Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

TASC, Tasciovanus, king of the Trinobantes, who probably reigned about B.C. 30 to A.D. 5. His son Cunobeline succeeded, and reigned until about 42, A.D. On his gold, silver, and brass coins are found CVN, CVNO, CVNOBELI, for Cunobelinus; and CaMV, CAMVL, for Camulodunum, Colchester, the capital of Cunobeline's kingdom. The Roman letters and other devices on his coins plainly indicate an imitation of the coins of Augustus. It is stated by Geoffrey of Monmouth that Cunobeline was brought up at Rome under Augustus, and that a friendship subsisted between this king and the Romans."

A few years after the death of Cunobeline, Britain was subjugated a second time under Claudius more completely than before, and the edict issued, as related by Gildas (De Excid. Brit. c. 5), ordered that all current money should have the imperial stamp. This was the usual practice in all countries which the Romans reduced under their power. A triumph had been decreed to Claudius in 43 A.D. for his conquest of Britain, which was celebrated the next year, and a triumphal arch was also erected to him (Dio Cassius, 11.). After this Claudius issued a gold coinage, of which specimens are extant. On the obverse of these coins is the head of Claudius laureated towards the right, with the circumscription TI. CLAVD. CAESAR . AVG . P.M. TR. P. VIIII. IMP. XVI., and on the reverse, the front of a triumphal arch, with a pediment inscribed DE BRITANN, and surmounted by an equestrian statue between two trophies. He issued also a silver coinage. On the obverse is the head of the Emperor towards the left, and the same superscription as on the gold coinage : on the reverse, DE BRITANN, with the figure of the Emperor in a quadriga, his right hand resting on the edge, and his left holding a sceptre surmounted with an eagle.

During the rule of the Emperor Hadrian 117 to 138 A.D., the Britons revolted, and the Caledonians destroyed some of the fortresses built by Agricola. Hadrian, on hearing of these tumults, hastened to Britain, and reduced the people to submission; and to protect the Northern frontier of the province, built the wall which extended from the river Tyne to the Eden. Of the coinages in brass during his reign, there is one of which the pieces are large, having on the obverse the head of Hadrian laureated to the right, with the superscription HADRIANVS. cos. III.; and on the reverse, a female figure seated, her right foot resting on a rock, her head resting on her right hand, and a spear in her left, by her side a large circular shield with the circumscription BRITANNIA. The usual

AVG.

1 See the Catalogue of a Selection from the British and English Coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, by Churchill Babington, B.D., F.L.S., &c., Disney Professor of Archæology, pp. 14, 4to., 1867.

In the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge is a coin of Cunobeline, presented by the Rev. W. Selwyn, D.D., the Lady Margaret Reader in Divinity. The coin is of gold and was found near Shepreth in 1869. On the obverse, which is concave, is the figure of a horse in the action of galloping with the head on the coin towards the right. At the back of the neck is a star of four rays, or some mark like it, and under the figure the letters CVNO. On the reverse is an ear of wheat across the coin.

On the right side of it are the letters MV, with three pellets over them. On the left is an imperfect letter, the upper part like the letter A, the lower part of it worn away. It is not unlikely the letter C may not have been struck with the A, as the left half of the coin is not a complete half circle as the right.

? Tiberius Claudius Cæsar Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Tribunitia Potestate nonum, Imperator decimum sextum.

BRIT.

letters 8. c. are placed under the figure. The same figure is retained on the copper coinage of Great Britain at the present time.

Of the numerous brass coins of Antoninus Pius, 138 to 161 A.D., there is one having on the obverse his head to the right laureated, with the circumscription ANTONINVS. AVG. PIVS. P. P. TR. P. cos. III. ; and on the reverse a female figure seated on a globe surrounded by waves, holding in her right hand a standard, in her left a javelin; her elbow resting on the edge of a large circular shield by her side, and beneath the figure, BRITAN. Another has the same on the obverse, but on the reverse is a female figure seated on a rock in an attitude of lejection; before her a large oval shield and a military standard with the superscription BRITANNIA. COS. IIII. This coin was struck in the fourth Consulate of Antoninus, and probably denotes that the campaign undertaken against the Brigantes was then ended.

Of the coins extant of Commodus, who ruled from 180 to 192 A.D., there are three with records of the war in Britain. These contain either the word BRITANNIA, or VICT. or VIC. BRIT., Victoria Britannica, in allusion to his victories over the Caledonians who had passed the Roman wall and invaded the province, but were driven back by his general Uppius Marcellus.

In the reign of Severus, 193 to 211 AD, the Britons again revolteå against their Roman masters. Herodian states that the governor of Britain wrote to Severus informing him of the rebellion, and requesting him to send reinforcements or to come in person at once to reduce the insurgents. Severus, with his usual rapidity, arrived in Britain with a large army, and, accompanied by his son Caracalla, advanced to meet the rebels, whom he worsted in several engagements, though not without great losses. The growing infirmities of Severus compelled him to leave his son to carry on the war, and he retired to York, where he died in the year 211 A.D. In his last moments he urged his generals to prosecute the war against the Caledonians until they were exterminated. “Omnia fui et nihil expedit” was the dying exclamation of this daring and successful despot, of whom scarcely one act of mercy or forbearance is recorded.

Both the brass and silver coins of Severus are of various types, and specimens of seven coinages at least, which are extant contain on their obverses VICTORIÆ BRITANNICÆ, VICTORIÆ BRIT., or

VICT. BRIT,

all containing allusion to his victories over the Britons.

Caracalla succeeded his father Severus and held the supreme power from 198 to 217 A.D. There are several types of gold, silver, and brass coins of this reign bearing similar devices and the same inscriptions respecting Britain as on those of his father. The same description applies to the coins of Geta, his brother, who succeeded him.

From the times of Caracalla and Gata to the reign of Diocletianus, no Roman coins are known to be extant bearing the name of Britain, and it is doubtful if any were minted in the province of Britain.

Carausius, a celebrated admiral, sailed over to Britain with the Roman Fleet, and usurped the imperial power, 287 A.D., and held it for six years.

He arrived at a time when their discontent had rendered the Britons ripe for rebellion. Tacitus (Agric. xv.) writes, “that in his time the Britons groaned under the yoke of the Romans: they complained that instead of having one master, as formerly, they had then two; one was the Governor, who exercised his cruelty upon their persons, and revelled in their blood; the other was the procurator, who seized and confiscated their property.”

There are numerous coins of Carausius, some of them bear the letters M.L., which are supposed to signify Moneta Londinensis. Others in copper, of the same usurper, bear c or cL for Colonia, or rather Camulodunum. The same letters appear on some of the coins of Allectus, his successor.

The brass coins of Constantine and of his two sons have on many of them the letters PLN or P. LON., Pecunia Londinensis, clearly shewing them to be the produce of the province of Britain. It is probable, that in the general reorganization of the Empire in 330, A.D. the mint of London (then the only one in Britain) was suppressed. On the later types (e g. Constantinopolis), of Constantine and his family, the PLN and P. LON do not occur. But the London mint is now believed to have been revived by Magnus Maximus in 383, A.D., and the mint mark AUG. OB. occurring on some very rare gold solidi, (and also Aug. on an unique silver piece) is more probably Londinium Augusta, than Augusta Trevirorum (Trèves).' It appears that the Romans had ceased to commemorate on their coins their exploits in Britain after the reign of Caracalla.

The Romans maintained their power in Britain for nearly 400 years, and totally abandoned the island about the middle of the fifth century. It has been truly remarked that “from the first landin; of Julius Cæsar to the final abandonment of the island by the Romans, the history of Britain presents, with few intervals, one long scene oi cruelty and extortion. Barbarian retaliation frequently followed civilized aggression, and war and slaughter were often preferred by the wretched islanders to the grinding taxation of their oppressors.' The Britons, finding themselves enfeebled and defenceless by the tyranny and oppression of their civilized masters, solicited the aid of the Saxons against the attacks of their neighbours. The Saxons came to their help as allies, but soon settled themselves, and gradually brought the whole country under their power. The Britons were driven into Wales, or became the subjects of the eight successive Anglo-Saxon Kings, as the invaders were able to establish their power in different parts of the Island. These eight kingdoms, called the Octarchy, bore the names of Kent, South Saxons, East Saxons, East Angles, West Saxons, Mercia, Deira and Bernicia. Little is known of the coinage of these different kingdoms besides the coins which are extant. The Saxon invaders most probably brought their own money, for the Saxon coins bear neither in form, type nor weight any resemblance to the Roman coins then current in the island. The kingdom of Kent was the first established. The most ancient coin known of the Saxons is the sceat, a silver coin, and found to weigh from 15 to 19 grains. The word sceat is purely Saxon, the same as sceat, a part, and may probably mean the smallest part of the shilling. A sceat of Ethelbert I., King of Kent, 561 to | 616 A.D., is said to be the earliest Saxon coin which has been assigned. The word scilling or scylling occurs in the laws of this King.

Fines are reckoned by shillings, and by pennies, in the laws of Ina, who reigned over the West Saxons from 688 726 A.D.

1 See De Salis in Numism. Chron. for 1867 (N. S. Vol. vir.) p. 61.

? The Anglo-Saxon version of the Gospels is sufficient to show the existence of such coins as half-pennies and farthings in use among the Anglo-Saxons at the time that version was made, not from the Greek or the Vulgate, but from the Vetus Italica, as the Rev. Dr. Bosworth has shewn satisfactorily in p. xi. of the preface

by the wardens of the craft, and marked with a leopard's head (see Lowndes, p. 202). The coins of Edward I. and of his successors till Henry VII., represent him full-faced, and crowned with an open crown fleurie, consisting of three fleurs-de-lis, with two rays or lesser flowers, not rising so high as the other three placed between them. His style was, Rex Angliæ, Dominus Hiberniæ, which latter title he introduced upon English money, though it had appeared on the great seal from the time of king John.

Edward II., 1307—1327, by proclamation, commanded in 1310, that money should be current at the value it bore in the reign of his father, and that no one should enhance the fine of his goods on that account, because it was the king's pleasure, that the coins should be kept up at the same value as they were wont to bear. It appears from the articles which the Commons delivered to the king, that the money was depreciated more than one-half.

Notwithstanding the measures taken, the base and clipped money continued to increase in the country. His coinage was in every respect exactly similar to that of his father. The favourable expectations formed on his accession, were disappointed ; for the whole of his reign was turbulent and unfortunate. His frequent disputes with the barons left him little leisure for attention to restore the integrity of the coinage, or to frame statutes for the well-being of his kingdom.

Edward III., 1327—1377. The murder of Edward II. by Isabel his Queen and her confederates, placed her son, a youth, on the throne. This atrocious deed was done, under the idea, that his mother's influence over him, would place in her hands the government of the realm. In less than three years after his father's murder, she was imprisoned by her son, and condign punishment inflicted on her adherents. His next act was to disavow the excesses and abuses which had disgraced the beginning of his reign, as having been done without his authority, and he applied himself to correct them. Among these abuses, were the corruption of the coins of the realm, and the introduction of base money by foreigners. Other causes besides these contributed to the scarcity of money in the kingdom.'

1 At the Parliament held at Westminster, 28th May, 1343, a grievous complaint was exhibited by the Earls, Barons, Knights, Burgesses, and other of the Commons, for that strangers by virtue of reservations and provisions Apostolic, got the best of the benefices of the land into their hands, and never came to them, nor bore any charges due for the same; but diminishing the treasure of the realm, and conveying it forth, sore endangered the whole state. Thereupon a letter was framed by the Lords of the temporalty and Commons, representing the matter to the Pope, and signifying that they would not suffer such enormities any longer, and beseeching him to revoke such reservations, &c. This was most ungraciously received by His Holiness, who sent an answer ; but the King, nevertheless, proceeded in prohibiting such provisions, &c., within his realm, on pain of imprisonment and death to the intruders.Holinshed 11. p. 365.

About half a century before this complaint of the English people was made, Pope Boniface VIII. in the year 1300, in imitation of the Jews (but not with the same object), first instituted a year of Jubilee, to be celebrated every hundredth year. The first celebration was found very profitable. Clement VI. reduced the period to 50 years. Urban VI. next ordained it to be held every 35 years, and lastly, Sixtus IV. further reduced the period to every 25th year. Erasmus has wittily remarked (Epp. Lib. xx. Ep. 90) “Monachi mirum in modum amant ignem purgatorium quod utilissimus sit illorum culinis. It is not unworthy of attention to note the various methods by which Papal Rome has successfully managed to subject the minds of men to her authority, and thereby to get command of their property.

[ocr errors]

In this reign an important change was made in the money of England, by the introduction of gold into the currency. Hitherto, the representative of value was limited chiefly, if not entirely, to silver, and the legal pound sterling by tale had been of equal value to the pound weight of silver. In the reign of Edward I., a small addition was made of three pence, so that a pound weight of silver was authorized to make one pound and three pence sterling. Such was the law until the proclamation for the gold coinage in 1343 ; and then it was in the power of the king to cause the pound sterling to be represented by a given weight of gold, as well as by a given weight of silver. Hence, it appears, that the gold coinage might at one time be made to conform to the standard value of silver, and at another time, the silver coinage might be made to conform to the standard value of gold.

Three sorts of gold money were ordered to be made in the Tower of London; that is, one coin with two leopards (lions), each piece current for 68., and to be equal in weight to two petit florins of Florence, full weight; a second piece of one leopard, and a third of one helm, being the half and the quarter of the larger coin in weight and value. The tyre upon the largest coins bore an impression allusive to the royal arms of England, while the half bore a mantle on which the king's shield was displayed, quartering the arms of France and England, and the smallest piece was stamped with his crest. This money being rated too high according to the standard of silver, a new coinage of gold was made the same year. The Tower pound weight of gold of the old standard was coined into 39; nobles, at 68. 8d. each, and £13. 38. 4d. by tale; or a proportional number of half and quarter nobles. On one side of this new coinage, is the king's image in a ship, and on the reverse, a cross fleury with lioneux, inscribed “Jesus autem transiens per medium eorum ibat," and on the rererse of the quarter nobles, " Exaltabitur in gloria.”

In 1347, the weight of the noble was diminished by nearly 10 grains, and the pound weight of gold was to make 42 nobles at 68. 81. each, and £14 by tale. At the same time the penny was reduced to 20 grains, or the pound of silver was shorn into 228. 6d. by tale.

The year 1351 was remarkable for a great alteration which took place in the coins. They had hitherto been so much better than those of any other nation, that they were exported, and base money brought into the realm to the impoverishment of the people. New money of gold was made of like impression and value as before, but of less weight. The pound weight of gold, old standard, was coined into 45 nobles by tale, or a proportional number of half, and quarter nobles. Also a new silver coinage was issued. The pound weight of silver of the old sterling was to make by tale 75 grosses, or 150 half-grosses,

or 300 sterlings going for a penny each, respectively amounting to : 25 shillings. These were the first grosses coined in this reign. The

1 It is extraordinary, that the gold coins were not entitled from the new and singular type of a ship with which they were impressed, and thus distinguished from every other coin of that time existing. It could have been adopted only for commemorating some great event, most probably the victory of Edward over the French fleet off Sluys, on Midsummer day, 1310, when two French admirals and about 30,000 men were slain, and above 230 of their large ships were taken, with inconsiderable loss on the part of the English. (Carte, Hist. of Eng. Vol. II., p. 436).

« AnteriorContinuar »