The Środa Treasure is one of the most valuable archaeological finds of the 20th century. It was found in 1985 during renovation works in Środa Śląska, Poland. It is now agreed that the treasure belonged to the King (later Emperor) Charles IV of the House of Luxembourg. Around 1348, needing funds to support his claim to the King of the Romans, Charles pawned various items to the Jewish banker Muscho (Moshe, Mojżesz) in Środa. Soon afterwards, the black plague visited Środa. Muscho was not heard of again and it is believed that he either fled from the plague-struck town, died of plague, or perhaps fell victim to pogroms as Jews were blamed for spreading the plague. What is certain is that no one ever reclaimed the treasure, which was left hidden somewhere in the town for hundreds of years.
|Blanche of Valois, first wife of the emperor Charles IV|
Among the artifacts was a bejeweled golden crown thought to belong to Blanche of Valois, wife of Emperor Charles IV. The crown is topped by 7 eagles and buckled by 6 bodkins with fleurons a circular fibula with cameo.
A handful of pendants, rings, and a gold broach were also discovered amidst over 3,000 coins. Unfortunately, a large portion of the Svoda treasure was plundered by locals before authorities could secure it, and only a portion of the discovery was recovered. That which remains is now housed in Sroda’s Regional Museum.
Gold and silver coins were discovered during demolition of an old building. Much of the treasure is thought to have been lost to looting.
The hoard dates from the mid 14th century. Its largest component is silver coins, of which there are about 3,000 pieces The Sroda treasure takes the number one place on this list. It was uncovered in 1985 during renovations in that region of Poland.
Most of the more than 4,000 pieces in the treasure are coins, but they also include the crown, brooch and pendant. Crowns are rare and distinctive items, and it was this crown that allowed historians to pin down the treasure's origins.
|The crown probably belonged to Charles' first wife, Blanche of Valois; the crow and some of the other pieces have wedding motifs, so they may have parts of her trousseau.|
The golden crown with eagles-exceptional one, of no analogies with other medieval crowns - is the latest of alll jewels found in Sroda Slaska. It belongs to the group of short segmental crowns with fleurons formed in the 13th century. Trapezoid lower segments made of double tin plates (hachured and ornamental with open - work front side - opus interrasile) are topped by eagles with rings in their beaks and joined bodkins with fleurons. The crown was originally decorated by 193 precious stones: garnets, spinels, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, pearls and plaquette of cellular and fluted enamel in gold (so called de plique). The structure of segments decoration is based on alternation rule. This goldsmith masterpiece was probably made in Paris centre in the beginning of the 14th century, what can be proved by the analogies with French goldsmith. One can also take into account Prague court, where French and Italian goldsmiths worked. The crown was surely a female ceremonial jewel, probably made because of the wedding. The jewels made in the 1st. half of the 14th century are a ring with a sapphire and a band for decorating covers of reliquaries, books and jewel-cases (Prague).
The pendants decorated on both sides are the oldest in the whole set. They are decorated on obverse and reverse sides with filigree, set with garnets, sapphires and pearls. Semi-lunar laps with engraved decoration and use of enamel were added later on obverse sides. There are pressed laps in the form of stylized palmette surrounded by 3 lions on reverse sides. Large dimension (63x66 mm) and weigh (41-42 g) of the jewels prove their use as pendants for female head dresses (coifs, head - bands etc).
The second pair of pendants (ear-rings?) smaller (60,5x62,5 mm) and decorated only on one side, has the form similar to the one described above. On the obverse side, set with Chech garnets, the filigree in the form of scrolls is less precise that on the bigger pendants.
This kind of circular pendants were often used on the territory of Bizantium and on the territories under the influence of Bizantium art. Goldsmith's analogies can point the Sicily as the place where the pendants were made, most probably in the 12th century.
The bracelet with nodules almost identical with pendant's ending and with a figure of a bird (eagle, falcon?) on the buckle probably comes from the same atelier. Both items - smaller pendants and bracelet (?) - were probably made in Hungary in the 2. half of the 13th century.
One of the most interesting parts of the treasure is the circular (diameter 129.3 mm) fibula with cameo cut in blue chalcedony, set with garnets, emeralds sapphires and pearls (22 precious stones are missing). Fibulas were used to brace ceremonial court coats or liturgical mantles on breast or arms. They had various forms (but the circular ones were most frequent) and were richly set with precious stones. The fibula of Sroda Slaska is the biggest one among all known fibulas of the hooped kind. It was probably made in Italy, in the goldsmith's circle of Stauf's court, in the 2, half of the 13th centuary. Its central element - cameo with the image of an eagle in aquila vitrix kind - was probably made in Sicilian goldsmith's atelier about 1240.
It is probable that the coins were also hidden with the jewels (the 2. half of the 13th c. and the 1. half of the 14th c.).
|Florin from Środa treasure.|
One of many mysteries connected with the jewels and coins found in Sroda Slaska is the basic question: who does the treasure belong to? and when was it hidden? Many data proves that the jewels could come from the Chech treasure from the times of Luxembourg dynasty and they constituted the security for money loan raised by Carl IV (1346 - 1378) from Jews of Sroda. The Wroclaw duchy, where Sroda Slaska was situated, was taken over by John of Luxembourg in virtue of a law of succesion in 1335. Sroda, trade centre of big importance, was specially connected with Prague court by person of John from Sroda, secretary, and later chancellor of Carl IV. Royal deposid was probably hidden during persecution of Jews in the period of pest called black death, which came to Silesia in the middle of the 14th century.