We are always asked this question... and it's a good one! This Antioch Crusader coin is one of them. The Knights Templar were initially created to protect pilgrims traveling back and forth from Europe to Jerusalem. This type of coin most certainly would have been in their pouches. An amazing survivor of the Pilgrim Trails of the Holy Land.
Crusader coinage came to be when the Western European Crusaders began to establish kingdoms along the route of the First Crusade. Antioch, which was then comprised of lands that are in present day Turkey and Syria, became a powerful Crusader state on the Mediterranean, and played a pivotal role during the Crusade Era. While coins were produced in several Crusader states, the hand-hammered silver billon coins produced in Antioch picturing a helmeted knight are some of the most prized.
What is Billon?
Billon is the term used to describe a silver coin with a lower percentage of silver than the "average" silver coin of the day - somewhere less than approximately 90% silver. This lower percentage of silver is combined with copper, which gives the coins strength and durability. Antioch Crusader Deniers are made of billon, and while they look like higher-percentage silver coins, some do have a slight golden-copper glow giving them a distinctive, warm hue.
When a coin is discovered in a land far from where it was minted, we always ask, “How did it get there, and who carried it?” And for these “Helmet Head” deniers, answers to these questions are fascinating ones.
As historians and numismatists, we see the 8th Century as one of the most important in European monetary history. Charlemagne (768-814), also called Charles the Great, and sometimes the “Father of Europe,” was King of the Franks, and the land over which he ruled became known as the Carolingian Empire. In just a few short years, he united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire, and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany.
Charlemagne’s reign saw a substantial restoration of European political authority along with a complete redesign of its coins. During his reign, the hand-hammered medieval silver Denier came into being and it (along with the British silver penny) went on to dominate European currency for 500 years.
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