Society Lecture, 16th April: “So rare, so barbarous, so little known”: Revisiting the coinage of Crusader Edessa

On Tuesday 16th April at 6pm Dr Richard Kelleher of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, will present a lecture to the Society at the Warburg Institute.

Abstract: The County of Edessa is probably the least known of the four mainland Crusader states established in the wake of the First Crusade (1095-1099). It was the first state to be established and the first to be annihilated in 1144. Despite its short existence copper coins, showing Byzantine, Islamic and Norman influence were struck at Edessa under its four counts and their regents.

It has been more than 40 years since John Porteous published his seminal article on the crusader coins of Edessa in the Numismatic Chronicle. This work outlined the chronological arrangement of the heavy types of follis attributed to Edessa through studying the complex, and occasionally baffling, sequence of overstrikes seen on many coins. Porteous gave us the relative sequence in use today and updated the arrangement devised, more than a century ago, by the eminent French numismatist and scholar Gustave Schlumberger in his classic Numismatique de l’Orient Latin.

Since the publication of Porteous’s work there has been four decades of new coins coming through the trade. Bringing together material from museum collections in Europe and America and from auctions and sales, this paper will evaluate the full sequence of heavy and light Edessene folles and offer some opinions on the chronology and identity of some of the more enigmatic pieces, which have hitherto been known from just one or two specimens.

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