The  Carantan
ca. 1270 - ca. 1892
A silver coin remembering Carantania

   Above: The obverse and the reverse of the Carantan

   Below: Carantan with double cross, Tyrolian eagle and the inscription MEINARDVS COMES TIROLI, and its graphical drawing

In Friuli, still today, money is often called »carantani«.

Dr Jožko Šavli

In 1286, Mainhard II of Goerz-Tyrol, Count of Tyrol, was appointed Duke of Carinthia. This historical duchy was the central province of the former Grand Duchy of Carantania, and conserved therefore its political tradition. Based on this, Mainhard's enfeoffment was carried out upon the ancient Slovenian rite: "He was enthroned on the Prince's Stone, then he judged the quarrels and enfeoffed the liegemen on the Ducal Throne", which is still to be found on the field of Svatne, north of Celovec/Klagenfurt located in Carinthia.

(cf article "The Installation of the Dukes of Carantania")

In Meran, the principal town in Mainhard's county Tyrol, there used to be a mint, which produced silver coins since 1270 approximately. On the obverse a double cross was stamped with the inscription Meinardvs and on the reverse they displayed the image of the Tyrolian eagle and the continuation of the inscription Comes Tiroli. Because Meran is situated on the River Etsch (Adige), the German speaking population called this coin an Etschkreuzer.

It became tremendously useful and handy when conducting business and making payments, and the usage of coins spread fast into the territory of Northern Italy, as far as Trieste and Dalmatia. But in this area it was called Carantan (or Carantano), because Mainhard II, who possessed the privilege of coining, was also the Duke of Carantania (Carinthia).

The Carantan remained in circulation for centuries bearing in the inscription the name of the mint-master. Its value amounted to 20 small denari - veronesi piccoli. Therefore it was also called »zvanzika« (zwanziger). In 1551, it was recognized as state money in the ratio 1/72 thaler. Since 1615 its value was 1/90 thaler or 1/60 florin.

In Northern Italy (Lombardy and Veneto) the carantan was abolished at the time of the money reform in 1858. In the Austrian provinces it remained in use until 1892, when it was, together with the florin, converted for crowns.