Conrad and Cnut --or is that, Konrad and Knut?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by +VGO.DVCKS, Feb 25, 2021.


    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...Mix and match? From a medieval kind of place, it’s easy to see how people might wax nostalgic for sprawling, intercontinental empires, presided over by safely dead, duly sanitized languages. Simplifies the orthography, if little enough else. In a corresponding vein, I’m going with the more Latinate versions of both names.

    Landed this not long ago. Naturally, the main selling point was the facing portrait. Conrad in all his early-11th century numismatic glory.
    German empire. Conrad II, Emperor 1027-1039. AR denar of Deventer (modern Netherlands).
    Obv. Facing portrait, crowned and bearded.
    (Ostensible full legend: ) CONRADVS IM[perator].
    Rev. (Ostensible full legend: ) DAVENTRIA.
    Cf. Dannenberg 566, with two ensuing legend variants; 567. Various blundering of the obverse legend is noted for each example; none of the four is an exact match, even to the elements that are struck up. ...It’s the early 11th century, and, to paraphrase ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ we’re not in Anglo-Saxon England anymore (cf. the less than stellar example below). For continental issues of the period, this is most of what you get.

    Conrad’s coronation in Rome, as the first German emperor of the Salian dynasty, was attended by Cnut, the Danish king of England (1016-1035). In this instance, Cnut comes across as having been combining political business with pereginational pleasure. (Lawson 108-9; cf. Rumble 18, 38, 41.) The 11th-c. monastic chronicler Adam of Bremen --no more consistently reliable for his relative contemporaneity-- adds color to the events: “Accompanying [Conrad] on the expedition [to Italy, for the coronation] was King Canute, very dreadful in his power over the barbarian peoples of three realms [England, Denmark and Norway].” (P.100. Since Adam is an 11th-century German, one might, however anachronistically, detect a whiff of classical Freudian transference here. ...Um, witness the coins.)
    To the extent that we can rely on 13th-century Scandinavian sources, pilgrimages by 11th-century Vikings might come across as less untypical than one would suppose. The highly embroidered, late 13th-century Njal’s Saga provides an evocative account of a similar undertaking by an Icelander, Flosi Thordarson, as of c. 1016. Following one of the last murders in the attendant feud, Flosi is purported to have gone to Rome, “where he was accorded the great honour of receiving absolution at the hands of the Pope himself; he paid a large sum of money for it.” (P. 353; cf. 376 for the approximate, possibly fictional chronology.)
    Kingdom of England. Cnut, 1016-1035. Penny of London, Helmet type, c. 1024 -1030.
    Obv. Cnut facing left, holding sceptre, helmeted, wearing a cloak, secured by a broach (circle with a pellet in the center). +CNVT RECX A: (/Cnut Rex Anglorum.)
    Rev. Elaborate cross, evoking Anglo-Saxon and Celtic depictions in other media. +PYNSTAN ON LUN (Wynstan, moneyer in London).
    (North 787; Style II (p. 169, w/ minor variants in the legend; p. 175 for the moneyer.)

    Cnut had wrested England from AEthelred II and his successor, Edmund Ironside. Thanks to several Danegelds, paid to the Vikings over preceding decades, AEthelred’s pennies circulated across the breadth of the late Viking world. (Jones 364-5; cf. The ‘Long Cross’ type corresponds to a Danegeld (1002) that weighed in at 24,000 very literal pounds (loc. cit.).
    England. AEthelred II (r. 978 -1013 / 1014 -1016). ‘Long Cross’ penny, c. 997-1003.
    Obv. AEthelred facing left.
    (From 7 o’clock: ) AEÐELRAED RE+ ANGLO[-RVM].
    Rev. Long voided cross. (From 9 o’clock: ) DR [/] ENG [/] M = O [/] LINC
    (Dreng (a Scandinavian name), moneyer in Lincoln --a conspicuous part of the ‘Danelaw,’ where Viking settlement had concentrated since the later 9th century.) North 774.
    The Vikings’ penchant for extortion on a royal scale was complemented by a no less pronounced aptitude for international trade. Thanks to this, the AEthelred type was imitated, not only by Viking mints from Dublin to Sweden, but in Germany, upriver from the Frisian coast.
    Conrad II, Emperor 1027 -1039. Similarly munched denar of Dortmund.
    Obv. Profile to left, with the same quasi-Celtic, rayonnant hair as AEthelred. (From three o’clock: ) +CONRADVS RE[X] (relentlessly retrograde).
    Rev. Short cross; pellets in angles.
    (From 11 o’clock --but no less retrograde: ) +CONRADVS RE[X].
    Dannenberg 756, variant reverse legend.
    The variously retrograde and otherwise blundered legends of Conrad’s
    royal issues can be seen as symptomizing his own illiteracy. The contemporary chronicler Wipo implicitly likens him to Charlemagne, who, while similarly afflicted, pursued available, mainly clerical avenues toward the rebuilding of a literate culture. (Mommsen et al. Wipo, “The Deeds of Conrad II” p. 72; cf. Introduction, p. 19.)

    By contrast, Conrad’s son and successor, Heinrich III (‘King of the Romans [/Germany]’ from 1028; German emperor 1046-1056) was conspicuously literate. (Cf. Weinfurter 85-7.) But his coins demonstrate a no less pragmatic involvement in Scandinavian trade.
    COINS, GERMANY, SPEYER, HEINRICH III (WITH SHIP), DENAR, REV..jpg German empire. Heinrich III: denar of Speyer.
    Facing portrait; ship with three oars. Dannenberg 830.
    While this example demonstrates a discrete improvement on Conrad’s issues, it also features a a ship. Since it was minted as far up the Rhine as Speyer, it presumably represents a vessel with a suitably shallow draft for riverine navigation; possibly with influence from Viking ship design. (The viking longship, with its capacity to sail far upriver, was key to the success of Viking raids and invasions throughout Europe from 9th century CE onward. It was sort of the Viking equivalent of the Panzer tank.) The coin’s Estonian provenance, along with its distinctively Scandinavian peck marks, suggest a correspondingly active life.
    ...Since there might be room for one more pic on this post, here’s Cnut and his wife, Emma /Aelfgigu (OE: ‘Elves’ Gift), from a contemporaneous manuscript. They’re shown donating a gilt cross to the New Minster in Winchester. (Cf. Lawson (134-) 135.) Cnut’s patronage of native ecclesiastical institutions --with corresponding influence on them-- echoes the engagement of Conrad and Heinrich III in Germany, along with Lawson’s observations regarding similar dynamics between the contemporary Robert II Capet, and the clerical establishment in France (loc. cit.). ...Explicit religious imagery ensues; viewer discretion is advised.
    Primary sources.
    Adam of Bremen. History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. Ed. trans. Francis J. Tschan and Timothy Reuter. New York: Columbia U P, 2002.
    Mommsen and Morison, eds. /transs. Imperial Lives And Letters of the Eleventh Century. New York: Columbia U P, 2000.
    Njal’s Saga. Ed. /trans. Magnus Magnusson and Herman Palsson. 1960. Baltimore: Penguin Classics, 1967.
    Sturluson, Snorri. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. Ed. /trans. Lee M. Hollander. 1964. Austin: U of Texas P, 1991.

    Secondary sources.
    Jones, Gwynn. A History of the Vikings. 1968. Oxford: Oxford U P, 1984.
    Lawson, M. K. Cnut: The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century. London: Longman, 1993.
    Rumble, Alexander R., ed. The Reign of Cnut. 1994. London: Leicester U P, 1999.
    Weinfurter, Stefan. The Salian Century: Main Currents in an Age of Transition. Ed. /trans. Barbara M. and Charles R. Bowlus. 1992. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1999.
    ...It would be great to see anything anyone cared to post, relating to the Viking Age, only most especially the later phases, c. later 10th -mid-11th centuries CE.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
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  3. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the great write-up. It amazes me that you can decipher the legends on coins like this.
  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Conrad and Cnut. I love how ancient names can sometimes be 100% normal today (Conrad, Julius, Henry) while others really didn't stand the test of time (Licinius, Arcadius...Cnut...)
  5. AuldFartte

    AuldFartte Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful write-up, @ +VGO-DVKS I love that Cnut penny.
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  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Ummm... I think Notre Dame would disagree a bit. :)

    Knute Rockne

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    You don't really have to go that far through the list of Roman emperors' names (not counting Julius) before you get to the first one that would pass unnoticed if given to a child unchanged: Marcus, I believe. Plus August and Claude, with slight revision.
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  8. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Come to think of it, I actually met a Mexican man once named Aureliano!
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Thank you, @DonnaML, thou'rt kind. But all this is is crappy Latin. --Well, there's a little Old English on the English reverses, but I even got a whole quarter of that as an undergrad (...where they didn't teach Latin). By contrast, the facility that people here have with Classical Greek and (ahem) Latin, never mind the stunning array of languages farther (...and farther) east, is what blows my hair back.
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  10. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    I've mentioned this at least once before, but take the medieval Latin of the originally Germanic name, [H]Ludovicus. The French and Germans almost divided it up the middle: Louis, Ludwig.
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  11. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Is it my imagination, or has our member @ambr0zie mentioned that "Traian" is still a fairly common name in Romania, for obvious reasons?
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  12. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Yes!!! I remember that!!!
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  13. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    @DonnaML - yes indeed.
    Traian, Cezar, Aurelian, Titus (less common) Octavian, Constantin, Claudiu, Tiberiu. Just the first examples in my mind.
    Those are fairly common in Romania, nobody will find a name like these strange.

    There is also a historian called HADRIAN Daicoviciu but you won't see this spelling often at all. Adrian is much more popular.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  14. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    How cool is that?! Thanks, @ambr0zie.
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  15. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    :) sometimes I'm annoyed my parents didn't name me with a Roman name.
    Former Romanian president (2004-2014), Traian Basescu
    New football rising star (aged 18), Octavian Popescu

    Pop singer from the 90s, Aurelian Temisan
  16. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Too great....
    By contrast, I remember going to school with Mexican and Chicano kids with names like Eduardo and Edgar (right, both very Anglo-Saxon English). Had to wonder where that even came from.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  17. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Maximilian is another Mexican name obviously based on Maximian, Maximus, or Maximinus
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  18. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    That was the name of a king of Mexico, installed by invitation of Mexican monarchists, with the endorsement of Napoleon III, who had revived the monarchy in France. He was also of Habsburg descent. Witness the Habsburg emperor Maximilian I, in the early 16th century. ...In other words, that was a recent import. ...I'm still stumped on Eduardo and Edgar.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  19. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Great history/ writeup and coins:D!

    Here is my Konrad IV Holy Roman Emperor 1250-58
    Also King of Sicily
    AV 3 Tari d'oro ND Messina Mint b04714f3bab2d04086df2acf85568198.jpg
  20. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Very cool, @panzerman! Back to that wonderful convergence of Norman, Staufen, and Sicilian elements, anticipating what the Habsburgs did, most permanently in Spain. (...Although, this late, you're getting a retrenchment from all the Arabic and Byzantine elements on Norman Sicilian issues of the 12th century.)
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  21. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That was a really enjoyable post @+VGO.DVCKS with great coins. My favorite of the post is the Heinrich III denar from Speyer, the ship on the reverse is really interesting.
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