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Paleologi (Palaiologos) in the Margravate Monferrato (Montferrat)

Monferrato (eng. Montferrat) is situated between the Duchy of Savoy (Piedmont), the Duchy of Milan and the Republic of Genoa. The northern part encloses the capital Casale at the river Po. The dominion of Asti is located between the northern and the southern part of Monferrato.
The Margravate (marquisate) Monferrato came from the Aleramici family by female succession to the Paleologi (eng. Palaiologos) in 1305, who - again in female succession - inherited the Gonzaga in 1533. The Greek Paleologi were the last imperial dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, which ended with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453.

Map of Italy in 1499

Guglielmo (William) II Paleologo, 1494-1518
(according to the modern counting: Guglielmo IX)
- Father of Bonifacio and Margherita, brother of Gian Giorgio -
Guglielmo (*1486) married in 1508 the French princess Anne d'Alençon at Castle Blois at the Loire. Monferrato was an important ally of King Louis XII of France, who ruled the neighboring duchy of Milan since 1499. After the Battle of Novara (1513) Monferrato helped the defeated French to withdraw from Milan. The winner in Milan, Massimiliano Maria Sforza, received a payment from Monferrato, but nevertheless plundered the country.

Youthful effigy


Exposed in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome, photo from Sailko for Wikipedia.
Doppio Ducato n. d., Casale.     Ø 28 mm, 6,85 g.   CNI 103/8; RM 36/3; Friedb.165a.
Obv.:   GVLIELMVS·MAR·MONT FER' 7C'   -   youthful effigy with beret to left.
Rev.:   ✠ SA - CRI·ROmani·IMPerii· ·PRINCeps·VICArius· - PerPetuus
quartered shield from Paleologi in Monferrato:
above: Double Eagle / Jerusalem + Aragon (pales);   below: Saxony + Bar / Paleologi (cross with 4x B)
superimposed in the middle: arms of Aleramici in Monferrato (red bar over white field).
(Various branches of the House of Aleramici reigned in Monferrato up to 1305 and in Saluzzo up to 1548.
The coat of arms of Monferrato and Saluzzo differ only in the color of the top bar.)

Legend both sides together:
... Marchio Montis Ferrati [Et Cetera] Sacri Romani Imperii Princeps Vicarius Perpetuus.

The ancestor Giovanni Giacomo (1418-45) became Vicar General of Italy for emperor Sigismund (1433-37).
The next coin is from similar dies.


Testone n. d., Casale.     Ø 29 mm, 9,53 g.   CNI 105/26; RM 37/6; MIR 184.
GVLIELMVS·MAR·MONT·FER·ZC'   //   +SACRI·RO·IMP·PRINC·VICQ·PP


more adult effigy


Doppio Ducato n. d., Casale.     Ø 29 mm, 6,89 g.   CNI 103/9; RM 36/4; Friedb.165.
From very similar dies as below. Central point on both sides, also like described below.


Testone n. d., Casale.     Ø 29 mm, ca. 9,4 g.   CNI 105/28; RM 38/8.
Obv.:   GVLIELMVS' MARchio' MONTis' FERrati' ZC   -   effigy with beret to the left.
Rev.:   ✠ SɅ - CRI' ROmani' IMPerii' 'PRINCeps' VICɅrius' - PerPetuus
quartered shield from Paleologi in Monferrato as explained before.
Legend both sides together:
... Marchio Montis Ferrati [Et Cetera] Sacri Romani Imperii Princeps Vicarius Perpetuus.

The ancestor Giovanni Giacomo (1418-45) became Vicar General of Italy for emperor Sigismund (1433-37).

Compare the Portrait (before 1521, 14x19 cm, tempera on wood) painted by Macrino d'Alba,
now Museo del Santuario di Crea, Monferrato.


1/2 Testone n. d., Casale.     Ø 28 mm, 4,53 g.   CNI 107/41; RM 40/11; MIR 186.
GVLIELMVS·MAR·MONT·FE·7·C'   //   ✠SA - CRI·RO·IMP· ·PRINC·VICA· - PP


Cavallotto n. d., Casale.     Ø 29 mm, 3,92 g.   CNI 108/54; RM 40/12; MIR 188.
Obv.:   (head) GVLI▴MA▴MONT▴FERATI▴ZЄ  -   effigy in armor with beret to the left.
Rev.:   €S€ - TEODORVS   -   St. Theodor on horse directs his lance against a three headed dragon.

Effigy with beard


Pattern for 4fold ducat n. d., Casale.     Copper, Ø 32 mm, 8,58 g.   CNI 103/3; RM 35/2.
Obv.:   ✥ GVLIELMVS · MARCHIO · XXIII   -   effigy with beret to the right.
Rev.:   MONTIS · FERRATI   -   deer lies in a wicker fence,
it wears a collar with the coat of arms of Monferrato (red bar over a white field).
The legend means: "William, 13th margrave of Monferrato".


Only the specimen of the National Library in Paris is known.
Doppio ducato n. d., Casale.     Ø 28 mm, 6,83 g.   CNI 104/11; RM 37/5.
Obv.:   ·GVLIELMVS·MAR·MON·F   -   bearded bust with long hear to the left.
Rev.:   ·PRINC·VICARIVS·SACRI·RO IMP·   -   a plant called "semprevivo" watered from above.
Indeed, the Italian Wikipedia knows a 'Sempervivum dolomiticum'.
Note the striking similarity of this coin with the Teston of Francesco II Gonzaga (RM 12) from Mantua.

Bonifacio (Boniface)II Paleologo, 1518-1530
(according to modern counting: Bonifacio IV)
- Son of Guglielmo II Paleologo -
Bonifacio II (*1512), inherited the margravate at the age of 6 years. His mother Anna d'Alençon exercised the regency. Bonifacio never married. He died childless after a fall from his horse while hunting. He was succeeded by his uncle Gian Giorgio.


Ducato n. d., Casale.     Ø 23 mm, 3,44 g.   CNI 122/2; RM 42/1; Friedb.169.
Obv.:   ✠ BONIFACI - VS·Marchio·MOntis·FERrati   -   bust to the left, beret with button.
Rev.:   ·Sanctus· - ·EV - A - X - IVS - · - :   -   St. Evasio on horse to the right,
shield at the bottom: double eagle, on the breast the coat of arms from Paleologi.

Gian Giorgio (John George) Paleologo, 1530-1533
- brother of Guglielmo II -   - the last Paleologo -
Gian Giorgio (*1488) was bishop of Casale, when his nephew Bonifacio died unexpectedly in 1530. He thus became the last Palaeologi. Although already very ill, Gian Giorgio made one more desperate attempt to conceive a successor, and married the 41-year-old Julia, daughter of Frederik of Naples. But he died nine days later.


Testone n. d., Casale.     Ø 32 mm, 9,06 g.   CNI 129/8; RM 43/1.
Obv.:   (head St. Evasio) IOannes·GEORGIVS·Marchio·MONTIS·FERRATI
bust in armor with beret to the left.
Rev.:   (head St. Evasio) VICARIVS - ·Per·Petuus· - IMPERATOris
deer lying in a wicker fence and wearing a collar with the coat of arms of Monferrato.


Cavallotto n. d., Casale.     Ø 25 mm, 3,76 g.   CNI 130/19; RM 44/3var; MIR 230.
Obv.:  (head of St. Evasio) IO·GEORGIVS·Marchio·MONTIS·FERRATI  -  armored bust with beret left.
Rev.:   (head of St. Evasio) VICARIVS·ROMANI·IMPPERII·7:   -   crowned coat of arms.

From the Paleologi dynasty remained in 1533 only Margherita, sister of Bonifacio II Paleologo. Emperor Charles V disposed the Margravate Monferrato, mainly in order to avoid a dispute between Savoy and Mantua for the succession. (Coins minted 1533-36 on behalf of Charles V show no effigy.) Later in 1536 the emperor handed over Monferrato to Federico II. Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Margherita's husband. The couple had two sons, Francesco and Guglielmo.

Margherita (Margaret) Paleologa as regent for her sons, 1540-1566
- daughter from Guglielmo II Paleologo, as well the last Palaologa -
After the death of Federico II Gonzaga (1540) Margherita became regent for her first son Francesco III Gonzaga (*1533) until his death in 1550. He was followed by his brother Guglielmo Gonzaga (*1538). Margherita's 2nd regency in Mantua and Monferrato lastet until 1556. She died in 1566 in Mantua.
Coins were issued in Monferrato on behalf of the respective minor ruler together with his mother; in Mantua, however only on behalf of the minor.

  Margherita together with Francesco III Gonzaga, 1540-50  
Francesco III Gonzaga (*1533) inherited in 1540 from his father Federico II Gonzaga the Duchy of Mantua and the Margravate Monferrato. Francesco's mother Margherita Paleologa exercised the regency. Francesco's childlike portrait appeared on Testoni of Mantua. He married in 1550 (16 years aged) Catherine of Austria, daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I, but died soon after.


Testone n. d., Casale.    Ø 32 mm, 10,86 g.   CNI 136/6 tav.11/17; RM II 43/9; Bignotti 5.
Obv.:   (head) MARG·PALE·DV·MAN·MARC·MON·FE   -   bust of Margherita with widow's veil.
"Margareta Paleologa, Duchess (Ducissa) of Mantua, Margravine (Marchionissa) of Montis Ferrato"

Rev.:  FRANciscus·GONZaga·DVX·MANtuae·MARChio·MONtis·FErrati·  -  youthful bust of Francesco.
The titles distinguish accurately: Mantua is Duchy (since 1530) and Monferrato is Margravate.


  Margherita together with Guglielmo Gonzaga, 1550-66  
Guglielmo Gonzaga (*1538) followed in 1550 his deceased brother Francesco III. His mother Margherita Paleologa exercised the regency of Mantua and Monferrato until he aged eighteen. The common coinage in Monferrato continued up to Margherita's death in 1566.


Testone 1553, Casale.     Ø 29 mm, 9,07 g.   CNI 138/1 tav.12/3; RM II 51/17.
Obv.:   ♌ MARGARITA·Mater·GVLIELMVS·Filiud   -   two effigies behind one another:
in the background the boy's mother wearing a widow's veil.

Rev.:   ♌ DVCES·MANTuae·MARCHiones·MONTIS·Ferrati·   -   crown with FIDES and Mount Olympus
on top of the shields of Gonzaga (left) and of Palaiologi (right); in between: date 1553.


Lira 1563, Casale.     Ø 34 mm, 12,08 g.   CNI 139/6 tav.12/6; RM II 51/18.
Obv.:   ✠ MARG·Et·GVL·DVCES·MANT·Et·MAR·MONT·F
two effigies behind one another to the left. The mother with deep-seated widow's veil.
Rev.:   NON·IM / PROVIDIS / ·1563·   "Not unaware", date below,
surrounded by a garland of pine needles and cones.

Ref.:   [CNI and RM, page & No. eg.: 87/6 = p.87 n.6]
Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol. II, look at Casale   -   CNI-Index vol. II
Ravegnani Morosini, M. [RM]: Signorie e principati - monete italiane con ritratto, 1450-1796, 1984
    Palaiologi: vol.III, p.32-44 and for Margherita: vol.II p.43-51 (Gonzaga)
• I Marchesi del Monferrato: I Paleologi

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