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GM25811

Canute Penny, helmet type, Exeter Mint, moneyer Saewine

Canute (1016-35), silver helmet type Penny (1024-30), Exeter Mint, Moneyer Saewine, helmeted bust left with sceptre, legend surrounding commencing at top, CNVT R EX ANG, rev. pellet in double annulet at centre of voided short cross, broken annulet enclosing pellet in each angle, linear circles and legend surrounding, +SÆPINE: ON EXCEST:, weight 1.14g (SCBI Copenhagen 13:474; BMC type XIV; N.787; S.1158).Toned, fully round and well centred, good very fine with a nice mint reading.

The legends translate as "Canute King of the English" on obverse and on the reverse "Saewine of Exeter."

Despite Canute being essentially a Viking King from overseas, the coinages of England continued in a similar vein to those of Aethelred II, in that the types changed every six years, meaning there are three main types for this reign, of which the quatrefoil type was the first. According to North there were up to 74 mints in operation with perhaps four other enigmatic places that remain uncertain. North records 31 different moneyers working at Exeter in his reign through five types.

Canute could have been as young as 21 when he ascended the English throne after the 28thNovember 1016 upon the death of Edmund "Ironside" at Oxford. Though Edmund son of Aethelred II had a younger brother and two infant sons his advisers recognized Canute as successor. Though his birth date is not known, Canute was a commander in his Father's army from 1012, and at first had to settle a number of uprisings amongst the nobility and others, which he quelled by maintaining a large army and navy from heavy taxation. He kept Wessex at first for himself whilst dividing up other areas for regional government under trusted Danish allies. Canute had married Aelfgifu daughter of Ealdorman Aelfhelm of Northumbria, but set her aside to marry Aethelred's widow Emma in 1017 who had fled to Normandy, and this latter union helped maintain the political continuity and tradition of English Kingship. Harald of Denmark died childless in 1018 and Canute used his English troops and finance to extend power to Scandanvia making his infant son Harthacanute titular Governor and heir of Denmark. Canute attempted to invade Sweden, and actually took Norway in 1028 having had a pilgrimage to Rome the year before. Canute left his eldest son by Aelfgifu, Swein to rule Norway and was now the most powerful King of England ever at this time and is likely when the apocryphal story of him trying to vainly order the coastal tide to turn and retreat in front of his courtiers emerged. However, Norway was lost by 1034, Canute did not respond, and he passed away suddenly at Shaftesbury in his mid-forties on the 12thNovember 1035.

Exeter in Devon is situated on the River Exe and is first mentioned in the "Burghal Hidage" with the Danes retreating into the town in 875 and leaving two years later. Exeter was attached in 892 by a Northumbrian army and captured by the Britons in c.925. The town was betrayed by the Reeve to the Vikings in c.1003,it was only a few years later that this coin would have been minted.

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