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Coin, Medieval, Edward I (1272-1307), London

The value of English medieval coins was guaranteed by the King. He controlled what coins could be made and what they were made of. This power was shown by the King's head on one side. Making coins is called minting. Why is it important for everyone that the value of their money is the same?

The metal in today’s coins is worth next to nothing. Modern money instead represents the amount written on the coin.

Medieval coins had a set value and were made from silver. This meant that people would trim bits of the edge and the coins would weigh too little. Edward I said that 243 pennies should be struck from a pound of silver. As weights could vary around the country, the official pound used was kept at the Tower of London.

The King's head in this era was not a portrait, and many kings continued to mint coins using a very similar, stylized, image. When a reign came to an end, the name on the coins often went unchanged for a few years. From Edward I onwards the design changed little for 200 years.

The places where coins were minted showed their status. Those mints that were in places that had city status called themselves civitas (such as London - civitas London), while those that were towns called themselves villa (such as Berwick on Tweed - villa Berewici). Civitas and Villa originally come from Roman or latin words meaning city/town and village/estate.

Key facts: 
  • Medieval coins were made from a set amount of silver metal, guaranteed by the Crown
  • Edward I ruled that 243 pennies should be made from one pound (lb) of silver (approx 450gms)
  • People would sometimes trim pieces from the edge of coins, or cut them into halves or quarters which made them worth less
  • The coins have the name of the place they were minted on the back. This coin was minted in London

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