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Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Purge of Moneyers

I've been asked on a number of occasions when and what was the purge of the moneyers, so I thought I'd give you a brief summary of what happened.

In 1124 Henry I suspected his moneyers of mal practice and summonsed them all to court at Christmas of the same year. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, which tells the story and which is usually very sympathetic to the sufferings of the English on this occasion showed no pity 'for they had ruined the country for the magnitude of their fraud'. Roger, Bishop of Salisbury presided and punishment was that each moneyer was deprived of his right hand and testicles.

A number of them including a moneyer called Gillepatrick of  Pembroke were spared the ordeal  by paying a fine. This is documnted  in history as the sheriff of Pembrokeshire accounted for the revenues of the Henry I's new Welsh county in 1130, they included £2 from Gillepatrick, probably in part payment of a fine imposed to avoid corporal punishment in the Purge of Moneyers.

From the names of mints and moneyers on the surviving coins it appears that more than half of the fifty-one mints known to have produced type XIV were not operating during the issue of type XV

Henry I Penny

Their guilt is far from clear. Henry was in Normandy and the complaints of quality came from his troops because of condition of the coinage they were receiving for their salaries. Other reports suggest that the problem was down to the English climate with bad weather,poor crops, high prices and high mortality.

Documents from the time advise that the 'fullers of Winchester proffered a mark of gold that they were not required to perform this distasteful operation on their fellow professionals'.

So next time you are lucky enough to find a coin from early in the reign of Henry I have a thought for the moneyer.and what happened to him shortly after he'd minted your coin.

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