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.
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.
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