ARMENIA, Cilician Armenia. Royal. Levon I, 1198-1219. Denier (Billon, 17 mm, 0.73 g, 1 h), Sis. Coronation issue, 1198. ✠ RЄX ARMENOR Crowned facing bust of Levon I. Rev. ✠ LЄO DЄI GRATIA Cross pattée. AC 10. CCA 281 var. (ARMENIOR). S. Moeller: Eine neue Bewertung der Deniers von König Levon I. von Kilikisch-Armenien, in: NNB 65/1 (2016), pp. 93-94, and idem: Neue Überlegungen zur Münzreform König Levons I. (1187-1219) von Armenien, in: GN 304 (2019), pp. 208-213. Very rare. A nicely toned and unusually attractive example of this very important issue. Some minor deposits, otherwise, very fine.
This coin is Levon's only denier with Latin legends and titles and as such of the greatest interest. It was struck in Sis, but it has been suggested by Bedoukian that it was intended for circulation in Antioch once the great Crusader city would have been captured by the king. However, S. Moeller has recently come out against this theory, arguing that a permanent incorporation of Antioch into the Armenian realm would have lead to an unsustainable break with the Pope and the Crusader states and therefore was outside of Levon's scope. Rather, he connects the issue to Levon's coronation to king in 1198, an epochal event in Armenian history, which was celebrated in Sis in accord with, and in presence of, the papal legate, Archbishop Conrad of Mainz. Moeller suggests that the very rare Latin deniers may have been distributed to Levon's occidental supporters during the coronation, whereas the more common coins with Armenian legends were addressing his local subjects instead.