The reconstructed collection of Ferdinand Columbus, £18.00
Gold morabitino of Alfonso VIII
Struck in Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, AD 1190
The gold morabitino was first issued in Spain during the twelfth century. It was named after the dynasty of the Almoravids, who had come from North Africa to conquer Spain in 1086. The gold coinage of the Almoravids had high prestige as a trade coin and circulated widely.
The king of Castille, Alfonso VIII (reigned 1158-1214) had a high proportion of Moorish subjects in his kingdom and had close relations with the Islamic world. From 1180, he struck gold morabitini copying Almoravid dinars with legends in the Arabic script but whose content was Christian. On this example you can see the Christian cross and the first three letters of his name, 'A L F'. The Arabic inscription states that the coin was struck in the town of Toledo in 'the era of Saphar 1228', equivalent to AD 1190. (The Saphar era was a traditional Spanish dating system which began on 1 January 38 BC).
P. Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe (London, Seaby, 1991)