Italy. Naples, Ferdinando of Aragon and Isabela of Castile (1503-1504) AV Ducato. Mint master Gian Carlo Tramontano, CICA 1503-4. FERNANDVS ET HELISAB D:G, crowned escutcheon with the arms of Leon, Castile, Aragon, Hungary, France and Jerusalem above pomegranate; flanked by initials I - T / + QVOS DEVS CONIVNGIT OMO NON SEP, confronted crowned bust of Ferdinando and Isabela. Panuti & Riccio 1; Calicó 155 (Tipo 144); Crusafont, CG, 3184 var.; CNI 4; MIR 114; Bellesia 17; Friedberg 827. 3.51g, 23mm, 8h.
Extremely Fine. Extremely Rare; of beautiful renaissance style.
From a private UK collection.
The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile created a union of the two Spanish kingdoms which would unite all the dominions of Spain, see the end of all Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula and elevate the nation of Spain to a dominant world power.
Castile and Aragon were the major powers in Iberia at the time and the fathers of Ferdinand and Isabella had sought a marriage to consolidate and exemplify the trust between the two states. Their betrothal was arranged when Isabella was six years old and although throughout the subsequent years it was overruled in favour of other suitors, eventually the marriage took place on 19 October 1469 in the city of Valladolid. A prenuptial agreement was established, allegedly under the motto tanto monta, monta tanto ("They amount to the same, the same they amount to"), creating a union of nations but allowing Isabella to remain the sovereign ruler of Castile. Aragon and Castile's boundaries, laws and interests remained distinct.
Under Isabella major reform was initiated in Castile. She utilised the Santa Hermandad (The Holy Brotherhood) as a national police force to help regulate crime, and reorganised the governmental system, bringing the kingdom out of the considerable debt left behind by her brother. Ferdinand fought on the Castilian and Aragonese fronts, imposing his authority over the oligarchic nobles and in 1482 his attention was occupied by the ten-year Grenada War against the Nasrid Kingdom of Grenada. This saw the combined forces of Aragon and Castile annex the city and thus end Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula. After the defeat of Grenada, a pomegranate (grenada meaning pomegranate in Spanish) was included on Ferdinand and Isabella's coat of arms as can be seen on this coin; the wealth gained from the destruction of Grenada enabled Ferdinand and Isabella to provide sponsorship for Christopher Columbus' legendary voyages across the Atlantic. In 1494 The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which divided the newly discovered lands beyond Europe between Isabella and Ferdinand and king John II of Portugal. Thus, a Golden Age of exploration and colonisation was begun.
Ferdinand and Isabella took steps towards enforcing religious conformity in their kingdoms: they issued royal decrees in 1492 and 1502 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave Castile and, in 1478, Pope Sixtus IV published a papal bull empowering Ferdinand and Isabella to appoint inquisitors to identify heretics in their kingdoms - this was the start of the Spanish Inquisition.
This coin was minted in Naples, after Ferdinand conquered the city from Louis III of France in 1504 and became Ferdinand III of Naples. The die-engravers at Naples were far superior to those in the Spanish mints having been influenced by the development of the Renaissance in the cities of Milan and Ferrara in the 1450s. This is apparent in the superbly presented Renaissance style of the portraits on this coin in comparison to similar types from Spain.