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GM23711

Aethelred II, Penny, first hand type, York Mint, moneyer Styrkarr

Aethelred II (978-1016), silver Penny, first hand type (c.979-985), York Mint, Moneyer Styrkarr, diademed bust right, Latin legend and linear circles surrounding, +ÆÐELRÆD REX ANGLO, the NG ligatured, rev. hand of Providence from straight clouds, A and hyphen to left, w and hyphen to right, Latin legend and linear circles surrounding, + ZTYR M-O EOFER, weight 1.43g (BMC IIb, p.201; SCBI 7:298 Copenhagen; BEH -; N.766; S.1144). Lightly toned, almost extremely fine.

North lists 73 named mints in operation during the reign of Aethelred II with a further 14 unallocated. According to North Worcester operates with 82 moneyers across all types with one extra partial name possible as an addition.

Though Aethelred enjoyed such a long reign he was known as "The Unready" literally meaning ill-counselled from a history of bad advice and decision making. Born circa 967 Aethelred was supported by his mother and partisans that were led by Earl Aelfhere of Mercia; ascending the throne at no more than 12 years of age after the murder of his Half-Brother Edward at Corfe. The influential Aelfhere having died in 983 meant Aethelred became more vulnerable, and the Vikings began to start their raids once again. Aethelred chose to pay off the raiders rather than resist, becoming known for giving such ransoms payments willingly. This meant many hundreds of thousands of coins ended up being taken to Scandanavia where they were hoarded and why much of the coinage that survives today often exhibits "peck marks" where the Viking bankers have inserted a knife point to make sure the metal quality was good. The harrying continued until Swein Forkebeard held a great swathe of England by 1013, and Aethelred was under threat in London retreating to the Isle of Wight. England submitted to Swein but he died suddenly on the 2nd February 1014 at Gainsborough giving Aethelred the advantage and driving the Vikings out. Canute the second son of Swein, returned to attack in 1015 and by early 1016 was marching on Mercia, Aethelred however passed away on 23rd April 1016 in London at around the age of 52 just as his second son Edmund was moving south to link up with the army. Edmund was elected King, but the army was his priority, and after winning a few battles suffered a defeat at Ashingdon on 18th October 1016. He retreated possibly wounded to West Mercia and negotiated a treaty giving him rule of Wessex. However, Edmund died in Oxford on the 30th November 1016 giving control to Canute.

The City of York at the junction of the River Foss and River Ouse, about 190 miles north west of London has been an archbishopric since 753 with some gold Thrymsa coins being produced. It was the early minting place of coins of the Kings of Northumbria in both copper and silver as well as the Archbishops of York. The mint name first appears on some of the occupational Viking coinages making the city their capital from 867. In 919 the city passed to the Hiberno-Norse Kings of Dublin and back to the English in 927 when taken from Guthfrith. Between 939 and 943 the Vikings were back in town and again from 947-954 but otherwise remained under English rule with the Norman castle even holding out to a Saxon/Danish occupation in 1069 being relieved by William I who built a second castle on the right bank of the Ouse, the City having been burnt. As soon as William departed the Vikings returned but upon William's return they fled back to their ships and the Normans harried Yorkshire.

The legends translate as "Aethelred King of the English" on obverse and "Styrkarr of York" on the reverse.

Provenance:

Ex Dr John Tooze Collection, Dix Noonan and Webb, Auction 163, 19th September 2019, lot 1026.

Ex Collection of an English Doctor, part one, Sovereign Rarities, London, March 2022.

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