During the 13th century, crusaders from throughout Europe massed their armies in an effort to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. Small coins were minted in great quantity to pay the troops, and they ultimately became the standard currency for the common people. These crusader coins were so popular and widely accepted that they continued to be minted for three centuries.
The front of this coin consists of the king’s name “Conrad Rex” accompanied by the Jerusalem Cross. The reverse shows a castle. King Conrad III was of German decent and the leader of the Second Crusade to the Holy Land in 1147. The Jerusalem Cross was so popular on coinage that the Spanish Empire continued with a similar design at some of their mints until almost the 19th century.
Christopher Columbus, born in Genoa at the time the crusader coins were the standard, is believed to have had these coins on his person when he first sailed to America in 1492.