pfennige. Beiträge zu ihrer Münzgeschichte und zur Kenntnis ihrer Gepräge’, Numismatische Zeitschrift 1922, 89 ff., and 1923, 33 ff.

12 See Corinth iii/1: Acrocorinth … 1926, 66 ff., by A. R. Bellinger.

13 See Corinth Reports VI: Coins, 1896–1929, by K. M. Edwards, 1932.

14 On the dispersal of the maille du Puy as a souvenir of pilgrimages see Blanchet–Dieudonné iv. 15, 246.

15 Because of the summary form in which the finds were published, it is not possible to give complete figures. Excluding the tournois of William of Achaia, but including, no doubt, some non-tournois coins from Athens, there were 299.

16 Coins with TVRONVS CIVIS were probably struck late in the reign of Louis IX (Blanchet–Dieudonné ii. 229). In any case, the hoard has not yet been published in detail.

17 Dieudonné, A., Revue numismatique 1908, 499 ff.

18 Gariel, E., Mélanges de numismatique iii (1882) 80 ff., and E. Caron, ibid. 240 ff. The quantities of the royal types were given in kilogrammes, so that the figures which I have given are only approximate. Nor have I attempted to correct any attributions in the light of subsequent research, in either this or the Saint-Clair hoard.

19 For the basis of these calculations see Clark, C., The Conditions of Economic Progress (1951).

20 See Thordeman, B., Numismatic Chronicle 1948, 188 ff.

21 Miller, W., The Latins in the Levant (1908) 65 f.

The Currency of deniers tournois in Frankish Greece1

  • D. M. Metcalf


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