Friesach, one of the oldest towns of Austria, is located in the Alpine region of northern Carinthia.
The surrounding area (called also the Hemmaland or country of Saint Hemma) is characterized by the presence of not very high mountains and of wide valleys known for the good quality of their cereals.
The monastery of the Domenican nuns in Friesach was the first to be founded by this Order in the German speaking area in 1216.
The importance of the medioeval architecture is testified by many fortresses, the main castle and the townwalls and by the presence of two highly different but harmonized edifices as the Fürstenhof (Prince residence) and the Getreiderspeicher (grain silo).
The numerous military and religious buildings document the strategic interest of this old outpost of the Salzburg Archbischops located between the Mur Valley and the main Carinthian town of Klagenfurt, in the key-passage between Vienna and Venice.
Carinthia was a Dukedom at the end of Xth century, it belonged to various noble families including the Ottocarus from Boemia (XIIIth cent.), and finally in 1335 became part of the Habsburg domain under the rule of Albert II° the Sage. A part was annexed to the Napoleon province of Illiria from 1809 to 1814. After the first world war the Tarvisio area was annexed to Italy, whereas the southern districts became part of Jugoslavia in 1919. The major portion of Carinthia including Klagenfurt and Friesach remained Austrian according to the plebiscite of 1920.

We describe the history of Friesach up to 1335 because in this period, prior to the Habsburg sovereignety, the bulk of the famous Friesach coins was made.
From 796 to 828 Carinthia and Friesach were joined to Friuli and from 828 to 907 the region was ruled by Margraves. During the Holy Roman Empire the title of Margrave (Count of a Mark) was given to the German nobles who governed frontier areas. From 907 to 976 Friesach was ruled by Arnolf, son of Carlomanno, by Heinrich I° (the Young, Duke of Bavaria), and by Otto I° until 982. It was joined to Bavaria up to 995. The subsequent chronology is shown in the table in the text.
The large above the town sited castle of Genersperg was the residence of Archbischop and Archdiaconous of Friesach. Due to a dispute with them Count Wilhelm, husband of Hemma, was forced to leave the town. He was then killed in 1036 by Adalberone von Eppenstein the former Duke of Carinthia. As a widow Hemma disposed of a large richness which she used to found the Admont Monastery and raise the Church of Gurk which was terminated in 1056, became the Bischop Residence in 1071 and later hosted her tomb
. In 1481 Tabesch von Tschernhor, commander of the troupes of Matthias, King of Hungary, conquered the town. But in 1496, by night during a guard change, Friesach was taken again by the Carinthians.

The coniage in Friesach was initiated in 1045 when the Archbischop of Salzburg became the ruler of this town and of the right to coniage by will of Countess Hemma. Since 1015 obtained Hemma the right of coniage from Emperor Heinrich II°.
After the year 1230 there was a quick increase of the pfennigs.
In the early decades of XIIIth century a large number of pfennigs was circulating in the adjoining regions of Italy (Friuli, Görz, Aquileia, Venice), of ex-Jugoslavia (Slovenia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Croatia), of Hungary and of Rumania (Bihor County and Transylvania). From about 28,000 Pfennigs found in 49 sites in Hungary 67.3 % of the coins were made in Friesah, 19.8 % was from St.Veit, 2.0 % from Kamnik in W Slovenia, 11.1 % from Krka valley, 3.9% from N Slovenia and 0.6% from Aquileia. In the text we present a small collection of Friesach’s pfennigs: they look graceful notwithstanding their coniage simplicity.