Italy, Kingdom of Sicily. Federico II (1198-1250). Multiplo di Tarì - zecca di Palermo o Messina

Italy, Kingdom of Sicily. Federico II (1198-1250). Multiplo di Tarì - zecca di Palermo o Messina
Gold - Ungraded

Frederick II of Swabia, King of Sicily (1198–1250), Emperor from 1220.
Multiple of Tarì, Palermo or Messina (1198–1220), AV 5.23 g.
Obverse: pseudo-Kufic legend around plain circle; inside it, FЄ
Reverse: pseudo-Kufic legend around plain circle; inside it, IC - XC / NI - KA on the sides of a long processional cross.
Spahr 59. MEC 14, 493. MIR type 75 (Messina). Friedberg 648a.
Coin of extreme rarity due to its significant weight.
Origin (numismatics auction): ex Asta Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG

To celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante (1265-1321), Catawiki dedicates to the 'Sommo Poeta' (Great Poet) an auction focused on the coins of his time and on those linked to the characters of the Divine Comedy.


Pointing out to Dante the presence of Frederick II in Inferno is Farinata degli Uberti, met in the sixth circle, a disseminated plain of sepulchral arches, uncovered waiting for judgement day and smothered in flames that are burning around them. Here there are, Virgil explains to him, the initiators of the heretical movements with their followers (Inf. IX, 124-131): Dante probably bases the punishment of the heretics on that of the stake envisaged by Frederick II in two of his constitutions. The part of the burial ground towards which Dante is led is reserved for Epicurus and "all his followers/who with the body mortal make the soul" (Inf. X, 13-15). It is one of these arches that Farinata is facing, whom Dante shortly before had expressed the desire to meet (vv. 6-9 and 16-18; cf. VI, 79-87). When Dante begs Farinata to tell him "who was with him there", they answered: "within here is the second Frederick / and the Cardinal (Ottavian of the Ubaldini); and of the rest I speak not" (verses 116-120). Farinata's words trouble Dante, as they contain a dark prediction about the first phase (up to 1304) of his exile (verses 79-81) and the news of the presence of Frederick II therefore inevitably fades into the background.

Frederick, therefore, in inferno as Epicurean Heretic. Of the four buried in the same tomb - Farinata and the two named by him, as well as Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, who also speaks with Dante (verses 57-72) - the first three belong to the pars imperii and the last to the pars ecclesie. If the particular heresy imputed here to the Swabian were not enough to clear the ground of the thesis of an organic connection between Ghibellinism and patarinism (as the heresy in general was defined in Florence at the time), to disprove it, just the presence of a Guelph among the four heretics called by name is sufficient. Farinata is also one of the five Florentines, "once so worthy" and "who on good deeds set their thoughts", of whom Dante asks Ciacco where they are found (Inf. VI, 79-87). "Worthy", as they were marked under the profile of "well doing", i.e., with an active life, and such on this level - rather, more than worthy, seeing as he and his son Manfredi are called heroes illustres - is also Frederick II in the De Vulgari Eloquentia (I, xii, 4). Indeed, the two "could express with all the nobility and integrity of their spirit, and as long as fortune allowed them to behave as real men, reporting to live as beasts", with the result that the Sicilian palace became the point of reference and meeting point of the Italian literacy men cordes nobiles atque gratiarum dotati. The praise of the Siculo-Federician House is not diminished by the denouncement that Dante puts in the mouth of Pier della Vigna (Inf. XIII, 58-78), of the "vice" of envy, common everywhere but in particular in the courts and, therefore, also in the Sicilian one, that led he who was Frederick's closest collaborator to suicide. However, he did not speak to denigrate the institution where he had worked with satisfaction, but to remove the still-lingering suspicion that he had betrayed his emperor.

In one event, which Farinata reminds Dante of, Frederick II and his son Frederick of Antiochia had had a leading role (v.). To the Ghibelline leader who, first of all, asks him "Who were thine ancestors?" (Inf. X, 42), not out of curiosity to know his ancestors, but because of the sectarian eagerness to be briefed about the side to which they had belonged, the man being questioned replies without hesitation that they were on the side of the Guelphs. Proud enemies - replies Farinata - of himself, of his ancestors and of his side, so much so that he forced them into exile twice: in 1248 and in 1260. In 1248, to decide the destiny of a battle, fought in Florence between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, it was the emperor who sent his son with six hundred German knights to support these (Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica, curated by G. Porta , I, Parma 1990, pp. 317 s.). If Dante places Frederick II in inferno is it also because of an innate reflection of his family memories, even if it is not clear how many of the Alighieri family were in exile after 1248 and 1260.

Lot details
Italy, Kingdom of Sicily
Federico II (1198-1250)
Multiplo di Tarì
Year/Period and Variation
- zecca di Palermo o Messina
Precious metal
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