By Sakke Teerikoski
Have you ever travelled around Europe and noticed your wallet filling up with all kinds of euro coins? And have you ever pondered who the people featured on the coins are, or what country a coin is supposed to represent? Then you have come to the right page! Here we will introduce you to five of the famous people featured on the European coins.
Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914), Austrian €2
Bertha was a journalist, writer and fighter for peace who lived in the turbulent times that led up to the First World War, when Austria was still an empire. She is most famous for her pacifist novel Lay Down Your Arms. Bertha was the second woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize when she received the Peace Prize in 1905. She died only a few weeks before the First World War broke out.
Primož Trubar (1508-1586), Slovenian €1
Primož was a writer and a Protestant reformer of the Church. He wrote the religious book Cathechismus, which was the first book ever written in Slovene. The Catholic Church naturally did not like anyone who liked Luther’s teachings, and thus Primož ended up excommunicated from the Church. Being the first person to write in Slovene, his importance in Slovenian history and culture is huge. However, today Slovenia is still a Catholic country.
Dante Alighieri (ca 1265-1321), Italian €2
Dante is one of the biggest literature superstars of the late Middle Ages. He is the author of the world-famous poem The Divine Comedy, which features himself travelling through hell, purgatory, and heaven. Dante lived in the city of Florence, but due to political disagreements with the rulers about the power of the Pope he was sentenced to exile and death if he ever returned to the city. As a matter of fact, his sentence was not lifted until 2008! Dante is also important for Italian literature because he wrote in Italian, and not Latin.
Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), Greek 50 cent
Eleftherios was a famous politician, lawyer and liberation movement leader. He became the prime minister of Greece seven times (!) between 1910 and 1933, which makes him one of the most important political figures in Greece’s modern history. War and conflict was much present in his political career, although he later signed treaties of friendship with Greece’s neighbouring countries. Today the international airport of Athens bears the name of Eleftherios Venizelos.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), Spanish 50 cent
Cervantes was a Spanish writer and playwright, who is most famous for writing Don Quijote, which is one of the most important pieces of Spanish literature. This book tells the story of a nobleman and his squire who end up on interesting adventures partly generated by the nobleman’s insane imagination (for example, fighting windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants). Cervantes’ own life was just as adventurous. As a young adult, he joined the Spanish army and ended up permanently injured in his left arm as well as imprisoned by Algerian pirates for five years.
By Sakke Teerikoski