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GM24310

Stephen Penny, cross moline Watford type, Hastings Mint, Moneyer Sawine

Stephen (1135-54), silver Penny, cross moline Watford type (c.1136-45), Hastings Mint, Moneyer Sawine, crowned bust with sceptre right, legend and beaded border surrounding, STIEFNE R--, rev. cross moline, lis in each angle, legend and beaded border surrounding, +SAP-------ST:, weight 1.46g (BMC type I 34-36; N.873; S.1278). With a clear head and upper half to the obverse, well centred, striking weakness to one portion as usual, legends not all visible, otherwise good very fine for issue.

The legends on King Stephen pennies are always difficult to decipher, the obverse usually translates as "Stephen King" and the reverse gives the moneyer name "Sawine of Hastings"

North records up to four moneyers working at Hastings for Stephen across four types.

The reign of Stephen is perhaps one of the most interesting numismatically as England descends towards Civil War in the latter part of the reign, with an increasing volume in types of coinage with many poorly struck as allegiances to the King, the Empress or the various noblemen wax and wane. The first so-called Watford type is the most abundant due to the fact that a major hoard of this type turned up in the Watford area in Victorian times, rather than something describing the design, but a well struck piece is hard to find.

Often referred to as Stephen of Blois he was born in either 1092 or 1096 he was a younger son of Stephen-Henry the Count of Blois who died whilst Stephen was young, he subsequently being raised by his mother Adela the daughter of William the Conqueror. He was placed into the English court of his uncle Henry Beauclerc, where he rose in prominence and was granted extensive lands, he became Count of Boulogne by his marriage in 1125 to Matilda inheriting estates there and in Kent making the couple one of the wealthiest in England. He had earlier escaped drowning in the White Ship disaster of 1120 which claimed the life of William Aethling the son of Henry I leaving some doubt over the succession to the English throne despite Henry nominating his daughter Matilda as heir. Later, upon the news of Henry's passing on 1st December 1135, Stephen immediately crossed over the English Channel and with the help of his brother Henry Bishop of Winchester and Abbot of Glastonbury he took the throne declaring the preservation of order across the Kingdom took priority over any earlier oaths to support his cousin Empress Matilda. His early years were successful ones despite some attacks in the north from David I of Scotland, from Welsh rebels in the west and from Empress Matilda's husband Geoffrey from the east. In 1138 Robert of Gloucester the half-brother of Empress Matilda rebelled threatening civil war. Stephen fiercely defended his rule with support from Waleran de Beaumont, arresting a group of bishops. However, in 1139 when the Empress and Robert of Gloucester invaded Stephen was unable to crush the revolt with them taking hold of the south-west of England. Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, lost Normandy and abandoned by many of his followers, but was subsequently released after his wife Matilda with William of Ypres captured Robert at the Rout of Winchester, but the civil war continued to drag on unabated. Stephen wanted his son Eustace to succeed him and tried to convince the church to crown Eustace in advance, but Pope Eugene III refused causing disruption within the clergy. In 1153 Empress Matilda's son Henry invaded building a powerful alliance of barons to support him for the throne. The armies met at Wallingford with neither side keen to fight and negotiations began to find peace hastened by the sudden death of Eustace on the 17th August at Bury St Edmunds, and resulting in the Treaty of Winchester where Stephen recognized Henry as heir. Stephen passed away on 25th October 1154 from a stomach disease whilst at Dover and is buried at Faversham Abbey.

The Cinque Port of Hastings on the East Sussex coast is mentioned in the Burghal Hidage and was first overrun by the Danes in 1011. Most famously known for the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror actually landed at Pevensey a few miles down the coast and marched to Hastings where he first built a stockade. The battlefield where he defeated Harold Godwinson is actually just over 5 miles inland at the town of Battle and the stockade was later fortified as a stone built castle. Minting activity occurs from the reign of Aethelred II through to King Stephen.

Provenance:

Ex Dix Noonan and Webb, Auction 92, 21st June 2011, lot 82.

Ex Sovereign Rarities, purchased 2019.

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

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