Aethelred II, Penny, last small cross type, Norwich Mint, moneyer Leofwine


Aethelred II (978-1016), silver Penny, last small cross type (c.1009-17), Norwich Mint, Moneyer Leofwine, diademed and draped bust left within linear circle, Latin legend surrounding, +ÆÐELRED REX ANG, the NG ligatured, rev. small cross pattee at centre, linear circle with legend surrounding, +LEOFPINE ON NORÐPI, weight 1.33g (BMC I, p.200; BEH 1608; SCBI 26:1216 East Anglia; N.777; S.1154). Toned with a few peck marks on reverse, a nice full mint reading, good very fine.
North lists 73 named mints in operation during the reign of Aethelred II with a further 14 unallocated. According to North, Norwich operates with 22 moneyers across all types.
Though Aethelred enjoyed such a long reign he was known as “The Unready” literally meaning ill-counselled from a history of bad advice and decision making. Born circa 967 Aethelred was supported by his mother and partisans that were led by Earl Aelfhere of Mercia; ascending the throne at no more than 12 years of age after the murder of his Half-Brother Edward at Corfe. The influential Aelfhere having died in 983 meant Aethelred became more vulnerable, and the Vikings began to start their raids once again. Aethelred chose to pay off the raiders rather than resist, becoming known for giving such ransoms payments willingly. This meant many hundreds of thousands of coins ended up being taken to Scandanavia where they were hoarded and why much of the coinage that survives today often exhibits “peck marks” where the Viking bankers have inserted a knife point to make sure the metal quality was good. The harrying continued until Swein Forkebeard held a great swathe of England by 1013, and Aethelred was under threat in London retreating to the Isle of Wight. England submitted to Swein but he died suddenly on the 2nd February 1014 at Gainsborough giving Aethelred the advantage and driving the Vikings out.
Canute the second son of Swein, returned to attack in 1015 and by early 1016 was marching on Mercia, Aethelred however passed away on 23rd April 1016 in London at around the age of 52 just as his second son Edmund was moving south to link up with the army. Edmund was elected King, but the army was his priority, and after winning a few battles suffered a defeat at Ashingdon on 18th October 1016. He retreated possibly wounded to West Mercia and negotiated a treaty giving him rule of Wessex. However, Edmund died in Oxford on the 30th November 1016 giving control to Canute.
Norwich is situated 100 miles north north east of London in East Anglia on the River Tud near the junction with the River Yare. In 1004 it was sacked and burnt by the Danish Swein, but resisted a much later attack in 1069. The Norman knight Roger Bigod Earl of East Anglia siezed the castle in 1087 and later in 1136 during the anarchy the castle was again seized by his descendent Hugh Bigod. The holy See of the Bishop of East Anglia was transferred there from Thetford in 1094/5 he having minting rights with one moneyer at Norwich.
The legends translate as “Aethelred, King of the English” and “Leofwine of Norwich.”
Ex Spink Numismatic Circular, December 2000, item HS14.
Ex Gordon Andreas Singer, dealer, Greenbelt Maryland, USA, May 2001.
Ex Marshall Faintich Collection.
Ex Mark Rasmussen Numismatist, Surrey, List 24, Spring 2013, item 13.
Ex Collection of an English Doctor, part one, Sovereign Rarities, London, March 2022.
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