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Monday, 7 November 2011

The History Of Tudor Coins

The Tudor monarchs included:


Henry VII 1485-1509
Henry VIII 1509-1547
Edward VI 1547-1553
Lady Jane Grey 1553-1553
Mary 1553-1558
Elizabeth I 1558-1603

During the medieval period the English economy was growing steadily.  The growth of towns and increased trade with the European mainland created a need for additional coinage, including the introduction of gold.  England's prosperity was largely based on animal husbandry and agriculture, with industries such as commerce and wool textiles.  The expanding economy of the period was hindered by the arrival of the Black Death, which caused a fifty percent drop in the population.  The Black Death affected more children and males than women, which led to disastrous consequences for the economic growth the region had been experiencing. With the end of the Black Death, economic recovery began leading to higher wages and prices, which further stimulated the demand for coinage.

This economic recovery did not last long.  Trade with the mainland decreased due to the wars led by English kings directed towards defending or increasing territorial possessions.  There continued to be occasional outbreaks of the plague and other illnesses.  This combined with war and a continued decline in the population left the economy in ruins by the accession of the Tudor monarchs, beginning in 1485 with Henry VII.  Henry's new economic policies proved to be very effective in increasing the wealth of the nation.  The fist coinage of Henry VII consisted of the groat, penny, half-groat, and half penny in silver with traditional he gold coins consisted of the ryal (ten shillings) the angel (six shillings and eight pence) and the half-angle (three shillings and fourpence). The gold coinage was scarce however.


Henry VII's major accomplishment in coinage was the introduction of a realistic profile of the king on the groat, half-groat, and the newly minted testoon.  The design of the penny was also changed at this time to portray the king on a throne, making it known as the sovereign penny.  The first coinage of Henry VII was basically identical to that of his father, but with the words HENRIC VII replacing the name of the prior king.  In 1526, the increasing value of gold led to an increase in the value of gold coinage.  To preserve the standard six shilling eight pence coin, the George noble was introduced which featured St. George slaying a dragon.  This coin and two additional coins, the half-George and the rose crown proved to be unpopular and were discontinued and replaced by the gold crown, worth five shillings and a half-crown.


In 1526 the silver groat and half-groat featured a portrayal of a young Henry VIII.  Beginning in 1544, the nations economy necessitated some major changes to the third coinage of Henry VIII.  The gold coinage was returned to its original values but reduced in weight to compensate for the difference.


The early coins of Edward VI were identical to the coins of his father until 1550 when Edward produced silver coins, which were the first to include a date, shown in Roman numerals.  In 1551 as part of a major reform, Edward's early coins were replaced with silver coins of higher quality, which bore the value of the coin Latin numerals.  This was the first instance of Latin numerals appearing on English coins.


Also as part of the reforms that were taking place within the kingdom, a gold sovereign was struck with the king enthroned with a subject facing him, but this coin was replaced soon with a lighter twenty-shilling coin featuring a three-quarter bust of Edward VI.  The high quality silver coins from 1551 forward included a crown and half-crown depicting the king on horseback.  This design continued until the Commonwealth.


Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed queen in 1553.  She was deposed nine days later and eventually executed in 1554.  There were no new coins struck in this period.


The coins struck by Mary are divided into 2 parts.  Initially Mary stuck coins in her own right and after her marriage to Phillip of Spain in 1554, new coins were issued.  The earliest issues include a gold sovereign valued at 30 shillings, angels and half-angels, and a ryal.  Silver coins in this period did not include shillings or half-crowns, but groats, pennies, and half-groats continued.  After 1554, sixpence and shillings were introduced bearing the likenesses of Mary and Phillip.


After the succession of Elizabeth, the low quality silver coins were recalled and replaced with silver coins of high quality.  Some of the base silver coins were countermarked and devalued, the coins of Edward VI included.  There were many changes to coinage during the reign of Elizabeth including the beginning of milled coins.  The gold coins of Elizabeth's era consisted of the sovereign, the pound and half-pound, the crown and the half-crown.  The silver coins from this time included the shilling, penny, groat, and half-groat.  Towards the end of Elizabeth's reign, halfpence coins were struck featuring a bust of the queen holding a scepter and an orb.

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