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The Coins of Gaeta

The following is a translation from an original Italian article.

The first follari of Gaeta were minted under Marino II, consul and duke of the city from 978 to 984. They are very crude, made of copper and weigh from about 2 to 4 grams. On the obverse in the center they carry a large [Lombardic] M with the legend A CON ET DVX (Marinus Consul et Dux) around it. The reverse shows the bust of St Erasmus. Ferraro reports at least 18 varieties of the follari of Marino II.

The follari served the Gaetans for their internal commerce. For external use, the gold and silver coins of Rome, Byzantium, Benevento and Amalfi were used. Unlike Amalfi and Benevento, Gaeta minted neither gold nor silver coins, at least not for the entire period of its autonomy and that of the domination of the Norman and Swabian kings.

The follari of Marino II were followed by those of Marino II and Giovanni III, father and son, who were joint rulers of the city. They carry on the obverse + MARINO CONS ET DVX and on the reverse + IOHNES CONS ET DVX. Then came the follari of Giovanni IV (991- 1012). After them there were three dukes of the so called "Native Dynasty" who are known to have struck coins. Other follari were minted by Richard I, Prince of Capua and Duke of Gaeta (1063-1078). They are almost all identical to each other and carry on the obverse the legend RIC CONS ET DVX (Riccardus Consul et Duke), whereas they are distinguished on the reverse by the fact that after GAETA, or GAIETA, or GAGETA, or AGETA, the follari of Richard II carry two bars and those of Richard III carry three.

Between these [those of Richard I and Ricard II] is included William of Blosseville, who appears on the Gaetan scene in 1103, the year in which we find him duke of the city in his first year of government (0) and disappears about two years later, in 1105, expelled by Richard II of Aquila.

Of him, like the rest of the numerous consuls and dukes of the city of Gaeta, no coins have yet been found as of this writing [Date of publication]. Blosseville, however made sure that, at any rate, his name would appear on the follari then in circulation in the duchy (which were those of Richard I). On these he had the two letters D V (Dux Vilelmus) inscribed. Blosseville had this practice continued on the follari of his victorious opponent, Richard II of Aquila, even after he was exiled from Gaeta. Of these countermarked follari there are known to be 5 varieties reported by Ferraro and Fusco. Another variety has been uncovered by me.

With Richard III Caleno the follari of the autonomous period of the Gaetan duchy end. Gaeta, however, minted follari on behalf of the Norman kings: Roger (1135-1154), William I (1154-1166), William II (1166-1189) and even for King Tancred (1189-1194). These follari carry on the obverse the name of the king and on the reverse the legend CIVITAS GAETA around the edge and a castle in the center. The coinage continued even with the Swabian kings, namely Henry VI and Costanza (double follari) (1191-1198) and finally Frederick II (1198-1212).

We must list besides these follari those called "communals", or "autonomys", or "cities", whose coinage begins around the beginning of the second half of the 11th century and which, in some cases, were used alongside coins of the duke or consul then in power.

Other coins were minted in Gaeta in the following years. We should recall the silver denaro minted on behalf of Pope Gregory IX around 1230, of which, however, no examples exist, and the Alfonsino minted on behalf of Alfonso I of Aragon (1436-1458), worth a ducat and a half (ducatone).

As we have seen, there are dozens of varieties of follari attributed to various dukes or consuls of the city of Gaeta and to the Norman and Swabian kings. Ferraro describes about seventy varieties of them. It is not improbable, however, that other follari may be discovered from other Gaetan dukes. There are too many of those, in fact, for whom we know nothing of their coins.

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