domingo, 18 de mayo de 2014

Medieval Numismatics of Navarre: Problems about the first emissions.

Translation of part of an article published in Spanish: “Numismática Medieval de Navarra I. Gaceta Numismática 185; Junio 2013: pp. 25-56” 

The Navarrese numismatics, both from the Middle Age and from the Modern Age, is an unexplored field long to be investigated into. Navarre was a little kingdom with few economic resources, so few coins are normally found because foreign currency was frequently used; in contrast there is a rich documentation (often unknown) which is preserved in the Navarrese General Record Office, main referent for further investigations.

The medieval numismatics is not an exact science and it makes difficult for some coins to be attributed to specific kings, even at recent ages. We have to bear in mind that coins were used as propaganda or to sustain territorial claims, because of that, the interpretation must be found in the sociopolitical context of the time. There are numerous examples, such as the Navarrese King Charles II "The Bad", who issued his coins with the tittle of Earl of Evreux, just when the French king gained this territory. Many emissions of Ferdinandus "The Catholic King" were made in later age, being inmovilized types that lasted long in time etc...

On the other hand, some coins described and drawn in the late XVIIIth Century, have been copied from author to author up to the present (but these pieces have not been seen during this time), which doesn't allow us to prove their existence.

The biggest dificulties and  different opinions about the Navarrese Numismatic field, have arisen with regard to those considered the first emissions until recent times.

Maybe because of the influence of the traditional Historiography where the Christian Iberic Kingdoms were the heritage of Sancho III "The Great" of Navarre,  the first coin was thought to have been emited by this king, being the later coins Aragonese, Castillian and Navarrese, an heritage of the first and singular coin, a unique piece preserved in the National Archeological Museum (VVAAA, 1999), which was for long considered the first coin emited in the kingdom of Pamplona/Navarre,. This coin, shows in its obverse a face looking to the right and the legend "+IMPERATOR" and on its reverse a pedestal holds up a cross with symetrical floral ornaments, and with the legend "NAIARA" (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Coin with legend "IMPERATOR / NAIARA" attributed to King Alfonso VII of Castile and Leon.

This piece was firstly described by Heiss, 1869, who attributed it to Sancho III "the Great". He also had a second piece (already known by Gaillard) with a similar type and legend reverse with "GARCIAREX" in the obverse. Both authors attributed it to Garcia III. Poey d'Avant (1860) reproduced this last piece, but considering it as a piece of Garcia IV and said, with reference to the attribution to Garcia III: "Cette date me paraît trop reculée pour le style de cette monnaie". Caron (1882/84) and Dieudonée (1936) copied this piece with legend "IMPERATOR/ NAIARA" following Heiss' attribution, although Boudeau (1913) remarks in this regard: "les premières monnaies connues sont attibuées à Garcia Ramirez (1134-1150)".

According to these French authors (Gaillard, Poey d'Avant, Heiss and Caron) the reverse legend would be "NAVARA" because they consider that the second and third letters are linked (as frecuently occurs in coin of Sancho Ramirez with legend "ARAGON" and also in those attributed to Sancho VI, where the letters "A" and "R" are linked).

If we consider the legend NAVARA, the attribution to Sancho III and García III is not feasible, because the word Navarra appears for the first time as a dependant earldom part of the Pamplona kingdom at the age of Sancho Ramírez, substituting the name of the kingdom on the coins at the time of García IV (1134-1150), and later in royal documents. Several authors such as Campaner (1891) and Sánchez Albornoz, 1928, followed Heiss' attributions with reference to the coin whose legend was "IMPERATOR/NAIARA", but Menendez Pidal (1929) went further, and  considered the legend NAIARA as Nájera. This criteria was also followed by P. Germán de Iruña (1935).

According to the second coin mentioned (attributed to Garcia and with the same reverse), Berradondo (1932) and Beltran (1951, 1953) consider this to be Garcia III's one. The last author published a new item with similar characteristics and ARAGON legend in the reverse (Fig. 2c). This fact reinforced this attribution, because this monarch not only reigned over Pamplona but also over Aragon, whereas Garcia IV only dominated the Navarrese kingdom.

Figure 2: Coins with legend "IMPERATOR" Y "GARCIA" on the face, and "NAIARA" or "ARAGON" on the back.

     Gil Farrés (1955), following Poey d'Avant’s hypothesis, attribute the piece with legend IMPERATOR/NAIARA to Alfonso VII of Castillia-Leon, subsequently, the coin whose legend was GARCIA REX/NAIARA, to García IV (it is clear that the date of both pieces, if not the same, is close in time). This new proposal had to face great opposition among the numismatic researchers at that time and it was refused early  by Thomsen (1956), so most of the later authors have considered the classical attributions, considering Sancho III as the first monarch who minted coins in the Peninsular Christian kingdoms  (Mateu y Llopis (1946, 1955, 1969); Crusafont & Balaguer (1986);  Jusué & Ramirez (1987); Pérez (1988); Ibáñez (1990), Ibáñez et al. (1991); Crusafont (1989, 1991, 1992) & Beltrán (1999)).

Recently, Gil Farrés' hypothesis has been reassumed, considering the affinities of the face that is shown on the coin attributed to Sancho III (Fig. 3), similar to other coins of Garcia IV, so that issues of Sancho IV "of Peñalén" are desestimated. Subsequently, the beginning of the monetary emissions in the Peninsular Christian kingdoms must be placed at the age of Sancho V Ramírez, probably on a date close in time to the anexation of the kingdom of Pamplona (1076) and the establishment of the Jaca statute ("fuero") (1077). The anexation of Pamplona, could have been the main cause for the massive emissions of Sancho Ramírez, as it would take place a few years later, after the conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI, when the Castillian-Leonese coins firstly appeared. Recently the similarities and differences between the first Castillian and Aragonese issues have been brought to light (Ibáñez, 2000). The attributions to the coins with legend NAIARA can be differenciated: the ones with  legend IMPERATOR in the obverse, to Alfonso VII; and those with  legend GARCIA REX, to García IV. This last hypothesis has been followed in recent works, Ramírez (1996, 1999). Other authors remark the problem, but they neither stick the traditional theories nor adduce new ideas (Beltrán (1999); Rodriguez (1994)).

Figure 3: Affinities of the face that is shown on the coin attributed to Sancho III (a), and other of a coin of Garcia IV (b).

Considering the coin with legend IMPERATOR/NAIARA as if it were from Najera, it would belong to the time of Alfonso VII (Naiara is the most common way to designed Najera in the reign of Alfonso VII (Ibáñez, 1993). At earliest, this coin could be attributed to the time of Alfonso "The Fighter", who had a political dispute for this village againts his former wife Urraca and her son, the future Alfonso VII. The interpretation of Najera in the coin of Garcia IV of Navarre causes bigger trouble, because even if he never reigned in Aragon, a royal document from Alfonso VII where Garcia IV is named "rex aragonensis" exists (Fig.4).

Figure 4: Document of Alfonso VII, where García IV was named "Rex Garsia Aragonensis" dated on 4th July 1144, written due to the marriage between the Navarrese king and the Emperor's illegitimate daughter (Cathedral of Oviedo).

If this legend is interpreted as Navarra, these attributions also agree, with no trouble when it comes to Garcia IV, and the one of Alfonso VII can be attributed to the years 1134-1135,  the time when Garcia, King of Navarre showed respect to the Emperor, exactly in Najera. So the legend NAIARA can be understood at the same time as Najera/Navarra (this similarity between both forms often causes confusion in many documents). If the die stamp artisan produced this multiple interpretation legend intentionately, he never imagined how many discussions and disputes this legend would provoke after eight centuries!

As Sancho V Ramírez was the only Aragonese monarch with this name, the coins with legend Aragon or Aragonensis do not cause any trouble. Whereas Moret (1666) correctly attributes this coin to Sancho V Ramírez, Lastanosa (1681) considers that the item with legend Aragon or Iacca are of Sancho Abarca, king of Pamplona between the years 970-994. On the contrary, in the kigdom of Pamplona/Navarra there were several monarchs whose names were Sancho, for instance Sancho III "The Great", Sancho IV "of Peñalen", Sancho V Ramírez, Sancho VI "The Wise" and Sancho VII "The Strong". With legend NAVARA there are several different types with the name "SANCIVS", some of them are conflictive when it comes to their attribution. Quite a rare piece (Fig. 5) was firstly described on the Vidal Quadras' collection (1892) attributing it to Garcia V Ramírez with the characteristics of a similar reverse with a horizontal and broken legend, similar to that of the emissions of Sancho Ramírez, Peter I and Alfonso I. This attribution has been widely followed by many authors (Mateu y Llopis (1944), Beltrán (1951), Gil Farrés (1955, 1976), Thomsen (1956), Álvarez Burgos et al. (1980), Ibáñez et al. (1991)), while others attributed it to Sancho IV (1054-1076)  (Ibáñez et al. (1988), Crusafont & Balaguer (1988), Ibáñez (1990), Crusafont (1992)). Bearing in mind that the name Navarra appeared for the first time at the age of Sancho V Ramírez, we can discard this attribution in previous epochs. It is not probable that this coin was coined by Sancho V when the official name of the kingdom was Pamplona. Probably this coin is an early emission of Sancho VI "The Wise", as it was recently proposed (Ibáñez, 1993, 1994). In the same way other coins with the name "Sancho" have had other interpretations which will be commented later.

Figure 5: First issue of Sancho VI, imitating coins Sancho V of Aragon.