martedì 2 ottobre 2007

Money and Coins in Wales

Money and Coins in Wales in the Middle Ages
Did any of the native rulers of Wales issue their own coins and how does the experience of Wales compare with that of other Celtic countries?

There is a half a chapter on numismatics in the book by Ian Jack:
Jack, R. Ian. Medieval Wales. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1972.
ISBN 0 340 12694 9.

Jack has a couple of pages on the coin struck for Hywel Dda in the 10th century and briefly discusses claims that other Welsh princes issued coins. The only one of these that Jack attaches much credence to is a report by Edward Lhuyd in 1698 that the Bishop of Bangor told him that one of his relations had possessed a coin issued by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, or Llywelyn the Great, (who became Prince of Gwynedd in about 1197 and extended his rule over much of the rest of Wales in the next two decades, his reign ending with his death in 1240). Lhyud said that the Bishop (whose knowledge of Old Welsh was claimed by Lhyud himself to be even greater than his own) had shown the coin to many of his acquaintances who confirmed his story.
Lhuyd's account seems to imply that the coin had unfortunately been lost by the time he was told the story. Jack is much more sceptical of claims for coin production by other Welsh princes and concludes his discussion of the minting activities of native princes thus: "the evidence amounts to one virtually certain coin, one very doubtful coin of a doubtful prince, one well-attested lost piece of Llywelyn the Great and some lost triangular curiosities. With Norman and Angevin mintings in Wales, the evidence, though still uncomfortably scanty, is much more circumstantial." (page 201). English coins may have circulated in Wales to some extent before the conquest, but even as late as the 14th century payment in cattle was still very common. (See Davies, R.R. The age of conquest: Wales 1063-1415. Oxford: O.U.P.,1987).
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