Knights’ Tales is a fascinating five-coin series in which we travel back in time to a bygone age that was notorious for being bloody and brutal. But the Middle Ages was also the age of chivalry, when high-born warriors known as knights rode into battle on horseback dressed in full armour. The code of chivalry was a combination of the warrior ethos, piety, nobility and gallantry. To his loyal subjects, Maximilian I, to whom the first coin in the series is dedicated, embodied these values. The year 2019 is the 500th anniversary of the death of the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria.
Maximilian I was born in 1459, at the end of the Middle Ages. In 1477, he married Mary of Burgundy, which made him not only Duke of Burgundy, but also Sovereign of the knightly Order of the Golden Fleece. With a membership limited to just 30, this exclusive club was effectively the ‘crème de la crème’ of the noble elite. Not everything that Maximilian was involved with was noble and chivalrous, however. Under pressure from the Estates of the realm, as well as for his own material benefit, he agreed to the expulsion of the Jews from the Austrian provinces of Styria and Carinthia. Yet Maximilian was also something of a ‘renaissance man’ who could speak seven languages and passionately supported the fine arts.
The coin’s obverse features a portrait of Maximilian I on the left, in which the Holy Roman Emperor is holding a lance. On the right, his coloured-applied coat of arms is held by a heraldic lion. The reverse shows a scene from a jousting tournament, in which a knight on horseback is in full gallop as seated spectators look on from a stand. Maximilian I was famous for his bravery when jousting.