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Identity of the State: Words and Images on Coins

The gold ducat of Venice was first ordered in and struck beginning in The mint order stated that it should be as good as the florin or even better in gold tam bona et fina per aurum vel melior ut est florenus but the types were independent, 27 showing Christ in a mandorla on one side, and on the other St Mark offering the staff to the kneeling doge. The said new florins having begun to circulate through the world, they were carried to Tunis in Barbary; and being brought before the king of Tunis, which was a worthy and wise lord, they pleased him much, and he caused them to be tried; and finding them to be of fine gold, he much commended them, and having caused his interpreters to interpret the imprint and legend on the florin, he found that it said: S.

John the Baptist, and on the side of the lily, Florence. Perceiving it to be Christian money, he sent to the Pisan merchants who were then free of the city and were much with the king and even the Florentines traded in Tunis through the Pisans , and asked them what manner of city among Christians was this Florence which made the said florins. O you Pisans, what manner of golden money is yours? He asked if there were among them any one from Florence, and there was found there a merchant from Oltrarno, by name Pera Balducci, discreet and wise. The king asked him of the state and condition of Florence, whom the Pisans called their Arabs; the which answered wisely, showing the power and magnificence of Florence, and how Pisa in comparison was neither in power nor in inhabitants the half of Florence, and that they had no golden money, and that the florin was the fruit of many victories gained by the Florentines over them.

For the which cause the Pisans were shamed, and the king, by reason of the florin and by the words of our wise fellow-citizen, made the Florentines free of the city, and allowed them a place of habitation and a church in Tunis, and he gave them the same privileges as the Pisans.

Allora furono confusi e non seppono rispondere. In Florence tried to impose the gold florin over the ducat of Venice in the eastern markets. The iconography of coins was not a protected brand and imitation of successful coins was frequent from Antiquity onwards.

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In reality, it was a sensitive topic. Imitations entered into competition with the original coins. Let us consider Florence and Venice in relation to other State authorities. In the mint of Rome issued gold ducats in the name of the Roman Senate but imitating those of Venice.

Why the Venetian model and not the Florentine? Both gold coins were common in the Papal State. While it is possible that the Florentine merchants in charge of the mint of Rome simply did not like the florin to be imitated as was actually documented later , the Venice type offered a more suitable iconographic scheme. They defined the coins as apparentia consimilem, immo verius sub ducati Venetiarum communis proprio stigmata [so similar in appearance, with the symbols typical of the ducat of the commune of Venice].

In July he had been made lord of the island by the Byzantine emperor John v Palaeologus and therefore had minting rights; he may have produced some anonymous imitations before, but these new ducats were an independent statement of conscious propaganda. He did this in agreement with the commune of Florence, following the original standard of weight and fineness and placing crossed keys and comes venesi or sanct petrv in the legend around the lily so that the coins could thereby be identified and attributed correctly.

As far as we know, Florence did not protest formally and actually sent the necessary weight-samples needed to produce good gold florins. In the course of the 14th century many mints in Europe were administered by Italian merchants, including Florentines, and a number of these issued imitations of the florin. He petitioned the government in Florence on the matter, but the project failed and the mint continued to produce ducats of Venetian type.

Even a dramatic change of government did not necessarily mean a change in coin iconography. Strong statements were normally first made on other media, such as seals; the new power had to enforce local control before changing the face of coins. Personal pride had on one hand to comply with the rules of the monetary market and on the other to match the legal status of authority. Coins did bear the images of the issuing authority and, once in circulation, became a means of identity for those who used them.

The same happens even today, when a country can be identified by a flag, a coin, and a football team. Literary evidence of coin images and coins as signs of identity is rare, but some medieval texts and coin-find contexts shed important light on this point. Pilgrims from all over Europe carried their own current coins to Rome and other shrines.

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Everyday billon coins of low value normally had a very local circulation and were not accepted at foreign markets, while silver and gold coins could be exchanged for local coins through moneychangers on the way. In spite of this, low-value coins from different countries have been found in ritual contexts. After all, for a pilgrim, a small coin was a cheap and durable object that bore the images of his country and transformed an anonymous offer into a personal one through his or her intentions.

Those altars, the most visited in the world, … in this Jubilee year gave us, the one of the Prince [i.

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Quae celeberrima toto terrarum orbe altaria, singulis iamdudum annis, ex peregrinantium oblatis Apostolorum Principis Florinorum auri … afferebant, milia triginta Principis circiter unum et viginti milia Doctoris hoc centesimo repulere, non ex magnis auri vel argenti donis, sed ex usualis monete provintie cuiusque minutis. For the period between and we have another important source on coins as identity in the Libro del pellegrino of the Siena State Archives. Pilgrims from all Europe on their way to Rome stopped at Siena, and deposited some of their money into the safe hands of the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, opposite the Duomo, with the intention of withdrawing it on their way back home.

Pilgrims could be very determined in their desire to leave a trace of themselves at the shrine by inserting coins in statues or reliquaries.

The conflicting aspects of coins — bad and good according to circumstances and points of view — are somehow magnified when studying Saint Francis of Assisi. The explanation given by the experts in charge of the survey was that coins had been inserted by those who buried the saint ad indicandum tempus , i.

I believe this was correct.

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The saint was a bishop of Modena who died in A basilica ad corpus was built on his grave, which was surveyed three times: in , , and , when 72 coins and two silver crosses found with the bones could be attributed to the previous surveys. A survey of the body was undertaken in the presence of Countess Matilda of Canossa and the bishop: 19 denarii can be dated to this time, and the two silver crosses are to be considered parts of those which decorated the pallium offered by Matilda, documented with other gifts.

I believe that coins were used to indicate the time of these events. More evidence for such interpretation comes from the survey of the tomb of St Regolo in the Cathedral of Lucca.

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Privileged graves were often identified by their prominent location and, inside, by explicit signs of identity such as inscribed lead plaques, especially widespread for kings or bishops in the 11th and 12th centuries. Occasionally, coins could also have served the purpose of personal memory, as in the case of the grave of Albert the Bear, margrave of Brandenburg — , whose sarcophagus lies beside that of his wife Sophie d. The coin found in his tomb was a bracteate which carried the image of the standing margrave and his wife, issued in c.

Whoever was responsible must have understood the relevance of the iconography to the context of this burial. The bracteate depicts a human relationship which continued in the afterlife. Ordinary people were also occasionally buried with coins, but it is difficult to interpret their meaning as offerings, magic, or pars pro toto , standing in for other property. I would also suggest the possibility of personal memory, a token from the living to the dead.

We will never know for sure. Some funeral rituals involving coins might have been considered improper for a Christian, but it is not easy to distinguish neatly between pagan and Christian behaviour, or between a good and a bad gesture, and it is indeed possible that the same gesture could be both pagan and Christian, or good and bad according to circumstances and intention. Let us now investigate the idea of memory more closely. Placing coins in the foundation of buildings was in part a propitiatory act, an offering to God, but also a sign of memory, varying according to time and context.

When the signore asks the reason for all this, Filarete replies that human things have an end, so when the time comes, their things will be found and they too will be remembered, just as they remember earlier generations when looking at antiquities found by excavation or by cause of ruin. People were used to their everyday coins and identified with them, but at the same time they could find some special interest in the occasional foreign or ancient coin they might come across.

There is still a lot to investigate in medieval coin iconography and how it was perceived by the public, but as I started to extend my research to include iconography I had to reconsider many coins and take a closer look at how medieval people of various social statuses could have understood, or misunderstood, coin images in often-unexpected ways.

I will give here one example. The latest Byzantine gold coins recorded in Italian finds so far are three histamena of the same class, bearing on one side the bearded Basil ii — holding a cross, together with his son, Constantine viii.

Remembering the Crusades : Myth, Image, and Identity

Each of these coins was found as a single specimen in one of three hoards: 66 1 the Ordona hoard, from northern Apulia, deposited after c. Before working on coin iconography in detail, I thought that the single Byzantine coins were hoarded for their monetary value, but now I believe they were hoarded as devotional icons.

We have seen the coins at the heart of the State, from the moment of their creation to the orders passed on to the mints. We have seen how mints could provide the means for the transmission of ideas and power. We have seen how people used and identified with their everyday coins, and how coins became means of transactions between man and God. But there is more to say. Coins were many, and of many mints, with different details and sizes and metals, each unique in itself.

This is why they were, extraordinarily, used as tokens of identity and security at the gates of the cities of Parma and Reggio Emilia and the fortresses in their territories.

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Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Remembering the Crusades : Myth, Image, and Identity. Description Few events in European history generated more historical, artistic, and literary responses than the conquest of Jerusalem by the armies of the First Crusade in This epic military and religious expedition, and the many that followed it, became part of the collective memory of communities in Europe, Byzantium, North Africa, and the Near East.

Remembering the Crusades examines the ways in which those memories were negotiated, transmitted, and transformed from the Middle Ages through the modern period. Bringing together leading scholars in art history, literature, and medieval European and Near Eastern history, this volume addresses a number of important questions.

How did medieval communities respond to the intellectual, cultural, and existential challenges posed by the unique fusion of piety and violence of the First Crusade? How did the crusades alter the form and meaning of monuments and landscapes throughout Europe and the Near East? What role did the crusades play in shaping the collective identity of cities, institutions, and religious sects?

In exploring these and other questions, the contributors analyze how the events of the First Crusade resonated in a wide range of cultural artifacts, including literary texts, art and architecture, and liturgical ceremonies. They discuss how Christians, Jews, and Muslims recalled and interpreted the events of the crusades and what far-reaching implications that remembering had on their communities throughout the centuries.

Remembering the Crusades is the first collection of essays to investigate the commemoration of the crusades in eastern and western cultures. Its unprecedented multidisciplinary and cross-cultural approach points the way to a complete reevaluation of the place of the crusades in medieval and modern societies.