English Royals 978 - Present
(11/29/05)

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Late Anglo Saxons

Aethelred II (978-1016)

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The coin: Penny, 20 mm. Obv: +EDELRED REX ANGL*OR, center bust left. Rev: +DANFINX M* O EOFRI, center small cross. The legend refers to Dagfinnr of York, moneyer. 1154, N 777. Contemporary French coins: Hugh Capet and Robert II.
The king: He was son of Edgar (king) and Elfrida. He came to the throne on the death of his half brother. He had an interrupted reign, abdicating in favor of  Sweyn in 1013 and coming to the throne again after Sweyn's death just a year later. By his first marriage to Elgiva he might have had as many as 13 children, although there is uncertainty. By his second marriage to Emma, daughter of the Duke of Normandy, he had three children, one of whom, Edward the Confessor, ultimately succeeded him. He was known as the 'unraed' or 'unrede.' which means 'without counsel.'
The times: His reign was interrupted by the usurpation of Sweyn, son of Harold Bluetooth, king of Denmark. Sweyn claimed the throne by right of conquest, but enjoyed its privileges for less than a year before he died and Ethelred was able to reclaim the throne. Loyn says of him "The reign of the unhappy Ethelred proved one of the most disastrous in English history. Attacks from Scandinavia ... tended to be more national and political in nature than the movements of the earlier Viking Age. They were often led by kings or princes and their (objective was) political domination."

Cnut (1016-35)

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The coin: Penny, quarterfoil (1030-35/6) 17mm. Obv: CNUT REX, bust left, with scepter. Rev: text, short cross, center circle enclosing pellet. S1159, N 790. Contemporary French coin: Robert II.
The king: He was born in Denmark about 995 and was the son of Swegn Forkbeard, King of Denmark. "Cnut was acclaimed king by the Danish fleet in England in 1014 but was forced to leave. He returned in 1015 and in 1016..(Seaby)" he claimed the crown of England by right of conquest, when he defeated Edmund II who came to the crown in 1016 but didn't survive the year. He also became king of Denmark in 1018/19 and of Norway in 1028, by right of conquest. He married Emma, who was the widow of Ethelred II. They had three children and one son, Harthacanute, succeeded him.

Edward the Confessor (1042-66)

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The coin: Penny, 17mm. Obv: EDWERD REX, bust left, radiate crown. Rev: text, small cross pattee. S. 1173, N 816. Mint: Thetford, moneyer Leopine (?) or Leofwine (?). Contemporary French coin: Philip I.
The king: He came to the throne after the death of his half brother via his mother, Emma of Normandy rather than through his father Ethelred II. Edward married Edith, daughter of the earl of Wessex, but is popularly believed to have never consummated the marriage, for religious reasons on his part. Therefore, on his death he had no direct heir, but granted the throne to Harold II, a strong personage but who was unable to fend off both attacks in the north and south. His death opened the succession to William of Normandy. He is the only canonized English king.

William 1 1066-87

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The coin: Penny, 20 mm. Obv: PILLEMVS REX, crowned facing bust. Rev: LIPPORD ON S_DE, central cross with four annulets with letters PAXS (Peace). Mint is Southwark. S 1256; C:W11D-04; North, JJ. 848. Gift from Jeffrey Carlson and Donna Culbreth. For an additional penny, see the Anglo-Saxon page.  Contemporary French coin:  Philip 1.
This was apparently a rare coin before a large hoard was found in the 19th C. Tom Buttrey, citing Martin Allen, offered this post in response to a query about the find: "Beauworth (location), found 1833 by boys playing hookey from morning service on Sunday morning.  They threw a lot into the village pond.  Estimated at 12,000 pennies = £50.  First published in Archaeologia vol. 26, 1836. Summarized in B.A.Thompson's Inventory of British Coin Hoards, no. 37. Michael Metcalf in Yorkshire Numismatist vol.1, 1998, looked at the subject again. -- information from Dr. Martin Allen, Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge."
The king: William was the illegitimate son of the duke of Normandy (and Herleva) who seized the British throne by right of conquest. His argument was that he had been promised the crown by Edward the Confessor. To come to the throne he had to defeat Harold at Senlac Ridge, about 11 miles from Hastings. He was also duke of Normandy, which set up a complicated relationship with the king of France, one which was not ultimately resolved until after the 100 Years War, ending in the 15th century.
The times: William brought Norman values to Britain, and rewarded his followers with lands and titles in Britain. This Norman influx introduce early  feudalism to Britain. William was crowned in Westminster Abbey, built by Edward the Confessor and the future home of British coronations. His control in England was uncertain and he sought to fortify his positions, including the construction of the Tower in London.

William ll 1087-1100

Henry l  1100-35

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The coin: AR penny, quadrilateral on cross fleury type, circa 1125-35, 19mm. Obv: HE(NRICUS), crowned bust, 3/4 figure, with scepter. Rev: +WI(LLEM ON) CANT, cross with lis. Mint is Canterbury, Moneyer is Willem (according to seller). S1276, J.J. North 871. Ex (J.J.) North Collection. The contemporary French kings are Philip 1 and Louis VI.
The king: Henry was son of William the conqueror and succeeded to the throne on the death of his brother (William Rufus). He married Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III, king of Scotland. The marriage blended royal Norman and Saxon lines, to the disgust of the Barons but acceptance of the commoners. They had four children. He then married Adeliza and they had seven children. He was succeeded by his nephew, Steven even though he asked his Barons to recognize his daughter Matilda (born with the name Adelaide). He died of food poisoning in Normandy.
The times: He spent a lot of time  procreating (in addition to his legitimate children he had 25 illegitimate children). He usurped the duchy of Normandy from his brother and had lands in both France and England. In England, he was concerned with a deteriorating coinage. From Seaby, "At Christmas 1124 the famous Assize of Moneyers was held at Winchester when all the moneyers in England were called to account for their activities and a number are said to have been mutilated for issuing coins of inferior quality."

Stephen 1 (1135-54)

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The coin: Penny, 18 mm. Obv: most likely STIEFNE (R, RE or REX), bust righ, holding scepter. Rev: cross moline with a fleur in each quadrant. S. 1278, N 873. Contemporary French coins: Louis VI and Louis VII.
The king: Stephen was born in France (Blois). His tie to the British throne was through his mother, Adele, daughter of William the Conqueror, rather than through his father, Theobald, count of Blois. He usurped the throne since Matilda, daughter of Henry I, was supported only in a lukewarm manner, there being question of the right of a woman to rule. This triggered a civil war, where Stephen was imprisoned, subsequently released (since Matilda was not an effective ruler) and ultimately restored to the throne. He married another Matilda and had five children. Stephen died in Kent. He was succeeded by the son of Matilda, a claimant to the throne. This was Henry II.

Henry ll (1154-89)


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The coin: Penny, short cross, 19mm. Obv: HENRICVS RE; central portrait. Rev: WALTER ON NORTH (Walter is the name of the moneyer, located in Northampton). S:1344, C:H21D-035/40. Contemporary French coins were from  Louis VII and Philip II.
The king: Founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, named for planta genista - a sprig of bloom flower his father wore in his cap. Henry was born in Anjou in 1133 and came to the throne via his mother Matilda when Henry I's other children died. He followed Steven, a cousin, after a period of civil strife in England. He was duke on Normandy and count of Anjou. After he married Eleanor of Aquitaine he also became duke of Aquitaine. The created a huge Angevin empire reaching from Aquitaine to the Scottish border.  Henry died in Chinon and was buried in France.
The times: Steven challenged Matilda's succession and England experienced a period of civil war, until Henry's right of succession was recognized. The Norman kings maintained strong interests and property in France and had very divided interests. Henry engaged in conflict with the Church over royal versus ecclesiastical privilege, which ultimately lead to the death of Thomas a' Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry laid the groundwork for the modern English legal system, including the use of common law and a reformed jury system.

Richard l    (1189-99)

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The coin: Penny, short cross, 20mm. Obv: HENRICVS REX; central portrait. Rev: RICARD ON LVND(?), (Richard is the name of the moneyer and located in London - in S, not in C).S1348A, C:R11D-010/15. The contemporary French king was Philip II.


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The coin: Denier, 18mm. Obv: +RICA/RDYS/W(omega). Rev: +AQUITANIE, central cross. North 3885.
The king: Richard (Coeur de Lion) was the fourth child, and third son, of  Henry II. He was born in Oxford. He was the second post invasion king to actually be born in England, although he spent very little of his time as king in the country, less than a year out of a ten year reign. He married Berengaria, daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre. They had no children, although Richard had several illegitimate children. He died and was buried in France, as the result of a battle injury.
The times: Richard was a crusader and spent much of the time of his reign in the Holy Lands. He traveled (in a loose sense) with Philip Augustus of France to the Holy Lands, to keep him from going after Richard's lands in France. Richard was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria who turned him over to the HRE Henry VI, who, in turn,  held him for ransom. While away Philip seized Richard's lands in France and brother John tried to seize the English throne. After release from captivity, Richard righted both wrongs.

John (1199-1216)

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The coin: Penny, short cross 1205-16, 20mm. Obv: HENRICVS REX, central portrait. Rev: ABEL ON LVNDE (Abel is the name of the moneyer, located in London) S:1351, C:JH1D-025/30. The contemporary French king was Philip II.
The king: John, the eighth legitimate child of Henry II, succeeded his brother Richard. He was born in Oxford on Christmas eve in 1166. He married two Isabella's. The first marriage to Isabella, daughter of William, Earl of Gloucester, was annulled on the basis of consanguinity. His second marriage was to Isabella of Angouleme. They had five children. John earned the nickname "Lackland" because while his brothers inherited lands on the death of their father, John did not. He died in Lincolnshire in 1216.
The times: John lacked the personal strength of his father and was in conflict with the English Barons over the control of privilege. In this conflict he first challenged, and finally allied himself with the Church, against his secular enemies. His Barons did not support him in his conflict with Philip of France and resented the taxation he imposed. John, who also held Normandy, lost it, further angering the Barons. In the face of the threat of armed revolt, John acquiesced to their demands and signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. He died before he could overturn the Magna Carta, which remains a central legacy of the age.

Henry 111 (1216-72)

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The coin: Penny - class 11, 1247-72, long cross, 18mm. Obv: HENRICVS REX TERCI; central portrait. Rev: NIC/OLE/ONL/VND (Nicole of London - moneyer and mint).  The long cross was to show if the coin had been clipped. S:1361, C:H31D-050. Additional pennies on Plantagenets page. The contemporary French kings were Philip II,  Louis VIII,  Louis IX,  Philip III..
The king: Henry was born in 1207 at Winchester Castle. He succeeded his father John in 1216, at the age of nine. He married Eleanor (of Provence) who became queen consort and ultimately died a nun. They had nine children and their first, Edward, succeeded him as king on Henry's death in 1272. He lost his holdings in Normandy (he inherited the title of Duke of Normandy from his father) as a result of the Treaty of Paris.
The times: Henry was recognized as the legitimate heir to John, so smoothed over the baronial problems for the moment. Henry came to rely on foreign (Provence and Poitou) advisors, who were resented by the English Barons. This conflict caused the period to be a time of erosion of royal privilege and what Churchill calls the "seed time of our Parliamentary system.." It was epitomized by the Parliament of 1265. Simon de Montfort played a key role in the Baronial challenge to the king.
Numismatic note: Henry issued a gold coin, worth 20 to 1 over silver, but it was not a successful issue. It was the last gold issue until 1344. It marked a significant evolution in European coinage, paralleling development in Italy and France, and Loyn (p.153) observes it helped contribute to the end of the denier system

Edward 1  1272-1307

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The coin: Penny: long cross, class 3, 19mm. Obv: EDWR ANGL DNS HYB, central portrait. Rev: CIV/TAS EBO/RACI, long cross quartered with three pellets, York mint. S:1388, C:E11D-580. For additional pennies see the Plantagenets page. Contemporary French kings were Philip III and Philip IV.
The king: Edward was born in the Palace of Westminster in 1239 and became king in 1272. He was known as ‘Longshanks' due to his height, and has the reputation as a strong king. He trained English troops with the longbow, which was used so effectively against the French in the 14th century. He conquered Wales and Scotland and established independence from the papacy. He developed Parliament and was also known as the ‘Lawgiver.' Edward married first Eleanor of Castile (16 children) and then Margaret, daughter of Philip III of France (three children). He died in 1307.
The times: England was extending her borders, first bringing Wales under the crown, and then warring with Scotland, constantly having to deal with a restive nation to the North. After 30 years of peace (1259+) war broke out with France and Scotland. The English were defeated at Sterling and revenged themselves at Falkirk. Edward was known as "Hammer of the Scots." He was interested in issues of law and justice and in administrative reform and he broadened representation in the ‘model' Parliament, laying the foundation for non-noble participation in government. At this time London was the largest city in England, with about 40,000 inhabitants.

Edward 11 (1307-27)

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The coin: Penny, long cross, 17mm. Obv: EDWAR ANGL DNS HYB, (Edward King of England, Lord of Ireland), central crowned portrait, large face. Rev: CIVITAS LONDON. Mint is London. S:1463, C:E21D-125 class 15c. Contemporary French kings were Philip IV,  Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV.
The king: Edward was born in 1284 in Wales and was the first English Price of Wales.  He became king on his father's death in 1307. He married Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France. This marriage lays the foundation for the war of French succession - the Hundred year's War. Edward abdicated in favor of his son and was murdered in 1227.
The times: Compared to his father, he was relatively ineffective (a "perverted weakling" according to Churchill). Domestically he witnessed the erosion of royal power and was ineffective on the battlefield.  He led the English to put down a Scottish revolt and was soundly defeated at Bannockburn. By the Treaty of Northampton in 1228 Scotland was recognized as a free nation. He was essentially overthrown by Roger Mortimer, who was the lover of Edward's French wife.

Edward 111 (1327-77)

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The coin 1: Half groat 1361, treaty transition period, 21mm. Obv: EDWARDVS REX ANGL DNS HIB, central crowned portrait. Rev inner circle: CIVITAS LONDON, outer circle: POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper). Cross mint mk. Mint is London. S:1611, C:E32D-055. Contemporary French kings were  Charles IV, Philip VIJean II and
Charles V.


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The coin 2: Half groat, type C, 1351-61, 23mm. Obv: EDWARDVS REX ANGL Z FRAN, crowned central figure. Rev inner circle: CIVITAS LONDON, outer circle:  POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper), long cross. Mint is London. S:1573, C:E32D-005/30.
The king: Edward was born in Windsor Castle in 1312. He married Philippa of Hainault and they had 13 children between 1330 and 1355. His first son, who never ruled, was known as the Black Prince. Edward succeeded his father in 1227. On the death of Charles IV (1328) Edward claimed the crown of France. He died in Surrey.
The times: Edward had to wrest power from Mortimer and his mother before he could effectively rule. He fought in Scotland and launched an invasion of France. The first fighting was in Flanders. The English bowman was a formidable warrior and a key to a modern, non-feudal army. Edward enjoyed an early victory at Crecy, which saw the success of commoner bowmen over mounted cavalry. Ten years later his son, The Black Prince, captured John le Bon, king of France, at Poiters. The English recaptured much of the lands they had previously lost. Parliament, financing these wars, gained strength during this reign.

Richard ll (1377-99)

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The coin: Half penny, 12mm. Obv: RICARD': REX: ANGL', crowned bust. Rev: CIVITAS LONDON, long cross. S:1699, C:R2HD-010 intermediate issue. ID help courtesy of Paul Withers, who notes he has a similar coin struck from the same obverse die but different reverse die. He notes identification has to be done by portrait type, of which there are no fewer than five versions. Mint is London. Contemporary French kings were Charles V and  Charles VI.
The king: The grandson of Edward III was born in 1367 in Bordeaux. He first married Anne, daughter of HRE Charles IV (no children) and then Isabella, daughter of Charles VI (the Fool) of France, again no children. Richard was deposed by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke who became Henry IV. He died, perhaps of starvation, in 1400 while a captive in Yorkshire.
The times: Feudalism was unraveling in the face of the Black Death. Popular  (in contrast to noble inspired) rebellion broke out in 1381, led by Wat Tyler. Church reform (via Wycliff) became an issue. Richard had a contentious reign, in conflict with Parliament and the nobility. He was deposed after his seizure of John of Gaunt's (the Duke of Lancaster) land was challenged by the Duke's son, Henry of  Bolingbroke, who led a resistance army against Richard.

Henry IV (1399-1413)

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The times: Penny, 15 mm. Obv: +HENRIC REX ANGLIE, facing crowned bust. Rev: CIVITAS DVNOLM, central cross with clover cluster of pellets in each quadrant. Mint is Durham. S1735; C:H41D-055. Id relies on Mark Davidson, given coin condition. Henry IV's coinage was very poor quality and most was removed by Henry V for reissue.
The king: Henry was son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Blanche of Lancaster. He was born in 1367. He married Mary, daughter of the Earl of Hereford and they had seven children. He then married Joan, daughter of Charles II, king of Navarre. His second son, Henry, succeeded him. He died of a leprosy-like disease.
The times: On the death of Henry's father, Richard II prohibited Henry from inheriting his title, angering the nobility. This led to conflict and Henry forced Richard to abdicate and claimed the throne by right of conquest. He was, in fact, a legitimate heir, claiming descent from Edward III. He pursued English interests in France during this time of the Hundred Year's War. His death in 1413 set up a contest for English succession that led to the War of the Roses.

Henry V (1413-22)

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The coin: Penny, 16 mm. Obv: +HENRI DI GRA REX ANGL (?), facing bust. Rev: LONDON CIVITAS, central cross, three pellets each quadrant. Id is speculative - help appreciated. At the base of the obverse, 'GR' is clear. Mint is London. S 1781; C:H51D-030. For an additional coin see the Plantagenets page. The contemporary French king was Charles VI.
The king: Henry was born in 1387 in Monmouth Castle. As an outgrowth of the Hundred Year's War, he was designated King of France in 1420 but died before this came to fruition. He married Katherine, daughter of Charles VI of France (hence the promise of the throne).They had only one child (Henry VI). Henry died in France in 1422, at Vincennes, to the east outside of Paris.
The times: Henry rode the fever of war with France and again the English invaded. He met the  larger French force at Agincourt in 1415 and triumphed. The French were riven by internal rivalries and after a series of battles Henry was recognized as successor to the French throne. In this time the English were to occupy Paris, with the support of their Burgundian allies. Henry's death left an infant as the claimant to the French and English thrones, to the advantage of the French.

Henry V1 (1422-61)

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The coin: Calais Groat 1427-30 rosette/mascle, 26mm. Obv: HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC, crowned central portrait. Rev inner circle: VILLA CALISIE, outer circle:   POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper), long cross. Mint is Calais. S:1859, C:H64D-040/45. Sharing the exact same years in his French reign was Charles VII
The king: Henry was born in England in 1421 and became king of England in 1422. When Charles VI of France died in 1422, Henry, by the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, succeeded him as king of France. He was so crowned in Notre Dame in 1431. He was deposed in England by Edward IV in 1461, re-instated in 1470, and deposed again in 1471. He married Margaret of Anjou and they had one son. He died (was murdered?) in the Tower in 1471.
The times: Joan of Arc rallied the French against the English, and though she was executed in 1431, the French became ascendent and kept the English on the defensive, driving them out of most of France, leaving them only Calais by 1353. Against the sullen background of the loss of France, the English contested among themselves over the succession of their remaining crown, launching the War of the Roses. Henry lost this round to Edward IV of York.

Edward 1V (of York: 1461-70, 1471-83)

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The coin: Groat (4P) 2nd -  1471-83, 25mm. Obv: EDWARD DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC, crowned central bust. Rev inner circle: CIVITAS LONDON, outer circle: POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper).  Mint is London. S:2096, C:E44D-145. Sharing the exact same years in his French reign wasLouis XI.
The king: Edward was born in 1442, in Rouen. He was descended from Edward III. His father was Richard, Earl of Cambridge  and mother Cecilia. He married Elizabeth of Woodville and they had 10 children, seven daughters and three sons. He ultimately bested Henry VI for the throne. He died in 1483 and was succeeded by his son, Edward, who died (was murdered) at age 13 in 1483.
The times: Edward came to the throne (twice) in the face of a lack of heir by Henry VI for a period of time (he ultimately had a son), and by grace of Henry's insanity. Actual serious fighting for the right to the crown dates from 1460. Margaret, Henry's wife, was a strong force and serious leader of the opposition to Edward and the Yorkists. Edward was an effective warrior and ultimately prevailed on the battlefield and won the crown.

Edward V  1483 very rare

Richard III (1483-1485)

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The coin: AR penny, 14mm, .62gr. Obv: legend obscured, central head with ‘S’ on breast. Rev: obscure legend, central cross with 3 besants each quadrant. Mint is Durham. Seaby 2169; North 1687; Coincraft R31D-202. Had this coin been unclipped the legend would have read RICARD DEI GRA REX (ANGL) and rev: CIVITAS DURHAM.

Henry V11 (1485-1509)

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The coin: Half groat, 19mm, class IIIc, Canterbury, between 1486-1500. Obv: HENRIC D(E)I GRA REX ANGL Z FR, facing bust, crowned. His coinage is transitional from the traditional medieval bust to the Renaissance profile. Rev. outer legend: POSSE DEUM ADIVTOREM MEUM (I have made God my helper). Inner legend: CIVITAS CANTOR, cross with three pellets in each quadrant. S:2211, C:H72D-035/040. Additional coin on the Tudor page. Contemporary French kings were Charles VIII  and Louis XII.
The king: Henry Tudor was born in 1457 in Wales. He was exiled from England and grew up in France. He married Elizabeth of York, reuniting the two houses and ending the War of the Roses. He had eight children, and was succeeded by his second son, Henry, on his death in 1509. His reign opened the 118 year span of the Tudor kings. Henry had a tenuous claim to the throne, coming from a bastard line going back to the Dukes of Lancaster, and won the throne by the death in battle of Richard III.
The times: Henry was an effective statesman who had to contend with threats in Scotland, France and Ireland. He reigned during a time of an emerging Renaissance in western Europe and quickening commercial activity. Spain was the dominant world power, turning back the Moors. He had a keen interest in diplomacy and in centralizing the power of the state, wracked by a generation of war.

Henry Vlll (1509-47)

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The coin: Half groat, 2nd coinage, 1526-44, 18mm. Obv: +HENRIC VIII D GR AGL Z FR, profile right. Rev: CIVI/TAS/EBO/RACI, shield bracketed by T W, over cardinal's hat. Mint - York under Wolsey. Additional coins on the Tudor page.  S:2346, C:H82D-085. Contemporary French kings were Louis XII and Francis I.
The king: Henry was born in Greenwich in 1491 and became king in 1509. He was married six times, divorcing, executing or losing in childbirth various wives. His progeny tended to be very short lived or stillborn, although daughter Elizabeth lived and reigned long. His immediate successor, Edward VI, came from his third marriage to Jane Seymour. Henry died in 1547 at Whitehall Palace in London. He was key in the building of British naval power.
The times: France had emerged as a modern nation state, with growing ascendency on the continent. In Germany Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door, launching the Reformation. After initial close relations with the church (he was named ‘defender of the faith'), Henry broke with the church, declaring himself head of the Church of England. This set off a period of religious strife in England, not fully resolved until the end of the 17th. Century.

Edward V1 (1547-53)

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The coin: Shilling, 1551-3, 34mm. Obv: EDWARD.VI:D.G.ANG.FRA!Z:HIB:REX, portrait straight on. Rev:  POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper), quartered shield with lis and lions, S:2482, C:E6SH-090. The contemporary French king was Henri II.
The king: Edward, son of Henry and Jane Seymour, was born in 1537 at Hampton Court, upriver on the Thames from London. He became king at the age of 10 and died, without marriage or issue, in 1553, in Greenwich.
The times: England was caught up in the issues of religion and royal succession. Edward VI was a young and unhealthy king. He was Protestant in commitment, unlike his very Catholic sister Mary. His reign was heavily influenced by the behavior and motivations of royal advisers. As Europe also became religiously fractionalized, Europeans also took a keen interest in English affairs, looking for religious alliance.

Mary (1553-54)

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The coin 1: Groat, 24mm. Obv: REGINA MARIA D.G.ANG.FR.HIB, portrait left. Rev: VERITAS TEMPORIS FILIA (truth is the daughter of time), cross through quartered shield. S:2508, C:M4D-005. Additional (worn) coin on the Tudor page. The contemporary French king was Henri II.
The queen: After Edward's death and the nine day reign of Lady Jane Grey, Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon came to the throne. She was born in 1516 in Greenwich and became queen, an English first, in 1553, there being no legitimate male successor and opening the door to a series of future English queens. She married Philip of Spain but had no children. She died after a five year reign in 1558.
The times: Mary (nicknamed ‘Bloody') restored Catholicism (increasingly seen as a foreign construct by the English) and repealed the Reformation legislation. She was resisted and faced armed confrontation by Protestant nobles and commoners. Her alliance with Spain was seen as counter to English interests. She did not succumb to Catholic advisers who suggested she murder her half sister Elizabeth, who succeeded her.


Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

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The coin: 6d, 3rd issue, ermine mint mark, 1573, 25mm. Obv: ELIZABETH. D.G.ANG:FR:ET:HI:REGINA, portrait left. Rev: POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper), center shield surmounted by date 1573. S:2562, C:E16D-015. The contemporary French kings were Henri II,  Francis II, Charles IX, Henri III and Henri IV.


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The coin 2: Shilling, 31mm. Obv: ELIZABETH D.G. ANG.FRA. ET.HI.REGINA, crowned portrait left. Rew:  POSVI DEVM ADJUTOREM MEVM (I have made God my helper), shield quartered by long cross. S:2572, C:E1SH-040/45.
The queen: Elizabeth was daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and born in 1533 at Greenwich. She became queen in 1558 and reigned until her death in 1603. She never married, died childless and was the last of the Tudors.
The times: Protestantism was reestablished, but constantly threatened, with much of the intrigue centered around Catholic Mary of Scotland (former wife of Francis II of France) and Catholic agents coming over from the continent. Elizabeth faced a French-Scottish alliance, and ultimately an invasion threat from Spain, ended with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. This age also witnessed the height of the English Renaissance and the move to England as a stronger player on the European political stage.

James 1 (House of Stuart , 1603-25)

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The coin: Shilling, second coinage, 1607 (grape cluster), 4th bust, 30mm. Obv: IACOBUS DG. ANG SCO FRA ET HIB, bust right, XII to left of head. Rev: QUAE DEUS CONIUNXIT NEMO SEPARET (What God has joined together let no man separate), central shield. Additional coins on the Stuart page. The contemporary French kings were Henri IV  and Louis XIII.
The king: James was born in 1566 in Edinburgh Castle. He was third cousin of Elizabeth and son of Mary Queen of Scots. He traced his English lineage back to Margaret, daughter of Henry VII. He was James VI of Scotland when he became James I of England, in 1603. He married Anne of Denmark and Norway in 1589 and they had nine children. He died in 1625. A lasting contribution was his authorization of the King James version of the bible.
The times: Uniting the crowns of England and Scotland greatly enhanced English security. Stress was internal, between a king claiming ‘divine right' and a Parliament claiming the rule of law. Judges claimed the right to arbitrate this dispute, counter to the interests of the king, but reinforcing the rule of law. During this reign the Mayflower landed in Plymouth and North America was opened for British colonization.

Charles 1 (1625:49)

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The coin: Shilling, 1633-4, portcullis, Tower mint, 31mm. Obv: CAROLVS D:G:MA:BR:FR:ET:HI:REX, portrait left. Rev: CHRISTO AVS|PICE REGNO (I reign under the auspices of Christ), center is a quartered shield. S:2693, C:C1SH-050. The contemporary French kings were Louis XIII and Louis XIV.
The king: Charles was born in Scotland in 1600. He became king of England in 1625, on his father James' death. He married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henri IV of France, in 1625 and they had nine children. Charles was condemned to death by Parliament after the civil war and executed outside Inigo Jones' Banqueting House  in 1649.
The times: Charles had to deal with an increasingly assertive Parliament, and fought the erosion of royal privilege. His appearance in Commons to arrest several members in 1642 triggered resistance, and ultimately, civil war. Royalists were strongest in the north and west, Parliamentarians in London and the south. By 1646 Parliament prevailed on the battlefield, and subsequently Cromwell ended up Dictator in England. Charles, in captivity, was finally executed in London, ushering in an interregnum of Republicanism.

Cromwell

Charles 11 (1660-85)

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The coin 1: 4p, 1679, earliest milled coin in the collection, 20mm. Obv: CAROLVS II | DEI GRATIA, portrait right. Rev: 16|79 MAG.BR.FRA.ET.HIB.REX, with central design, topped by crown, with symbols, including lis, in each quadrant. S:3384, C:C24MM-130. The contemporary French king was Louis XIV.


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The coin 2: 3p 1660-62, latest hammered coin in the collection, 19. Obv: CAROLUS II DG.MAG BRI F ET H. Rev: CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO (I reign under the auspices of Christ). S:3325, C:C23DH-005.
The king: Charles was born in St. James Palace, London, in 1630. He spent time in exile during the Republic, and returned as king (1660) after Cromwell's death. He married Katherine Henrietta of Portugal and had no live children (3 stillborn). He died in 1685.
The times: The civil war permanently changed the nature of English politics, and with the restoration came the recognition of the power of the House of Commons and the dominance of common law over kingly prerogative. Perhaps in consolation, Charles lived a licentious life. During his reign the great plague ravaged London (1665), the great fire of London occurred (1666), and England was embroiled in a war with the Dutch - a powerful trading and maritime nation in that century. The French were on and off enemies and allies (against the Dutch). England gained New York, and France, under Louis XIV, became dominant on the continent.

James 11 (1685-88)

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The coin: 4 pence, 1687, 19mm. Obv: IACOBVS.II | DEI GRATIA, portrait left. Rev: MAG.BR.FRA.ET.HIB.REX 1687, large crown surmounting four large ‘I's. S:3414, C:J24M-015/20. The contemporary French king was Louis XIV.
The king: James was born in 1633 at St. James's Palace in London. He was married two times, first to Anne of Clarendon, with whom he had 8 children, and then to Mary of Modena, with whom he had 11 children, 5 of them stillborn. He had very strong Catholic sympathies, and was a convert. This caused internal conflict, and he abdicated in 1688. He died in France in 1701.
The times: James's short reign was spent in conflict over the threats to Protestantism due to his Catholicism. The English resented the influence of Catholic Louis XIV, and conflict with a Protestant nation (Holland) with a Catholic ally. It was more than he could survive and he fled to France. He was deposed by Parliament in 1688.


William and Mary (1689-94)

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The coin: Half crown,  1689, 33mm. Obv: GVLIELMVS.ET. | MARIA.DEI/GRATIS, double portraits facing right. Rev: MAG.BR.FR.ET.HIB.REX.ET.REGINA 1698, large crown surmounting quartered shield. S:3434, first shields, C:WMHC-015/20. The contemporary French king was Louis XIV.
The queen: Mary was daughter of James II by his first wife. She was born in London in 1662 and became queen in 1689. She married William of Orange and they had three stillborn children. Mary died of smallpox in 1694.
The times: This reign brought Protestantism firmly and irrevocably to the throne. William arrived in force from Holland to support the Protestant cause and King James, though with a strong army, found himself deserted by his supposed allies. James fled, was captured, and then allowed to escape to France.

William 111 (1692-1702)

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The coin: Shilling, 1697, 25mm. Obv: GVLIELMVS | III DEI.GRA, PORTRAIT RIGHT. Rev: MAG BR FRA ET HIB REX 1697, four shields facing outwards. S:3505 third bust, C:W3SH-010/140. The contemporary French king was Louis XIV
The king: William succeeded Mary and ruled as William III until his death in 1702.
The times: England, allied with Holland, entered a period of sustained war with France. The English ultimately established supremacy at sea, fought on the continent and were involved in the war of Spanish succession. On James' death, Louis XIV recognized James' son as rightful king of England, keeping alive Jacobite hopes, and abrogated a treaty whereby he earlier agreed to recognize William III. This set the stage for continual conflict.

Anne  (1702-14)

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The coin: Shilling, 1711, 25mm. Obv: ANNA DEI | GRATIA, portrait left. Rev: MAG BRI.FRET.HIB REG 1711, four shields facing outwards. S:3610, C:ASH-185/90, reverse for this 1711 is not in C. The contemporary French king was Louis XIV.
The queen: Anne was sister of Mary and daughter of James II. She was born in London in 1665 and came to the throne in 1702. She married George of Denmark and conceived 18 times, although none of her children outlived her. With her death in 1714 died the Stuart line.
The times: England, led in war by Marlborough, fought with France, and enjoyed success such as its victory at Blenheim and Ramillies. The Treaty of Utrecht gained England advantages at home (recognition of Protestant succession), secure borders for her Dutch ally, and territories in the new world. England emerged as a major European power, capable of containing the French.

George 1 of Hanover (1714-27)

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The coin 1: 4P 1727, 19mm. Obv: GEORGIVS DEI GRA, bust right. Rev: MAG BRI FR ET HIB REX 1727, large 4 surmounted by a crown. S:3658, C:G14d-020. This coin was found near Salisbury in Maryland.  The contemporary French kings were Louis XIV  and Louis XV.


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The coin 2: Halfpenny,  1718, 26mm. Obv: GEORGIVS REX, portrait right. Rev: BRITAN | NIA 1718, seated Britannia left. S:3659, C:G11HD-025.
The king: George was third cousin to Anne and traced his claim to the throne back to James I. He was the closest Protestant heir, and a true foreigner to England. He was born in Hanover and was naturalized a British citizen in 1705. He married Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Luneberg-Celle in 1682. They had two children and George died in 1727 in Hanover.
The times: By this time it is clear (as it was with Charles II) that kings held their position by grant of Parliament. They reigned but did not rule, and increasingly any pretense of such faded over the course of the 18th century. George's allegiance to the British throne was often seen as secondary to his interest in Hanover and European politics, reenforced by the fact he was not an English speaker. Domestically, England experienced financial speculation and witnessed the growth and popping of the South Seas bubble in 1720.

George 11 (1727-60)

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The coin: Shilling, 1758, 35mm. Obv: GEORGIVS  II DEI GRATIA, bust left. Rev: M B F ET H REX F D ET, four crowned cuniform shields. Additional coins on the Hanover page. S:3711 1758, C:G2SH-170. The contemporary French king was Louis XV.
The king: George II, son of George I, was born in Hanover in 1683. He was naturalized the same year as his father, 1705. He married Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1705 and they had eight children. He died in London in 1760.
The times: England became embroiled in the war of Austrian succession, allied with Maria-Theresa of Austria against a Prussian (Frederick the Great)-French alliance. George II joined a continental campaign, the last English monarch to do so. At home, the Industrial Revolution laid the seeds of British economic power in the next century.

George 111 (1760-1820)

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The coin: Shilling 1817, 24mm. Obv: GEOR:III D.G:| BRITT:REX F.D 1817, portrait right, obverse 4. Rev: HONI SOIT Q MAL Y PENSE(Evil to him who thinks evil - motto of the Order of the Garter), central crest with four quadrants. Additional coins on the Hanover page. S3790, C:G3SH-110. The contemporary French kings were Louis XV and Louis XVI.
The king: George III was the first English born (1738 in London) Hanoverian king. He was the grandson of George II. He married (perhaps bigamously) Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761 and they had 15 children who survived childbirth. He died in 1820, but his health failed earlier and his son George acted as Prince Regent after 1811.
The times: This reign witnessed profound changes in the western world. The French revolution in 1789 set the stage for the (temporary) end of French monarchy. Napoleon emerged as a reviver of French power on the continent which led to more than a decade of conflict, ending only with Waterloo. The American colonies gained their independence, Enlightenment ideas swept European society and the Industrial Revolution was transforming Britain, creating huge wealth, solidifying a global empire and creating new class stresses on the Island.

George 1V (1820-30)

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The coin: 1 shilling, 1826, 26mm. Obv: GEORGIUS IV | DEI GRATIA, 1826, bust left. Rev: BRITTANNIARUS REX FEDEI DEFENSOR, center lion on crown. S:3815.
The king: He was born in London in 1762. He married twice, the first time to Maria Anne (1785), in a marriage not recognized as legal under British law. There were no children from this union. He then married Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel in 1795. It was not a happy marriage, and they had one daughter. George died at Windsor Castle in 1830.
The times: England enjoyed peace abroad and prosperity at home. Industrialism was quickening the pace of urbanization and midland cities such as Birmingham and Manchester were becoming industrial magnets. John Nash was redesigning the West End of London, cutting Regent Street and creating Regents Park. The monarchy had been restored in France and Charles X was on the throne, but, as in England, in a weakened sense of kingship.

William 1V (1830-37)

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The coin: 6P, 19 mm. Obv: GVLLELMVS IIII DG | BRITANNIAR REX F D, bust right. Rev: SIX PENCE surmounted by crown, within wreath. 1834 at bottom. S 3836; C:W46D-030.
The king: William was son of George III and brother of George IV. He was born at Buckingham Palace in 1765. He too took a German wife, Adelaide Louisa of Saxe-Meiningen, and they were unsuccessful in having a child that lived more than one year. He died at Windsor in 1837.
The times: This relatively short reign was a time of reform at home and abroad. Whig interests came to dominate Parliament and the right to vote was extended beyond the traditional property owning classes. The Poor Laws were reformed, among other things facilitating the mobility of labor. In France, the July Revolution (1830) overthrew Charles X, ending the Bourbon dynasty, and bringing Louis Philippe, the "Citizen King," to the throne.

Victoria (1837-1901)

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The coin: Half sovereign (gold) 1892, 19mm. Obv: VICTORIA | DEI GRATIA, portrait left. Rev: BRITANNIARUM | REGINA FID:DEF 1892, quartered shield surmounted by crown.  S:3869d?, C:VJHS-330.
The queen: Victoria was born in 1819 in London. She succeeded her uncle William IV, and came to the throne in 1837. In 1840 she married Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. They had nine children. She died after a 64 year reign in 1901, ending the rule of the House of Hanover.
The times: This was the age of Pax Britannica, a time of British military and commercial dominance. Europe was generally free of conflict, at least on the global scale as during the Napoleonic wars, and English industrial power was unchallenged. This industrial power was celebrated in the Great Exhibition at the Crystal palace in 1851.  England had a global empire and lived by manufacturing and trade. In Europe, Germany became a modern unified nation state and growing European power.

Edward V11 (1901-10)

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The coin: Sixpence, 1907, 19mm. Obv: EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX, portrait right. Rev: central  SIX PENCE 1907, with wreath topped by crown. Additional coin on the Hanover  page. S3983, C:E76D-035.
The king: Son of Victoria, he was born in 1841 (Buckingham Place). He married Alexandra of Denmark, breaking the German mate tradition dating to George I. They had six children. He was of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Windsor. He died in 1910, at Buckingham Palace.
The times: The stresses of Pax Britannica became apparent and England was challenged on the global stage. A strengthening Germany emerged as major European player, offering potential military challenges. Industrialism spread and the United States emerged as a growing economic power. Britain was on the threshold of losing the world dominance she enjoyed for the better part of the 19th century.

George V: House of Windsor (1910-36)

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The coin: 1 Shilling, 1928, 23mm. Obv: GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX, portrait left. Rev: FID DEF IND IMP ONE SHILLING. S:4039, C:G5SH-125.
The coin: One penny, 1914. Obv: GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:BRITT:|OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP:, bearded portrait left. Rev: ONE | PENNY 1914, seated Britania. S:4051, C:G51D-025..
The king: George was born in 1865 in London. He married Mary of Teck (a great grand daughter of George III) and they had six children. George anglicized family names and titles and renamed his lineage the House of Windsor.
The time: This was a hard time for Britain and the world at large. England was a major participant in the First World War, allied with France, the US and others against a German-Austrian led alliance. War ended victoriously for the British alliance, but resulted in a significant shift of global power, bringing the US to the world stage in a major way. Russia witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution, bringing threats of communism to the forefront of concern among the western democracies. The reign ended during a global depression.

Edward Vlll reigned 1936, coins rare to non-existant

George V1 (1936-52)

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The coin: Two shillings (florin), 1951, 28mm. Obv: GEORGVS VI D;|G:BR:OMN:REX, portrait left. Rev: :FID:+:DEF: TWO SHILLINGS 1951, crown on central design, braketed by G R. S:4107, C:G6FL-155.
The king: He is a son of George V and was born in 1895 in Norfolk. He came to the throne in 1936 when his brother abdicated, to marry for love a divorced commoner. George married Elizabeth and they had two daughters. He died in 1952 in Norfolk and was buried at Windsor.
The times: His reign started during the Depression and continued through WWII. He and his family stayed in London during the blitz, endearing themselves to Londoners and being a pillar of strength for the English during their ‘darkest hour.' After the war the British empire began to unravel, with India gaining independence in 1947, and continuing through the 1950s and 1960s as other colonies gained independence.

Elizabeth 11 (1952-   )

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The coin: Two pounds, 1989, 28mm. Obv: ELIZABETH.II.DEI. | GRATIA.REGINA.F.D. TWO POUNDS, crowned portrait right. Rev: TRICENTENIARY OF | THE BILL OF RIGHTS, crown on horizonal mace, dated 1989 under 1689. S:4312.
The queen: "By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, and of Her other Realms and Territories,, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith." She is the daughter of George VI and was born in London in 1926. She married Philip of Greece and Denmark, and they have four children.