Monday, November 29, 2010

History of the Crusades Commemorated In Antiqued Silver Coin Series

A new and captivating series of silver coins has recently been completed that focuses on the tremendous historical significance of the first four religious military campaigns to conquer the Holy Land of Jerusalem, known as the Crusades.

The first four crusades occurred between 1095 and 1204 and were sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope of the time to reclaim the Holy Land of Jerusalem from Muslim occupation and restore it to Christian rule. The Crusades had far-reaching political, economic, and social impacts, some of which have lasted into contemporary times. Because of internal conflicts among Christian kingdoms and political powers, some of the crusade expeditions were diverted from their original aim. A brief summary of each of the first four crusades is as follows:

Cook Islands 2009 $5 History of the Crusades Godfrey of Bouillon Silver BU

The First Crusade: 1095-1099...In March 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexius I called for help defending his empire against the Seljuk Turks. Later that year Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks, promising those who died in the endeavor would receive immediate remission of their sins. Following abortive crusades in early 1096, the official crusader armies set off from France and Italy on the papally ordained date of 15 August 1096. The lengthy Siege of Antioch began in October 1097 and endured until June of 1098, with the crusaders breaching the city walls and massacring the Muslim inhabitants. A Muslim relief army then beseiged the victorious crusaders, however the crusaders defeated this army but not without suffering many casualties. They finally reaching the walls of Jerusalem on 7 June 1099 with only a fraction of their original forces.

The Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the invading Franks. They were unsuccessful though and on 15 July 1099 the crusaders entered the city. After gaining control of Jerusalem the Crusaders created four Crusader states: the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli. Initially, Muslims did very little about the Crusader states due to internal conflicts. Eventually, the Muslims began to reunite under the leadership of Imad al-Din Zangi. He began by re-taking Edessa in 1144. It was the first city to fall to the Crusaders, and became the first to be recaptured by the Muslims. This led the Pope to call for a second Crusade.

Cook Islands 2010 $1 History of the Crusades Louis VII of France Silver BU

The Second Crusade: 1147-1149...French and South German armies, under the Kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories, launching a failed pre-emptive siege of Damascus. On the other side of the Mediterranean, however, the Second Crusade met with great success as a group of Northern European Crusaders stopped in Portugal, allied with the Portuguese King, Afonso I of Portugal, and retook Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147. In the Holy Land by 1150, both the kings of France and Germany had returned to their countries without any result.

Cook Islands 2010 $5 History of the Crusades Richard the Lionheart Silver BU

The Third Crusade: 1187-1192...In 1187, Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, conquered Jerusalem after nearly a century under Christian rule. Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade, which was led by several of Europe's most important leaders: Philip II of France, Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart), and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick drowned in Cilicia in 1190, leaving an unstable alliance between the English and the French. After a long siege, Richard the Lionheart recaptured the city of Acre and took the entire Muslim soldier garrison under captivity, which was executed after a series of failed negotiations. The Crusader army headed south along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of Jaffa, and were in sight of Jerusalem. However, Richard did not believe he would be able to hold Jerusalem once it was captured, as the majority of Crusaders would then return to Europe, and the crusade ended without the taking of Jerusalem.

Cook Islands 2010 $5 History of the Crusades Henricus Dandulus Silver BU

The Fourth Crusade: 1202-1204...The Fourth Crusade was initiated in 1202 by Pope Innocent III, with the intention of invading the Holy Land through Egypt. Because the Crusaders lacked the funds to pay for the fleet and provisions that they had contracted from the Venetians, Doge Henricus Dandulus enlisted the crusaders to restore the Christian city of Zara (Zadar) to obedience. Because they subsequently lacked provisions and time on their vessel lease, the leaders decided to go to Constantinople, where they attempted to place a Byzantine exile on the throne. After a series of misunderstandings and outbreaks of violence, the Crusaders sacked the city in 1204, and established the so-called Latin Empire and a series of other Crusader states throughout the territories of the Greek Byzantine Empire. This is often seen as the final breaking point of the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and (Western) Roman Catholic Church.

Each of the four antiqued silver coins released in the History of the Crusades series are struck from 25 grams of sterling silver on a crown-sized flan to brilliant uncirculated quality. The coins are then treated with a special oxidation process that gives them the appearance of being antique, fitting for a set of coins focused on historical times. Each coin is encapsulated and supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity confirming the exclusive world-wide mintage of just 1000 coins struck for each Crusade.

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