start page Charles V TOUR :   Contemporaries in Bohemia

      Contemporaries in Silesia      

Silesia consisted of a number of different territories, all of them subject to the King of Bohemia.

Frederic II, Duke of Legnica-Brzeg 1499-1547
Duke Frederic II (*1480) became governor in Legnica in 1499. He was married to a Polish princess in 1515, and in second marriage to a daughter of Margrave Frederic V of Ansbach-Bayreuth in 1518. In 1521, he inherited Brzeg from his brother George I. When Ferdinand I of Habsburg became King of Bohemia in 1526, he also became Frederic's feudal lord.
Duke Frederic II introduced the Reformation in 1522. He fortified Legnica and Brzeg - the Renaissance gate of the Castle of Brzeg still recalls the event. Frederic helped bring about the peace treaty between the Teutonic Order and Poland in 1525.
Frederic and Joachim II, Elector of Brandenburg signed an inheritance treaty in 1537. However, shortly before he died, he had to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from King Ferdinand I. The Legnica branch of the Piast family died out in 1675, and the House of Habsburg retracted/seizured/confiscated the tenure. When in 1740 Frederic the Great of Prussia invaded Silesia against Maria Theresia of Habsburg, he used the inheritance treaty as pretext, although it was unguilty.

King Wladislaw of Bohemia had confirmed the mint and mine privilege of Frederic's forefathers in 1505. In 1541, after thirty years of standstill, Frederic reopened the Legnica mint. He issued thalers, half- and quarterthalers, as well as Silesian Weissgroschen, Groschen and 3 Gröscher of Polish type and, since 1543, ducats.

Ducat 1543, Liegnitz.     Ø 21 mm, 3,42 g.     F.u.S.1354; Friedb.3138.

Thaler 1542, Legnica.     Ø 41 mm.     F.u.S.1350; Dav.9842.
Obv.:   FRIDERI·D·G·DVX·SLESI·LEGENICZ·BRIGEN   -   effigy with leather cap and coat
Rev.:   VERBVM·DOMINI·MANET·IN·ETERNVM·1542   "The word of God remains eternal."
Arms of Legnica-Brzeg (quartered: Silesian eagle / checky field) with helm and crest (eagle & feather fan)

From 1541 to 1546, thalers were minted with unchanged image. Groschen were minted since 1541. They carry the same legend as the thalers but their image changes with time.

Groschen 1541.
with cap
Ø 22 mm.   F.u.S.1349.

Groschen 1542.
without cap
Ø 22 mm.   F.u.S.1352.

Groschen 1543.
crescent on eagle's breast
Ø 22 mm.   F.u.S.1359.

Groschen 1545.
with armour
minimal crescent
Ø 22 mm, 1,60g.

Contemporaries who could not read were likely to confuse the last coin shown here with
Groschen minted by Duke Albrecht of Prussia, compare a Prussian Groschen 1543

Since 1543, "3 Gröscher" were minted according to the Polish standard.
Unlike Prussian mintages, Silesian coins did not have to keep to a prescribed standard
for weight and fineness.

3 Gröscher 1545, Legnica.     Ø 21 mm.   F.u.S.1369.
These coins, too, were imitations of the popular 3 Gröscher of Duke Albrecht of Prussia,
compare a Prussian 3 Gröscher 1540

In course of time, Silesian minting degenerated. King Ferdinand had to interfere when the Bohemian diet complained about the low standard of the Legnica coins. King Sigismund I of Poland also complained about imitations and copies of his own coins. Duke Frederic had to prove his mintright. He was able to do so with a number of documents. Still, in 1546 the King interdicted any further mintage in Silesia. The Legnica mint stayed closed until 1600.

Ref. :
• Friedensburg und Seger :  Schlesiens Münzen und Medaillen der neueren Zeit, Breslau 1901.
    Reprint 1968, 1976.

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