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GM25190

Henry VIII Halfpenny, Second coinage, London Mint, mm. arrow

Regular price £350
Regular price Sale price £350

Henry VIII (1509-47), silver Halfpenny, London Mint, second coinage (1526-44), small facing crowned portrait, beaded circles and legend surrounding, initial mark arrow (1532-43), h'xD'x G'x ROSA'x SIE'x SPIA'x, rev. long cross pattee, trio of pellets in each angle, CIVI TASx xLON DON, weight 0.26g (Withers 1D/f; N.1815; S.2356). Toned, well centred, a little weakly struck in parts otherwise about very fine and rare.

The abbreviated Latin legends translate as on the obverse "Henry, by the Grace of God, a rose without a thorn" and on the reverse "City of London."

Henry was born on the 28th June 1491 to Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York as the second eldest son some 4 ½ years the junior of his elder brother Arthur. Arthur was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon and they married in 1501, however within six months the elder brother was dead from a "sweating sickness" which his wife survived and after claimed the marriage was never consummated. Henry Tudor considered briefly marrying Catherine of Aragon himself not long after the death of his own wife in 1503, but she was eventually destined for young Henry. Interestingly she was the first ever recorded female ambassador in European history when she was appointed in 1507 for the Aragonese crown. Henry ascended the throne as a single man after the death of his father from tuberculosis on 22nd April 1509 and soon married Catherine on the 11th June just two weeks before the Coronation on the 24th June 1509. This was the first marriage of six which Henry experienced throughout a relatively long reign, which spawned the popular memory rhyme to remember his marriages by "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived" in reference to Catherine of Aragon (1509-33), Anne Boleyn (1533-36), Jane Seymour (1536-37), Anne of Cleaves (1540), Catherine Howard (1540-42) and Catherine Parr (1543 until his death). The eternal quest for an heir apparent had much to do with the multiple marriages as Catherine bore Henry only one surviving daughter Mary Tudor, though she had two stillborn sons and two stillborn daughters as well as one son Henry who survived only 52 days. From 1525 Henry began to lose interest in Catherine as Anne Boleyn had taken his eye at court, and this led eventually to the annulment of the Royal marriage and the ex-communication of Henry VIII by Pope Clement VII over this matter. This led to Henry initiating the English Reformation and separating his new Church of England from the Papacy with him as Supreme Head ushering in the divine right of Kings, and dissolving convents and monasteries as well as confiscating lands and wealth. What was usually paid to Rome now became Royal revenue, though Henry was an extravagant spender personally as well as involved in costly and largely unsuccessful wars with summit meetings such as that at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520. Henry is also known as the Father of the Royal Navy having invested heavily building up to more than 50 ships. The Mary Rose launched 1511 being one of the key ships of the reign, which sunk in the Solent whilst leading an attack on a French invasion fleet on 19th July 1545, and the surviving portion of hull later successfully raised on the 11th October 1982.

Henry would often remove opponents by charging them with treason leading to execution and he relied on a network of ministers such as Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich and Thomas Cranmer, some of whom also later fell from favour and were banished or executed. One person who did fall foul of Henry was second wife Anne Boleyn whom he had formally married on 25th January 1533 after a secret wedding on 14th November 1532 and she was crowned Queen on 1st June 1533. Anne gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth on 7th September 1533 and Henry was disappointed having hoped for a son. However, three miscarriages followed and by 1536 Henry's eye had turned to Jane Seymour. Henry had Anne investigated for treason and on 2nd May 1536 she was arrested, subsequently tried, convicted and then beheaded on 19th May 1536.

Henry married Jane Seymour on 30th May 1536 and was delighted that she gave birth to a son Edward on 12th October 1537, however post-natal illness occurred killing Jane on 24th October and she was given a Queen's funeral on 12th November, and is with whom Henry is buried at St George's Chapel Windsor.

A grieving Henry went on to marry Anne of Cleves next as more a political alliance with her brother William a leader of the Protestants in Western Germany. Anne arrived on 27th December 1539 and married Henry on 6th January 1540, however their marriage was annulled after six months as unconsummated, and she was never crowned Queen, and actually given a generous settlement by Henry and lived on as "the King's Beloved Sister" to see the reigns of Edward VI and Mary Tudor dying on 3rd August 1557.

Henry's eye had again been captured, this time by Catherine Howard living in the household of Anne. Henry now aged 49 married the teenage Catherine on 28th July 1540 at Oatlands Place in Surrey 19 days after annulment with Anne and the day Thomas Cromwell was executed. However, the marriage did not last long as by Spring the following year it was alleged she was seeing Thomas Culpeper one of Henry's favourite courtiers, leading to an investigation led by Thomas Cranmer, with the added insinuation of her having a pre marriage contract with Lord Dereham, and then being stripped of her title as Queen on 23rd November 1541 and imprisoned through the Winter at Syon Abbey. Culpeper was beheaded at Tyburn on 10th December 1541 and Dereham hung, drawn and quartered. Catherine remained in limbo until a bill of attainder made it treason on 7th February 1542 for a Queen not to have disclosed her sexual history to the King within twenty days of marriage, and on this basis she was shipped to the Tower through Traitors Gate and was executed on Monday 13th February 1542, just before Lady Rochford who had been an informant.

Finally, Henry married the already twice widowed Catherine Parr on 12th July 1543 and she outlived the King who was by now elderly and suffering from an old injury from his jousting days of 1536, infecting his leg and not helped by his enormous diet which also lacked vitamin C. Catherine had no children with either of her first three husbands and died a mere 20 months after Henry having married a fourth time to Thomas the first Baron Seymour of Sudelely succumbing to complications of childbirth aged 36.

Other achievements of Henry VIII's reign were the legal unification of Wales and England as well as the Crown of Ireland Act of 1542 making Henry King of Ireland rather than Lord. The change of titles from Lord to King appearing on all coinage, and Henry's reign being an interesting phase of history with one of the earliest dated coins issued in his name though in a French format in the French town of Tournai which he took over in 1513. Some rare issues of the later Irish groats carry a regnal year in the legend of either 37 or 38 translating to the dates 1545 or 1546 too. The magnificent gold coinages continued but gradually the coinage was debased at the twilight of his reign and with the issue of more base silver Testoons Henry was nicknamed "old coppernose" by the populace as the base nature of his portrait coin would show inferior underlying metal on the high point of the nose first, from attrition and wear. The debased coinage was a problem that his son Edward would inherit and mostly solve by the end of his relatively short reign. Henry died at the age of 55 on 28th January 1547 at the Palace of Whitehall.

Capital City London upon the River Thames following Roman occupation, minted some of the earliest Saxon coins with gold Thrymsas and silver denarii with a "Londuniu" signature. Mercian Kings beginning with Offa minted coins there, but the first coin to actually say City of London upon it is the unique Ludica portrait Penny that was found in 2016, followed by subsequent coins of Ecgberht. In 871 the Danes wintered in London for the first time but was King Alfred of Wessex who settled and fortified the capital circa 880 to resist further invasions. Edward the Elder incorporated the City in Wessex in 911 and it resisted a major attack in the reign of Aethelred II in 1009. However, London submitted to the Danish Swein in 1013, but three years later the citizens accepted Eadmund Ironside as King and resisted a siege by Canute.

Later unsettled times occurred in the anarchy period of the reign of King Stephen, remaining loyal to the King except for a few months in 1141 when Empress Matilda was admitted but within a short time expelled. Coinage activity here has been mostly constant throughout history from the Romans until the reign of our current Queen and only moving out to Wales from 1969.

Provenance:

Ex Ian Davisson, Durham, 2001.

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

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