After king Tvrtko I Kotromanić was crowned as king of Serbs, he marked his reign by minting golden coins, and so far, it is the only known golden coinage of the Serbian Medieval period. Golden coin of king Tvrtko was found in Mileševac fortress, above Mileševo monastery. Coin was discovered in 1935, accidentally, by group of peasants from village of Hisarđik, not far from Prijepolje: Abib Hođić, Smajo Barinac and Rustem Rizvanović. Upon its discovery, coin was brand new, as if it was freshly minted, which indicates that it was probably forged in that area, and also, that it was minted in honor of Tvrtko coronation with the crown of Nemanjići.
Diameter of the coin is 30 mm, thickness 1 mm, weight 14.05 grams with 0.980 in terms of gold purity. Description: on the averse side, in the middle, rampant lion stands turned to the right, surrounded by an inscription „MONETA AUREA REGIS STEPHANI“ which translates to “Golden coin of king Stefan”. On the reverse, the coat of arms of Kotromanići taken after Tvrtko’s coronation, takes up the middle and consist out of a shield, positioned near the bottom of the coin, tilted to the right and split in two areas by diagonal lines. Each area holds three lilies. In the lower area, lilies stand in one line, while the in the upper area they form a triangle. Helmet with a mantle, which falls down the back side of the helmet, is located above the shield. Helmet supports a crown consisting out of three lilies while the crest is located above the crown. Surrounding this coat of arms is inscription reading: „GLORIA TIBI DEUS SPES NOSTRA“. Translated, it means:“Glory to you God, our hope”.
There is possibility that the representation of the rampant lion on the averse side of the coin could be linked with Nemanjići, who were predecessors to Kotromanići. Namely, the last Nemanjić on Serbian throne, emperor Stefan Uroš V Nemanjić (Feeble Uroš) used seal with impression of a lion. The Latin descriptions of that seal mention „littera domini imperatoris cum bulla leonis“. Unfortunately, today we have no data on the seal in question nor did lion really represented Nemanjići coat of arms. Jiriček was of opinion that it was actually an antic engraved gem (intaglio) which emperor Uroš used as a seal for his letters. Using the intaglio with a depiction of a lion could have, in time, led to a belief that lion is connected with Nemanjići, so Tvrtko might have appropriated it together with his right to the Serbian throne.
Interesting fact is that, when it comes to Serbian coat of arms created until end of the XVI century, coat of arms of Kotromanići family is depicted as a shield decorated with a rampant lion turned right. Such an example we have in a more complex coat of arms of Serbian emperors, Dušan and Uroš, and in rolls of arms in Orbini. There is, within certain rolls of arms, certain amount of blazons which are product of imagination, but there are those which are based on real historical facts as well. Given the golden coin of king Tvrtko, we can see that the rampant lion was used as a heraldic symbol in the Kotromanići state since the reign of Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanić.
Prepared: Boris Radaković