Charlemagne, 771-793/4

Coupland 4; Depeyrot 605; Morrison & Grunthal 268 corr. (rev. legend); MEC I, 727, PCGS graded MS-63

In 768, Charlemagne (Charles the Great) succeeded Pepin the Short as King of the Franks and continued his father’s policies of expanding the Frankish kingdom and of championing the Catholic Church. This led Charlemagne to embark on numerous wars against the Saxons, Bavarians, Slavs, and Avars to the east and the Lombards to the south, as well as a campaign against Umayyad Islamic Spain. These conflicts, particularly in the case of the Saxons, often had a religious coloring with Charlemagne ordering the conversion of pagan populations to Catholic Christianity on pain of death. Charlemagne’s defeat of the Lombards of northern Italy in 774 made him a de facto protector of the Popes, a status that was made official on Christmas Day of 800, when Pope Leo III crowned him Emperor of a new west-facing Holy Roman Empire. As Emperor, Charlemagne came into conflict with the Byzantine Empire, whose influence the Popes were constantly trying to evade and did not recognize the legitimacy of his imperial status until 810. Charlemagne died three years later, having united Western Europe as it had not been since the age of the Roman Empire and established a cultural renaissance. His Holy Roman Empire was destined to survive until 1806 when a French Emperor named Napoleon finally snuffed it out. A thousand years is a pretty good run in terms of empires. Even the Roman Empire founded by Augustus did not last as long.

Class 2. Medolus (Melle), 771-793/4. C(AR)o/LVS in two lines. Reverse: mEDOLVS around central ornament; L with hook.

Ex Triton XVIII (7 January 2015), 1378