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GM23696

Aethelred II, Penny, small CRVX type, Rochester Mint, moneyer Eadsige

Aethelred II (978-1016),silver Penny, small CRVX type (c.991-997), Rochester Mint, Moneyer Edsige, draped bust left with sceptre, linear circle and legend surrounding, commences at top, +ÆÐELRÆD REX ANGLORX,rev.voided cross within linear circle, CRVX letters in consecutive angles, +EADSIGE M-O ROFE, weight 1.36g (BMC III, cf.302; BEH 1666; SCBI 7:1055-6 Copenhagen; N.770; S.1148).Toned, with some old soil deposit in legend, free of peck marks, good very fine and a scarce mint.

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

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 cathedral town of Rochester in Kent lies at the lowest bridging point of the River Medway some 30 miles south-east of the centre of the City of London. The first bridging of the Medway at Rochester dates back to late Roman times. The Diocese is the second oldest in Britain after Canterbury with a long line of Bishops dating back to its founding in 604 by St. Augustine, who consecrated St. Justus as the first Bishop. It has been claimed that Witmen type Anglo Saxon gold thrymsa coins may have been struck here. Rochester was one of the main mint towns in the ninth century and the Bishop seems to have been granted the privilege to coin in the reign of Ecgberht. In the laws of Aethelstan the Bishop of Rochester was allowed one moneyer whilst the King had two. The town suffered "great slaughter" by the Danes in 839 and was ravaged by Aethelred II in 986 just five to ten years before these coins depicting him was minted. Later the town was besieged in the rebellion of Bishop Odo in 1088 and was destroyed by fire in 1130. Rochester was besieged and taken by King John in 1215.

The legends translate as "Aethelred King of the English" on obverse and "Edsige of Rochester" on the reverse, the letters around the central cross mean "cross."

Provenance:

Purchased from A. H. Baldwin 2019.

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

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