Silver Salto de línea Girona and Barcelona, c. 793-814
These two small coins minted by Charlemagne (768-814) are the first Christian issues in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages.
The Frankish kingdom, converted by Charlemagne into an expanding empire, counter-attacked the Islamic advance, penetrating into the former Visigothic kingdom. The conquered territory was called the Marca Hispanica (“marca” meaning “frontier”) and, although it did come to form a band along the south side of the Pyrenees, especially referred to the northern area of Catalonia, organised since then into administrative units called counties.
Since the disappearance of the Visigothic kingdom, the only coins minted in the Peninsula had been Moslem. With the incorporation of the Marca Hispanica into the Carolingian kingdom, the cities of Barcelona, Girona, Ampurias and Roses became the first to mint Christian coins. The other, nascent kingdoms would not produce their own coins for more than another two centuries. These issues belong to the Carolingian system based on silver money. They carry Charlemagne’s name and monogram, made from the letters KRLS, the same as he used to seal royal documents.
The coins were acquired through an offer of direct sale from the auction house Áureo & Calicó. They are very rare and significant pieces, which makes it even more important that they should be kept in public institutions. The coin minted at Barcelona has been temporarily deposited in the MNAC for its exhibition in the numismatic rooms, within the institutional collaboration between our two museums, specifically between our Department of Coins and Medals and the Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya.