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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Kings of Kent
Cynethryth, Queen of Offa

Table of Contents

Cynethryth, Queen of Offa.

The history of these times does not enter sufficiently into detail to afford any information as to the authority, by which this lady struck coins in her own name, a privilege which does not appear to have been exercised by the queen of any other of our Saxon kings. It has been suggested, that she was the daughter, not the wife of Offa, and was invested with a separate jurisdiction. Palgrave suggests that she was the daughter of Coenwulf, who assumed the royal authority after having murdered her brother. This however is inadmissible, for the style of the work and name of the moneyers prove that she was cotemporary with Offa. Coenwulf reigned twenty-two years, the coins were gradually deteriorated in style during his reign, and in the following ones became almost barbarous; we cannot therefore postpone these coins to so late a period; but this work is not the proper place to discuss the historical question, and we must be content to describe, as we find them, the pennies bearing the name of a Queen Cynethryth. The portrait, which appears upon some of them, is said to be that of Offa; and upon this supposed circumstance Ruding grounds an argument, that they were struck by his authority; but, as the character of the face, arrangement of the head dress, and style of the costume, differ from those of any of the acknowledged coins of the king, and have a feminine appearance, it seems much more reasonable to suppose it meant for a portrait of the queen whose name they bear; and that, consequently, the pieces were issued from the mint under her sole authority, a supposition confirmed by those coins which bear her name only, without any mention of Offa, or any portrait which might be mistaken for his.

The coins of Cynethryth are silver pennies, of the same weight and fineness as those of Offa, and are very rare. The types are, her bust, with the name of the moneyer. Rev. the Saxon Y, with her name and title of queen (67), Rud v. 1. 2. MB.

Or, instead of the queen's bust, the moneyer's name inclosed in a quatrefoil (68) Rud. v. 3. HUNTER.

The form of the Y, upon the coin (67) MB. is singular and worthy of notice; it differs from those of the coins engraved in Ruding, which are frequently mistaken for an E. This coin was purchased at Dolben's sale 1796, for 12..12s.

Mercia - Offa | Table of Contents | Mercia - Egcberht


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