Studii privind naşterea numismaticii româneşti - contribuţiile maghiare, austriece, germane şi ruseşti la progresul cercetătorilor privind monetăria Ţării Româneşti din vremea domniei lui Mircea cel Bătrân, Mihail I şi Dan al II-lea / Studies concerning the begining of the Romanian Medieval numismatics - Hungarian, German and Russian contributions to the development of the research concerning the Wallachian coinge during the reigns of Mircea the Elder, Michael I and Dan II
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|Excerpt||The author presents the history of the early stage of the researches on the Romanian Medieval coinages, as a distinct domain of European medieval Numismatics. It is known that the collecting and the study of Moldavian and Wallachian medieval coins were first established by foreign numismatists during the early 19th century. The Romanian contributions on these topics came, only, after the 1850’s.
The aim of this study is to summarise the contributions of the Hungarian, Austrian, German and Russian scholars concerning the coinage of the Wallachian Prince Mircea the Elder (1386-1418). Mircea the Elder was one of the most important rulers of Wallachia, and played an outstanding role in establishing the medieval institutions of the country, as well as raising the Romanian principality among the most important political and military positions in the South-Eastern European world at the end of 14th and early 15th century.
Quite likely, Mircea the Elder’s monetary issues represent the most common among the entire Romanian medieval coinage, and no one could wonder that they were first Wallachian coins identified by the collectors and scholars, since the end of 18th century. The first short description of a coin of Mircea the Elder was published in 1787. Soon after, there are a few evidences that the coins of Mircea the Elder were already kept during the 1840’s in some important private collections in Central Europe or Russia.
Leopold Welzl von Wellenheim was the first numismatist who tried to identify who were, actually, the Wallachian rulers whose names were inscribed on the coins. He asserted that the monetary issues bearing on the obverse the coat of arms, reverse helmet and eagle belong to Mircea the Elder. He considered that the coins with “portrait” were struck during the reign of one of Mircea the Elder’s sons, the so-called “Mircea II” (in fact, Michael I – 1418-1420). Despite of this error, von Wellenheim could be considered the first modern numismatist that correctly identified the obverse and reverse of some Mircea the Elder’s issues and who presented the first metrological information on the coinage of the Wallachian ruler.
One of the most important modern contributions regarding Mircea the Elder’s coinage belongs to A. Ouvaroff, who gave a quite good description of two coins from that period and also presented new metrological data.
Some other information could be found in H. Grote’s work, who suspected a Hungarian influence in the designs of Mircea the Elder’s issues belonging to the type with “portrait”.
In Joszef Weszerle’s book, posthumously published in 1873, 40 years after his death, one can find a catalogue not only of all Hungarian issues, but also the medieval coins from Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Wallachia, Moldavia and Red Russia.
László Réthy’s numismatic contributions on the Wallachian and Moldavian coins is less known today, though they have played a very important role in the development of the studies on the Romanian medieval coinage during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Many of Réthy’s assumptions were followed and developed by two important Romanian numismatists, N. Docan and C. Moisil. Réthy worked at the Coin Department in the National Hungarian Museum and was in charge with the inventory of Dobóczky’s collection, which contains more than 1000 Romanian medieval coins. His capital work was Corpus Nummorum Hungariae regarding the Hungarian coinage from Stephen I to Louis II, but he had several contributions regarding the Wallachian coinage during the reigns of Mircea the Elder, Michael I and Dan II.
The year 1870’s represents a very important moment for the study of the coinage of Mircea the Elder’s reign. That year was found at Orşova (Caraş Severin County) a huge hoard that contains thousands of coins from the end of 14th century and first decades of the 15th century. This hoard was studied by Réthy, who is the first scholar offering a scientific classification of a monetary type issued during Mircea the Elder’s reign. This classification made by Réthy of the issues of Mircea the Elder represented a huge scholarly contribution at that time. Réthy was also the first numismatist who tried to identify the names of the denomination of Wallachian medieval coins, ducat and ban. He also had proposed a system of classification of the issues according the changes of the mint marks and privy marks, which is used even nowadays. Réthy even supposed the existence of a provincial mint in Wallachia – which is a revolutionary aspect for understanding this monetary system in the 14th-15th century. One can consider the last decades of the 19th century represented not only the paramount, but also the ending phase of the early stage of the development of Romanian medieval numismatics – the “Sturdza-Réthy era”.
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