The state of the Money must have been very bad at the beginning of Henry the Third's reign, considering how little had been
coined, and how much had been consumed by his two immediate predecessors: and though there was probably a great deal of Money
coined in the former part of his reign, (for there is a grant [Clause 2 Hen. 3. m. 6.] for the Bishop of York's mint
in his second year) it was squandered away in two fruitless expeditions to France, in one of which, in his twenty-fifth
year, he is said [Daniel's Hist. p. 136. fol. Lond. 1621.] to have carried out no less than thirty barrles of sterling Coin.
The Money was likewise so corrupted [Mat. Paris, 1247-48, 32 H. 3.] in those days by detestable clippers, and false coiners,
that neither the English, nor even the foreigners, could look upon it unconcernedly: for it was clipped almost to the
innermost ring, and theborders of letters either wholly taken away, or very much diminished. Whereupon proclamation was made in
all cities, boroughs, markets, and fairs, that no piece of Coin should pass, unless it were of lawful weight, and of circular
form; and that the transgressors of this proclamation should be punished.
Strict enquiry was also made after the authors of this mischief, who were chiefly the Corsini, a knot of Italian bankers, who, under pretence of coming hither in traffic, by the Pope's encouragement, carried on their usury, and other oppressive exactions. There were also many Jews and Flemish merchants in the confederacy; and such of them as could be apprehended, were immediately executed.
The old Money was called in, [Stow's Annals, anno 1247, p. 187, Mat. Paris, in anno 1247. Camden's Remains, ch. Money.] and it was thought good to change the same, and to make it baser. Whereupon stamps were graven, of a new incision or cut, and sent to the abbey of Bury in Suffolk, to Canterbury, Diuelin, and other places, forbidding to use any other stamp, than was used at the Exchange or Mint at London. All the old stamps were called in; the old Money was exchanged for new, allowing thirteen Pence for every Pound, to the great damage of the people, who, besides their travel, charge, and long attendance, received of the bankers scarce twenty Shillings for thirty. And the reason of this oppression appears to be, because this recoinage was farmed by the Earl of Cornwall, who was accountable to the King only for the third part. By this means the grievance was increased, instead of being redressed; and the same Earl of Cornwall, in the forty first year of King Henry, being elected King of the Romans, is said [Rapin in H. 3. vol. 1. p. 331.] to have carried into Germany, seven hundred thousand Pounds sterling in ready Money; an immense sum in those days, which added to what the Pope had drawn out of the nation, made a very great scarcity of Money. It was to this want of Money, more than corn, (for corn had several times been dearer than it was then) that made provision so scarce, that an author [The Author of Walter de Coventry's Julius.] says, he saw people fighting for the carcasses of dead dogs, and other carrion, and to eat the wash that was set for the hogs, and many died of hunger. But by the quantity of this King's Coin still extant, it seems the nation was better supplied afterwards, probably in his fifty-first year, when it was enacted [Stat. 51. H. 3. p. 10. sect. 3.] that an English Penny, called a Sterling, round and without clipping, should weigh thirty-two wheat corns in the midst of the ear, twenty Pence an ounce, and twelve ounces a Pound.
The Penny of Henry the Third, is known by the number III, or the word Terci, though it is otherwise sufficiently distinguished from that of Henry the Second. The crown, (instead of a row with five points or pearls, with a cross in the middle) consists of a thick line, raised at each end, or terminating in a large pearl; in the middle, above, having a fleur de lis, instead of the cross, and three pearls, or points below. But on both his great seals, the crown is composed of leaves, like a ducal coronet, and ont he reverse, crowns fleuri. The face is likewise more youthful than the Second Henry's, and the beard represented by a number of dots, or points, as if to give him an artificial beard, because at first he had not a natural one; and this being used in the beginning of his reign, was therefore probably continued throughout.
Of these Coins, there are two sorts; one with the sceptre, and one without. In that whereon the sceptre is wanting, the inscription begins from a mullet over the head, HENRICVS REX III, or TERCI. And the reverse, (on all alike) has a double cross, extending to the edge of the Coin, and three pellets in each quarter, NICOLE, or HENRI, ON LVND. HVG, ON WILTON, NICOLE ON CANT, &C. On the other sort, the right hand appears in the legend, holding a sceptre, with the cross or fleuri, the inscription beginning from the point of the sceptre, and the numerals falling on the side of it. NICOLE RENAVD. RICARD, or HENRIC ON LVND CANT. WILLEM ON CANT. RICARD ON DVRH. As for those pieces without the number, which, from the name of the mint-master, are also thought to belong to this Henry, they are so like the other Coins of Henry the Second, and so different from those of this Henry with the numerals, (which doubtless was inserted from the first coinage, to distinguish this Prince's Money from the two first Henrys') that there is no probability that they were Henry the Third's.
Besides these Pennies, he likewise coined Half-pence and Farthings, as appears by some in collections.
In his thirty-fifth year, he caused [1 Rot. Claus. 36 H. 3. 1 Rymer, tom. 1. p. 462.] a new Coin to be struck in Ireland, which, 'tis thought, was caused by the subsidies then demanded of that kingdom by Pope Innocent the Fourth. These Pennies have his head crowned like the English, holding a sceptre in his right hand, with the cross of pellets, and on the left side a rose of five leaves. HENRICVS REX III. Reverse, the double cross and pellets, like the English Penny, RICARD ON DIVE.
We are told from the manuscript Chronicle [Tindal's Rapin, Notes, fol. 347.] of the city of London, that this King, in 1258, coined a Penny of pure gold, of the weight of two Sterlings, and commanded it should go for twenty Shillings, but this is such a singular assertion, and so contrary to experience, that it requires to be corroborated by other proofs, before it can be admitted to any degree of probability. [TreasureRealm: This gold Penny has been corroborated and specimens found. It is listed in Spink as number 1376 under Henry III. It has on it the king seated, holding a scepter in his right hand and an orb with cross in his left. Legend: HENRIC REX III with the cross of the orb separating H-E. Reverse, a long double cross extending to the edge of the coin with a rose of five petals surrounded by three pellets and with a pellet at center, in each quarter. Legend: WILLEM ON LVNDE]