Friday, July 31, 2015

King Stephen

 1092/6 – 25 October 1154,
 He was the nephew of Henry I.  He is often referred to as Stephen of Blois. Matilda was Henry's choice as a successor,  and both had plenty of support.  They warred their way around England for some time before a compromise was agreed upon.  Stephen was to be king, but as his first son was dead, Matilda's son would succeed him.  That would turn out to be Henry hero.
Read  "Pillars of the Earth"   by Ken Follett, to get a little taste of the time period.  His reign was little more than a series of struggles either with Matilda, her son Henry Fitzempress, the church, the Scots...Still he managed to mint some coins. Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud especially in Normandy.
His coins are not particularly rare, but they tend to be a bit on the expensive side. Plan on a minimum of 3 to 4 hundred dollars, though, again, you might find half coins to cut the costs.

Can you see the is there, but hard to make out.  His upper lip is just about in the center of the coin.
Ok, so this coin is no Beauty!  It is either crooked on the blank, or heavily clipped for the silver over the centuries, but it is nicely patinated.  Also, this coin is severely lacking in detail, I suppose, from centuries of wear from handling or rubbing up against other coins.  This is a Stephen Penny 1135-1154 AD, and while these may go into the thousands of dollars, I felt very lucky when I was able to get this discounted at $326.00.  This price when compared to others forgives a lot of sins in the appearance of the coin.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Empress Matilda and the Time of Anarchy

Now, if there ever was a name for a kid that would result in multiple "KICK ME" signs in one day, this is it.
7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167
Matilda was Henry I's daughter, married to Geoffrey of Anjou, and Henry's choice as successor.  I guess that the idea of a woman on the throne was not to the liking of the testosterone saturated Barons, and Stephen was regarded as a better choice.   Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud, especially in Normandy. 
It may seem strange that we are talking about Anjou and Blois...or are some of you saying: " that somewhere near Bolton?"
Connections with France were still, at this time, pretty strong.  As you can see, Matilda died only 101 years after the conquest.  I suspect that the Anglo Saxon population did not favor French as a first language(though many French words are still in the language from this time)  and no Norman was going to associate himself in any way with those Saxon louts that were really only good for paying taxes.
It is rather funny that the Vikings....Normans.. assimilated almost completely into French culture when they were given Normandy and took more of northern France, but did not assimilate into English language and customs for centuries...Some might say that the aristocracy never did assimilate.
No, we were living in a French dominated...or rather a Norman French society, and the entire ruling class was intricately knit into family and real estate connections in France. 
The White Ship accident was a case of the king and retinue progressing to England from Normandy.  Richard the first...spending much time in the middle east, spent almost no time at all in England, and despite being a pretty poor ruler, is a real hero figure to many moderns who like to wax poetic about the English Royals.
Anyway...Who knew at this time that one of the greatest rulers the country would ever know, would be a woman.
The Angevin(Anjou's, Geoffrey and Henry) forces that would war against Stephen for much of his reign, held( more or less) a third of the country, mostly in the west, based in Bristol.
When the compromise was settled..Stephen's younger children being passed over after the death of his first son, and Matilda's son Henry taking the throne on his death; her presence in the country was very great for years.  She had plenty of time to mint coins.
Her coins are rare..exceedingly rare, but there are some out there.  Since she was never crowned, I think that you would be entirely justified in not including her in your collection if you are doing crowned kings and queens...This also knocks out King Louis I,(Yes, there was one.) Henry V, despite his actually being king for a time, Lady Jane Grey, and Edward, the idiot, VIII.  "What a Maroon" as Buggs Bunny would say.
This coin was not available at this post date.  I do not own one. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

King Henry II

5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189
Henry of Anjou, Henry Court Manteau, Henry Fitz Empress, Henry Plantagenet....Try to put those on a check.
Henry was quite a figure...he warred with his sons.  He married the dazzling Eleanor of Aquitaine then warred with her and locked her up in Salisbury Tower( I suppose that meant that there was at least one member of the family that spent plenty of time in England other than John's later exploits.)
He HAD Rosamund, from Wales I think.   Thomas Becket (perhaps he Had him as well) earned him a public whipping...all were figures that contributed to a monumental and endlessly fascinating life.  Henry could have easily swept his way across Europe and ruled it all if it had not been for all the personalities in his private life.  This was touched upon in
"The Lion in Winter"  a play and movie that are both a joy to watch from the mid 60s.
I thought that such a monumental man would lend monumental prices for his coins, so I grabbed the first affordable one I could find.  As it turns out, his coins are readily available, and do not command terribly high prices.  This one was about $210.00.
Not a beauty, but something appeals to me about this his face is emerging from a mist.  Henry is my hero.

Called a Tealby type because it is similar to a hoard found in Tealby Lincolnshire in 1807.  A bit rare because the hoard was melted down in the tower of London at the time because of silver shortages.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

King Richard I The Lionhearted

8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199
Well, here we have another figure with unusual attributes.  He was ruler of Aquitaine, Normandy, and nearly half of France, England...probably more I do not know, but spent very little time in any of them.  Least of all in England. Yet, he figures in Robin Hood as rather a hero, is revered as the ultimate hero and warrior by many.  He is always portrayed as this Wagnerian character with the clear blue eyes, the body of a weight lifter and the heavy black beard and hair of the most virile of men.  He had, however, red/gold hair and was tall and elegant in appearance.
History and Hollywood are wonderfully at odds.
A great warrior, spending much of his life in battle and traveling to battles and tournaments, crusading in the middle east, taking Sicily and Cypress. He and his brothers and mother were constantly at war with his father including the first two sons who did not survive Henry.  One, Henry the young king, was actually supposed to be a co-king, but even he warred against Henry because the purse strings were too tight in Henry's hands.
 Maybe Berengaria of Navarre was a real dog and he had to get away from home.  Of course there is the widespread opinion that Richard was bisexual in practice.  There were no children, perhaps because of this and perhaps because of his nearly constant absence. 
Richard's coins are widespread and were minted in many countries and provinces.  English coins are not uncommon, and while they are not cheap, do not command the high prices that some of the real villains command.   This one from about 1189 was just under $70.00.

Monday, July 27, 2015

King John Lackland

24 December 1166 – 19 October 1216
It looks like the obverse might have been double struck.  Interesting.
There is a short cross on this one.  Sometimes there are long crosses that extend near the edge of the coin.  These were like this to make it easier to divide the coin  equally along the center lines.  This would be the only way to make change or to pay smaller amounts.  The value was in the silver content at this time, and right up to the 20th century.  Now, the coin only represents value, the metal itself is worth very little and it is a crime to deface coinage.

John was the youngest of Henry II's legitimate sons.  He finally ascended the throne after Richard's death.  I bet this bummed Robin Hood out after all the trouble they had while John was running the country during Richard's absence.  John actually spent a lot of time in England, and was a better administrator.  He did not get along with the barons or the pope, however, in a stuggle over the rights of kingship and its limits. and was constantly on the run or warring his way through Baronial estates punishing those who opposed him.  In one escapade while trying to elude the Baronial Dogs of war and the new king, Louis I who had invaded from France, he was heading along the east coast of England in a train of wagons that included the crown jewels and other wealth.  He decided that it would be safe to cross what is known as the wash(a tidal bay that is near swamp or body of water depending upon its mood.  It has probably silted up more since that time.) with his retinue and in the process had the entire treasure bogged down and washed away, including the ancient crown and many other irreplaceable objects.  John also was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede which he later refuted and the pope anulled.  Still a great document.  John was not good at personal PR and made bad choices.  Still a better king than his brother, he was just there to take the beatings when Richard rarely set foot on the island.. 
Average to high prices for his coins.  This end of reign penny from 1199 to 1216 was about $125.00.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Louis the Lion

In the play and movie, "The Lion in Winter", Henry II jokes with Alais that they will have a son and name him Louis, "Louis le Premiere, how's that for a king of England".  Well, It almost came true, though not with a son of Henry and Alais.
Louis VIII of France.  Louis, later the Capetian king of France, invaded England during the unpopular reign of John Lackland, brother of Richard the Lionheart.  He was proclaimed king of England at Saint Paul's Cathedral in May of 1216, and was in control of much of England till the death of King John, when his support amongst the Barons of England disappeared in favor of Henry III, John's young son.  In August of 1217, he was defeated.  By treaty, he agreed(upon generous payment) that he was never king.
Though he promised never to attack England again, he routed the English in France and left Henry III with only a tiny foothold in Bordeaux out of all the territories(which were nearly half of France) once held by the English.

This denier tournois of 1223 - 1226, was in truth also produced into the reign of his son, Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis.
Of course this coin does not date to the brief and disputed reign of Louis, but is an interesting side bar to the parade of English kings and queens.
This coin was about $31.00.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

King Henry III

1 October 1207 – 16 November 1272
Henry was the son of king John.  The end of John's reign was basically when Louis of France invaded and was proclaimed king by the barons.  When John Died, the feelings in the country changed, and the idea of a French king would not do.  Support for Louis disappeared, and John's son Henry was proclaimed king.  Louis ended his tenure as king after battling it out and settling for a large wad of cash and a treat that saird that he had never been king at all. 
Henry was 9 years old, and became king under the regency of William Marshall for several years. then Hubert de Burgh
As he shrugged off the regents, Henry ruled personally at first, and did not rely on his advisors or any other body, after he had gained the right to rule at all...Barons tried to hold on to supremacy at first, but Henry won out.
He married Eleanor of Provence, who at 12, seemed pretty meek, but in time she became much more forceful that Henry.  Her relatives were brought over from France, and succeeded to far to many high posts than was good for them or Henry.  Henry also became involved in foreign affairs...for the most part sending money to foreign courts headed by his wife's family members.
 To be continued...

This 1216 to 1247 example was about $41.00.

Friday, July 24, 2015

King Edward I - Longshanks

17 June 1239 – 7 July 1307
After a short rebellion with the barons, against his father, Edward fell into line with his father, and remained loyal through the Barons war.  Went on crusade after this, accomplishing nothing.  He inherited the throne on his way back from the holy land.  He spent much time reworking the legal system of the country, invading France unsuccessfully, taking and fortifying Wales, and when the Scots had no king after every obvious claimant died, he was asked to mediate...what idiots the Scots were about this.  He basically became king while the new king was chosen, then refused to give up the power.
Along comes Robert the Bruce..who switched sides shamelessly to his advantage, and William Wallace to fight the great battles to get rid of Edward.  They finally got rid of him, but neither side settled for what they got.  The only reason they finally got rid of him was that he died on the way to wage yet another war against Robert..  His wars on the Scots were so brutal, that he was called Hammer of the Scots, in addition to Edward Longshanks(being 6'2" he towered over everyone).
He established a permanent Parliament, a body that was meant to raise taxes, but a step in the right direction.
In his reign, he expelled the Jews from England, which was not reversed till Oliver Cromwell in the 1600s. 
Edward II (one of 14 children) was not up to the job of king, and Scotland and many other issues slipped through his fingers, but not his royal favorites...the wife did not like that at all!

This 1280 example was under $35.00

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

King Edward II

25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327
Longshanks' son was not a great commander and responsible for the worst defeat in English history at Bannockburn., though after Longshanks no commander would be good enough. 
Braveheart fame has his father pushing his son's lover out the window. 
The Meaux Chronicle from the 1390s  notes that Edward gave himself "too much to the vice of sodomy."  Edward's wife and her lover(Roger de Mortimer) deposed him and had him murdered in prison.  The story is that since he was fond of young men like Piers Gaveston and  Hugh Despenser, he had a red hot poker thrust up his ass.

This 1307 to 1327 example was under $30.00

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

King Edward III

13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377
Edward the third succeeded his disastrous father as a youth, under the virtual regency of his mother's lover and later husband, Roger Mortimer.  Edward eventually shrugged off the rule of Mortimer by surprising him in Nottingham castle and having him executed.
Henry refused to pay homage to the French king for his posessions in France, so the king of France confiscated Aquitaine and other posessions.  So, Edward promptly laid claim to the throne of France and started the Hundred Years War. 
Great victories at Poitiers, Calais and Crecy, and the capture of the French king, were followed by years of inactivity and losses in Edward's later years, which eventually left Edward with only Calais and a couple of other port cities in France.
Edward created the POrder of the Garter, an effort to raise the prestige of the ruling class in a new Camelot type atmosphere.  The Order is still important today, though not in any way as military as it was.
The largest blow to Edward's military success was the advent of the Black Death, that left England short of men, farmers and some of his most important old friends, military and political supporters.\
  His Son, The Black Prince, who had helped in his military adventures died before Edward, and left him with another weak successor, Richard II

This c. 1327 London mint coin from Edward's early reign, was about $50.00

Monday, July 20, 2015

King Richard II

6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400

This 1377 penny was under $50.00.
Son of the Black Prince, Richard came to the throne too young, was guided rather firmly by John of Gaunt (his Uncle, who was passed over because Richard was the son of the Black Prince, before him in succession) in his early years.  When at last he became free of this "guidance", he centralized his power and angered many who had had power.  He sought to end the Hundred Years War that his grandfather had started.  He retaliated against all who sought to limit him, and when John of Gaunt finally died, Richard disinherited his son (and Richard's cousin), Henry Bolingbroke(Lancaster).  Henry deposed Richard and had him starved to death(so the story goes).  Henry had himself crowned as Henry IV.  Richard's harsh retaliations and tyranny are evidence of a possible personality disorder of some kind.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

King Henry IV

15 April 1367 – 20 March 1413

Is it just me or is this a very unusual royal portrait.  It just does not seem to fit.  Perhaps it is the style of clothing, the piss poor painter's skill...but he creeps me out a little.  Hate the hat...needs a feather.  I know what it is...he looks like a Coptic or Orthodox priest!
What a mess Henry was, in terms of keeping all the facts of his life straight.
Henry was a childhood playmate of Richard II. But, when Richard became king, Henry was involved with rebellion against him.  After that, instead of being executed for treason, he was given honors by Richard.   Wow, just what was this relationship?  Now Henry, exiled to France to keep him alive when about to endure a duel over his treasonous statements, returned to England and took the throne while Richard was in Ireland, fighting. 
Richard was not very popular, because he was a bit over the top in many ways, but mainly because he believed in absolute authority and divine rights of the king.  A little too much for most English Barons. Still, after he was deposed, there were popular uprisings over and over again, attempting to put the now DEAD KING BACK ON THE THRONE!
Richard had been imprisoned, and soon starved to death, either for drama's sake, Richard starved himself, or Henry had him starved to death. 
I mean just could not make this stuff up...nobody would believe it.
Henry had some sort of a disfiguring skin disease toward the end of his life, and spent all of his time fending off assassination attempts and rebellions.  His son inherited the throne despite the fact that Richard had a son and grandson with a better right to inherit.
Henry was the first king to address his subjects in English at his coronation, and was the first Lancastrian king, laying the ground work for the Wars of the Roses.


 c.1399 - 1413 A.D King Henry IV Medieval Period Silver Penny Coin at about $196.00.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

King Henry V

9 August 1387 – 31 August 1422

This 1413-1422 penny was under $35.00.

Henry is most famous for the battle of Agincourt, and for nearly conquering France during the Hundred Years War.  He married Cathering of Valois and was the heir apparent of the French throne. Unfortunately he died two months before the French king and was not crowned king of France.   He died quite young of health issues contracted during a seige in France, and was succeeded by his son.

Friday, July 17, 2015

King Henry VI

Henry was only nine months old when he beacame king of England and also king of France through his mother Catherine. A council of regents ran the country and the war till he was 16, but only assumed full power on his majority.  Bouts of insanity, probably inherited from the Valois family ruling France forced Margaret of Anjou to assume control of the country.  This probably led to the Wars of the Roses and the fall of the Lancastrians.  After a long and confused set of battles and bouts of insanity, Henry was exiled and imprisoned, lost the throne to Edward IV (who was a more direct heir of Henry III) then regained it while insane and under a regency of sorts.  He was then deposed again and finally died in Prison.
6 December 1421 – 21 May 1471 
He was king from1422 to 1461, under the control of regents till 1437. He was king again from 1470 to 1471.  He was also supposed to be king of France from1422 to 1453.

This1422 to 1461 penny was under $20.00

Thursday, July 16, 2015

King Edward IV

28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483
Edward was on and off the throne twice, in his struggles with Henry VI, who was no real challenger on his own, but a rather sad character.  His struggles tended to be with Henry's supporters, his brother and Warwick up till Warwick's death in battle.
In general Henry was an able and popular king, outside the theaters of the War of the Roses, but became lax in later life.  However, he was the only member of his near family to die in bed.  His brother George, Duke of Clarence was drowned famously in a Butt of Malmsey by Edward's brother Richard of Gloucester, and his sons by Elizabeth Woodville(The White Queen) were murdered(most likely) by Richard in the Tower of London.
Richard became the last of the Plantagenet/York line, dying at Bosworth Field, though their sister, Elizabeth of York, married Henry Tudor, so carrying the female Plantagenet line on to the present.
Our family had connections to Henry Tudor...generations earlier, and to Warwick.

This silver groat coin had a hard life but was still about $70.00

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"King" Edward V -The Prince in the Tower

2 November 1470 – c.1483

I know this is a romanticised victorian picture, but I just cannot help putting it here.  Edward and the Duke of York in the tower.
This coin was not available at this post date.  I do not own one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

King Richard III -My Kingdom For a Horse

2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485

Where does one begin with Richard?  Last of the Plantagenet kings and last of the Yorks.
Ok, so Edward IV dies...His son is king, but Richard houses them in the tower as the Lord Protector.  Henry IV's marriage is declared invalid, meaning that Edward is now ineligable for the throne...So, his uncle Richard becomes king, and the young Edwad and his brother are never heard from again.  Rebellions ensue from inside the court and from Henry Tudor of Wales.  Henry Tudor prevails at Bosworth field, and Richard is killed and buried...then in 2012, he is found in a car park, disinterred, and reburied in the local cathedral...probably horrified that it was now Protestant.  Since then he has been rewitten as less a goul...but who knows...he was suffering from a deformed spine, but was not the ugly guy portrayed by famous 20th century actors...did he murder the princes in the tower?  He probably had the duke of Clarence drowned in a butt of his favorite wine...Malmsey(one of the sources of which were the Aeolian Islands( a family connection with me), another was Crete.
On the other hand, my Mitchell grandmother's family were connected to the Tudors in Wales. 
A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.... Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of York....mighty writing....
Richard was about $420.00 for this uncleaned patinated 1483-1485 Durham mint example, while others can be under $100.00