King (reign): Louis II de Mâle, 1346 – 1384
Denomination/metal: Gold Lion Heaume
Date/mint mark: late 1360s
Ref. no: Del 460; F 157; Gaillard 214
Obv. Helmeted lion seated left on Gothic throne, 'LVDOVIC DEI GRA COMES Z DNS FLADRIE' (Louis by the Grace of God, Count and Lord of Flanders). Rev. Ornate cross fleurdelisée in tressure, letters F,L,A,N in each angle, D in centre, 'BENEDICTVS QVI VENIT IN NOMINE DOMINE', (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord).
32mm, 5.3g. AEF - Almost Extremely Fine, well struck on a large flan.
Superb and magnificent piece of Gothic art on a coin- rare and in good condition. The gold coinage of Louis II of Flanders (1346-84) rivalled that of his contemporary King Philip VI of France in its splendour. In fact, many of his issues were direct imitations of the major French coinages, particularly the écu, a version of which was made in Flanders for nearly a century. But Louis also issued more distinctive pieces, such as this heaume, one of the the largest gold coins to be produced in medieval Flanders and Europe as a whole. The heaume takes its name from the central design - the ornamental great helm (heaume in French), rather comically worn by the Flemish lion which is seated on a spectacular and elaborate Gothic throne. When his father was killed at the Battle of Crécy against the troops of King Edward III of England in 1346, Louis inherited the French counties of Flanders, Nevers, and Rethel (as Louis III). In the Anglo-French conflict, the Flanders guilds, depending on the English wool trade, forced Louis to recognize King Edward III as his overlord and arranged an engagement to the daughter of the English king, Isabella. Louis managed to avoid this by fleeing to the court of King Philip VI of France. In 1347 he married Margaret of Brabant, which sparked a revolt in Ghent. Neverteheless, while the Black Death devastated the county and after Louis came to terms with the English king and in 1349 he could return to Flanders to succeed his father. In 1350 he gained credence by openly refusing to pay homage to the new Valois king John II of France. When his father-in-law Duke John III died without male heirs in 1355, he assumed the title of a Duke of Brabant and moved into the neighbouring duchy, but was unable to wrest it from his sister-in-law Duchess Joanna. Though Louis managed to defeat the Brabantian forces in the Battle of Scheut near Anderlecht (17 August 1356) and capture the cities of Mechelen, Brussels, Antwerp and Leuven, but he was unable to prevail against Joanna, backed by her husband Duke Wenceslaus I of Luxembourg and his mighty brother Emperor Charles IV. By the 1357 Peace of Ath he at least gained the rule over the small Lordship of Mechelen and the thriving city of Antwerp. Louis tried to govern as a Realpolitiker and continued a policy of neutrality, which kept him in favor with both France and England during the continued conflicts of the Hundred Years' War, initiating a period of stabilitiy and relative affluence in Flanders. With regards to his internal policy, his main aim was to prevent the formation of a broad coalition against him, as happened against his father. Except for his last years, he was successful in preventing this. In 1357 Count Louis II married his seven-year-old daughter Margaret III to the minor Duke Philip I of Burgundy, son of the French queen consort Joan I, who died from plague four years later. Sole heiress of her father's territories, she was a highly coveted bride courted by both Edmund of Langley, son of King Edward III of England, and Philip the Bold, son of King John II of France and Duke of Burgundy since 1363. After several years of tough bargaining, Count Louis II gave his consent to Philip and his brother King Charles V, in return he received the lordships of Romance Flanders (Lille, Douai, Orchies) and a payment of 200,000 livre tour