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Coin hoard from early 18th century stashed in ceramic mug. Source: KPÚ Košice

Stashed Coin Hoard From Hapsburg Revolt Unearthed in Slovakia

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Archaeologists have found a coin hoard in Slovakia. The silver treasure was uncovered in the foundations of an old church. No one is sure who owned the coins and they are somewhat mysterious, but it is believed that they may have been abandoned during a period of unrest and war.

The treasure was found during renovation work on a Catholic church in Obišovce near the city of Košice, in Eastern Slovakia. This was originally built on the site of a Renaissance era house of worship. Workers came across the stone foundations of the original church, and those who uncovered it, contacted the relevant authorities, believing that it may have been of archaeological value.

Coin Hoard Hidden Beneath a Church

Archaeology News Network reports the Regional Monuments Board as saying that “the archaeological company Triglav conducted research that took place at the beginning of February 2020.”  They began to excavate the original stone floor near the western doorway to the church. Under a small flagstone, they found a ceramic jug or mug that was sealed with a simple stone. Inside the non-descript jug was a treasure trove.

Ceramic mug covered with stone, where the coin hoard was found. (KPÚ Košice)

Ceramic mug covered with stone, where the coin hoard was found. ( KPÚ Košice )

In the container, was found over 500 coins “most of them mining salary plates,” reports the Archaeology News Network . Every silver coin was wrapped in cloth, most likely made from linen textiles. The earliest coin was stamped with the date 1702, when much of Slovakia was ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary, which was part of the Hapsburg Empire .

Anti-Hapsburg War and Rebellion

The Spectator reports that “the mining salary plates and coins were minted in Košice, Smolník and Banská Štiavnica.”  The plates and money were minted and issued by local mining companies. This area had many rich deposits of silver and other metals. Some of the coins unearthed came from as far away as Poland .

Documentary sources have helped experts to obtain an idea as to who buried the treasure and why it was forgotten.  In the 1680s, the area was rocked by an anti-Hapsburg revolt, known as the Thӧkӧly uprising, which involved many Hungarian refugees from the Ottoman territories, who had settled in the region. It is related, in the primary sources, that sometime after the rebellion was quashed, about 1687, that a new parish priest was appointed to the church. 

Dangerous Times

Archaeology News Network reports that “the priest was a Pole; he was blind in one eye and sometime in the 1690s he went blind completely.” It appears that money was donated to the church by the faithful and some may have come great distances, possibly from as far away as Poland.

The buried treasure indicates that the church was very popular with believers and that the cleric hid the silver. The History Blog reports that “with the region mired in so much religious and political turmoil in the late 17th and early 18th century, hoarding and hiding coins doubtless seemed prudent.”

Foundations of Renaissance church under the floor of the Obišovce church, where the coin hoard was found. (KPÚ Košice)

Foundations of Renaissance church under the floor of the Obišovce church, where the coin hoard was found. ( KPÚ Košice )

Another anti-Hapsburg revolt involving Hungarian nobles and peasants broke out in the early years of the eighteenth century.  Reports in the sources indicate that rebels plundered the house of worship and stole many of its precious items in 1705 and left it a ruin. According to Archaeology News Network , for reasons not known “the Polish priest was expelled and he returned to Poland.” It is possible, that around this time, he hid the treasure before he was expelled and was not able to retrieve it. Additionally, he did not tell anyone else about the hoard of coins beneath the floor.

After the raid, the church was left in ruins for three years, but was rebuilt when peace was restored. It was completely reconstructed in the mid-19 th century and is still a place of worship to this day. During all these works no one found the treasure trove of silver coins.  As of yet, there are no details as to the value of the coins and if they will go on display.

Top image: Coin hoard from early 18th century stashed in ceramic mug. Source: KPÚ Košice

By Ed Whelan

Comments

This story sounds quite similar to the events that surround the mystery of Rennes Le Chateau

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