While I usually stick to dry, descriptive article headlines to make finding topics easier, I succumbed to Steve Bishop's suggested
clickbait for this piece he submitted on Leopold the Hogmouth. -Editor
Many members of royalty in history have had nicknames associated with them. Some of them are descriptive: Ivan the Terrible, Richard the
Lion Hearted, Catherine the Great, etc. But my favorite is Leopold the Hogmouth. This is mostly because it is such a colorful nickname, but
it is also directly related to numismatics. Leopold I (name in full: Leopold Ignaz Joseph Balthasar Felician; Hungarian: I. Lipót; 9 June
1640 – 5 May 1705) was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Croatia and King of Bohemia. Leopold I reigned as Holy Roman Emperor from
1657 until his death in 1705.
What history remembers Leopold for, however, is a condition known scientifically as mandibular prognathism—a genetic defect in which the
lower half of the jaw is longer than the upper, known colloquially as the Habsburg jaw. The royal lines of Europe were famously inbred, and Leopold’s
line was no exception. First cousins married first cousins, who then married other first cousins, and recessive genetic defects exploded. The
egregiously inbred Charles VII of Spain, born with webbed feet and several other physical and mental disabilities, was Leopold’s nephew. Looking at a
painted portrait of Leopold gives a hint of his Hapsburg jaw.
One can see how he could be given his nickname. Given the propensity of artists to paint flattering portrayals of their patrons,
however, makes one wonder how accurate this depiction is. Ironically, a portrait of Leopold that is more exaggerated is the one that many
more people would see: his effigy on the coins during his reign.
This silver coin, a 3 kreuzer piece from 1770, gives an almost cartoonish portrait, and is said to not accurately reflect his actual
profile. While no one would accuse the Emperor of being a handsome man, Leopold was less deformed than the unflattering portrait he chose
to display on his coinage. Indeed, it is widely believed that it was this coin that gave rise to the “Hogmouth” sobriquet. I suppose being
Holy Roman Emperor gives one the self-confidence not to care what he looks like on his coins.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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