Serbian History Through Coinage

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King Marko (1371-1395)

COIN IMAGE - Dinar - King Marko

Dinar Obv.: 5-line Cyrillic legend: V HA BA BLAGOVERNII KRAL MARKO ("In Christ our God pious King Marko"); Rev.: Christ standing

HISTORICAL NOTES: The legend of Kraljevic (regal prince) Marko - a witty popular hero, with a keen sense of chivalry and honor, and often superhuman traits, who protects the simple folk from Turkish invaders and other calamities - is among the most popular among the Balkan Christians. It goes well beyond its anchor in Serbian epic poetry, as his deeds are celebrated also in Bulgarian, Croatian, and even Albanian tradition. Historical data on Marko (who ruled in Macedonia as a Turkish vassal after his father's death) is rather scarce, and none of it can clearly justify the myth that has surrounded him. Perhaps it was simply his ability to combine personal honor and courage with an autonomous rule and services to Turkish masters in a way that shielded his subjects from the increased lawlessness of his time and realm. Yet, the moral quandary created by this position took its toll, as contemporary records show him wishing for his own death on the eve of his final battle as a vassal. Poetry expressed this as Marko's lament to his faithfull falcon, following a hunting incident with his Turkish masters:

"What burden we bear, good falcon o' mine -
Hunting with Turks, yet none of our kind,
Hunting with them, in evil we share!"

NUMISMATIC NOTES: Marko's money is rare, but constitutes important evidence about a major ruler that has left us surpisingly few real artifacts (e.g., a couple of churches he endowed with some preserved quality frescoes, the walls of his ancient citadel). In particular, valuable implications were made from the titles he used on the coins, and their estimated circulation, mint location and time (as determined by the group finds, or hoards, that they were part of).

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