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Silver scudo of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as Duke of Milan, attributed to Leone Leoni

1535/1556

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This coin has a superb portrait of Charles V on the front, showing the emperor in classical Roman style. The unusual design on the reverse is taken from classical myth: it shows Jupiter casting down the Titans. This is taken to be a reference to Charles's great victory in 1547 at the Battle of Mühlberg, where he defeated the German protestant princes.

It is a very rare coin; only four specimens are known, and it has an important place in the numismatic history of Italy. It was effectively the first silver coin of such large size in the peninsula, and marks the arrival there of a new sort of coin, introduced in Germany as the thaler, and in Spain by the piece of eight. Large silver coins were replacing small gold ones of the same face value. This came about as new supplies of silver swelled Europe's bullion supplies, first from Germany then from central and south America. In this case the gold scudo was replaced by a silver one. Its fine workmanship and unusual design reflects its status as a new coin type. Later versions of the scudo had more normal designs, usually of coats of arms.

Details

  • Title: Silver scudo of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as Duke of Milan, attributed to Leone Leoni
  • Date Created: 1535/1556
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 36.880g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: C.2170
  • Production place: Minted in Milan
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Charles V

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