The Fabrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre – Real Casa de la Moneda has issued new gold and silver coins to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of one of Spain’s more well-known monarchs. King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516) is well remembered for the role he and his wife Queen Isabella played in financing a voyage that would forever change the known world.
The King, also known as Ferdinand the Catholic, first became King of Sicily as Ferdinand III. As a consequence of his marriage to Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1474, he was then King of Castile jure uxoris as Ferdinand V, before being crowned as King of Aragon in 1479. Born to King John II of Aragon, he succeeded his father upon his death and with his marriage to Queen Regnant Isabella I – the daughter and sole heiress of King John II of Castile — two Kingdoms were united, forming the basis of a single Spanish crown.
During their dual reign, the two kingdoms underwent significant change, notably with the monarch’s desire to put an end to the last Moorish stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula, a goal that was achieved with the conquest of the Emirate of Granada in 1492. Remembered as the Reconquista, the Moorish kingdom’s last outpost was taken and thus began the insistence of the Spanish that the conquered population in these enclaves convert from their Moslem faith to Catholicism, or face expulsion. This policy was extended to the kingdom’s Jews who were also compelled to convert or face expulsion. Remembered as the Inquisition, this period saw many Jews disperse to various locations within the Ottoman Empire or North Africa rather than become a “converso.”
In 1494, Ferdinand and Isabella were conferred the honorific title of “Most Catholic Majesties” (Los Reyes Católicos) by Pope Alexander VI in recognition of their efforts to restore the faith to the Iberian Peninsula; they are also remembered for the input they had in financing the initial voyage of an explorer named Christopher Columbus. A Genoan by birth, Columbus was a seafaring explorer and navigator who had initially petitioned the Portuguese crown for funds to pursue a new route to the Indies. He ended up inadvertently discovering a continent previously unknown by Europeans and founding an empire, all claimed in the name of the Crown of Castile.
Ferdinand lost his crown of Castile in 1504 with the death of his wife Isabella, who was succeeded by their eldest daughter Joanna. As she was deemed to be mentally unfit to rule, Ferdinand became his daughter’s regent. Ferdinand himself was succeeded by Joanna’s son and his grandson, known as Charles I and later as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Upon his death in 1516, he was buried next to his wife in the Royal Chapel of Granada, as was his expressed wish.
Ferdinand and Isabella are remembered for establishing a highly effective system of dual sovereignty under equal terms. During their reign they supported each other in accordance with their joint motto Tanto monta. With their collaborative efforts, Spain was more united than it ever was, the power and reach of the crown was centralized and undisputed, and the Reconquista was successfully concluded. Furthermore, the groundwork for the most dominant military machine of the next century and a half was laid down and a workable legal framework was created.
The Catholic Church was also reformed under Ferdinand and Isabella. Dominant throughout their realm, it was now poised to extend its reach to other lands with the discovery of the New World. It is said that even without the benefit of the expansion into the Americas, Spain would have been a major European power with the reform of the joint monarchs, but the discovery of Columbus did indeed set the country on the course for becoming the first modern world power.
The coins depict various familiar images of King Ferdinand and elements representative of his reign. The silver coin depicts the uncrowned King looking in a right oriented direction with his scepter resting on his right shoulder. The year of issue is placed to the right of the portrait. The reverse includes the crest or shield of the House of Castile & Leon and Aragon, the two kingdoms united by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. The denomination is placed to the left of the crest.
The gold coin’s obverse bears a rendition of the 4 excelentes gold coin, minted in Segovia and issued from 1476 during the rule of the joint monarchs. Both crowned effigies face each other, symbolizing their equal status, with Ferdinand portrayed on the left and Isabella on the right. The reverse side includes an image of the Aljafeira Palace, the ancestral home of the Kings of Aragon since 1118. The denomination of 100 EURO is placed above the primary design.
|10 €URO||.925 Silver||27 Grams||40 mm.||Proof||7500 pieces|
|100 €URO||.999 Gold||6.75 Grams||23 mm.||Proof||2500 pieces|
Both coins are currently available as separate purchases or as a two-coin set. For more information on this and other coins offered by the Real Casa de la Moneda, please visit their Web site. International sales will be dispatched where applicable.