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Activitatea monetară în Transilvania în lumina încercărilor de reformă a monedei de argint din anii 1442 şi 1444

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Excerpt By combining the heraldic elements of both kingdoms of Poland and
Hungary, ruled by the same king, Vladislav III (1434-1444), respectively Vladislav I (1440-1444), the eagle denar remains, through its iconography, the reference milestone of the Jagiello's influence in the history of coinage in Hungary, particularly for the heraldic type of denars. Within the Transylvanian landscape, two of the royal monetary chambers played a role in the silver coinage reform attempts from 1442 to 1444. The chamber of Baia Mare, relevant for its coinage volume, was the only one involved in the eagle denar’s reform attempt of 1442. However, in 1444, the second one, the monetary chamber of Transylvania, located in Sibiu (Hermannstadt), had a central role in implementing the silver coinage reform. The 1442 reform attempt failed before the end of the year due to political reasons. Thus, both royal and private mints began to issue poor quality silver coins. In the spring of 1444, Vladislav I cancelled all private monetary privileges and resumed the attempt to reform the silver coinage. At the request of the Diet from 18.04.1444, the production of the eagle denar was restarted within all the royal chambers and any further changes of the new coins’ silver purity was forbidden. One of the reform’s main supporters was the very voivode of Transylvania, John of Hunyadi. To assure the reform’s success, the Transylvanian voivode entrusted
magister Jacobus (Jakab) as Count of Transylvanian Chambers from Sibiu and gave him the coinage monopoly in Transylvania (Siebenbürgen): „cameram et cusionem monetae regalis in civitate Cibiniensis”. Given the extremely limited number of numismatic and documentary sources, the activity of the mints located in Transylvania is mostly unknown and, apart from a general assessment made by Lajos Huszár, which indicates an approximate standard of the silver finesse of 281 ‰, there is no trustworthy data about the metrological standard and the silver purity of the eagle denars. Within the scientific circuit, new information on the subject is provided by the current study of a batch of coins, consisting of ten denars and one obol, of eagle type, and also of unique samples, originating from a private collection. As described in the catalogue, the 12 coins were analyzed from both
a numismatic and compositional perspective, using XRF archaeometric techniques. The coins’ provenance is from mints located either within the Transylvanian area, within the Buda royal chamber or from within unknown workshops, where they were counterfeited. Among the analysed coins should be underlined two unique samples stand out. The first one is a denar that comes from a series issued by the city council of Sibiu, most likely prior to the concession of the city mint by Nikolaus Pfeffersack, a sample whose fineness is 717 ‰. The second one is an obol coming from the Buda Chamber carrying a unique mint mark. The conclusions of the study indicate that the average standard for the purity of the coins from the Royal Chambers is about 500 ‰. This proves to be higher than the standard known previously as being a reference for the silver coinage of Vladislav I, respectively 281 ‰. In Central Europe, a similar standard of fineness is encountered in the denars of Vladislav III of Poland (1434-1444). However, the production of these coins in Krakow ceased in 1440, with the coronation of the young king as Vladislav I of Hungary (1440-1444). It should be noted, however, that between the Hungarian eagle denars and the Polish royal denars, issued in the Polish monetary system of Krakowian gros, even though iconographic and compositional similarities are noted, and both have the same nominals, they have different metrological standards. Nonetheless, the Hungarian eagle type obol has the same metrological characteristic with the royal
Polish denar (approximately 0.5 grams). Five of the eleven studied coins were classified as counterfeits, corresponding to the type identified as such by Artur Pohl, referring to counterfeits from 1444-1445, according to a prototype of the Buda mint. The presence of trace elements that indicate the mines of Maramures County could associate these coins with the name of the owner of the mines, respectively Serbian despot George Branković. Given that Branković owned the mines during that time, there is a possibility that the counterfeiting activity was actually controlled by him in the Balkan area from the south of Danube. The studied coins represent a numismatic source that proves that at least the second stage of Vladislav I's monetary reform represented, for John of Hunyadi, a good opportunity to reorganize the monetary activity within the Transylvanian area. The good quality of the engraving, superior to the inflationary issues from 1442-1443, the silver purity and the metrological and iconographic uniformity of the coins, coming
from different mint masters, indicate a rigorous control of the monetary activity and
confirms the hypothesis made by Artur Pohl, regarding this attempt of reform, proved to be successful in Transylvania, for that time. Taking on the role of leader of the struggle against Ottoman expansion in Europe, John of Hunyadi thus extends his plans of anti-Ottoman resistance in the economic and monetary field. Only a powerful monetary system, with a large circulation in the European lands might be able to counter the penetration and consolidation of the Ottoman silver currency in
Transylvania, as it lastly happened. Till the end of the 15th century, the Ottoman akçe became the preferred currency in the transactions of merchants from the Saxon cities of Transylvania,particularly in trading with other two Romanian countries, Wallachia and Moldavia.
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  • Revista de Cercetări Arheologice şi Numismatice; V; anul 2019
    • Revista de Cercetări Arheologice şi Numismatice; V; anul 2019
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