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Order of the Golden Fleece on coins and medals

Register of persons

1.   Signs of the Order on coins of the Sovereigns of the Order
here: 1a. Beginning until Ks. Charles V

1b.   Continuation from Philip II
King Philip II  -  Spanish Habsburgs
Order divided into two branches  -  Spanish branch  -  Austrian branch of the order

2.   Order sign on coins of appointed knights

Philip III the Good (Philippe le Bon), 1419-1467
- 1430 the first Sovereign of the Order -
Philip the Good, the third Duke of Burgundy, founded the Order of the Knights of the Golden Fleece in Bruges on 10.1.1430 on the occasion of his marriage to Princess Isabella of Portugal. The first of the annual assemblies, called chapters, took place in Lille in 1431. The Duke as Sovereign of the Order appointed the first 24 knights of the Order, the other 6 members were elected. The sovereign was formally equal to the members. This initially created a great sense of community and cohesion between the sovereign and the high nobility of his heterogeneous dominion. The selected nobles were "truly devoted" to the sovereign and committed to brotherhood among themselves. They had the privilege of being judged only by the other knights of the order and they were allowed to address complaints directly to the duke. Membership of the Order's knights in another Order was initially excluded.

Fire steel and fire stone in everyday life
The fire steel was an important tool in everyday life. It had an iron striking edge. The ends were bent in different ways to form a grip aid. A fire stone, mostly made of flint, accompanied the fire steel. When they collide, sparks are created which ignite the tinder.
The stylized order symbol comes very close to the actual tool.

Cavalier d'or, n. d. (1439-41), Burgundy.     Ø 27 mm, 3,64 g.
Poey d'Avant 5728; Delm.35; Friedb.101.

Obv.:  (Lilie) PhS:DᗺI:GRA:DVX:ET:ᗭOᙏᗺS - :BVRGODIᗺ: crest.   Exergue: ¤BVRG¤
The Duke in armor on horseback, brandishing his sword;
in front and behind the saddle a fire steel with fire stone and sparks.

Rev:   +SIT:nOᙏᗺn:DOᙏInI:BᗺnᗺDICTVᙏ:AMᗺn (fire steel)   "Praise the name of the Lord"
Coat of arms of Philip the Good on a floral cross.

This coin, like the following one, takes its name from the design on the obverse.

Lion d'or (after 1454), Bruges (Flanders).    Ø 30 mm, 4,21 g.  Delm.489; v.G./H.3-2; Friedb.185.
Obv.:   PhS:DᗺI:GRA:DVX:BVRG:COᙏes:FLANDriae
Seated lion under a Gothic canopy;
left and right in the field fire steel, fire stone and fire sparks.

Rev.:  +SIT:nOᙏᗺN:DOᙏINI:BᗺNᗺDICTVᙏ:AᙏᗺN:   "Praise the name of the Lord"
Coat of arms of Philip the Good on a floral cross.

Tree - plane - fire steel
Philip the Bold, grandfather of Philip the Good, wanted already to found a knightly order and had chosen a golden tree as its emblem. His successor, John the Fearless, thought of a plane as an emblem that lets the chips fly in all directions. Philip the Good chose fire steel and sparking flint as his symbol. This fits his motto: Ante ferit quam flamma micet (He strikes to let the flame blaze up). It was only on the occasion of the real founding of the Order that the Golden Fleece was added in order to refer to antiquity and the Crusader Order.

At the 3rd Chapter in 1433 in Dijon, the barely one-year-old son of Philip the Good, later Charles the Bold, was admitted to the Order. The solemn oath to the statutes of the Order was taken for him by his father.
As early as 1440, the statutes were amended so that Duke Charles of Orleans and Philip the Good could confer their orders on each other.
The first foreigner was admitted to the Order in 1445, King Alfonso V of Aragon (1416-58) and Naples (1442-58). As a sovereign ruler, however, he understandably had reservations about some of the articles of the Order's statutes. So he took an amended oath, which was later also taken by other independent rulers when they were admitted to the Order.

Charles the Bold (Charles le Téméraire), 1467-1477
- 1467 the second Sovereign of the Order -
Charles the Bold succeeded his father as Duke of Burgundy and thus became sovereign of the Order at the same time.
The founder Philip the Good had refused to accept the English Order of the Garter because he did not want to become a follower of England, but to bind followers to himself with an order. Such considerations no longer stood in the way of his son: Charles the Bold and King Edward IV of England admitted each other to their respective orders in 1468.

Double briquet 1475, Antwerp.    Ø 27 mm, 798‰ fine, 2,84 g.   v.G./H.34-1; Witte 507.
Obv.:   +KAROLus:DᗺI:GRAtia:DuX:BurGundie:BRAbantie:Z[et]:LImbourgie
(hand) = mint mark for Antwerp.
Two seated lions, between them a fire steel with a fire stone and sparks of fire.
(For the sake of simplicity, the sparks are not shown between iron and stone.)

Rev.:   SALVVm:FAᗭ:PoPuLuM·TVVm:DomiNᗺ·Anno: 1475·   "Keep your people alive, Lord"
Coat of arms of Burgundy on floral cross.
"briquet" is the French name for fire steel and was popularly transferred to the coin.
Only the "double briquet" shows a fire steel, but not the single or half briquet.
At the time of daughter Maria as well as grandson Philip the Handsome the "double briquet" changed
only in the inscription on the obverse.

Blanc d'argent n. d., unknown mint in Burgundy.   Ø 28 mm, 3,13 g.  Poey d'Avant 5745.
Obv.:   +KAROLVS:DVX:ᗺT:ᗭOᙏᗺS:BVRGVndie
Coat of arms between two crosses, above a fire steel.
Rev.:   +SIT:nOᙏᗺn:DominI:BᗺnEᗺDIᗭTVᙏ  "Praise the name of the Lord"
Lily and fire steel twice in the angles of a cross.
The crosses with the oblique bars are St. Andrew's crosses.
Apostle Andrew is the patron saint of Burgundy.

Medal n. d. (1474),  original bronze cast by Giovanni Candida,   Ø 39,5 mm, 25,42 g.
Armand I p.40 n.1; Hill 828; Kress 223; Börner 317.

Obv.:   DVX KAROLVS - BVRGVNDVS   -   laurelated head, antique design.
Rev.:   IE LAI EMPRINS / BIEN EN AVIENGNE   "Je l'ai emprins, bien en aviengne"
"I have dared / May good come of it", the motto of Charles the Bold.
In the centre a ram; to the left and right of it a fire steel, in it incus
AVREVM (left) and VELLVS (right) "Golden Fleece"; all surrounded by sparks of fire and framed in a laurel wreath.
This is one of the earliest medals with the Golden Fleece. It was made by Giovanni Candida at the time of the siege of Neuss 1474-1475, to which Candida had accompanied the duke. Later Candida made the cast medal, which served as a model for the famous wedding guldiner of King Maximilian I.

Maximilian of Austria, Roman Emperor 1508-1519
- 1478 the third Sovereign of the Order -
Charles the Bold died at the Battle of Nancy in January 1477. The lack of a male heir brought great difficulties to the duchy, for part of the lands lay in France, and another part was in fealty to the emperor. The Order was also affected because, according to the Order's statutes, only descendants of the Burgundian dukes could be considered as sovereigns of the Order.
Heiress Maria took over the government of the duchy, but the leadership of the order had to remain vacant for the time being. Maria's marriage to Archduke Maximilian, later Emperor, the son of Emperor Frederick III, had already been arranged and came about in August 1477 against the will of the estates. Three days after the marriage, four knights of the Order conferred membership and the dignity of Sovereign on Maximilian. The solemn ceremony followed in Bruges on 30 April 1478. The next day Maximilian presided over an assembly of the Order.
The next assembly of the Order did not take place until 1481: Only 6 knights took part, 6 knights had died, the foreigners stayed away anyway. Four of the absent knights were expelled for disloyalty.
In 1484, knights of the Order tried in vain to mediate in the conflict between Archduke Maximilian and his Flemish opponents. This shows that already fifty years after the foundation of the Order, its political function was already less important than its symbolic value.

Guldiner n. d. (1500/06), Hall. Königsguldiner.     Ø 42 mm, 30,48 g.
Egg 6; Voglh.9; M/T.vgl.70; Dav.8003.

Crowned and armoured hip portrait with the right shouldering the cross-flower sceptre,
the left at the hilt of the sword.

Crowned eagle shield, around the chain of the order, to the sides two crowned coats of arms (Hungary & Austria), below two uncrowned coats of arms (Burgundy & Habsburg), in spaces 4 fire irons with stones and sparks, below the Golden Fleece.
Part of this reverse legend is written out in more detail in the later Kaiserguldiner:
"King over most of the countries of Europe and most powerful prince".

Philip I the Handsome, *1478 †1506
- 1482 the fourth Sovereign of the Order -
Philip the Handsome, son of Maximilian I and heiress Maria of Burgundy, was accepted into the order in 1481, barely 3 years old. A year later he was elected Sovereign of the Order under the guardianship of Maximilian. Philip already took part in the assembly in 1491. In 1495, at the age of 16, he was prematurely declared of age and released from the guardianship of Maximilian I, so that he could preside over the next assemblies of the Order in 1501 and 1505.

Real d'argent 1487, Nijmegen or Zaltbommel.     Ø 33 mm, 7,13 g.   v.G./H.67-3.
Obv.:   +CVSTODIAT·CREATOR·OmИIVm·HVMILEm·SERVVm·SVVm·1487 [gothic numbers 1ጸ8Λ]
"May the creator of all keep his humble servants"
Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I with crown and armor, holding the orb in his left hand
and holding the sword in his right hand.

Rev.:   (fire steel) DET·TIBI·MA[IN]TerRIS·VirTVTEm (fire steel) ET·IИ;·CoELIS·GLORIAM
"He will give you strength on earth and honor in heaven"
Monogram with the initials of Maximilian and Philipp;
2x: fire stone with sparks placed inside the inner circle next to the fire steel.

Toison d'argent 1497, Antwerp (Brabant).    Ø 29 mm, 3,34 g.  v.G./H.110-1; Witte 605.
Obv.:   ¤PhS¤DᗺI¤GRA¤ARᗭhID¤AVSTiaᗺ¤DVX¤BurGundie¤Brabantie¤
Coat of arms on floral cross.
Rev.:   InIᗭIVᙏ*SAPIᗺnᗭIaᗺ*TIᙏOR*DOᙏOnI*AnnO*1497
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"
Two fire irons, a fire stone with fire sparks and the Golden Fleece.

The Golden Fleece, a ram's skin
From Greek mythology: The Golden Fleece is the skin of Chrysomeles the ram, who could fly and speak and who, at the behest of the gods, saved the Boeotian pretender to the throne Phrixos from the persecutions of his stepmother Ino by flying with him to Colchis in Georgia on the Black Sea. The ram was sacrificed to Zeus and its golden fleece nailed to a tree in the grove of the god Ares. King Aietes of Colchis had it guarded there by a dragon that never slept. Jason and the Argonauts nevertheless succeeded in bringing the Golden Fleece to Thessaly.
The Argonauts had thus achieved a lofty goal that was considered unattainable, which made them a suitable role model for the founder of the order, for Philip the Good had also thought of organising a crusade.

Toison d'argent 1502, Maastricht.     3,45 g.  v.G./H.118-2a; Witte 607.
crowned coat of arms of Burgundy surrounded by the chain of the Order with the Golden Fleece.
Rev.:   ᙏO¤FAᗭTa¤ - TRAIᗺᗭTens - In¤VROᗺn - hOF¤1502
"Coin made in (the mint of) Vroenhof ?"  -  Flower cross.
Here the Chain of the Order appears for the first time on a coin, placed around the coat of arms.

The Collane (Order Chain)
The Golden Fleece hangs on a chain of 32 fire irons. Originally, the number of members of the Order was limited to 31. Thus, one chain link stood for each member of the Order and an additional one for the Sovereign.
The striking edges of the fire irons are connected with sparking flints, the grip aids are hooked together: like the links of a chain, each member of the Order is to contribute to the cohesion of the Order.
Originally, the Golden Fleece always had to be worn openly on the Order's chain. Wearing the Golden Fleece on a ribbon was permitted since 1516.
Originally, the chains of the Order were to remain in the possession of the Order and be returned to the Order after the death of the wearer. From 1775, the members of the Spanish Order had to purchase the Order themselves.

When Queen Isabella the Catholic died in November 1504, she was succeeded on the throne of Castile by her daughter Joanna, later known as "the Mad". When Joanna and her husband, Philip the Handsome, wanted to set off from the Netherlands to Castile in 1505, they ordered more than 400,000 reales of Spanish currency minted in Brussels and Antwerp for their journey. They embarked for Spain at the beginning of 1506.
After landing in Spain, Philip travelled inland with his soldiers in anticipation of a confrontation with Ferdinand the Catholic, Joanna's father. The clumsy and capricious Joanna was unable to assert her claim to the crown of Castile. When Philip died suddenly and Joanna was isolated, her father Ferdinand also took power in Castile.

Real de Castilla, 1505, Antwerp (Brabant).   Ø 27 mm, 3,43 g.  v.G./H.165-1; Witte 627.
Obv.:  PhS¤ᗴT¤IOhAnA¤DᗴI¤GRA¤RᗺX¤ᗴT¤RᗴGInA¤
quartered coat of arms of Castile-Aragón | Austria-Burgundy
Rev.:   CASTᗴLLᗴ¤LᗴGIOnIS¤Z¤ARChIDVC¤AVSTRIᗴ¤Z¤1505 ☝ (hand) = mint mark for Antwerp.
St. Andrew's cross with branch knot, fire steel, ram (Golden Fleece) and the crowned coats of arms of Castile, León and Granada.
This travel money of Philip the Handsome, minted in the Netherlands, brought the Burgundian symbols
into circulation in Spain.

1/2 Real de Castilla, 1505, Brussels.   Ø 20 mm, 1,51 g.  
Obv.:   PhS·IOhANNA:DᗺI:GRA:RᗺX:S[et]:RᗺGInA·1505  -  Jointly crowned initials.
Rev.:   ᗭASTᗺLLᗺ:LᗺGOLS:Sᗭ:ARᗭhIDVᗭ:AVST·Sᗭ·  -  Burgundian cross, in the corners tower (Castile), lion (León), pomegranate (Granada), fire iron with stone and sparks (Burgundy).

St. Andrew's Cross and Burgundian Cross
According to legend, the apostle and martyr Andrew was crucified on a cross with oblique beams. Crosses with oblique beams are therefore called St. Andrew's crosses.
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Burgundy. The St. Andrew's cross with branch knots became the distinctive Burgundian cross.

Charles V (I), 1516-1556 King of Spain, 1519-1556 Emperor
- 1506 the fifth Sovereign of the Order -
Charles was admitted to the Order on 22 January 1501, when he was not yet a year old. With the death of his father, Philip the Handsome, he became Sovereign of the Order in 1506, initially under Maximilian's guardianship. The first assembly of the Order under his leadership took place in Brussels in 1516. On this occasion his famous motto "Plus oultre" was born, referring to the Pillars of Hercules.
In 1516, the young Archduke Charles, who had just become King Carlos I of Spain, sought to reach an agreement with King Francis I of France. To this end, the two kings admitted each other to their respective orders, the Order of the Golden Fleece in exchange for the French Order of St Michael. At the same time, they agreed on an everlasting peace, but this was soon outdated. Royal members of the Order soon came from whole Europe.
The number of knights was increased from 31 to 51, so that the assembly in Barcelona in 1519 could accommodate many Spaniards. Assembles of the Order were initially held annually. Under Charles V they became rare events: they took place only in 1516, 1519, 1531 and 1546.
As sovereign of the Order, Charles confirmed the privileges of the Dutch knights, but their political influence was restricted.

King Ferdinand the Catholic died in early 1516. His grandson, Archduke Charles, became King Charles I of Spain in May 1516, but only left Vlissingen for Spain in September 1517. For this he had 175,000 reales and 50,000 half reales minted in the Netherlands.

Real d'Espagne, 1517, Antwerp.   Ø 28 mm, 3,08 g.   v.G./H.203-1; Witte 657.
Crowned coat of arms, as for his father on the same occasion.
Rev.:  ARAG+ZC+RE+ARCHID+AVST DVCV+BVRG+B ☝ (mint mark Antwerp),   date in the field.

1/2 Real d'Espagne, n. d. (1517), Antwerp.   Ø 22 mm, 1,57 g.   v.G./H.204-1; Witte 658.
Obv.:   IOANNA+ET+KAROLVS+Dei+Gratia+REgis ☝ (hand, mint mark Antwerp)
crowned letters
I (Johanna) und K (Karolus).
Rev.:   CAStiliae LEGionis ARAGoniae ARCHIDux AVStriae☝(Hand)
Fire iron and fire stone with sparks.
"Joanna and Chares, by the Grace of God Kings of Castile, León, Aragon, Archduke of Austria"
Both coins above were minted for Charles' first trip to Spain, also in the name of his mother Joanna, the official ruler of Castile.

Effigies on his Dutch coins were decorated with the Order. Thalers of some imperial cities, which used the hip image of their emperor, also included the Golden Fleece on the chest, even if only hanging on a ribbon (See Lübeck, Nijmegen, Deventer, Dortmund, etc.). But Naples was the city that knew best, how to show off the Order's decorative symbols on small coins:

Carlino, n. d., Naples.   Ø 22 mm, 3,13 g.   CNI XIX 95.
Obv.:   CAROLVS IIIII ROManorum IMPerator     "Charles V, Roman Emperor"
Laureate head, behind the monogram IBR for Juan Bautista Rabaschiero.

Rev.:   REX ARAGOnum VTRIVSque SICiliae     "King of Aragon and both Sicilies"
Order of the Golden Fleece to the right.     Both sides show a central dot.

Mezzo carlino, Naples.   Ø 17 mm, 1,5 g.

Emperor Charles V
one steel / three stones
King Philip II
two steels / one stone
= a limb of the collane
King Philip III
a limb of the collane

• Charles de Terlinden,  Der Orden vom Goldenen Vlies,  Wien 1970.   -   Excerpt as PDF
• Friedrich Johannes Kalff,  Funktion und Bedeutung des Ordens vom Goldenen Vlies in Spanien vom XVI.
    bis zum XX. Jh.
Dissertation, Bonn 1963
• Annemarie Weber,   Der Österreichische Orden vom Goldenen Vlies - Geschichte und Probleme,
    Dissertation, Bonn 1971
• La Toison d'Or,  Catalogue du Exposition, 14.7-30.9.1962,  Bruges.
• Renate Holzschuh-Hofer,  Feuereisen im Dienst politischer Propaganda von Burgund bis Habsburg.
    Zur Entwicklung der Symbolik des Ordens vom Goldenen Vlies von Herzog Philipp dem Guten
    bis Kaiser Ferdinand I.
. in RIHA Journal 0006 (16 August 2010).
• S.Dünnebeil / C.Pichler,  Bibliographie zur Geschichte des Ordens vom Goldenen Vlies (7.2016) PDF.

go further to Continuation, part 1b:

Order of the Golden Fleece on coins and medals
1. Sovereigns of the Order
Part 1a :   Philip the Good - Emperor Charles V
Part 1b :  King Philip II - Spanish / Austrian branch
2. Appointed knights
Part 2a :  Baden, Bavaria, Brunswick & Lueneburg,
Palatinate, Palatinate-Neuburg, Palatinate-Bavaria, Fürstenberg
Part 2b :  Poland, Saxony, Rietberg, Wuerttemberg
Part 2c :  Italy, Spain, ..., Transylvania
Part 2d :  Austrian new princes

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