Gold morabitino of Sancho I, king of Portugal

Portugal, AD 1185-1211

The origin of Portugal

Portugal came into existence following Christian reconquests of land from the Moors of Spain in the later eleventh century. It first existed as a county under the king of Castile, becoming an independent kingdom in 1143. Lisbon, its future capital, was captured in 1147.

The first local coinage was of base-silver dinheiros (pennies), but the second king, Sancho I (1185-1211) added a new and spectacular gold coin, the morabitino, well before the other states of western Europe. This was intended to compete with the gold coinage of Muslim Spain, as Muslim coin remained in wide use even in the lands that had been re-conquered by the Christians.

On one side the image of the king is shown on horseback. On the other is an early version of what was to become the arms of Portugal: five shields arranged in a cross, standing for the five Moorish kings reputedly killed at the great victory of Ourique in 1139, which made the creation of Portugal possible.

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More information


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

C.M. Almeida do Amaral, Catalogo descritivo das moedas (Lisbon, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, 1977)


Diameter: 28.000 mm
Weight: 3.730 g

Museum number

CM 1966-2-3-1



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