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GM24230

Canute Penny, Quatrefoil type, Thetford Mint, Moneyer Waelgist

Canute (1016-35), silver quatrefoil Penny (c.1017-25), Thetford Mint, Moneyer Waelgist, diademed and draped bust left within quatrefoil, legend surrounding commences at lower left, +CNVT REX ANGLOR, rev. pellet at centre of voided long cross, over quatrefoil with pellet cusps, legend surrounding, +PE. LSI T MO ÐEO, weight 1.01g (SCBI Copenhagen 15:3859; BMC type VIII; N.785; S.1157). Lightly toned, weak in parts with a good portrait, a bold very fine.

The legends translate as "Canute King of the English" on obverse and on the reverse "Waelgist of Thetford."

This coin is of the Thetford C style, as defined by Blackburn and Lyon in their article "Regional Die Production in Cnut's Quatrefoil Issue." These dies were therefore cut at Thetford. 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. Thetford operated with up to 28 moneyers in this reign through four types.

Canute could have been as young as 21 when he ascended the English throne after the 28th November 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 12th November 1035.

Thetford town on the Little Ouse is 14 miles north of Bury St Edmunds and was the capital of East Anglia and was thought to be the minting place of earlier Mercian issues and independent Kings though it could have been Ipswich. The Danes wintered here in 868/9 moving on to Reading in 870. Swein burnt Thetford in 1003 and again in 1010, the town later became the See of East Anglia circa 1072 but this was transferred to Norwich 1094/5. Minting activity occurs from the reign of Edgard until Henry II.

Provenance:

Probably ex Cambridge Hoard circa 1992.

Ex Lockdales, Suffolk, Auction 175, 28th March 2020, lot 1529.

Ex Collection of an English Doctor part II, Sovereign Rarities fixed price list online May 2022.

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