Bishopric of Sion
Sion is located in the upper Valais in Switzerland and was the seat of a bishopric in Franconian times. The diocese is connected to Saint Theodul, who brings together three Valais bishops, including Theodul (381-393). It is said that Emperor Charlemagne granted a bishop Theodul secular rule over the Valais in 805. But it was King Rudolf III of Burgundy, who gave the county of Valais to the applicant Hugo in 999. Since then, the Bishop of Sion has also called himself Count and Prefect in Valais. In the upper Valais, rural communities (so-called Zehnden) emerged, which influenced the bishop.
Bishop Walter Supersaxo (1457-82) conquered the Lower Valais as far as Saint-Maurice from the Counts of Savoy in 1475-76 and strengthened the episcopal power both internally and externally. He was the first bishop of Sion to mint coins. Since then, one of the sides of the coin usually carries the coat of arms of the issuing bishops family.
Jost (Jodocus) of Silenen, 1482-1496
Jost was appointed envoy of the Confederates to King Louis XI of France. In 1477 the king promoted Jost to the applicant of Grenoble as thanks for the successful negotiations for the dissolution of the Free County of Burgundy after the death of Charles the Bold. In 1482 Jost was elected Bishop of Sitten. The reputation of the francophone bishop fell after the campaigns against the Duchy of Milan and the lost battle of Crevola (1487). Georg Supersaxo (= Jörg auf der Flüe), his opponent and leader of the Milan party, drove him to France in 1496, where he died in 1498.
Jost exploited silver mines in Bagnes. Numerous church buildings in Valais testify him as an art-loving Renaissance prince.
Dicken (Testone), n. d. Ø 29 mm, 9,80 g. Palezieux 5 [2, p.274]; Lavanchy 5.
· - Bust with hat to the right.
Coat of arms [lion] of bishops family, behind it the bishop's staff crossed with a sword, above it a miter.
The Roman title 'prefect' perhaps suggests immediacy under the Holy Roman Empire.
"The image on the coin bears no resemblance to other portraits of the bishop that were made posthumously. The embossed portrait is probably the most lifelike surviving portrait of the bishop" [Charles Kuntcher].
A slight resemblance to the image on the coin can perhaps be found in a picture by an unknown painter (64x53cm, gallery in the Stockalper Castle in Brig (?), Photo by Valais Libre [vslibre.wordpress.com/tag/jost-von-silenen/].
Dicken are thick (German: dick) silver coins made in Switzerland and southwest Germany at the end of the 15th century and were heavier than the previous coins. They were worth 1/3 gold gulden, weighed about 9.8 g and based on the Italian Testone. Milan coined the first Testone (from Italian 'testa' = head) in 1474 with the lifelike Renaissance portrait of their Sforza Duke.
Wandering die cutters probably 'exported' this type of Italian coins. [P. Elsig]
The dies of the 6 Groschen of 1527 from Sion (see above) was made by a die cutter, who also made the dies for the undated 6 Groschen of Matthäus Schiner (see below). [Dolivo, p.33]
Matthäus Schiner, 1499-1522
Born around 1464, 1522 in Rome. Matthäus Schiner was a very influential church politician in Europe at the time. He succeeded his uncle as Bishop of Sitten in 1499. He attended the imperial diet (Reichstag) in Constance as papal envoy in 1507. Pope Julius II made him a cardinal and papal legate in 1511.
On Schiner's initiative, the Swiss Confederation supported Duke Maximilian Sforza in the Milan Wars. The defeat of Marignano concerning the Duchy of Milan, to which he contributed, put an end on Swiss expansion efforts.
Schiner then tried in vain to build a league against France, because Pope Leo X had meanwhile turned to a policy of reconciliation with France. This also strengthened the Swiss francophile party around Georg Supersaxo (Jörg auf der Flüe), who was now able to drive Schiner out of Sion. Schiner joined Emperor Maximilian in 1515 and acted as his deputy in Italy since 1516. He supported the election of Charles V as Roman king. After Charles V and Leo X had entered into a new alliance against France, Schiner took part in the reconquest of Milan with a swiss army in 1521.
Schiner was devoted to humanistic ideas and also saw the need for reform in the church. However, he refused to break with Rome and opposed Luther and Zwingli.
After the death of Leo X, the resistance of the French cardinals prevented his election as Pope. Schiner died of the plague in Rome shortly after the election of Pope Adrian VI.
6 Groschen n. d. Ø 28 mm, 5,77 g. Palezieux 58; Lavanchy 15.
Bust to the right, with tonsure and in episcopal regalia.
Rev.: Lily-adorned polypass with three lines of writing:
SOLI / DEO:GLO / ·RIA· "Glory to God alone"
The profile picture on the coin differs greatly from the oil painting
in his place of birth in Ernen
[Photo by Friedrich Dreier in: ernen-fotoarchiv.ch/gallery/houses.html, Bild 12].
Compare with the graphic
in the portrait gallery "Galerie des Illustres" of
Beauregard Castle in the Loire Valley.
The original that served as model for these pictures was probably burned at Tourbillon Castle in 1788. [Morard]
It is hard to determine a similarity between these images and the image on the coin.
Hildebrand of Riedmatten, 1565-1604
Hildebrand I did not succeed in implementing reforms in the priesthood of his diocese. But the Reformation flourished at this time. In 1579, the Sion city authorities even denied the papal nuncio an entry to the city. It was not until 1604 that Hildebrand's district administrator decided to expel the Reformed. The last Reformed families left Valais around 1650.
In the Treaty of Thonon (1569), Bishop Hildebrand and Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy agreed to give back territories at Lake Geneva to Savoy, while Monthey remained permanently in the Lower Valais. In 1571 Hildebrand enacted the renewed Valais land law, which regulates the relationship between the Upper and Lower Valais and is regarded as the highlight of his reign.
No one else mintrd more coins in Sion than Hildebrand I, who was a bishop for almost forty years.
Teston or Dicken n. d. Ø 31 mm, 7,5 g. Palezieux 183; Lavanchy 46.
A piece is said to be in the South Kensington Museum, London (Palezieux, 1908).
Coat of arms of the bishop (shamrock and two stars) between two flowers.
Above it sword, miter and crook.
Rev.: + HILTEBRANDVS·DE·RIET·EPI·S - Bust to the right.
Compare with a picture by an unknown artist after 1636, 66x48cm, Galerie du Couvent des Capucins de Sion [source: Valais Libre - vslibre.wordpress.com/tag/adrien-de-riedmatten].
Ref. for Sion:
• Elsig, Patrick: Kopf oder Zahl? Die Geschichte des Geldwesens im Wallis, Sion 1993. - available.
• Palézieux-Du Pan, Maurice de: Numismatique de l'Évêché de Sion. In: Schweizerische numismatische
Rundschau 10 (1900) 212-299; 11 (1901) 100-138; 14 (1908) 265-352; 15 (1909) 1-37.
• Lavanchy, Charles: Numismatique valaisanne. In: Vallesia : bulletin annuel de la Bibliothèque et des
Archives cantonales du Valais, des Musées de Valère et de la Majorie, 1985, p.61-100
• Kuntcher, Charles: Les monnaies valaisannes de la période épiscopale. In: Annales valaisannes : bulletin
trimestriel de la Société d'histoire du Valais romand, 1959, vol.10, no.4, p.565-585
• Zenhäusern, Gregor : Sitten (Diözese) im Historischen Lexikon der Schweiz
• Historischen Lexikon der Schweiz: Jost von Silene ; Matthäus Schiner ; Hildebrand von Riedmatten
• Truffer, Bernard: Portraits des évêques de Sion de 1418 à 1977, Sion, 1977 - online: SN-Ann.no7.pdf
• Morard, Joseph: Un portrait authentique di Cardinal Schinner, Annales Valaisannes I (1916) 7ff - online