Topics of coins

Florin of Ladislas the Elbow-high

The coinage of Ladislas the Elbow-high (1306 –1333) has transition features. On the one hand, it is inspired by the previous bracteates period, where a dump reigned. On the other hand, it also exhibits characteristics of a coming penny era. These coins are now not single-sided, thin bracteates anymore, they are bilateral denarii. However, according to Ryszard Kiersnowski, the most famous coin “worthy of a place among the most prominent historical monuments of the Polish Middle Ages” is a florin, called ducat in the past. This is the first Polish coin made in gold, which is ahead for about two hundred years of next issues in this ore. The obverse shows the king on the throne, with a crown on his head, and a lily sceptre and a reign apple in his hands. Circular inscription: WLADISLAVS D[e]I G[ratia] REX explains that this is “Ladislas, by the Grace of God, the King”.

On the reverse, there is a figure of a standing bishop, with a halo around his head, and a mitre on it. In his left hand he holds a crosier, and he rises the right one to the blessing. As legend holds, S[anctus] STANISLAVS POL[oni]E, is the “holy Polish Stanisław”. In the past, this magnificent and unusual coin was associated with the Royal Coronation of Ladislas the Elbow-high in 1320. Ryszard Kiersnowski’s study has shown that the coin was issued later, in 1330 only. It was connected with double indulgence established in honour of Saint Stanisław (8 May and 27 September) by the Pope. To obtain it, the faithful lodged two foreign golden coins which were in circulation at that time. Ore obtained in this way enabled the king to mint his own coin. It helped him to make war with the Teutonic Knights. The issue was not large and is estimated at several thousand pieces. Only one of them has preserved to our times. This is a pride of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski’s collection which is kept in the National Museum in Cracow.

On the currently minted collector coin, besides the representation of the florin presented here, one can see the portrait of Ladislas the Elbow-high taken from his tomb sculpture situated in the Wawel Cathedral. On the other side of the coin, the king is imaged on his seal of majesty, sitting in state on his throne. This image correlates well with the same motif on the florin. The similarity is not accidental – the author of coin dies probably relied on an older and more carefully elaborated seal.

Stanisław Suchodolski