James Todesca

title.none: Azzopardi, The Coinage of the Crusaders (James Todesca)

identifier.other: baj9928.0809.003 08.09.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: James Todesca, Armstrong Atlantic State University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Azzopardi, Emmanuel. The Coinage of the Crusaders and the World of Islam. Malta: Midsea Books, 2006. Pp. 303. $156 $156 978-9993-27091-1. ISBN: 978-9993-27091-1.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.09.03

Azzopardi, Emmanuel. The Coinage of the Crusaders and the World of Islam. Malta: Midsea Books, 2006. Pp. 303. $156 $156 978-9993-27091-1. ISBN: 978-9993-27091-1.

Reviewed by:

James Todesca
Armstrong Atlantic State University

This is a strange and flawed book. Azzopardi's professed intention is to update Gustave Schlumberger's Numismatique de l'Orient latin of 1878 by taking into account "new concepts" of more recent scholarship. He relies in particular on D. M. Metcalf's Coinage of the Crusades and the Latin East (though not on the revised second edition of 1995) and also on the Coins of the Crusader States by Alex Malloy et al. [1] Azzopardi, however, ranges more widely in space and time than Schlumberger, Metcalf or Malloy. He incorporates coins from Muslim Spain, Imperial Rome, Sassanid Persia, twelfth- century Europe, and a long run of pieces struck by the Hospitallers from the beginning of their residency in Malta in 1530 until Napoleon's occupation of the island in 1798. In the end, Azzopardi's main purpose seems to be to illustrate coins from his personal collection for which he enlisted photographer Daniel Cilia.

Cilia's images are indeed the book's main asset. His photos are as clear as the specimens will allow and his enlargements of some pieces will convince skeptical classicists that medieval money is not uniformly dull. His detail of a gold ducat or zecchino struck by the Order of St John (126) is wonderful, though the caption does not clearly identify the specimen. (My best guess is that it corresponds to CC393 on page 157.) Likewise, the blow up of a copper trifollaro from Sicily reveals a compelling image of a mounted Norman warrior (91). Since the caption calls this "a fine example," I was surprised to find a much clearer specimen in the Fitzwilliam Museum's on-line catalogue. Nevertheless, the worn smoothness of Azzopardi's piece gives the horseman an austere beauty that Cilia obviously appreciated. Photos such as these help demonstrate to the uninitiated reader that coins are a tangible, vibrant link to the past.

Azzopardi's text, however, disappoints on many levels. Although it includes notes and a bibliography, the book is essentially a non- scholarly work. To this extent, puzzling statements such as "Europe was the last region to have come under Arab domination" (5) or "the Frankish empire founded by Charlemagne was to play a major role in the crusades" (6) should perhaps be forgiven. His certainty that Constantine's mother, Helena, attended excavations at the site of the Holy Sepulcher where she found the True Cross (38) or his minor misstatement that "the eastern empire became known as the Byzantine empire" (37) might also be overlooked. Still these recurring faux pas undermine the reader's confidence.

The historian might generously assume that Azzopardi's strength lies in his handling of the coins themselves for he has the encyclopedic knowledge of a seasoned collector. Still, the professional numismatist will be alarmed by occasional sloppiness. In his catalogue entry for two Spanish Umayyad dirhams, for example, he describes the obverse and reverse simply as a "marginal legend in three lines" which makes no sense when looking at the photographs (CC003-CC004). What Azzopardi means to say is the obverse and reverse have a three-lined legend in the central field encircled by a marginal legend, a common arrangement on Muslim coins. He makes the same mistake for his Almoravid and Almohad dinars, adding a typo in the last description (CC005-CC007). Moreover, he gives no transcription of the Arabic legends nor an English translation. A mishap in the opposite sense occurs with his cataloging of a gold tari of Fredrick II (CC087). Here he enters the obverse legend in English as "Frederick, King of Sicily." In reality, the obverse legend says nothing; it is a series of "geometrical strokes," what Grierson and Travaini called pseudo-Cufic. [2]

Another example of his less-than-careful handling of numismatic material can be seen in the statement that "the coinage of Henry of Champagne consists of three type (sic) copper pougeoise and a copper piefort" (57). Poor syntax aside, Azzopardi seems to say Henry struck pougeoises and a distinct coin called a piefort. He clarifies this in note 52 explaining that "Henry...introduced two denominations: the copper pougeoise...and the large copper piefort." He fails to recognize that a piefort is not a coin; it is a non-circulating trial piece, or pattern, normally stuck on a heavy flan. Furthermore, Henry's so-called pougeoise was not a copper piece but a billon denier. Metcalf suggests they circulated at half the value of other denarii in the Latin east. He reminds us that the chronicler Raymond of Aguilers wrote, "Erat haec nostra moneta: Pictavini, Cartenses, Manses, Luccenses, Valenziani, Melgorienses, et duo pogesi pro uno istarum." [3] Azzopardi misses the relevancy of Raymond's passage which he himself quotes a few pages earlier (53). He clearly drew his account of Henry's coinage from a slightly confused passage in Malloy which he has garbled even more.

This leads us to the most troubling aspect of Azzopardi's work: inappropriate borrowing from others. Malloy had this to say about Henry of Champagne's coinage: "The existence of these new types and denominations illustrates in part the influence of the coinages of France in the Latin Orient during this period after the Third Crusade" [4]. Azzopardi writes: "The design of these new types and denominations illustrates the influence of the coinage of France in the Latin Orient after the Third Crusade" (57). Nowhere in his discussion of Henry's coins does he cite Malloy, neither in the text nor in the corresponding notes.

Sadly, Azzopardi appears to have little knowledge of what constitutes plagiarism. The first section of his Chapter 4 is labeled "Baronial Coinage of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem," followed by the sub- heading "1124-1291: Lordship of Tyre." Malloy's Chapter 5 is entitled "Baronial Coinage of the Latin Kingdom," followed by the subheading "Lordship of Tyre." Azzopardi's section begins: In 1124, after a long siege by the joined forces of the crusaders and the Venetians, Tyre was finally captured. The Venetians received one third of the city together with extensive trading privileges throughout the Latin kingdom, while the other two- thirds began to form part of the Latin royal domain (95). Malloy's text reads: Tyre, known as Sur, its Arabic name, in medieval and modern times, was captured in 1124, after a long siege, through the combined efforts of the Crusaders and a Venetian fleet. One third of the city was given to the Venetians, who also received extensive trading privileges in the kingdom, and the rest was retained as part of the royal domains. [5] Teachers will recognize from student papers that Azzopardi has rearranged and changed some wording but has otherwise reproduced his source. And there is again no citation of Malloy. Instead, in notes 4 and 5 for this page Azzopardi continues to closely borrow from Malloy's text still without referencing it.

Moreover, as we saw above with Henry of Champagne's coins, Malloy is not the best of sources. If nothing else, his work is now slightly outdated. In the case of Venice and Tyre, Malloy accepted the old belief that Venice held one third of the city of Tyre and its environs as allodial land, i.e., separate from the royal domain. David Jacoby has since emphasized that in 1125 King Baldwin curtailed concessions to Venice in several ways including attaching military service to their holding in Tyre, thus making them fiefs of the kingdom. Jonathan Philips in The Crusades, 1095-1197 reiterated Jacoby's position that Venice's "privileges were not so sweeping as previously thought." [6] While this may seem a small point, it illustrates the weakness of Azzopardi's uncritical, and at times near verbatim, incorporation of Malloy.

"Borrowing" from Malloy continues to be evident if one compares Azzopardi's subsequent sections on baronial coinage in chapter 4 with the corresponding sections in Malloy. Moreover, Azzopardi cuts and pastes the various lists of rulers found throughout Metcalf without citation. [7] I suspect other examples of plagiarism, intentional or not, can be found if one takes the time.

Finally, a word must be said about organization and editing. Odd non- sequiturs abound particularly in the early chapters. On page 43 the author discusses the conflict between Sassanid Persia and the Roman Empire in the seventh century. Without warning the paragraph jumps to describing a fourth-century coin of the Emperor Vetranio. The next paragraph then resumes the discussion of Rome and Persia in the seventh century. I believe the three sentences dealing with Vetranio were intended to be placed as a caption under the coin of Vetranio illustrated on that page but became part of the text instead.

Pages 50 to 51 offer a more convoluted example of this editorial mishap. Under the heading of "The First Crusade" the text first outlines the preparations for the crusade, abruptly switches to discussing copper follari from Sicily, returns to the crusaders arriving in Constantinople, changes course to discuss the Emperor Alexius and his son, and finally returns to the crusaders leaving Constantinople and crossing Anatolia. Again, the odd passages on Sicilian follari and Alexius and John Comnenus clearly should be positioned under the three coins on these pages. Similar bloopers appear on pages 58 and 87-88.

The notes too are bewildering. Frequently they simply repeat, at times verbatim, what is in the main text. This is perhaps best illustrated if one consults the notes corresponding to pages 37-38 or those for pages 43-44. Something seems to have gone very awry in assembling the book. In addition to photography, Daniel Cilia is credited with "design." One wonders if these blunders came as he arranged and formatted Azzopardi's text.

A sharper editorial eye may also have lent more coherence to individual chapters. Chapter three is entitled "The First Crusade" which most historians would agree took place between 1095 and 1099. Azzopardi, however, includes subsections entitled "The Order of St. John in the Holy land: 1083-1319," "The Seljuks of Rum: 1077-1307," "1104-1409: The Artuqids of Mardin" and, most bizarrely, "The Second Crusade: 1147-1149." Covering a broad range of material, these sections often appear in random order. After a brief synopsis of the Second Crusade (where he wrongly identifies the king of France on the expedition as Louis VI), Azzopardi jumps to a section on the Principality of Antioch followed by a section labeled "1119: The Field of Blood" (78-80). It is difficult to understand why these latter sections do not precede the discussion of the Second Crusade. Such haphazard arrangement of material is encountered throughout the work.

Azzopardi and Cilia obviously hoped to bring the crusades to life for a general audience by producing a volume abundant with color photos of coins and other illustrations. It is a noble ambition shared by many collectors. Coins are palpable survivors from the past. Perhaps more than mosaics or manuscripts, they often emit a sense of having been in the thick of things. Who can say how many crusader hands a twelfth- century denier of Antioch passed through before it was hoarded away to resurface centuries later? There are many coins beautifully displayed in this volume that will pique the reader's imagination. Nonetheless, Azzopardi and Cilia's book represents a terrific idea hastily executed. It must be used with caution.

-------- Notes: 1. Gustave Schlumberger, Numismatique de l'Orient latin 2 vols. (1878-82; reprint, Graz, Austria, 1954); D. M. Metcalf, Coinage of the Crusades and the Latin East in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford 2nd ed. (London, 1995); Alex G. Malloy, Irene Fraley Preston and Arthur J. Seltman, Coins of the Crusader States ed. Allen G. Berman (New York, 1994). 2. See the taris of "Class D" in Philip Grierson and Lucia Travaini, Italy (III) (South Italy, Sicily and Sardinia), vol. 14 of Medieval European Coinage (Cambridge, 1998), 178 and 660, coin nos. 521-26. 3. Metcalf, 12, 71-72 and plate 12, nos. 199-200. 4. Malloy, 58. 5. Malloy, 141. 6. David Jacoby, "The Venetian Privileges in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem: Twelfth and Thirteenth-Century Interpretations and Implementation," in Montjoie: Studies in Crusade History in Honour of Hans Eberhard Mayer, ed. Benjamin Z. Kedar, Jonathan Riley- Smith and Rudolf Hiestand (Aldershot, England, 1997), 163-165, 174- 75; cf. Jonathan Phillips, The Crusades, 1095-1197 (Harlow, England), 33-34. 7. Cf. Azzopardi, 55 with Metcalf, 52; Azzopardi, 78 with Metcalf, 22 and 117; Azzopardi, 99 with Metcalf, 148; Azzopardi, 137 with Metcalf, 177 and 199.