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GM23677

Aethelred II, Penny, helmet type, Leicester Mint, moneyer Thurulf, bold style

Aethelred II (978-1016),silver Penny, helmet type (c.1003-1009), Leicester Mint, Moneyer Thurulf, armoured bust in helmet left, legend commences lower left with toothed border surrounding, +EÐELRED REX A,rev.pellet at centre of long voided cross with tri-crescent terminals, angles with tri-pellet topped piles, +ÐV: RVL. F MO LEH, weight 1.56g (BMC V; BEH -; SCBI 27;1729 Lincolnshire; N.775; S.1152).Toned with a bold engraving, extremely fine and very rare type for the mint.

North lists 73 named mints in operation during the reign of Aethelred II with a further 14 unallocated. According to North Leicester operates with nine moneyers in all types except first small cross and benediction hand.

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.

Leicester is situated on the River Soar a tributary of the Trent some 30 miles north west of Northampton. In 737 a holy See was established and a Viking army later occupied the town circa 877 and became one of the Five Boroughs. In 918 Aethelflaed Lady of the Mercians negotiated possession without fighting with most of the local army submitting to her. In 940 the army of Anlaf Guthfrithson me the army of Eadmund here and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York arranged a treaty giving territory including Leicester to Anlaf. Later in history the body of King Richard III having been discovered under a modern car park was interred at Leicester Cathedral on the 26th March 2015.

The legends translate as "Aethelred King of the English" on obverse and "Thurulf of Leicester" on the reverse.

Provenance:

Purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, 3rd March 2020.

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

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