Gold dobla de cabez coin of Pedro the Cruel, king of Castile

Castile, Spain, AD 1350-69

Lions, castles and a face of cruelty

Two traditions influenced the coinage of the medieval Spanish kingdoms, that of western Europe, based on silver and base-silver, and that of the Islamic world, with its tradition of gold coinage.

In the mid-fourteenth century, Pedro the Cruel ruled the largest kingdom in Spain. His nickname was earned by his punishments and acts of vengeance on rebels and rivals, though these were not noticeably more extreme than many other kings of the age. He was able to issue a substantial gold coinage. Though he was following the French and English kings, he nevertheless looked back to the Muslim past by making his new coin, the dobla, the same weight as the old double dinar of the thirteenth-century Almohade rulers. Pedro's access to gold was partly the result of the great Castilian victory over the Marinids under his predecessor, Alfonso XI.

However, in design, the dobla was thoroughly western, with its image of the king's head (cabez) on the front and the lion and castle symbols of the kingdoms of Leon and Castile quartered on the back.

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More information


P. Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe (London, Seaby, 1991)


Diameter: 26.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1893-1-3-2



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