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GM24405

Henry VI Halfpenny, Annulet issue, Calais Mint, annulets by neck

Regular price £325
Regular price Sale price £325

Henry VI, first reign (1422-61), silver Halfpenny, annulet issue (1422-30), Calais Mint, facing crowned portrait, annulet either side of crown, beaded circles and legend surrounding, initial mark plain cross, hEnRIC'x REXxx AnGL', rev. long cross pattee, trio of pellets in each angle, annulet at centre of two opposing trios, VIL LA CAL SIE, weight 0.38g (Withers A.3/a; N.1435; S.1849). Dark tone, some ghosting of reverse cross onto obverse, otherwise a bold very fine.

The Latin legends translate as "Henry, King of the English" on the obverse, and on the reverse "Town of Calais."

Henry was born on the 6th December 1421 and became the infant King of England, the youngest person ever, on the 1st September 1422 and after the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI on 21st October 1422, the disputed King of France which he reigned over until 19th October 1453. Henry is the only King in British history to be also crowned King of France, his English coronation being on 6th November 1429 at the age of 8 and the French coronation at Notre Dame, Paris on 16th December 1431 age 10. The early part of his reign was governed by a Regency Council of eighteen led by his uncle John Duke of Bedford, but dominated by his uncle Humphrey Duke of Gloucester (who became Lord Protector) and Bishop Henry Beaufort. Having inherited the War in France from his Father, this council soon became split and by 1429 with the rise of a resurgent French army led by Joan of Arc, and the crowning of the Dauphin as Charles VII at Reims and with the French gaining the upper hand, a peace party emerged under the now Cardinal Beaufort, as war was such a drain on resources. A further blow was the loss of the support of Burgundy upon the death of Anne of Burgundy, the former wife of John Duke of Bedford, in 1432 and his subsequent marriage to Jacquetta of Luxembourg. A conference was arranged at Arras in 1435 but the Duke of Bedford died just before it took place, and his replacement Richard Duke of York did not favour the peace policy. By the time Henry came of age at 16 and was crowned again at Merton Priory on 1st November 1437, he entered the fray at the worst time possible with rivalries amongst the council of nobles, massive war debts leading to the economic "great Slump" in England and coupled with a lack of leadership in the French territories, which were slowly becoming French again to the extent that Henry was left with only Calais as of 1453, having lost the Duchy of Aquitaine in 1451 and Bordeaux, despite having married the strong willed Margaret of Anjou in 1445 in an attempt at brokering peace. Margaret became more of a power behind the throne, and they had one son Edward of Lancaster on 13th October 1453. Discontent in England was growing not helped by Henry suffering episodes of mental breakdown, the Duke of York returned from Ireland in 1452 to take his place on council to put an end to bad government, but through the intervention of Margaret the Duke was isolated and it was when King Henry regained his senses around Christmas of 1454 that the Wars of the Roses gained momentum. Earls Warwick and Salisbury backed the Duke of York claiming his better ascendency from Edward III should give him control of government, and later from 1460 as King. Tensions continued between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists and Henry created the Council of Wales and the Marches for his son Edward in 1458, but by 1460 all out war broke out, with the Battle of Northampton on 10th July of that year capturing Henry, though Margaret escaped to Scotland with Prince Edward to recoup and gain support there, which led to the Battle of Wakefield on 30th December 1460 when York fell. This led on to the Battle of St Albans on 17th February 1461 where Warwick the captor of the King was defeated liberating Henry. The next engagement was the violent Battle of Towton on 29th March 1461 where the King and Queen were defeated by the Duke of York's son Edward, escaping to Scotland again to gain more support, with Margaret travelling on to France to encourage even more. Despite further unsuccessful skirmishes in succeeding years in the north of England it was after the Battle of Hexham on 15th May 1464 that the now fugitive King Henry was captured on 13th July 1464 and sent to the Tower of London. Queen Margaret was determined to win back the throne for her husband, and after Edward IV fell out with his younger brother George Duke of Clarence and Richard Neville Earl of Warwick, she formed a secret alliance with them urged by Louis XI of France. The Earl of Warwick married his daughter Anne to Margaret and Henry's son Edward, and then forced Edward into exile and restored Henry VI to the throne on 3rd October 1470 as the "readeption" though Warwick and Clarence effectively ruled in Henry's name. The rulership only lasted six months as Warwick declared war on Burgundy causing Charles the Bold to support and give assistance to Edward IV, killing Warwick at the Battle of Barnet on 14th April 1471, reconciling with the Duke of Clarence, and directly leading to the decisive Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471, where Henry's son Edward of Westminster was killed. Henry was imprisoned in the tower and was dead by the 21st May 1471. He was buried at Chertsey Abbey, later moved by order of Richard III to St George's Chapel Windsor.

Calais in north western France is at the closest point to mainland England only 21 miles away, overlooking the Strait of Dover and has always been a major port since medieval times. The town came under English control from 1347 when Edward III captured the city and was officially assigned to English rule from 1360 and became a thriving centre for exchange and production for the English wool trade. Other commodities traded at this gateway to Europe were tin, lead and lace and Calais was the Staple of these trades. An English mint was first opened there under Edward III to help with trade and gold Nobles, silver Groats and their fractions were made here and varying times of boom or bust over the next eighty years into the reign of Henry VI who was also true King of France till 1453. The town remained an English possession until it was finally lost to the French in the reign of Mary Tudor in 1558.

Provenance:

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

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