Coins of the First Crusade, 1098-1131

The coins of the First Crusade are illustrated in the context of history. For the coins without history, see a second page with a concise illustrated list of the coins of the First Crusade.

The first crusader coin type (to the right) was struck by Baldwin de Boulogne (Baldwin I) who made himself Count of Edessa, the first crusader state (See the map below). He later became king of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Coin. Baldwin I, AD 1098-1100. 25 mm (the size of a US quarter) and 6.89 grams. Struck at Edessa. 
Obverse: The bust of Christ facing, nimbate (i.e. with a halo), holding the gospels. IC XC (for Jesus Christus) either side. No other obverse legend.
Reverse: A cross on two steps, large pellets at the ends ("cross pattée"), wedge in each angle, with letters for Baldwin in the quadrants. 
  B   Λ      
  Δ   N   (for BAΛΔOINOC  "Baldwin")

This first type resembles contemporary Byzantine coins. It is rare.
ReferencesCCS Edessa 1b. Metcalf --. Metcalf has no examples, but the type is discussed on pages 33-35 with a line drawing. Schindel Type 1c, coin 27 (this coin).

What's new?  2024, June 6, Baldwin II, CCS Edesssa 7.
2024, April 28: Tancred type 1 overstruck by Tancred type 2
2024, March 30: A coin of Richard of Salerno from Edessa.
2024, Feb. 7: A page with an illustrated list of all the early crusader types
2024, Feb 2:  Analysis of an overstrike
2023, Dec. 16. Much reoganized. Tables of the rulers, their history, and coin IDs.

The First Crusade. With the Byzantine empire on the verge of collapse, emperor Alexius wrote to western leaders and Pope Urban II begging for help, citing territorial gains of the Turks and their atrocities against Christians. The news outraged Christians in the West. After that groundwork was laid, the Pope called the First Crusade in November 1095 with the stated goal of reclaiming Jerusalem for Christians. The crusaders established four Crusader states: The County of Edessa (in yellow) in 1098, The Principality of Antioch (in blue) later in 1098, The Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099 (in white) (The goal of the crusade was met), and the County of Tripoli in 1109 (Map from For more about the events of the First Crusade, see below). 

Coins. Coins of the First Crusade were struck at Edessa by Baldwin I (above) and his successors and at Antioch by Bohemond I and his successors. Although Jerusalem was conquered in 1099, coins were not struck for "The Kingdom of Jerusalem" until much later under Baldwin III, 1043-1063, whose coins are very common. Coins at Tripoli were of the small and thin base silver "denier" denomination after 1109. They are not discussed here. 

This page has coins integrated into the history. A second page has tables listing all the early crusader coin types (of Antioch and of Edessa.)

Contents of this page
  Coins: Baldwin I of Edessa, the first crusader coin type (above, although see some caveats)
    Coins of the Principality of Antioch.   
    Coins of the County of Edessa.

    A comment for collectors about coin quality.
    History of the First Crusade
    History of Antioch and Bohemond

  A table listing crusader rulers linked to some of their coin types.
  How they are attributed with overstrikes. (A third page, about overstrikes)
  Caveats--about coins and about history.
  References (for crusader coins and history), annotated.

Contents of the second page:
  Coin types from Antioch, illustrated.
  Coin types from Edessa, illustrated. 

History and the coins. (Skip down to a short history of the First Crusade)

Edessa, the first crusader state. Antioch was a very large and well-fortified city which blocked the overland route of the crusaders marching from Constantinople to Jerusalem. In early 1098, Baldwin of Boulogne (Bouillon, a.k.a. Baldwin I) and his knights, rather than continue marching with the main force, veered off through Cilicia to Edessa, which was in Christian Armenian hands, and he soon became its ruler as the "Count of Edessa." He struck the first crusader coins (above). Edessa and its coins are discussed more below.  Coins of Antioch are much more common and discussed first.

Antioch. The best known event of the First Crusade is the extremely brutal siege of Antioch which lasted seven and a half months. Crusaders and Antioch's defenders died in large numbers from starvation, disease, and battle. Finally Antioch was conquered by the machinations of Bohemond which allowed crusaders to enter and conquer the city only one day before a relieving Islamic army arrived--a force that would have wiped out the crusaders had they not taken the city and gotten behind its walls. Bohemond, extremely tall and strong with a personality to match, issued rare coins much like the coin of Baldwin above, but with letters for Bohemond in the quadrants. They are never well struck. This example is no exception.

Coin. Bohemond I, 1098-1101 and 1103-1104, at Antioch. 25 mm. (The size of a US quarter) 2.56 grams.
Facing bust of St. Peter, nimbate, holding cross over left shoulder. O/ΠЄ  to left. ("O" means "Saint".)
  B  H
  M  T  in quadrants of a cross, floral ornaments at base (very much like Byzantine anonymous Class I).
CCS Antioch 1. Metcalf 47-48. 

Coin quality. Admittedly the first two coins are not in great condition. Nevertheless, the first, of Baldwin, is one of the best known examples and the second, of Bohemond, is in better-than-typical shape. Most coins of the First Crusade are in terrible shape. Condition is discussed more below

Tancred. On the route from Antioch to Jerusalem the crusaders had bypassed Tripoli and small cities. After Jerusalem was conquered Tancred and his knights went back and conquered many of those cities (but not Tripoli), which proved he was a capable leader. When Bohemond of Antioch was captured by the Turks in 1100, Tancred (also very tall and large) became regent for him at Antioch until Bohemond was ransomed in 1103. This explains the gap in Bohemond's rule. Tancred became regent again when Bohemond left in 1104 for Europe to recruit more crusaders. Coins of Tancred of Antioch are, by far, the most common coins of the First Crusade. Next is the first of Tancred's four types.

Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1112. 
24 mm. 4.62 grams.
Obverse: Bust of St. Peter facing, nimbate, with scroll in left and diagonal long cross in right. 
Θ/ΠЄ to left and POC down the right (Identifying St. Peter)
Reverse: Legend in four lines:
ΛOCOVT    (His name begins here: T-ANKRI[D])
"Oh Lord come to the aid of thy servant Tancred"
CCS Antioch 3 (page 199) Tancred's first type of four. 
Metcalf 49-62. Also page 25, type 6.
On some examples his curly beard is evident:


Same type.
23.4 mm. 4.48 grams.
Minor reverse-legend variant with the terminal + on the fourth line instead of below it.

Tancred's second type is smaller, the size of a US cent. It is the first crusader portrait type.

Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1112. 
20-19 mm. 3.41 grams.
His second type of four.
Bearded facing bust of Tancred, holding raised sword in his right hand. This is the only type of the First Crusade with a "portrait" of the ruler. The three other types of Tancred don't and none of the other rulers have portrait types. 
This type has lettering around which includes his name at the end (2:30-4:00). Most coins of this type do not a have a legible obverse legend. This one is more legible than most and says something like
+KЄBOH ------ TANKP  "Lord, help Tancred"
The reverse has:
NI  KA in quadrants of a cross, floral ornament at base.
Abbreviating "Jesus Christ Conquers".
This is a very common reverse legend and type on Byzantine coins, including the anonymous folles of "Class C". 
CCS Antioch 4 (page 199)
Metcalf 63-70. Also, page 25, type 4.

The third type of Tancred is next. 

Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1112. 
21 mm. 3.00 grams.
His third type of four.
Facing bust of Christ, IC XC either side, very much like many Byzantine anonymous folles.
Cross with
 P     H   in its quadrants, for "Tancre[d]"
floral ornament at base.
Metcalf 49-62. Also p. 25, type 6.
CCS Antioch 5 (page 199f). 

Many crusader coins are overstruck on earlier coins. Examples are larger when the undertype was larger.

Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1112. 
26-25 mm. 4.72 grams. Unusually large.
The same type as above, but overstruck on a much larger flan. Unfortunately, the undertype cannot be identified.
Square cross with
 P     H   in its quadrants, for
Metcalf 49-62. Also page 25, type 6.
CCS Antioch 5 (page 199f)
Here is the fourth type of Tancred.

Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1112. 
22 mm. 4.18 grams.
His fourth type of four.
St. Peter, standing, with right hand extended in blessing and left holding a long cross.
S PE  TPV  either side, for "St. Peter"
Square cross with
D  S
F   T  in the quadrants, for
"Domine Salvum Fac Tancredum"
"Lord, save Tancred"
CCS Antioch 6, Tancred's fourth type.
Metcalf 71-80 (all not as nice as this one), Type 5 page 27. 

Roger of Salerno. When Tancred died of typhoid in 1112, his successor at Antioch was Roger of Salerno, 1112-1119, a second cousin of Tancred, who served as regent for Bohemond's son, Bohemond II, who was a youth in Italy. Roger issued three types. His first type is next.

Roger of Salerno, Regent at Antioch, 1112-1119
21-20 mm. 2.48 grams.
Christ standing, nimbate, giving benediction with his right hand
(Legend very weak, but it is supposed to be:
IC  XC either side of his head, ЄMMANOVHΛ around.) 
The reverse is:
DNE  SAL   (NE ligate)
 FT      RO    in quadrants of a simple square cross, for
Domine salvum fac tuum Rogerium
"Lord, save your Roger"
CCS Antioch 7, Roger's first type.
Metcalf 86-88

Next are Roger's second and third types.

Roger of Salerno, Regent at Antioch, 1112-1119.
25-22 mm. 3.52 grams.
Virgin Mary standing orans (with arms outspread in blessing)
5-line inscription:
 ΔOVλωP     [The final letter is rho beginning the name of Roger]
  OTSЄPI   [We use "G" where the coin has "TS"]

"Lord help your servant Roger"
CCS Antioch 8. Roger's second type.
Metcalf 92-94, Antioch type 8.

Many crusader coins, such as the one above, are overstruck or poorly struck. The next coin is not great, but is better than most examples of the type. 

Roger of Salerno, Regent at Antioch, 1112-1119.
21-19 mm. 3.00 grams.
St. George riding right, spearing the snake-like dragon below.
4-line legend
POT3EP   ["Roger". We use "G" where the coin has what looks like"T3", which is really the Greek "TZ". Because Greek has no sound to approximate the French pronunciation of “G” in the name, the closest the language can come to it is a combination of the letters TZ.”
CCS Antioch 9, Roger's third and last type.
Metcalf 95-101, Antioch type 9.
According to Richard Plant, this is the first coin type to depict St. George and the dragon.

Bohemond II. When Roger died in 1119, Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, took over administration of Antioch until Bohemond II became of age. Bohemond II had been born in Italy after Bohemond I went back in 1104. Bohemond II did not see Antioch until he was 17 and arrived to claim it. He issued only one type (next).

Bohemond II, 1126-1130
19 mm. 3.70 grams.
Facing bust of St. Peter, very much like the first type of Tancred.
Square cross ("cross pommée")
ɣN   ΔOC  in quadrants, 
CCS Antioch 10a
Metcalf 102-103 

In 1129 the Armenian Prince of Cilicia died and the succession was disputed. In 1130 Anazarbus was temporarily undefended and Bohemond II went with a small force to take it. Unfortunately for Bohemond II, the Danismendid Ghazi (who issued Turkoman coins) had the same idea but came with a large force which surrounded and wiped out the crusaders including Bohemond II. After Bohemond II some smaller anonymous types were issued at Antioch and after 1136 Raymond of Poitiers issued billon deniers. Coins of Antioch after Bohemond II are not discussed here. 



Coins of the Rulers of Edessa. In 1098 Baldwin I (coin at the top) founded the first first crusader state, the County of Edessa. Edessa was also the first crusader state to fall. It fell in 1144 to Zengi (founder of the Zengid dynasty that later issued Turkoman figural bronze coins). When Europe learned of its fall and the resulting danger to Jerusalem, the pope called the Second Crusade.

Baldwin II. The first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was Godfrey (who did not issue coins), the older brother of Baldwin I of Edessa. Godfrey died after only a year and Baldwin I of Edessa became the new king and his nephew Baldwin II became ruler (Count) of Edessa (1100-1104 and 1108-1118). Much like Bohemond, Baldwin II was captured by the Turks and while he was in captivity, 1104-1108, Richard of Salerno ruled in his stead as regent. When Baldwin I died in 1118, Baldwin II became king of Jerusalem. 

Baldwin II, Second reign at Edessa, 1108-1118.
25 mm. 7.12 grams. From his "heavy" series. This is the first second-reign type, often overstruck on coins of Richard. 
"Armed man" Count in armor standing left in coat of mail with sword in right and resting left on shield
Patriarchal cross on steps.
Overstruck on an unidentifed earlier coin.
CCS Edessa 7. Metcalf p. 33, no examples. Schindel Type 8. 

Baldwin II, at Edessa. Second reign, 1108-1118.
25 mm. 3.90 grams. This is the first type of his "light" series which followed the "heavy" series. 
Struck after c. 1110, his third type.
Count in armor walking left, holding cross in right hand with his left hand on the hilt of his sword at his waist. Legend around, usually flat and illegible but on this example much can be seen. Notice the armor.
(From 1:00) BAΓΔOVNOC ΔO-YΛO CATV (some letters ligate) ("Baldwin, servant of the cross") By the way, the reason for this spelling of "Baldwin" on these coins is Armenian influence which is discussed by Murray.
Cross with floral ornament at the base, much like a Class I Byzantine anonymous follis (next coin). Pellets in the angles and pellets alongside the ends of the cross. 
CCS Edessa 9a. Metcalf 109-111 (111 has the same obverse die.) Schindel Type 10, coin 142 (this coin).
This reverse of the Baldwin II type above copies this Byzantine type from thirty years earlier.
A Byzantine follis of "Class I" attributed to 
Nicephorus III, 1078-1081.
25 mm. 6.18 grams. (The crusader type is from Baldwin's "light series," the coins of which are lighter than this Byzantine type.) 
Sear 1889

Baldwin II, second reign at Edessa.
21-20 mm. 2.77 grams.

CCS Edessa 10, which is very much like CCS Edessa 9 above, but smaller and without the legend around. Some letters for "Baldwin" are across the field. Only "B" (at 11:00) is clear on this example. 

Baldwin II, second reign at Edessa. 
21 mm. 3.93 grams.
Struck after c. 1110.
Count in chain armor.
Small square cross with letters at ends
      A       (The "A" is formed more like an "H")
  B  +  Δ

CCS Edessa 11, page 245.
Metcalf 113-114, plate 7.

Comment on the quality of the coins. Most crusader copper coins are very poorly produced. The coin immediately above is in terrible condition, but even the important Slocum collection, which had four, did not have one in better condition. Legends are often missing or illegible. Coins are often overstruck weakly so that the type and undertype are garbled together. It often requires numerous examples to show what the whole design was intended to be. Some line-drawings in books are wrong because all the examples they had at the time were too poor to know what was actually there! Any crusader copper coin that is nearly fully legible with a clear design is worth a large premium (and probably unavailable).
Baldwin II, second reign at Edessa. 
23-21 mm. 3.85 grams.
Struck after c. 1110.
Bust of Christ, nimbate, facing (just like on many Byzantine coins)
Count in chain armor, holding sword upright
Letters in the fields:
Δ     N  of which only the Δ is clear on this example.
Metcalf 115-117, plate 7.
CCS Edessa 12.
In some reference works the bust of Christ is treated as the reverse. I have pictured it as the obverse because the curvature of the flan suggests it is the obverse and on Byzantine coins Christ was on the obverse.  (This coin is overstruck. The undertype is considered here.)

Richard of Salerno. Richard of Salerno was a cousin of Bohemond and Tancred and also from Southern Italy. He participated in the seige of Antioch and later was captured by the Turks at the same time as Bohemond. He was sent to Constantinople and released in 1103. Tancred appointed him regent of Edessa in 1104. After Bohemond died in 1111 he retired to Marash where he died in an earthquake of 1114 (on that famous fault line that causes earthquakes in nearby Antioch). 

Richard of Salerno, as regent at Edessa.
25 mm. 4.68 grams.
 PIKAP in 3 lines  ("PIKAP" for "Richard"--think of the "P" as a rho, our "R", and a hard "K" like in "Riccardo.")
Square cross with balls at the ends and wedges in the angles.
References: CCS Edessa 5
Porteous Richard Class 2, plate 15.15-19 (He has the cross side as the obverse.)
Metcalf --. Sch II.1 and II.3.
     This coin is another one with a poor strike that is at least as good as most of its type.

       (Go to page 2 which is an illustrated list of all the early crusader types.) 

Other crusader coins. Most coins attributed to the crusaders are small, thin, base-silver "billon" deniers, but most are not from the First Crusade; they are much later issues that mimic the thin base-silver coins from Italy and Germany that the crusaders brought with them. Deniers of Kings Bohemond III and IV of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1188-1233) are very common


History. The First Crusade.  When the First Crusade was called in late 1095, Jerusalem and the "Holy Land" east of the Mediterranean had been under Moslem control since the 640s when the region was conquered from the Byzantine Empire. Antioch had been reconquered under Nicephorus II in 969 and held until 1075. Until 1071 the region of modern Turkey was part of the Byzantine Empire. However, in 1071, the Byzantines under Romanus IV lost the catastrophic "Battle of Manzikert" (a.k.a. Malzikert, in eastern Turkey) to the Seljuq Turks (who later minted Turkoman coins). This opened up most of Asian Turkey (all but the coastlines) to Moslem conquest and Antioch fell a few years later. Armenian Christians were displaced from the north and moved south to Cilicia and founded a Principality (orange on the map) which included Edessa which had been Byzantine. Several small Islamic dynasties were formed. Even Nicomedia (only 60 miles from Constantinople) was lost and the vanguard of the Seljuq Turks got within sight of Constantinople. So, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I (1080-1118) begged the west for help ejecting the Moslems and the pope called the First Crusade to recover Jerusalem. 

The pope's call was met with great enthusiasm by people of all walks of life. Crusaders assembled in Europe and went overland. The first people to gather in large numbers were excited by the idea but no idea what they were doing and met with disaster. The so-called "People's Crusade" marched from Cologne, Germany, with 40,000 people but few trained soldiers. After killing thousands of Jews along their way and losing ten thousand in battles with other Christians in Serbia even before reaching Constantinople, they crossed into Asia at the Bosporus and the 30,000 remaining were annihilated by the Seljuq Turks before reaching Nicaea. They made it only 100 miles from Constantinople.

Unlike the People's Crusade, the second wave of the First Crusade a few months later was led by numerous titled military men and knights who knew how to fight. They had taken time to settle their European affairs and train and prepare weapons and transport for the long trip, unlike the people of the People's Crusade who left sooner, but were completely unprepared. After crossing Europe in four armies to Constantinople, they met with the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I (1081-1118) and reassembled.

Alexius extracted promises that the crusaders would return any former Byzantine territory that they conquered, including Antioch, in return for support crossing the Bosporus and some support on the march. Coins of Alexius are common in several denominations. Some "anonymous" follis types are attributed to him and some "named" follis types, as well as smaller tetartera. He also has common gold coins and scarce silver coins. Here is a page on coins of Alexius.

The crusaders fought their way across Turkey. In early 1098 when the Crusaders were approaching Antioch on the way to Jerusalem, Baldwin of Boulogne and his knights veered off to Edessa (map) which was in Christian Armenian hands. Baldwin married the daughter of the lord of Edessa, who had no sons, and was adopted to become his heir. The lord was overthrown almost immediately (March 1098). Some sources say it was because the residents were Armenian Christians who took the opportunity to overthrew their hated Greek Orthodox lord. Other sources say Baldwin had a hand in the insurrection. Probably, we will never know (caveats). Baldwin ruled with the title of "Count" and the state is known as the County of Edessa. 

The other crusaders conquered Antioch after a brutal siege lasting seven and a half months. Then some crusaders, but not all, moved on toward Jerusalem. In 1099 Jerusalem was conquered (the star in white on the map), returning it to the control of Christians, so the objective of the First Crusade was fulfilled.

The first ruler of Jerusalem was Godfrey of Bouillon, 1099-1100, who was the older brother of Baldwin I. In 1100 when Godfrey died after only a year, Baldwin (Baldwin I of Edessa) became the King of Jerusalem (1100-1118). At Edessa Baldwin I was succeeded by his cousin Baldwin of Bourg (Baldwin II) who has a complicated history. His first reign was as Count of Edessa 1100-1104. He was captured and held by the Danishmendid Turks, 1104-1108. During the time when Baldwin II was in captivity, Richard of Salerno (1104-1108) was governor of Edessa in his place. Baldwin II was ransomed in 1108 and had his second reign at Edessa 1108-1118. When King Baldwin I of Jerusalem died in 1118, Baldwin II became King of Jerusalem (1118-1131) while retaining the regency at Edessa 1119-1126. The coins they issued were copper. Some types of "Baldwin" are securely attributed to the second reign of Baldwin II because they are overstruck on coins of Richard, but there is scholarly debate about whether the first coins of "Baldwin" belong to Baldwin I or Baldwin II.

History. Antioch. The crusaders barely survived their siege of Antioch. The amazing energy of Bohemond of Tarento (Bohemond I) was essential to keeping the siege going as long as it did. Antioch was huge with over 6 miles of walls and 400 towers. The crusaders had been unable to take it in seven months. Many crusaders had died of starvation and disease by the time Bohemond found a traitor who was able to surrender a tower which allowed the crusaders into the city which they conquered. A relieving force of Turks arrived the next day and surely would have wiped out the starving crusaders. The First Crusade would have failed. The Turks, in turn, immediately besieged the crusaders in Antioch, but that unsuccessful seige lasted only three weeks.

Anna Comnena saw Bohemond in Constantinople and wrote "he [Bohemond] was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit, narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms. And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned and, one might say, built in conformity with the canon of Polycleitus...". When "might makes right" it is helpful to be huge! (Maybe it still is.)

Bohemond of Tarento (Bohemond I) was a French Norman who had been fighting for twenty years, mostly in southern Italy and some years against the Byzantines in Sicily and Western Greece. As a crusader, cooperating with the Byzantines under Alexius was necessary, but not his intention. Antioch was supposed to have been handed back to the Byzantine empire, but the crusaders had not received the help from Alexius that they expected so Bohemond considered that excuse enough to renege on his oath and he kept Antioch for himself as the Principality of Antioch, the second crusader state. However, he was mostly not at Antioch. Crusaders continued fighting and he got captured and held by Turks, 1101-1103, and after his ransom was paid he traveled back to Italy in 1104 to recruit more crusaders (and to blame all the failings of the crusade on Alexius I). While he was away Antioch was ruled by his regent, his nephew Tancred. Both issued only copper coins. The coins of Bohemond are rare in contrast to the coins of Tancred which are, by far, the most common coins of from the First Crusade.

Bohemond I never returned, dying in Europe in 1111 after having a child there. Because of the strict feudal laws of succession, even though Bohemond I had left for Europe in 1104 and Antioch had been ruled by regents for two decades and his child, Bohemond II, had never been in the Holy Land, when he arrived to claim Antioch in 1126 and turned 18, he was acknowledged as its ruler (coin).

Observations about inheritance. The different rules of succession in the crusader and Islamic cultures made a huge difference in the crusades. The crusaders followed European primogeniture (the eldest son inherits everything) so Bohemond II became ruler of Antioch without a contest. Primogeniture forced second and third sons to find some other way to make their fortunes. It was often warfare, so second sons were often experienced military men--capable of helping organize an army for the crusades. Europeans were probably relieved to have so many fighting men leave on crusade rather than stir up conflicts on European territory.
   In contrast, Islamic leaders did not follow primogeniture. Islamic rulers who managed to consolidate large territories often had many sons and relatives who were each given a city to govern. When the father died, the sons and relatives fought it out. For example, when Saladin (founder of the Ayyubid dynasty) died, he had 17 sons and a brother who fought over the empire. A very formidable foe of the cursaders was replaced by a squabbling bunch of minor rulers. It took seven years for his brother al-'Adil to come out on top. Meanwhile, the crusaders were given a breather.

Tancred and Baldwin I. Tancred had good reason to hate Baldwin I. On the initial march through Turkey toward Jerusalem Tancred and some of his men were in advance of Baldwin on the same route. Tancred beseiged Tarsus, garrisoned by Turks but populated by Christian Armenians, and he negotiated its capitulation in exchange for letting the garrison go. However, Baldwin came up with a much larger force and claimed the city for himself and the Byzantine emperor Alexius--because crusaders had taken oaths to return former Byzantine possessions to the Byzantines. Tancred was forced to leave and continue on the route. The next day 300 more of Tancred's men reached Tarsus, but were not allowed to enter by Baldwin. They had to camp outside the walls. That evening a large Turkish force came through and wiped them out to a man. Tancred lost 300 men because Baldwin did not behave as if they were allies (because they weren't). Don't think of the crusaders as a unified group.

Go to page 2 which is an illustrated list of all the First Crusade types

The earliest crusader coin types are all copper and from either Edessa or Antioch in the names of their rulers. 


The Rulers at Edessa
  Who, when?      What happened?  CCS coins
Baldwin I de Boulogne,
1098-1100, Count of Edessa and 1100-1118 king at Jerusalem
The first crusader to establish a crusader state. In 1098 he took over Edessa, which was an Armenian Christian region, from its Greek Orthodox lord, and took the title "Count." His elder brother Godfrey (who didn't mint coins) became the ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099. When Godfrey died in 1100, Baldwin became its King. Edessa 1
Baldwin II du Bourge, 1100-1104 and 1108-1118 at Edessa. 1118-1131 king of Jerusalem  Baldwin II, nephew of Baldwin I, became Count of Edessa in 1100 when Baldwin I became King of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He ruled until 1104 when he was captured by the Turks. Upon his release in 1108 he resumed as Count. When Baldwin I, king of the Kindom of Jerusalem, died in 1118, Baldwin II took his place as king while keeping his title as Count of Edessa. Edessa 2, 7-8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13-16
Richard of Salerno, 1104-1108, regent at Edessa Ruled as regent for Baldwin II while Baldwin II was in captivity, 1104-1108.  Edessa 3, 5, 5, 6

The Rulers at Antioch
Who, when?      What happened?  CCS coins
Bohemond I, 1098-1111, Prince of Antioch Bohemond was a giant of a man in both body and personality. Without his leadership the brutal seige of Antioch (and the entire First Crusade) would have failed. He founded the "Principality of Antioch" in 1098. When he was captured by the Turks in 1101 his nephew Tancred served as regent until 1103 when Bohemond was ransomed.  Shortly thereafter Bohemond went back to Europe to recruit more crusaders, while technically retaining his title of Prince, so Tancred resumed the title of regent.  Antioch 1
Tancred, regent at Antioch, 1101-1103 and 1104-1112. Tancred was a nephew of Bohemond I who who ruled Antioch as regent for Bohemond while he was in capivity 1101-1103 and while he was in Europe 1104-1111. Tancred died of typhoid in 1112.  Antioch 3-6
Very common
Roger of Salerno
When Tancred died Roger became regent at Antioch for Bohemond's child Bohemond II who was born after 1104 in Europe and still there, too young to rule. When Roger died in battle in 1119, Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, took the regency until Bohemond II was of age. Antioch 7-9
Bohemond II 
Bohemond II was the son of Bohemond I by a wife he took after returning to Italy. He was, by strict rules of succession, to become the successor of Bohemond I at Antioch even though he had never been there. For years he was too young and Antioch had regents, but when he was about to turn 18 he came to Antioch and took over as Prince. He died in battle in 1130. Antioch 10



Caveats:  All too often different medieval sources tell significantly different stories of the same events. For example, all sources agree Baldwin took over as Count of Edessa when the Armenian lord of Edessa was overthrown. All agree Baldwin married the daughter of the lord. However, was the marriage with the lord's approval before the overthrow, or did he marry her after the overthrow to support his claim to the county? Did Baldwin instigate the overthrow, or did the locals do it themselves to get rid of a lord they hated, perhaps thinking Baldwin would be a better alternative? Pick your story. 

There are many books and websites about the First Crusade. Some are (translated) original sources. When reading sources, be aware that the shorter the account, the greater it oversimplifies complicated events, and the more likely the author was to pick a single story to move the narrative along, even if there are several different plausible stories that have been proposed.

Omissions.  Every history omits many events. The narrative above emphasizes coins and omits major events that are important and interesting as part of the First Crusade if they are not closely connected to the coins. For example, here is one more story. In 1100 Bohemond was captured by the Danishmendid Turks after he was already famous and inspirational in Europe. In 1101 four large crusader armies totaling maybe 80,000 people (ancient sources say 200,000) made it to Constantinople and departed to travel overland across Turkey. On the route the Lombard army decided to liberate Bohemond from his prison in the mountains of the far north in Danishmendid territory which was hundreds of miles off the main route and across desert-like countryside controlled by Turkish tribes (who were not a threat to Jerusalem). This time the tribes had combined forces and were prepared. The crusader forces were whittled down by ambush, skirmish, disease, and starvation on the march. The other armies who took the usual route toward the Holy Land found it had been subject to a scorched-earth policy with no sustinence to be found. Weakened by the blazing summer sun and critically short of food and drink they were annihilated in battles. Very few of the crusaders of 1101 ever made it to crusader territory. Given that most of the original crusaders had died or gone home, the loss of 80,000 reinforcements was major event, but we don't see it in the coins.

Caveats continued. Comment on the attributions.  Attributions and dates of some of the coins are uncertain. For example, at Edessa there are two different Baldwins (I and II) and Baldwin II had two reigns. Is the first "Baldwin" coin of Baldwin I or of Baldwin II? Are the coins of Baldwin II from his first or second reign? Usually we can put types in order by overstrikes (but they can be extremely difficult to interpret), but overstrikes don't answer whether the first coins are of Baldwin I or II. Not all scholarly sources agree.

The coin types are put in sequence by overstrikes. Most coins of the First Crusade were struck on previous coin types. Often the undertype cannot be identified, but sometimes it can so that the types can be put in sequence. For example, we know some types of Baldwin II above are "second-reign" because they are often overstruck on coins of Richard who ruled as regent between Baldwin II's first and second reigns. On the other hand, the first type of "Baldwin" might be of either Baldwin I or the first reign of Baldwin II. It is commonly attributed to Baldwin I because 1) it is never overstruck on an earlier crusader coin, 2) it is the largest type (coins generally decline in size over time), and 3) it is cooler to think coins began with Baldwin I rather than Baldwin II. The first coin on this page and other examples of this type do not seem to be overstruck. We infer it is the first type. That example is the most complete and clearest of its type that I could find in all the reference works and on the web, which shows that finding early crusader coins in really nice condition is not always possible. 

If a coin is overstruck we can be assured it is as late as the undertype. But, if a type is not overstruck, we cannot be sure it was earlier than any other type. History books tell us that, at Antioch, Bohemond I was restored for a short while between the two regencies of Tancred. CCS and Metcalf do not attribute any coins to Bohemond then (although Schindel does), so they cannot be sure which, if any, of the four types of Tancred belong to his first regency and which to the second, although overstrikes put them in sequence.

You might think that when a coin is overstruck it would be easy to tell which of the two strikes was the undertype and which the overtype, but here is an example for Tancred where it is not. For example, CCS and Metcalf disagree on the order of CCS Antioch 5 and 6

The crusades are immensely complex--but a lot of fun to read about and try to understand. This page can only begin to describe the coins and the history. Most public libraries have books on the crusades. Next time you go to the library, check one out!

Page 2 has tables listing all the crusader coin types (of Antioch and of Edessa.)


References: Coin References (and History references) (not in alphabetical order, rather in order of value to collectors)

[CCS] Malloy, Alex et al. Coins of the Crusader States, second edition, [CCS] 2004. Hardcover. 533 pages. Very many line drawings throughout and 11 page plates. A great deal of history and commentary. An excellent and (very nearly) complete reference work. It is formatted much like a "Coins and Their Values" guide with much more discussion of the history, but the prices are in a separate booklet that often does not come with the book.  [This book alone would get you very far into the subject. Metcalf, next, has many more photographs, but Malloy has some photographs and many line-drawings of the types, and all the accepted ID numbers. Schildel (2017, p. 73) says "From a typological point of view, the overview in Malloy/Preston/Seltman is the most detailed, although the text is flawed everywhere."]

   [CCS alone has most of the information about crusader coins.]

[Metcalf] Metcalf, D. M. Coinage of the Crusades and the Latin East, second edition, [CCLE] 1995. Hardcover. The primary scholarly work. 366 pages plus 48 page plates of very good B&W photographs. Many line drawings throughout. Lots of discussion. [Metcalf is complete for types from Antioch, but not for types from Edessa, for which he expects you to reference Porteous. But Porteous is no longer complete, so refer to CCS.]

   [The two books above had almost everything known about crusader coins as of 2022, but the next two articles, from 2023, suggest some changes.]

Schindel, Nikolaus, [in German] "The Coinage of the Crusaders of Edessa," Numismatische Zeitschrift, 2023, pages 65-175. Over 270 coins photographed. Changes from CCS in the arrangement of coins from Edessa are discussed at the bottom on the types page

Schindel, Nikolaus. "The Beginning of Crusader Coinage in Northern Syria," Numismatic Chronicle, 2023. Pages 297-312 and plates 29-31 with 30 coins photographed. [He puts the first type of Bohemond I in his second reign and all coins of Tancred in his second reign.]  [See here for comments on difference between CCS and Schindel.]

Porteous,  John.  "The Early Coinage of the Counts of Edessa," Numismatic Chronicle, 1975. Pages 169-182 and plates 14-17. 

Note:  This was the main academic study of coins of Edessa until Schindel's NZ article. He has four classes for Baldwin and three for Richard. Metcalf published the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and thoroughly discussed all the types of Antioch and illustrated them--most with multiple examples--on three plates. However, Metcalf's treatment of coins of Edessa is much different. Coins of Antioch are much more common in the market than coins of Edessa, and the Ashmolean collection also has that imbalance. Published by Metcalf in 1995, it has relatively few coins and coin types from Edessa. He apparently expects the reader to use Porteous for a list of types ("classes") and their descriptions. He does have one page of 8 line-drawings from Schumberger, but the page of images has only five different types with none of Baldwin I or Richard.

Of course, wikipedia has many relevant articles about the rulers and events. 

Azzopardi, Emmanuel. The Coinage of the Crusaders and the World of Islam. Hardcover. Large format. 840 coins pictured, some greatly enlarged. 303 pages. 2006. Includes many images of relevant medieval artwork. Only a small part of it is on coins of the First Crusade. Much of it is on the later "crusader" coins of Cyprus, Armenia, Chios, Rhodes, and Malta. 

Murray, Alan V. "The Greek inscriptions on the coinage of Count Baldwin II of Edessa (1100-18)". Numismatic Chronicle 2022, pages 243-248. This article explains some of the apparently erroneous Greek spelling on the coins as the result of Armenian pronunciation.   

[Sch] Schlumberger, G. Numismatique de L'Orient Latin. 1878 in two volumes, text and plates of line drawings. [Citations above are to the plates, some of which were also used in CCS.]

Metcalf, D. M. and P.  J. Willis, "Crusader Coins in the Museum of the Order of St. John, at Clerkenwell,"  Numismatic Chronicle, 1979. Pages 133-138 and plates 18-23. [Has the only citation to CCS Edessa 16.]

Sotheby's auction catalog, 6-7 March 1997. "The John J. Slocum Collection of Coins of the Crusades." [Note: Most prices have come down a lot since then. Many crusader types that were very rare in the 1990s are much more available now in 2023.]

CNG auction mail bid sale catalog 53 (2000, March 15) 2175 ancients among 2416, a few with enlargements throughout. Photos in B&W. 796 Greek, 191 Baktrian and Indo-Greek, 27 Aksumite, 177 Roman Provincial, 59 Roman Egypt, 114 Roman Republican, 40 RI quadrantes, 401 Roman Imperial (including 11 Pertinax denarii), 11 Dark Ages, 15 Lombards, 127 Byzantine, 156 Crusader "The Matthew Rich Collection," some not photographed (only 17 are early coppers of Edessa and Antioch), 6 Merovingian, 12 Celtic England, 6 English Dark Ages, 34 pennies.

Künker auction catalog 137 (11 March 2008) "The De Wit Collection of Medieval Coins, Part III." Not a substantial source for Crusader coins of the First Crusade, but about a dozen relevant First-Crusade coins and another 20 later, with a lot of historical background, all in a massive 434-page catalog of medieval coins from Europe and the middle east, well-illustrated in color, including about 50 high-grade Turkoman figural bronze coins. 

Münz Zentrum--Rheinland auction catalog 131 (11 Jan. 2006) "Kreuzfahrer und ihre Zeit" ("Crusaders and their time") [10 coins that would be on this page, 20 Turkoman figural bronzes, and very many other coins of later crusades and Byzantines]auctin

Sear, David. Byzantine Coins and their Values, second edition. Hardcover. 1987. A comprehensive list of all Byzantine coin types, with many
but far from allillustrated in B&W. 

Pesant, Roberto. "Two new specimens of a follis of Count Baldwin of Edessa," Numismatic Chronicle (1982) page 161-163 and plate 42c. [Type CCS Edessa 15]

Pesant, Roberto. "A brief review of the coinage of Tancred of Antioch," Numismatic Circular, March 1994, pages 56-57.

Plant, Richard. Seaby C&MB, Feb. 1975, pages 39-40. [About St. George and the dragon.]

Sabine, C. J. "The billon and copper coinage of the Crusader county of Tripoli. c1102-1268," Numismatic Chronicle, 1980. Pages 71-112 and plates 9-14. [This page does not discuss coins of Tripoli.]

Nercessian, Y. T. Armenian Coins and their Values. 1995. Hardcover. 254 pages and 515 types on 41 page plates plus 4 plates of counterfeits an 4 plates on grading. 

Older works:

Schlumberger, G. Numismatique de L'Orient Latin, 1878. Hardcover in two volumes (one 504 pages of text in French, plus 22 pages of supplement from 1954 plus a 37-page index. The other volume is a thin, large format book of 21 page plates of line-drawings and one map. Many of the line-drawings are used by Metcalf throughout his text.) This book has been superseded by Metcalf and CCS, both of which use some of Schlumberger's line-drawings. Line drawings on page 2 of this site are from Schlumberger. 


A CoinTalk thread on Crusader coins:

Wikipedia. Of course, Wikipedia has articles about the rulers, the crusades, the crusader states, and everything related. 

A site with many Crusader coins illustrated:

An ANS "long Table" talk on coins of the crusades (not limited to the First Crusade):

Koning, J. P. About Renavatio Monetae  (Wednesday May 8, 2024)

References. History:  There are too many history books to list. I found In Distant Lands: A Short History of the Crusades, by Lars Brownworth, to be a good step up from knowing very little. A small book, among 234 pages it has 96 entertaining pages on the First Crusade. I also liked The Sword and the Scimitar: A Saga of the Crusades, by Ernle Brandford. It is larger format with many reproductions of medieval artifacts and artworks. Both go on to cover the subsequent crusades, which this web page does not. I liked The Crusades by Zoé Oldenbough (1966. 650 pages). Some, like Runciman's three volumes and the The Crusades, c. 1071-c. 1291 (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks), are too detailed for beginners.  
   "The First Crusade" (2022) by Peter Frankopan, a major scholar, is a modern take on the First Crusade and how its progress came about with an emphasis on politics and much less emphasis on the details of battles than most other accounts. He use of original sources, especially those from the East, is outstanding, but this is not the book for stories of the crusaders. 
   Your local library is likely to have a book on the crusades. It may be excellent. There are many books I have not seen and do not know. I do not claim the ones I recommend are better than others. The first two have the virtue of not being too long. Going from knowing very little to reading a long book may be too big a leap. 


The end. 

Links:  Page 2 has tables listing all the crusader coin types (of Antioch and of Edessa.)

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Go to the main Table of Contents of this whole educational site.