The lost silver coins of King Colloman

The year is 1878, and the head of the Benkovac political district, Stefan Barbieri, is approached by a peasant, Pero Pavlović, from nearby Donji Lepur in Ravni Kotar near Zadar. He gives him a silver coin and says: “I found another 2,000 coins in the ground…” Barbieri looked at the coin, which looked a bit strange, authentic, and a cross was visible on it.

Donji Lepur

This is how the story of the mysterious hoard from Donji Lepur begins, a treasure that was discovered entirely by chance and soon began to be associated with King Colloman and his arrival in Dalmatia in 1102 or 1105. It is believed that the found coins were supposed to bribe the Croatian nobility in order to elect Colloman as king ahead of the agreement known as the “Pacta Conventa”. By the way, right near Lepur, in the town of Podgrađe, there was a place where assemblies of Croatian noble families were held since ancient times. This, in turn, led to the conclusion that Colloman hid the money before the negotiations, however, he did not need it or it was surplus, so it was hidden safely. Others state that the silver coins were a reserve that was to be used to pay for the Hungarian military expedition to the Adriatic in the event that an agreement was not reached.

King Colloman

What exactly happened? Let’s go back to 1878, when Stefano Barbieri, as a true political leader, reported the find to the museum in Split. The story is brought to light by the journal “Bullettino di archeologia e storia Dalmata” of the Archaeological Museum of Split, which is one of the oldest scientific and professional journals in Croatia. Soon, in number 78, an article entitled “Doni al Museo di Spalato” was published, which for the first time mentions the finding of Colloman’s silver coins. The article otherwise focused on donations of old money to the Museum in Split by locations in northern Dalmatia. Under Lepuri’s note is the text: “una bellissima monetina d’arg.: di Colomano”.

It can be clearly read from the article that in 1878, a coin arrived in the Split museum from the village of Lepuri via Benkovac. It is described as Koloman’s silver coin (denar). It is not known where they were found or what they were in, so it is assumed that they were in a container or a coffin. The published text specifically mentions a donated Colloman silver coin. “Stefano Barbieri writes to us that the said Pavlović found another 2,000 pieces of such money in addition to that piece,” the article states and points out that he is not referring only to Colloman’s silver coins, but to coins in general, which only deepens the confusion and mystery of the find.

The silver coin of King Colloman found in Donji Lepur

Dejan Filipčić states in his paper about this find that after so many centuries in the ground it would be practically impossible to separate one silver coin from the pile, and the find would look not like a pile of coins but like a silver boulder. Filipčić also states that the people who reported the find, the chief and the peasant, were not experts and that there was no way to count the coins due to oxidation.

In 1879, another 5 pieces of similar silver coins were donated to the Split Museum by a certain Doimo Alachevich, an official in the District Administration of Benkovac Political District. Unfortunately, here too, the exact context and the entire description of the findings still remain unknown and sketchy.

Here we come to the problem of the amount of silver coins, which Filipčić describes. Namely, 2000 silver coins would weigh around 500-600 grams, which would definitely be too little for the Croatian nobility to be bribed and agree to Colloman’s terms.

Almost nothing is known about other coins from the hoard. There is only an untested number of 2000 pieces. It is not known whether any ruler preceded Colloman in that hoard, nor is it known whether the money of which ruler or country is behind him. There is also a theory that the silver coins were buried a few decades later, during the Venetian-Hungarian war operations when the army of the Hungarian Ban Kledin was moving across the Via Magnae towards Zadar. As the army was coming, the inhabitants fled, and what they could not take, they buried. Perhaps some officer also buried the silver coins, so that they could be used to pay the army upon their return.

Be that as it may, the Lepur hoard remains a secret, and apparently only 6 of the silver coins came to the museum. The remaining ones were either destroyed or taken by the people who found them.


Published by borisbirosevic

Hi! My name is Boris Birošević. I live in Zagreb, Croatia. My father studied history so he passed the love for it on me from my youth ages. He always told me interesting stories from history. I loved listening to him and I was always attracted to that, for me, unexplored and mystical world. I read all six books “History of the Croats” by Vjekoslav Klaić during my elementary school. During high school, I was (I could say) the best in history in my generation, and I further expanded my knowledge in college because we had a lot of history-related subjects. By the way, I have a master of journalism degree. I have been studying and dealing with history for 25 years, on a daily basis. I have a broad and deep knowledge of Croatian, European and worldwide history. My goal is to transfer my knowledge to others in an interesting and even so objective way. On my website and blog, I will try to bring details from Croatian history closer to foreigners because it is still unknown to many and difficult to access. I will also cover some topics that are close and related to Croatian history in a certain way (Western Balkans, Slavs, Austria-Hungary, etc.) I hope that on my page everyone will find something for himself. For me, history is not a job but a calling… Join me on my website "HISTORY OF CROATIA and related history"...

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