Kings, crisis and coinage reforms in the mid-eighth century


  • I would like to extend my thanks to the participants of the third Symposium in Early Medieval Coinage at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (April 2010) for their helpful responses to a talk outlining the basic argument of this paper, and to Simon Coupland for comments on a draft of it. Illustrations are approximately double life-size, and are provided by kind permission of the trustees of the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, and of Mr Tony Abramson.


Between 740 and 770 coin reforms occurred in five north-west European kingdoms: Northumbria, East Anglia, Francia, Kent and Mercia. Comparison between them highlights important common features, especially the advent of a more explicit royal role in the supervision of minting than had hitherto prevailed. Precipitated by a substantial downturn in production probably resulting in part from shortfalls in bullion supply, the new coin issues stem from a partnership between the king and other agencies: moneyers in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; secular magnates in Francia. These coinages provide an insight into international connections and local adaptation, grounded in the economic role of coinage and a complex administrative background.