Topics of coins

Denarius of Boleslaw III the Wry-mouthed

Denarius of Prince Boleslaw III the Wry-mouthed is the third coin in the series. Type 2 was selected from among the six types of coins minted during his reign. The obverse depicts the prince on a throne holding a sword in his right hand, his left hand raised in the air. The sword is a royal insignia, a forecast of strong but fair rule, while the raised hand promises peace to those commended to the care and protection of the ruler. The reverse shows a religious symbol – a cross with four dots between its arms.

The inscriptions that surround the representations are no less interesting. On the obverse, the likeness of the prince is accompanied by his name BOLEZLAVS, and the reverse says DENARIVS. On another variety of the coin, the legends are intertwined and the inscription says: DVCIS BOLEZLAI – DENARIVS, which means “Denarius of Prince Boleslaw.” This is the only instance in the early Middle Ages that a Polish coin would state its denomination. This confirms information we have from written sources that coins issued at that time were indeed denarii.

We believe that Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed started minting these extraordinary denarii at an important moment, i.e. in 1107. That was when he seized full power to rule the country, removing his stepbrother Zbigniew. It should be noted that Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed issued relatively many types of coins. His father, Władysław Herman, issued only one coin type for twenty years of his rule, and the appearance of the coins did not change. However, forced by the political and economic situation, Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed started a new monetary policy. It consisted in regular replacement of coins in circulation with new coins, with different presentations. The exchange rate was, of course, unfavourable to his people, for example only two new denarii were given for three old ones. This way of gaining profit was considerably expanded by Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed’s sons, especially by Mieszko III the Old.

Stanisław Suchodolski