Austria €10 Richard the Lionheart Silver Coins Issued


The Austrian Mint in Vienna is issuing the second coin in its €10 silver commemorative series "Tales and Legends in Austria". The theme of the new coin is the captivity of the English king, Richard I, on his homeward journey from the Third Crusade in 1192 and the legend of his loyal friend and troubadour who is said to have discovered in which castle the king was being held.

Austria 10€ Richard the Lionheart Silver Coin

The first part of the story is indeed history. Richard, called the "Lionhearted" even in his lifetime, mortally offended Duke Leopold V of Austria and the German knights in the crusader army by having the duke’s banner torn down from the walls of the captured city of Acre and letting it be trampled in the dust.

Thereupon the duke and the German contingent broke off from the army and returned angrily to Europe. They were soon followed by the French king, who was ill and worried about his home territories, and who didn’t get along with Richard either. When it came time for Richard to return home, he knew Europe to be seething with his enemies. He travelled incognito, disguised as a pilgrim, and with only a handful of followers.

Wrecked in the Adriatic Sea, Richard the Lionheart found himself constrained to cross the territories of the Austrian duke. In Erdberg (at that time just outside Vienna) he was recognised and seized. The legend says that he was betrayed by paying with some Byzantine gold coins from Constantinople and that he had tried to escape detection by posing as a kitchen boy in the local inn, slowly roasting a chicken on a spit.

Duke Leopold imprisoned Richard in the castle of Dürnstein on the River Danube while he negotiated with the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, over the terms of the surrender of his royal captive and the sum of the king’s ransom which they would jointly demand.

We now enter the realm of myth and legend. King Richard had disappeared on leaving the Holy Land and it is more than likely that his subjects did not know of his exact location until well after his capture outside Vienna. His boon-companion, the troubadour or minstrel Blondel, set out to find the king. Blondel travelled through southern Germany and down the Danube singing beneath the walls of each castle he encountered.

At last under the walls of Durnstein, high above the fast flowing Danube, he recognised the king’s voice answering his song. Richard was alive and in Dürnstein. He charged Blondel to spread word of his captivity back to England. Some versions of the legend even maintain that Blondel sought to help him escape.

The Blondel legend may have some basis in historical fact. Certainly Richard’s loyal officers would have been seeking his whereabouts, until they learned of his detention by the Austrian duke and the subsequent ransom demand by the Emperor Henry VI.

Richard’s brother, Prince John, was not at all anxious to see Richard’s release, but his mother, Queen Eleanor, was determined to see the ransom of 100,000 Cologne Marks of silver (approximately 23 tons) raised. Duke Leopold was excommunicated by the pope for laying hands on a returning crusader, but with his half of the ransom he rebuilt the walls of Vienna and other towns. In 1194 he founded a mint in Vienna to strike the silver into coins. That mint was the ancestor of the present day Austrian Mint, striking coins in the city now for over 800 years!

Coin Design, Specifications and Mintages

The new €10 silver coin depicts Blondel on his horse beneath a romantic castle of Dürnstein. He strums his mandolin and sings the song which Richard recognises. The legend has it that Richard had composed the piece himself. The reverse shows the seizure of Richard the Lionheart in the kitchen of the inn at Erdberg. Leopold and two soldiers apprehend him despite his disguise as a kitchen help tending a roast chicken. Beneath the pilgrim’s cloak he wears, can be seen the three lions of England emblazoned on his chest.

The new coin with a face value of € 10 is struck in sterling silver (925 fine) to a maximum mintage of 40,000 pieces in proof quality, 30,000 pieces in special uncirculated quality and 130,000 in circulation quality issued at face value through the banks. The proof version is accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity and an attractive album for the proof series can be acquired separately. The special uncirculated coin is vacuum packed in a colourful and informative blister pack.

The series continues in April next year with a coin recounting the legend of the discovery of the iron rich area of "Eisenerz" in Styria.

Type: Silver, Ag 925
Finish: Proof, Special Uncirculated, Circulation
Edge: Plain
Diameter: 32 mm
Fine Weight: 16 g
Mintage: Proof: 40,000
Spc.Unc: 30,000
Unc: 130,000
Face Value: 10 euro
Designer: Thomas Pesendorfer


About the Austrian Mint

The Austrian Mint is situated in the heart of Vienna and is the official minting authority for Austria with a 800 year history.

The Mint is the source for all Austrian Euro and Cent coins, whether they are intended for shopping, as an investment or for collection. Before the Euro, the Schilling and Groschen coins were minted, and before that – during the monarchy – Crowns, Guilders and Ducats were struck by the Austrian Mint.

The company is located close to the centre at the Vienna Stadtpark in a Biedermeier building erected under Emperor Ferdinand I. from 1835 to 1837. Today it accommodates one of the most modern mints in the world.

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