Carolus: coin from Free City of Besançon (Holy Roman Empire)


½ carolus, 1576: Free City of Besançon (Holy Roman Empire, France)

½ carolus, 1576: Free City of Besançon (Holy Roman Empire, France)

The Free City of Besançon was a self-governing free city during 1184-1654 as part of the Holy Roman Empire. Now it is a fairly large provincial city in France.

Ruler: Charles V — Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, King of Spain, and Lord of the Netherlands as titular Duke of Burgundy (actually, Charles V died in 1558, while a coin bearing his portrait was minted continuously from 1538-1610).

MONE CIVI BISV - 1576 (the indicated date is only probable: very poorly preserved): Latin "Moneta Civitatis Bisuntinae" (Coinage or currency of the city of Besançon).

The coat of arms of the city of Besançon, placed in the center of the cross. By the way, as it was half a millennium ago, this coat of arms is relevant to this day.

The coat of arms of Besançon uses the Eagle and The Pillars of Hercules inherited from Roman tradition. It was granted to the city by Charles V in 1537, with the motto: "Utinam" (God bless, in Latin). The city was then strategic on the border of the Holy Roman Empire, — the hereditary territories of the Habsburgs — and the Kingdom of France.

CAROLVS V IMPERATOR: Charles V the Emperor.

Portrait of the Emperor in a crown.

Posthumous issue of a miniature silver coin of Charles V.

  • Silver (billon): 16 mm - 0.4 g
  • Reference price: 29.3$

COIN CAROLUS — WHERE & WHEN (coins catalog: by names & emitents)
  1. FRENCH REGIONAL ISSUES (16th-17th centuries) — Free imperial city of Besançon, County of Burgundy, Lordship of Vauvillers: carolus = 2 kreuzer

CAROLUS as coin name.
In my opinion, this is a rather interesting and ambiguous coin name.
If we are talking about a coin with the name "carolus", then it can be stated quite clearly: such a coin was in circulation in certain lands of modern France during the 16th and 17th centuries (the most common among numismatists is probably the carolus of Besançon city). It was a small silver coin.
What is interesting about this numismatic name?
Firstly, this is a rather rare case when a coin gets its name in honor of the ruler who started its issue. In this case, according to Internet sources, it is about Charles VIII of France (in Latin, his name is written exactly as Carolus).
Secondly, if we consider the coins of the above-mentioned monarch (the end of the 15th century), then in the catalogs the denomination is written in the karolus format. And this is another name.
Moreover, in the 16th century, a large (almost 20 times heavier than the French carolus) silver coin of a very similar design was minted in the lands of Brabant, Flanders and Gelderland. This coin is mentioned in catalogs as "karolusgulden"...