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Hoard of Venetian Coinage of Doge Pietro Gradenigo from Suvi Doci in Kijevo near Knin

Tomislav Šeparović ; Muzej hrvatskih arheoloških spomenika

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 2.475 Kb

str. 327-336

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The subject of this essay is a group find of Venetian coins from the site of Suvi Doci in Brižine in the area of the Kijevo settlement around 20 km south-east of Knin. According to data from the archive and the old inventory of the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, the find was bought from the inhabitants of Kijevo, and consisted of 13 silver grossi (matapans) minted during the rule of Doge Pietro Gradenigo (1289 -1311). That was a time when the Croatian political scene was dominated by the powerful Bribir noble family, a branch of the ŠUbićs, amongst whom Ban Pavao is of particular importance as the dominant figure of the Croatian Middle Ages. By exploiting the weakness of the Arpad family, and by cleverly steering a course between the pretenders to the Croato-Hungarian throne, Pavao Bribirski slowly but surely took over power in Croatia. Thus he is recorded by the end of the 13th century as being ban of the whole of Croatia and ruler of Bosnia (banus totius Chroatiae et Bosnae dominus) . The Bribir family at this time extended their estates, and strengthened their power through marriages with members of other noble and ruling families. The Bribirs also played an important role in the coming of Charles II Robert of Anjou to the Croato-Hungarian throne. The development of the economy and especially trade, in which the coastal cities where intensive trading contacts were forged played a significant part, was certainly of great help in strengthening the Bribirs. The document in which Charles II permits the import of certain quantities of wheat and oats from Apulia without the obligation of paying customs duties, is evidence of the trading activities of the Bribir family. The greatest opponent of the Bribirs in their attempt to keep the coastal towns under control was clearly the Venice Republic which, regardless of the difficulties connected to the conflict with the Pope over Ferrara, the long-lasting war with Genoa and the revolt of the patrician Bajamonti Tiepolo within Venice itself, remained the most important naval power in the Adriatic. The 141h century was the era of its great economic expansion which is evidenced by numerous trade contracts signed by various rulers, towns and states throughout the then-known world. The significant economic growth was of course accompanied by a wise fiscal policy in which an important event was the introduction of the grosso. Its appearance is connected to the 4th Crusade, although there are different opinions. It is certain that the grosso was first circulated during the rule of Dage Enrico Dandolo when it was worth 26 piccoli. It is interesting that by the time of Doge Pietro Gradenigo there appeared numerous imitation s of this coin such as those from Brescia in northern Italy or those minted in the Raška area. Coins of Ban Pavao with adepiction imitating the comtemporary grossi of Doge Pietro Gradenigo, like the anes found in Suvi Doci, are known but rare. Considering the intense trade between the hinterland of the eastern Adriatic coast and the rest of the Mediterranean, it is no wonder that numerous Venetian coin s also found their way to inland Croatia. When and how some body came into possession of a certain quantity of Venetian grassi and why they were hidden in the area of Suvi Doci are questions to which no certain answer can be given. But when we consider the characteristics of the find itself as well as the historical circumstances we can nevertheless come to a more or less acceptable solution. Difficulties with a more precise chronological determination of the find are presented by the coins themselves whose year of minting cannot be precisely established. The period of its issuance coincides with the era when the Vene tian Republic was headed by Doge Pietro Gradenigo. Thus the terminus post quem is 1289 when this doge came to office. The fact that the coins in question are of the same denomination suggests that this money was for some reason paid in a single transaction. One of the possibilities is that the money was earned in trade, i.e. was paid to someone for a certain type of merchandise. To get an idea of the value and monetary relationships in that era, we should mention that one Venetian grosso at the end of the 131h and the beginning of the 14th century was worth approximately 32 piccoli which means that the value of the group find from Suvi Doci was over 400 piccoli. This was certainly no great amount but in the local circumstances was quite significant. This is shown by written documents from the end of the 131b century in which we find data on families from the Cetina area who, burdened by difficult material circumstances, even offered up their children as servants to rich coastal families and charged ridiculously low amounts of money for this. When analysing the group find from Suvi Doci, it has to be considered an acceptable possibility that we are dealing with part of the salary of some unknown inhabitant of Kijevo who was recruited into the army and therefore hid his small fortune for safekeeping. Even from Antiquity it is known that soldiers often hid their salaries before leaving on campaign. According to Venetian sources, in the second decade of the 141h century the lowest salary for a rower in a warship was one and a half grossi daily; archers and ships' carpenters were paid two and officers three grossi daily. This means that the money from Suvi Doci, if it really consisted of a total of 13 coins, actually amounted to little over one quarter of the lowest monthly salary mentioned above. lt is a fact that the Bribir family was obliged to help the King militarily even during the reign of the last Arpad king, and had themselves to keep a significant number of men under arms in order to be capable of controlling the great areas which were under their sway. The newly elected King Charles Robert of Anjou warred on all sides, and therefore this is also a perfectly acceptable possibility, especially since one of Charles's documents on privileges mentions the duty of the Bribir family to serve the King, i.e. to provide him with a large anny for help in times of need. The problems that the king had with oligarchs in Hungary and S1avonia with whom he was in conflict for a whole decade are well known. In 1319, a war with the Serbs brake out because of the attack of Serbian king Uroš Milutin on Bosnia, Srijem and Mačva. In this conflict, which ended successfully for Charles Robert, a significant role was played by Ban Mladen II whose forces from the west provided the King with strong support. However, it is interesting to point out here the data from the available sources which shows that soldiers from the coastal towns were also in the service of the Bribirs. In the conclusion from the Council of Trogir of 16 December 1289, it is noted that 40 soldiers are to be sent to the ban in Cetina. At precisely that time the Bribir family was in direct contact with the Venetian Republic because of its territorial pretensions to the eastern Adriatic coast. It is clear that the arriving soldiers had to be accommodated somewhere. Maybe precisely this area in Suvi Doci was suitable for building a temporary military camp because it was not prone to flooding. The group find from Suvi Doci could perhaps be linked to Vlah mercenaries, a Significant number of whom were in service of the princes and feudal lords in the area of the Dalmatian hinterland. It is known that Vlahs took part on the side of Mladen Il, together with the Poličani, in the famous battle near Bisko in 1322. This is also the oldest mention of Vlahs in the sources for the medieval history of Croatia. It helped encourage opinions that groups of Vlahs inhabited the area south of the Dinara mountain during the times of the Bribir counts Pavao and Mladen II. Since these opinions are backed by sources, we have to accept the possibility that the group find from Suvi Doci could also.have belonged to Vlahs. Whatever the case, it is certainly possible that after the occupation of Zadar in 1311 a large quantity of Venetian money came into the possession of the Bribir counts who then paid their mercenaries with it. Apart from the soldiers ' salaries there was the matter of financing the anny's supplies which was of crucial importance for its functioning. The army was at that time very much needed by the Bribirs in order for them to oppose the Venetian attempts to regain control over Zadar. And indeed in the next two years the Venetian Republic constantly kept threatening Zadar with its navy until the moment this town came back under her rule peacefully in 1313. The reason for depositing the money in Suvi Doci could be sought in the decade after the death of Ban Pavao in 1312, whether it was a case of concealing the money because of the danger of war or a soldier's hiding place. This was a time of constant tension and conflicts between noble families but also the defiance of the coastal towns of Šibenik and Trogir which chose to be ruled by Venice rule rather than succumb to Ban Mladen II. Finally, the year of Ban Mladen lI's fall can also be taken into consideration as a terminus for dating the deposit of coins in Suvi Doci, in which case the anned conflict culminating in the battle near Bisko would serve as a valid reason for such an action. The correct explanation for the group find from Suvi Doci certainly lies within the above historical circumstances and political and economic situation. The real reasons for depositing this money will probably never be known but the goal of this essay is to add to the archaeolgical historical picture of this part of southern Croatia and through its publication to contribute to the better understanding of an intriguing period of Croatian history. Translation: Nicholas Philip Saywell

Ključne riječi

Suvi Doci; Kijevo; hoard; Venetian coinage; Venetian grosso; Bribir family; Ban Pavao; Ban Mladen ll; Pietro Gradenigo

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