“Here’s a handsome prince…”

Table of contents

“Here’s a handsome prince”, exclaimed Louis XII in 1501 in the city of Blois, giving rise to the famous nickname referred to Philip I of Castile as “the Handsome”. On October 20th, 1496 he had already become the husband of Princess Joanna, daughter and heiress of the Catholic kings, after the death of his brothers John and Isabella.

In January 1506, Philip “the Handsome” ordered the fleet to set sail from the courts of Brussels to the Kingdom of Castile to be proclaimed king of Castile under the name of Philip I, with his wife Johanna as Queen of Castile, in the Courts of Valladolid.

Due to severe storms during that Winter season the journey took several months. They decided to dock in Portland. They stayed in England for three months.

In April 1506 they set sail again and arrived to La Coruña. In July, Philip and Johanna arrived to the courts of Valladolid where they were proclaimed King and Queen.

Philip needed to cover the expenses of this trip, so he ordered the mint of Antwerp and Brugues the coining of a new silver one-real coin, or real español, as well as its half.

This piece meant to circulate in Spain, and to cover the expenses of this trip to take up the crowns of Castile, León, Granada and Aragón, as we can see on the reverse of the coin we present today.

The production started in April 1505 and ended in May 1506. These coins were made in accordance with the Castilian metrology coming from the Pragmática of 1497. They had a fineness 934 thousandths, or also the equivalence to 11 dineros.

The half a real we present today was only minted in the Bruges mint, and nobody knows how many of them were minted.

E-Auction 67 - "Gran Capitán" Collection. Lot 293. Philip I and Joanna (1504-1506). 1/2 real castellano. 1505. Bruges. Anv.: PHS IOHANNA DEI GRA RES S REGIA 1505. Rev.: CASTELLE LEGOLS SC ARCHIDVCS SC. Ag. 1,51 g. Holed. Of the highest rarity, only one other known specimen. VF. Starting Price: 900€ - Estimated price: 3.000€


This Castilian coin was minted like the silver half real of Catholic Kings, before to the Pragmatica of 1497. The sovereign king’s and queen’s initials are together and crowned.

On the reverse Johanna’s symbols of Castile, León and Granada are combined, as well as Philip’s symbols, which are the Burgundy cross and the “briquet de pedernal” from where the Golden fleece hangs.

This is the first Castilian coin with date, since even being minted in Flanders, it was by order of the King and Queen of Castile, already proclamated kings by the courts of Castile.

Did you like the post? Share it!