Medieval rulers often used their coinage to communicate political or religious messages to wide audiences. In various ways, coins minted in the newly-established Crusader States presented triumphant statements about the Latin Christian conquests in the Holy Land.
County of Edessa
The county of Edessa was the first Crusader State to be established. This coin, which was minted during the reign of Count Baldwin II (1100–18), reflects the atmosphere of Christian militancy and inter-faith tension associated with the early years of the crusader conquests. It depicts the count exhibiting a cross with one hand while maintaining a firm grasp on the handle of his sword with the other. In the inscription, Baldwin is identified as a ‘Servant of the Cross’.
Principality of Antioch
The eight-month siege of Antioch was the most dramatic episode in the history of the First Crusade. It eventually concluded with a resounding victory for the crusaders and resulted in the foundation of a second Crusader State, the principality of Antioch.
On this coin one of the principality’s first rulers, Roger of Salerno, celebrated the memory of the conquest of Antioch. During the final battle for the city (28 June 1098) the crusaders believed they had been assisted in combat by St George. The saint is shown here on horseback, charging to war, as a reminder of his support for the crusading project.
Kingdom of Jerusalem
This coin depicts the Tower of David, the citadel on the western side of Jerusalem. The Tower was used here by the city’s Latin rulers as a symbol of military might and to draw on a powerful historical source of royal authority to legitimise their new regime.
The crusader conquest transformed the sacred landscape of the Holy Land. This coin, which was minted in the lordship of Sidon in the early thirteenth century, records the conversion of a mosque into a cathedral. Many Muslim and Jewish holy sites were appropriated in this way by the region’s new Latin rulers.
Principality of Antioch
The sign of the cross was the defining symbol of the crusading movement and it continued to shape the devotional sensibilities of those Latins who settled in the Holy Land. This coin from the principality of Antioch shows a heavily armoured Christian warrior, with the sign of the cross emblazoned prominently upon his helmet.