British Gold Coins Unite 20 Shillings or One Pound 1644 King Charles I

British Gold Coins Unite 20 Shillings or One Pound 1644 King Charles IBritish Gold Coins Unite 20 Shillings or One Pound 1644

British Gold Coins Unite 20 Shillings or One Pound 1644 King Charles I

Charles I gold Unite (20 Shillings) 1644 AU, Oxford mint, S-2734, Fr-259. A sharply struck example, with a majestic militant bust of the king displaying an extraordinary level of detail seldom seen in this impressive 'Declaration' type, which, like all royal issues of this period, was produced in great haste under wartime conditions. Accordingly, the king is shown bearing a sword in his right hand and a victorious laurel branch in his left. The denomination of 20 Shillings is notated as XX to his right, while the reverse depicts the 'Wellington Declaration' (that Charles would uphold "the Protestant Religion, the Laws of England, and the Liberty of Parliament") in three lines on a continuous scroll, with three plumes above and the date and Oxford mintmark below.

Obverse: Crowned bust of King Charles I of England. King's bust in profile to left, long hair, deep falling lace collar, long sword in right hand and olive branch in left, (20 Shillings) XX behind head. Legend begins at bottom of coin: CAROLVS:D:G:MAG:BR:FR:ET:HIBER:REX. - Charles by the grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland.

Reverse: Three Oxford plumes above Declaration over three lines and is placed on a scroll connected with the inner circle, so that the legend and inscription read continously: EXVRGAT.DEVS.DISSIPENTVR.INIMICI: (EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI - "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered", from Psalm 67) .RELIG:PROT:LEG:ANG:LIBER.PAR. (translation legend, “The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament”) Date 1644 below scroll.

Country: England.
Year:     1644.
Value:    1 Unite = 20 Shillings.
Metal:    Gold (.917).
Weight:   9 g.
Shape:    Round.
References: Sp# 2734, KM# 252.




Unite - English coin
The Unite was the second English gold coin with a value of twenty shillings or one pound first produced during the reign of King James I. It was named after the legends on the coin indicating the king's intention of uniting his two kingdoms of England and Scotland. The unite was valued at twenty shillings until 1612 when the increase in the value of gold throughout Europe caused it to be raised to twenty-two shillings. The coin was produced during James I's second coinage (1604–1619), and it was replaced in the third coinage by the Laurel worth twenty shillings. All the coins were produced at the Tower Mint in London.
  Several busts of the king were used for this denomination, who is shown looking to the right of the coin and is holding the orb and sceptre; the style of the king's beard varies during the issue. The legend on the obverse reads IACOBUS D G MA BRI FRA ET HI REX (Iacobus Dei Gratia Magnae Britanniae Franciae et Hiberniae Rex) - James by the grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland. The reverse shows a crowned shield which shows the arms of the four countries separating the letters IR -- Iacobus Rex, King James, and the legend FACIAM EOS IN GENTEM UNAM ("I will make them one nation", from Ezekiel 37:22).
  Numerous issues of gold unites valued at twenty shillings were produced at the Tower Mint throughout the reign of King Charles I (1625–1649), both when the mint was under the king's control and under Parliament's control. They depict the crowned bust of the king on the obverse, looking left, with the value "XX" appearing behind the king's head, and the legend CAROLUS D G MAG BR FR ET HI REX - Charles by the grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland. The reverse shows a crown over a shield bearing the royal arms and the legend FLORENT CONCORDIA REGNA - Through concord kingdoms flourish. During the Civil War, provincial mints produced very rare unites to pay the troops, at Chester, Oxford, Bristol, Exeter, Worcester and Shrewsbury -- some of these unites are today unique coins.
  Gold unites were issued during the Commonwealth, this time bearing a legend exclusively in English: THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND on the obverse and GOD WITH US on the reverse. This was due to an association of Latin with Catholicism.
  They were also issued during a period when hammered coins were issued under King Charles II (i.e. 1660-62), showing a left-facing bust of the king wearing a laurel and the legend CAROLUS II D G MAG BRIT FRAN ET HIB REX -- there were two issues, the second indicating the value "XX" behind the king's head. The reverse shows a crown over the shield with the royal arms dividing the letters "CR" and the legend FLORENT CONCORDIA REGNA. The gold unite was replaced by the milled gold Guinea in 1663, and a twenty shilling coin did not reappear until the Sovereign of 1817.

King Charles I of England
Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.
  Charles was the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the English, Irish, and Scottish thrones on the death of his elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1612. An unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to marry him to the Spanish Habsburg princess Maria Anna culminated in an eight-month visit to Spain in 1623 that demonstrated the futility of the marriage negotiations. Two years later, he married the Bourbon princess Henrietta Maria of France instead.
  After his succession, Charles quarrelled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch. His religious policies, coupled with his marriage to a Roman Catholic, generated the antipathy and mistrust of reformed groups such as the English Puritans and Scottish Covenanters, who thought his views too Catholic. He supported high church ecclesiastics, such as Richard Montagu and William Laud, and failed to aid Protestant forces successfully during the Thirty Years' War. His attempts to force the Church of Scotland to adopt high Anglican practices led to the Bishops' Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate his own downfall.
  From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War. After his defeat in 1645, he surrendered to a Scottish force that eventually handed him over to the English Parliament. Charles refused to accept his captors' demands for a constitutional monarchy, and temporarily escaped captivity in November 1647. Re-imprisoned on the Isle of Wight, Charles forged an alliance with Scotland, but by the end of 1648 Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army had consolidated its control over England. Charles was tried, convicted, and executed for high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared. The monarchy was restored to Charles's son, Charles II, in 1660.

The numismatic context of the English civil wars
Yes, so it’s a slightly silly title. Apart from anything else, there are any number of contexts to the civil wars, and picking out one of them can often give the impression that it is somehow more important than others. I’m not trying to suggest that battles over coinage were vital above all else to the outcome of the civil wars. But I’ve kept coming across various images of civil war and Commonwealth coinage in the last few weeks, and wanted to find some way of pulling them together into a post.
  Coins are interesting in that they are signifiers both of material and cultural values. Most obviously, they signify a unit of economic value; but they can also signify the political and cultural values of the body that produces them. During the English civil wars, we can see battles in both spheres between royalists and parliamentarians.
  Materially, there was the ongoing struggle by both sides for control of mints and for metal to use in them. With Parliament in control of the Tower Mint, Charles’s forces set up a number of emergency mints as well as one at the court in Oxford. After the capture of Exeter in 1644, for example, Charles I was quick to appoint Sir Richard Vyvyan to set up a mint. And yet the total output of all of these mints during the civil wars was probably no more than about two or three months output from the Tower Mint. Bullion supply was a significant enabler for the two sides – it’s significant, for example, that Oliver Cromwell’s first military action was to seize the silver that Cambridge colleges were endeavouring to transport to the king. This is most often seen through a biographical lens – an example of Cromwell’s zeal for the Parliamentary cause (war hadn’t actually been formally declared at this point so he was taking a calculated risk in doing so). But it’s also interesting when viewed through a more strategic lens – as the capture of a vital resource that would otherwise go to the king.
  Symbolically, however, there were also battles. Parliament continued to issue coinage from the Tower Mint bearing the king’s name and portrait – a direct reflection and reinforcement of Parliament’s argument that they fought not against the king, but to rescue him from his advisers. Royalists, on the other hand, were able to change their designs. Here is a gold triple unite struck at Oxford in 1642:
  Charles is carrying a sword and palm branch – both a military king but also one of peace, the message clearly being that it is not him who has started the wars. The Latin on the front gives the standard mantra of “king of Great Britain, France and Scotland”. On the reverse you can see RELIG PROT LEG ANG LIBER PAR – “the religion of the Protestants the laws of England and the liberty of Parliament”.
  With the establishment of the Commonwealth in January 1649, control of English and Welsh coinage passed firmly into Parliament’s hands. But the symbolic battle over the coinage did not stop. Very early on, the Council of State had the design of new dies for the Mint high on its list of priorities. In April, Parliament agreed the Council’s design for a new stamp for the coinage. One face would have the St George cross on a shield, with the legend “The Commonwealth of England”; the other would have the arms of the Commonwealth and the legend “God with us”. Again, you can see much about the priorities of the new regime – or at least of the coin’s backers within the Council – from the design: the text in English, no hint of monarchical iconography, and altogether a new departure from previous designs. This is in sharp distinction to many other aspects of Commonwealth symbolism, where monarchical forms and symbols were recycled.
  But it wasn’t to everyone’s tastes. Sir Robert Harley, the previous Master of the Mint, refused to use the new stamp and resigned. In May the Council appointed Dr Aaron Guerden, a doctor originally from Jersey, as the new Master of the Mint.
  In June 1649 Guerden he was the target of an extraordinary satirical pamphlet that claimed to be a sermon, transcribed by him, that had been preached by Oliver Cromwell before his departure for Ireland. This pamphlet is likely to be an act of ventriloquism by the royalist journalist Sam Shepherd, and part of a wider royalist campaign to smear the creator of the new coinage. Here’s what the newssheet Mercurius Pragmaticus had to say about Guerden’s appointment:

And first I find, that Doctor Gourdon must have 400.l. per annum aloud him to play the Traytor and coyne Money with the new Stamp, and if hee be a good Boy, and serve the States diligently, he will be advanced to 400.l. more in a short time, besides what he can cheat from the States which will be double his salary.

And here is the reaction from Mercurius Elencticus, another royalist newssheet:

They take their time to reward themselves and friends, with favours and gifts - Achan Gourdon (that ugly villaine) hee [Cromwell] hath bestowed on him the Mastership of the Mint; perhaps the reason is, because hee looks with a single eye, and therefore is not so apt to steal Golden Wedges: but what neede hee, so longe as hee hath 400.l. sallary allowed him? He might have pored on his pedantisme in Gersey till hee had lost the other eye also, yet never have met with such a stipend.

  Both these editions of these newssheets seem to have been produced by Shepherd. Shepherd was clear about the symbolic significance of the Commonwealth’s new coinage, and was obviously keen to disparage and dismiss it as far as he could. Meanwhile, the remnants of the royalist army in England were also engaging in a continuing symbolic battle. In the same month as the Commonwealth took power, the besiged royalist garrison at Pontefract proclaimed Charles II as king and struck coinage bearing his likeness. This despite the fact it would have been next to useless in terms of its material purpose to those under siege – symbolically, it was far from useless.
  And then of course there’s the coinage of the Protectorate – but that’s another story, and perhaps the subject of another post.
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