Description:This early 15th century gold ducat coin features Jesus Christ, standing within a mandorla containing nine stars. In early Christian art, the mandorla was used to depict sacred moments which transcend time and space, such as the Resurrection. The reverse depicts Saint Mark the Evangelist, who is the Patron Saint of Venice and whose remains rest in the city. Saint Mark is shown presenting a banner to the Doge of Venice, Michele Steno who was the chief magistrate and leader. The Venetian gold ducat coins were struck in near pure gold and the design was consistent from its introduction in 1284 to the conquest of Venice by Napoleon in 1797.
The Doge of Venice was elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy and was commonly the shrewdest elder. Steno became Doge in 1400 and soon began a successful war against the city of Padua, leading to a large expansion of the Republic in Italy. The Venetians also had many skirmishes with the Muslim Turks who continued to rival Venice for domination of the eastern Mediterranean. However, Venice was known as the "Most Serene Republic of Venice", as they preferred to trade, rather than participate in unnecessary war activities. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic stronghold of Venice became extremely wealthy through its control of trade between Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. During that period, the city’s most famous church, St. Mark's Basilica was constructed and is known to be one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture.