Coins, Belgium, Medieval
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, these Medieval coins were made of a set amount of silver. This meant that people would trim bits of the edge and the coins would weigh too little. Edward 1 said that 243 pennies should be struck from a pound of silver (approx 450g). As weights could vary around the country, the pound used was kept at the Tower of London.
Kings head in this period 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).
- The high standard of English silver pennies was so high that they were copied in both Scotland and Belgium. It was not uncommon for these to become interchangeable, and mixed in with English currency.