World_Coin_Nut's Blog

19 Dec 2020

William The Conqueror

Coins-World | World_Coin_Nut

This is a new addition to my small by growing collection of medieval coins. I have a long term goal of collecting a coin for each of the English monarchs.

William I (c. 1028 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. He was a descendant of Rollo and was made Duke of Normandy in 1035. His hold was secure on Normandy by 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne. He launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by his mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father. During his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke and for their own ends. In 1047, William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy, a process that was not complete until about 1060. His marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighboring county of Flanders. By the time of his marriage, William was able to arrange the appointment of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. His consolidation of power allowed him to expand his horizons, and he secured control of the neighboring county of Maine by 1062.

In the 1050s and early 1060s, William became a contender for the throne of England held by the childless Edward the Confessor who was his first cousin once removed. There were other potential claimants, including the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson, whom Edward named as king on his deathbed in January 1066. Arguing that Edward had previously promised the throne to him and that Harold had sworn to support his claim, William built a large fleet and invaded England in September 1066. He decisively defeated and killed Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. After further military efforts, William was crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066, in London. He made arrangements for the governance of England in early 1067 before returning to Normandy. Several unsuccessful rebellions followed, but William's hold was mostly secure on England by 1075, allowing him to spend the majority of his reign in continental Europe.

His reign in England was marked by the construction of castles, settling a new Norman nobility on the land, and change in the composition of the English clergy. He did not try to integrate his various domains into one empire but continued to administer each part separately. His lands were divided after his death: Normandy went to Robert, and England went to his second surviving son, William.

No authentic portrait of William has been found. The contemporary depictions of him on the Bayeux Tapestry (2nd picture) and on his seals and coins are conventional representations designed to assert his authority. There are some written descriptions of a burly and robust appearance, with a guttural voice. He enjoyed excellent health until old age.

Following the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror continued the Anglo-Saxon coinage system. As a penny was a fairly large unit of currency at the time when small change was needed a penny would be cut in half or into quarters at the mint of issue. Most pennies of Kings William I and II show a front-facing bust of the king on the obverse. This differed from the Anglo-Saxon kings, who mostly used a sideways-facing bust. This was surrounded by a legend, usually PILLEMUS REX, PILLEM REX ANGLOR, PILLEM REX AN, PILLELM REX, PILLEM R (The P may have been a late usage of the letter wynn, a P-shaped rune which had the sound value of a "w"). The reverse of the coin usually showed some form of a cross, surrounded by the legend identifying the moneyer and mint.

Moneyers were personally responsible for maintaining the weight (at this time, 20 to 22 grains, 1.3 to 1.6 grams) and the silver fineness of the coins they produced. Although there was only a small amount of space on the reverse, the moneyer's identification details were considered more important than the mint and were not often abbreviated. The moneyer's name would appear after a small cross and is usually followed by "ON" (of) and the town's name. During the reign of William I the demand for coins was so high that there were about 70 mints active.

I have not studied this coin enough to determine the mint or moneyer.
Coins of England and the United Kingdom 2020, Pre-decimal Issues, 55th Edition



Level 4

wow! great coin and information!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I have to say the painting looks like something Pablo Picasso came up with!


Level 5

Excellent blog. Love the topic.


Level 5

Very interesting topic. Good luck with your english coin collection!

You hardly ever hear about middle age Europe from school, tv, or books. The renaissance gets all the attention. I do like learning about these "unheard of" Monarchs. Good luck on your collecting journey, it won't be easy.


Level 6

Sounds like an interesting subject for a collection! Good luck and have fun in your quest! ; )


Level 6

Great collection you have. I enjoyed your blog and learned from it. Doesn't get any better than that. Thanks.


Level 6

Sounds like you are building a nice collection. Good luck in the future.

Long Beard

Level 5

An achievable and realist goal. What I've long found somewhat odd is the fact at how much the value varies on world coins comparative to those in the United States. One may easily purchase some low mintage high grade specimens far below that of several major U.S. key date coins. With popularity being the largest factor, this plays well in your favor.


Level 5

Quite the collection to attempt. Never thought about these coins before. Would make a great collection. The history behind the coins and who may of used them is amazing to think about. Thanks


Level 7

I can always count on you for an excellent blog. That's a beautiful coin.and that's a great collection to go after. Personally I would leave Oliver Cromwell out. He broke the line of succession and named himself ruled of England.. Your history it's like me sitting in a class room again just listening to your blog. Very well done Merry Christmas to you and your wife. Some of the early hammered ones are fantastic shape like my friend Henry the V111 his portrait is terrific.


Level 5

History and coinage, don't get no better. Great blog about an interesting man. When I lived in England I followed closely some archaeological digs that were taking place near my home from the time you cover in this blog 1070-1090. It is a very interesting time in our history and the coins that were produced are often crudely made, but interesting non the less. Please keep us informed as to your future acquisitions, I find the coinage from this time fascinating. Thanks for the very interesting blog. Later!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks for an interesting blog. Keep at it, you have a nice collection started there

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