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    Description

    Historically Important Early Spanish Gold

    Castille. Enrique I gold Morab 1253 Safard (1215) MS64 NGC, Unpublished, although this piece has been extensively studied by the experts at the Spanish numismatic auction houses Aureo & Calicó and Jesús Vico.

    The morabitino of Toledo was first issued by Alfonso VIII of Castille in the year 1173. It was intended to compensate for the disappearance of the Almoravid dinars once Murcia, the last bastion of the Almoravids on the Iberian Peninsula, was taken by the Almohads in the year 1170.

    This is a coin with unique features. Not only is the Christian motto presented in the Arabic language and script, it is also presented in a style that imitates the style and legends of the dinar: where the one starts with "In the name of Allah...," this coin says, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...." The traditional legend, "the imam Abd-Allah, Prince of the Believers, al-Abassi" is replaced by "The imam of the Christian Church, the Pope of Rome." Replacing "the Emir Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad ibn Sa'ad," is, of course, "the Emir of the Catholics, Alfonso ibn Sancho," with the same invocations to divine protection.

    That coinage bears the date in which they were struck, not recorded for medieval Christian coinage, but normal for Islamic coinage almost since its inception. Nonetheless, the year is not according to the Islamic calendar, but rather the year of the so-called "Hispanic Era," which would correspond to our calendar plus 38 years. This is known as the "Era of Safard," explicitly stated on the coins, which indicates that those morabitinos were minted under the auspices of Toledo's Jewish bankers-just as the gold mancusos were minted in Barcelona a century earlier. Other than the dinero issue in billion under Alfonso in 1166, no other European coin will bear a date until three centuries later.  Alfonso VIII died in 1214, and the crown passed to his ten year old son, Enrique I of Castille. Berenguela, his eldest sister, became his guardian, but was forced to cede that responsibility to the powerful Lara family. Álvaro Nuñez de Lara had absolute custody of the king until Enrique died in an accident in 1217. Morabitinos were minted continuously during those three years. They bore the name of Alfonso with only the date changing. However, up to now coins bearing the year 1253 of the Safard Era-the year showing on the coin presented here-were previously unknown. 

    This is the only known specimen of a coin bearing the name of Enrique I. We can surmise that it was minted in the very brief period when he was under the guardianship of his sister Berenguela, and that the issue was interrupted after the Count of Lara was appointed the king's guardian. An additional characteristic of the morabitinos in general is the designation of the king as "al amir ibn Alfuns al thamin HENRIC," or "the prince son of Alfonso the eighth, Henry" (our thanks to Mr. Tawfiq Ibrahim for the transcription). The citing of the royal ordinal ("the eighth") is surprising for both Islamic and Christian coinage of that era. It will not appear again on a coin of Castile until the reign of Juan II, in the fifteenth century.

    El morabetino de Toledo fue introducido por Alfonso VIII de Castilla en 1173 para suplir la desaparición de los dinares almorávides tras la toma por los almohades del último reducto almorávide en la península, Murcia, en 1170.Es una pieza de características únicas. No sólo publicita el mensaje cristiano en lengua y alfabeto árabes, sino que lo adapta miméticamente al estilo y la distribución de las leyendas del dinar almorávide: donde uno empieza "En el nombre de Allah...", el otro dice "En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo..."; el "imam Abd-Allah, príncipe de los creyentes, el-Abbassí" es substituido por "el imam de la Iglesia Cristiana, el Papa de Roma..."; y, naturalmente, "el Amir Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad ibn Sa'ad" cede el puesto al "Amir de los católicos Alfonso ibn Sancho", bajo las mismas invocaciones a la protección divina.Esas emisiones llevan la fecha de acuñación, lo cual es inaudito en la numismática medieval cristiana, pero usual en la islámica casi desde el principio. Sin embargo, el año no es el del calendario islámico, sino el de la "Era Hispana" (= el año d.C. más 38) o "Era de Safard", como indican explícitamente las monedas, lo cual vendría a señalar que esos morabetinos fueron acuñados bajo el control de los banqueros judíos de Toledo - como los mancusos lo habían sido en Barcelona un siglo antes. Salvo el dinero de vellón acuñado por el propio Alfonso en Toledo en 1166, ninguna otra moneda europea llevará fecha hasta tres siglos después.Alfonso VIII murió en 1214 y su hijo Enrique I, un niño de diez años, heredó la corona. Berenguela, su hermana mayor, asumió su tutoría, pero se vio forzada a cederla a la poderosa familia de los Lara. Álvaro Núñez de Lara dispuso de la completa custodia del rey hasta que Enrique murió por accidente en 1217. Los morabetinos fueron acuñados ininterrumpidamente durante esos tres años, a nombre de Alfonso y cambiando solo la fecha; pero no se conocen piezas del año 1253 de la Era de Safard, el año de la pieza que aquí presentamos.Este es el único ejemplar conocido de moneda a nombre de Enrique I. Podemos sospechar que fue acuñada en el breve período en que estuvo bajo protección de su hermana Berenguela, y que la emisión fue interrumpida cuando el Conde de Lara fue nombrado tutor del rey. A las excepcionales características de los morabetinos en general, añade el hecho de llamar al rey "al Amir ibn Alfuns al Thamin HENRIC", "el príncipe hijo de Alfonso octavo, Enrique" (agradecemos al sr. Tawfiq Ibrahim la transcripción). La mención al ordinal del rey es sorprendente tanto en la moneda islámica como en la cristiana de esa época, y no volverá a aparecer en una moneda castellana hasta el reinado de Juan II, en el s. XV.

    Spanish & English versions provided by Eduard Domingo (Aureo I Calicó) and Marc Emory (Heritage).




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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    13th Thursday
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