Featured Edward the Confessor / Wulfwine in London

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Cachecoins, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    AR Penny of Edward the Confessor
    (Ēadƿeard Andettere)

    Born: 1003 (est)
    King: A.D. 1042-1066


    Obverse: Portrait crowned head left with scepter - EDPER D'REX' (Edward King)

    Reverse: Cross with quatrefoil and pellets in angles - PVLFPINE ON LVN (Wulfwine, London)

    Although the art the coin had seen a significant decline over the centuries by this time, coins like these are still quite fascinating. What they lack in sophistication they make up for in their adaptation to the more rudimentary technology and their adaptive techniques to create interesting works. Coin of this time are reminiscent of cubism and other modern art movements in the way, out of necessity, they created the figurative from through the arrangement of geometric shapes and lines.

    To create this portrait of the king, and the letter forms, on this coin they used punches, combined with rather crude etching, to hammer, scape and dig directly into the dies. After punching in the dots and shapes they likely etched lines and fields to bring these elements together and to clean up the rough patches. The result, while crude, became a repeatable algorithm on how to create a coin, each one similar but never exactly the same.

    The Anglo-Saxon moneyers of this time signed their coins and this particular coin was made in the workshop of a moneyer named (PVLFPINE) Wulfwine who produced coins in London during the reign of Edward. He is certainly just one in a line of succession of moneyers with this name as coins were minted and signed Wulfwine during the reigns of Æthelred II, Cnut, Harold I, Harthacnut, Edward the Confessor, Harold II, William I, William II, Henry I among others and they were working in different locations as well. Moneyers with this name are known to have been minting coins at least between AD 978 to 1154. Although we know their names, unfortunately we know very little else about these men who were entrusted with the king's silver and the task of minting the coin of the realm
    Edward the Confessor was born at Islip in Oxfordshire around 1003. He was the eldest son of King Ethelred II "the Unready" and Queen consort Emma of Normandy. Danish incursions into England had become as regular as the seasons during the reign of Ethelred II. Lacking the ability to effectively combat the strong forces of the Danes, the king would instead make payments called Danegeld in return for a period of peace. Such payments were made by Ethelred first in 991 when he paid 10,000 pounds of silver after losing the battle of Maldon in Essex.

    He made such payments again in 994 after the Danes laid siege to London and again in 1002. The Danes had realized that it was quite profitable and easier to simply extort money in exchange for peace than to actually engage in battle to take England for themselves. With these large payments the Danes would grow even more powerful. In 1007 Ethelred paid 36,000 pounds of silver in exchange for two years of peace and again in 1012 paying 48,000 pounds of silver to turn them away. It became apparent that if you pay the danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

    By the summer of 1013 England was invaded once again by Danish forces under the command of King Sweyn Forkbeard and English resistance finally collapsed. As a result of the invasion, Edward's mother sent him and his brother Alfred to her homeland of Normandy to remove them from harms way. Edward was no more than 10 years old when he left England to begin what would be a long exile. It is there Edward is said to have developed the deep religious convictions he would hold through the rest of his life.

    The kingdom fell to the invaders quickly. King Ethelred was forced into exile and the victorious Sweyn Forkbeard returned home. Soon after his return home, Sweyn Forkbeard suddenly died in 1014 leaving his son Harold as King in Denmark. His other son Canute, who was left in charge of his force in England, was proclaimed King by his army. The nobility in England did not accept Canute as their king choosing to instead restore the exiled Ethelred to the throne. Canute was forced to return home where he looked to share power with his brother Harold. Harold chose instead to allow Canute to assemble and lead an even larger invasion force to take England and make it part of the growing Danish kingdom once and for all.

    Canute assembled men from all over Scandinavia and set to the conquest of England in 1015. A passage from the Encomium Emmae paints a picture of the scene which confronted the English when the invaders made landfall:


    There were so many kinds of shields, that you could have believed that troops of all nations were present... Gold shone on the prows, silver also flashed... who could look upon the lions of the foe, terrible with the brightness of gold, who upon the men of metal, who upon the bulls on the ships threatening death, their horns shining with gold, (who), without feeling any fear for the king of such a force. Moreover, in the whole force there could be found no serf, no freedman, none of ignoble birth, none weak with old age. All were nobles, all vigorous with the strength of complete manhood, fit for all manner of battle, and so swift of foot that they despised the speed of cavalry.

    The forces assembled under Canute clashed with the forces of King Ethelred who were commanded by his son, Edmund, known as Edmund 'Ironsides' for his relentless efforts to expel the Danes. Ethelred fell ill and died during this time leaving Edmund as King of England.

    Edmund became king of a nation in dire circumstances and by all accounts he ably and vigorously opposed the Danish occupiers. While the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund headed for Wessex where he gathered his forces. When the Danes pursued him he fought them to a standstill. He won repeated victories over Canute but was eventually decisively defeated at the Battle of Ashingdon in Essex. After the battle, the two kings negotiated a peace in which Edmund kept Wessex while Canute held the lands north of the River Thames. In addition, they agreed that if one of them should perish, territories belonging to the deceased would be ceded to the living. King Edmund II died in 1016 and as was agreed, his land went to Canute.

    Canute "the Great", the Danish King of England, would rule for 19 years. He took Edwards mother Emma as his wife in 1017 and their son, Harthacanute, would become his heir. Canute was generally thought to be an able and successful king credited for bringing two decades of peace and prosperity to England. Upon his death in 1035 he was succeeded in Denmark by Harthacanute, reigned as Canute III. He would also be King of England with Harold "Harefoot", Canutes son by his 'handfast' wife Aelgifu of North Hampton, as regent. Harold "Harefoot" eventually took the crown for himself to rule as King Harold I when it became apparent that Harthacanute would not be able to claim the throne of England as he was engaged in a defense of his Kingdom against Magnus I of Norway and Anund Jacobs, King of Sweden.

    In an apparent attempt to remove Harold Harefoot from power, Edward and his brother Alfred Atheling returned to England in 1036. Alfred was captured by men loyal to Harefoot, possibly commanded by Godwin, earl of Wessex. While in captivity, Alfred was blinded and died soon after due to the severity of his wounds. Edward returned to exile in Normandy.

    Harold Harefoot died in 1040 just as his half brother Harthacanute was preparing an invasion force to unseat him having settled his disputes in Scandinavia. With Harold out of the way, Harthacanute was able to take the English throne with no resistance. Harthacanute invited Edward back to England in 1041 after almost 30 years of exile in Normandy to become a member of his household and heir to the throne. This may have been a compromise to keep the peace with powerful Anglo-Saxon leaders. Harthacanute died on June 8, 1042 never having married and with no known children. It was reported that he "died as he stood at his drink, and he suddenly fell to the earth with an awful convulsion; and those who were close by took hold of him, and he spoke no word afterward."


    Edward was crowned King of England on April 3, 1042. His reign was marked by relative peace and prosperity but there was conflict among the ruling class, especially between Edward and Godwin, the powerful Earl of Wessex, whom Edward believed captured and delivered his brother Alfred to his death at the hands of Harold "Harefoot".

    Having Spent much of his life in Normandy, understandably Edward brought with him Norman ways. This helped fuel a growing anti-Norman movement that included Godwin. In 1045 Edward married Edith of Wessex, Godwin's daughter. This marriage was possibly politically motivated in hopes that joining the two by marriage may help to ease the growing conflict. Edward only further aggravated the already volatile situation by rejecting Godwin's choice for the next Archbishop of Canterbury, appointing instead the bishop of London, Robert of Jumièges, a Norman.

    When in 1051 Godwin refused to punish those responsible for a riot by townspeople against Edward's kinsman, Eustace the Count of Bologne, he exiled Godwin and his family confiscating their estates. His wife Edith was sent to live in a nunnery deprived of most of her possessions. In less than a year the powerful Godwin had returned at the head of a formidable army demanding to be reinstated and his lands returned. Looking to avoid a civil war, Edward reinstated him and his daughter in 1052.

    Godwin died the next year, he had always said he had no role in Alfred's fate and he is said to have denied it a final time as he died. His son Harold succeeded him as Earl of Wessex, an area then covering roughly the southernmost third of England. He, like his father, became the second most powerful person in England after Edward. Like his father, he also took a roll in the opposition of Norman influence in England. Harold had gained Edwards favor in a successful series of campaigns against the ruler of Gwynedd, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who had conquered all of Wales and negotiating with the rebellious Northumbrians against his own brother in 1065.


    Edward the Confessor died on January 4th, 1066, around the age of 63. He had ruled for 24 years. His death left four claimants to his throne. Edward had designated his great nephew, the Hungarian born Edgar Atheling, as his heir. Edgar was the son of Edward "the Exile" and the grandson of Edmund "Ironsides", the great defender of England against the Danes. But Edgar was born in exile and had lived his life outside of England, he was a teenager and lacked sufficient support.

    William of Normandy, the illegitimate and only son of Robert II, Duke of Normandy, said that he had earlier been promised the throne and further claimed the throne through relation to the King as great-nephew to Emma of Normandy, Edward's mother.

    Harold III of Norway Claimed the English throne based on a supposed agreement between King Magnus (his brother's son) and Harthacanute whereby if either died without an heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway. He invaded England but he and his forces were slaughtered at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, outside the city of York, on September 25, 1066. He was defeated by Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, who also claimed the English throne saying that Edward had made him his heir shortly before his death.

    Harold Godwinson was crowned king on January 5, 1066, with the approval of the Witenagemot (the assembly of the kingdom's leading notables). After demolishing the Forces of Harold III of Norway in the north he quickly moved his troops to defend against the invasion led by William of Normandy in the south. Harold and William clashed at the Battle of Hastings where, after a vigorous hard fought defense, Harold was killed and his forces routed ending his eight month rule and leaving William the Conqueror as the first Norman King of England.


    Under Edwards rule England prospered enjoying relative peace and security. Edward claimed both Saxon and Norman lineage and his loyalties were inevitably split. His rule is considered the transition between Saxon and Norman rule. With him he brought Norman styles, language, and customs to the English court in a foreshadowing of the great change to come. It would not be until the reign of Henry II that Norman and Saxon Royal lines would again unite.

    It was during the reign of Henry II that the "cult" of Edward the Confessor rose to greater prominence and importance. Osbert de Clare, a monk of Westminster, depicted Edward as a holy man who performed several miracles, having healed people with his touch among others. Because of these claims Edward was declared a saint and was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161. Edward was styled Edward the Confessor the patron saint of kings, difficult marriages, and separated spouses.

    Edward is credited with the building of Westminster Abbey around 1045-1050. He had selected the site for his burial and it was consecrated on December 28, 1065, only a week before his death.

    There are no portraits of Edward. When he is depicted, it is most often simply a representation of a generic king. It seems his appearance was anything but generic as he is described by his contemporaries. It is reported that his appearance was 'almost that of an albino'. He is said to have had 'full-flushed rose-red cheeks' that contrasted sharply with 'the milky whiteness of his flowing hair and beard.' His hands were white with long thin fingers described as 'transparent.' He wore his hair and beard long, more in the style of a Norman in contrast to the short close cropped hair common for a Saxon.

    Of his temperament it is said he gravitated to the extremes showing capacity for great kindness and also blustering rage. He is said to have been austere in his habits, described as 'old even as a child' with a 'recklessness and hardness' in his behavior to those closest to him. He was harsh towards his mother and alienated from his wife though he is said to have shown great kindness to the poor and suffering. He split his time between his two passions, the church and hunting.

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  3. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Great chronicle and beautiful coin, Thanks for sharing.
  4. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    Thank you sir. I don't know if I would call it beautiful as much as interesting though. If anyone has other examples of the type I would love to see them or more information about the moneyers of this time. I looked for more information about them but it seems as though there is little info on these men. Also I looked to try to find a full name for Edward but in every source he is either refered to as simply Edward, Ewardvs, Ēadƿeard or Edward the Confessor.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Robert Ransom like this.
  5. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Beauty is in the..., and this beholder thinks it is beautiful (the contrast of elements).
    Cachecoins and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  6. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    Fair enough, it does have a beauty to it I think. :)
  7. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    That's a beautiful coin and some great photos of it.

    I have a rather clipped Edward the Confessor penny, which shares several characteristics with yours (but somehow looks quite different):

    Edward the Confessor, penny, heavy issue, 1.71g, 1050-1053, London. + edþe:|•rd rex :, diademed and draped bust, trefoil-tipped sceptre.+ l•eofred on lvndene, expanding cross (S1177).

    The moneyer, Leofred of London, is similarly enigmatic. The British Museum's website shows him to have been active in the reigns of Æthelred II, (Cnut), Harold I, Harthacnut, Edward the Confessor, Harold II and William I, a period of 109 years (978-1087). It does qualify this with: "the name may be used by several different moneyers."

    Since London had around 30 moneyers at any given time during Edward's reign, their coins sometimes sharing obverse dies, I assume it's not easy even to work out who was who.

    It's interesting that Edward doesn't have a surname. I always thought no-one had a surname before the Norman Conquest, and even then only aristocrats before Richard II demanded them for tax purposes. But of course Harold II (Edward's brother-in-law) was Harold Godwinson, while another claimant to the English throne at that time was Harald Sigurdsson. Were surnames a Viking thing (Harold II's mother being Gytha Thorkelsdóttir)? The previous Wessex kings didn't have surnames either (Æthelred II, Edward the Martyr, Edgar). But that doesn't explain Cnut or Harthacnut. Perhaps a surname was only used if you needed to highlight your pedigree.
    TheRed, +VGO.DVCKS, Edessa and 2 others like this.
  8. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    That's a great coin, a bit more sophisticated in form I would say. I did notice that others did have surnames while some did not and like you say, it was often a name that showed pedigree. I guess that might make him Edward Æthelredson. :)
    +VGO.DVCKS and John Conduitt like this.
  9. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    Great coins. The write ups are excellent reads.
    Robert Ransom likes this.
  10. offa the saxon

    offa the saxon Well-Known Member

    Excellent resume of a great Saxon king. Beautiful example as well
    Robert Ransom likes this.
  11. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Great write-up! You go into far more detail than I do.

    As a generalist “helicopter collector,” I have pennies from most of the kings that you mentioned.

    Here is my Edward the Confesser piece. I bought this raw from a Heritiage auction. That was unusual because they almost always sell slabbed coins. It took me a while to attribute this piece because it is not in the Spink guide book.

    Edward the Confessor.jpg

    My Athelred the Unready or Athelred II. This is by far the easiest king's coin to find. Large hoards of them have shown up in Scandinavia from bribes he paid to the Vikings.

    Athelred the Unready.jpg



    Harold Harefoot or Harold I

    Harold I.jpg

    The Danish penny for Harthacanute


    Harold II

    Harold II.jpg

    William the Conqueror

    William the Conqueror.jpg
  12. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    Back to the title. Edward the Confessor Pointed Helmet type of Langport. AEIELPINE ON LANC. When this coin appeared in a Kunker sale in 2014 it extended the time the mint was open by one issue, i.e up to 3 years. The previous latest issue known for the mint was Expanding Cross.
  13. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    Edward the Confessor PACX issue of Guildford. BLACAMAN ON CYL. Cracked across 75% of the coin, but believed the only known example of this type for the mint.
  14. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    This thread just got good :)

    Great examples John and Rob. I also have an example of Athelred and you are right about how plentiful they seem to be, certainly because of Danegeld. I also have a coin of Cnut which I am getting ready to post.

    These are so interesting in the many different ways the largely anonymous engravers used punches and basic engraving to produce interesting, rather basic figures and text....some better than others. I always like to highlight the engravers when I post a coin but alas with these little coins it's quite impossible to give any real idea of people who created them. I guess that's the same with ancients as well. It wasn't until much later that they began to become known entities.

    I do believe that in coinage one can see the changing of the times. I have a good friend who is a student of the middle ages and he hates when people call it the dark ages, or assert that there was a marked declined almost across the board. But that decline is so apparent in coinage. The outstanding artistry of the Greeks and their successor states, the high quality of early Roman imperial coinage and then a slow decline until the late Roman and middle ages when portraits on coins became merely rudimentary icons of a person. When you look at most coins if Constantine or Theodosius you aren't looking at a portrait as much as an iconic representation.


    Unlike the coinage before where you could recognize the ruler by his portrait. Like this portrait which is unmistakably Tiberius.


    Or the coins after that became more and more sophisticated, true works of art.

    I am also a generalist as well and my collection is very eclectic...I like coins throughout history... and I am prone moving into other times and places that attract me...I am also prone to rambling on. Sorry :)
    Edessa and PaulTudor like this.
  15. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    Edward the Confessor Sovereign/Eagles (1056-1059) penny of Bedford. SPOTA ON BEDEFORI. A horribly mushy obverse (king seated on throne, facing, holding orb - honest!) with a reverse as good as they come. ex W J Conte, CNG Triton VI lot 1448, 14/1/2003.
    TheRed and johnmilton like this.
  16. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    Really like the reverse...the obverse would be cool if not so mangled. :)
    Edessa likes this.
  17. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    It's not mangled but pretty much as struck. Wear is minimal and it's only slightly double struck on the left hand side, just that the quality and depth of the engraving is crap. Some particular mint/type die combinations seem to crop up particularly often with one weak side. This Chichester pyramids is another often seen with a weak obverse. It's not the design, as most mints of both types have good detail. Apologies for just a scan, but again there's not too much wear.
    TheRed and Cachecoins like this.
  18. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    That is a nice obverse all the same...very well done in comparison to most. By mangled i did mean by the hand that engraved it. The other details seem quite sharp. I have noticed these coins do have a wide array of skill level that go from hatchet job to crisp and clean.
    Edessa likes this.
  19. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    Edward Hammer Cross from Steyning in Sussex. DIORMAN ON STAENIG.
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  20. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    Love that portrait...never seen one quite like it in style.
  21. robp

    robp Well-Known Member

    There's a lot of variation in style as you cross the country. As noticed by North, it's particularly obvious in CNUT, but even with the other reigns you can sometimes guess in which part of the country it was struck.
    Edessa likes this.
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