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In the summer-time; the army of the pagans, which had wintered at Quatbricge, went partly to East-Anglia, partly to Northumberland. Some of them remained there but others, getting possession of some ships, went to the river Seine before-mentioned. O with what frequent vexations, with how severe sufferings, in what a dreadful and lamentable manner, was all England annoyed, not only by the Danes, who had then occupied the parts of England, but also by those children of Satan. But it suffered much more, for three years, by a murrain among the cattle, and the death of noble men, who about that time departed this life. Among whom was Suithulf prelate of the church of Rochester, Ealheard bishop of Dorchester, Ceolmund duke of Kent, Beorhtulf duke of Essex, Eadulf the king's officer in Sussex, Beornulf provost of Winchester, Ecgulf the king's strator, and many others, but these were the most noble.
In the same year, the army of the pagans, settled in EastAnglia and Northumberland, carrying off booty along the sea-coasts, severely harassed the land of the West-Saxons, mostly in long and swift galleys, which themselves had made some years before. To oppose these other ships were made by Alfred's orders, twice as long, higher, swifter and less shaky, so as to beat the above-named ships of the enemy in strength. When
Thus, during the three years
But afterwards, some ships of the Danes came near the
In that same year, 20 ships with their crews were cast away round the northern coasts.
these were sent out to sea, the king ordered them to take alive all they could, and to slay the Wherefore it came to pass that 20 ships of Danish pirates were taken alive in that same year; of whom some were slain, some brought alive to the king, and hanged on the gallows.
In the year 899
That famous, warlike, victorious [KING]; the zealous protector of widows, pupils, orphans, and poor; skilled in the Saxon poets; dear to his own race, affable and liberal to all; endued with prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance; most patient under the infirmity, which he daily suffered; a most discreet inquisitor in executing justice; vigilant and devoted in the service of God; Alfred king of the Angul-Saxons, son of the pious king Atheluulf; having reigned 29 years and 6 months, died, in the 4th Indiction, on Wednesday the 6th before the calends of November, [OCT. 27], and was buried at Winchester in the New Minster, where with the just he awaits a glorious
Alfred, truly so called, a man
Lastly, in the same year,
that immoveable pillar of
For he had translated into
brought to life again.
King Elfred died when he
had reigned 28 years.
army of the pagans.
Innate nobility hath given thee honour,
Some of the MSS. of Asser re-
Thy robes dropp'd sweat, thy sword dropp'd blood, and shewed,
Through all earth's climes none but thyself e'er lived,
And may Christ give him rest and rule for ever.
THE ANGLO-SAXON MINT.
Although the researches of English and Continental Antiquaries prove the very close resemblance in many respects between the manners and customs of the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, one vast difference is clearly apparent; namely, the constitution of their mints. While the coinage of the Franks consisted, for the far greater part, of gold, that of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, with the exception of the styca of copper, struck in the mints of Northumbria only, consisted almost exclusively of silver, of which the sole denominations that have come down to us, are the penny and the half-penny, very few specimens, however, of the latter being known.
Ruding, in his Annals of the coinage of Great Britain, has the following remarks: "Those, who deny that the Saxons possessed any knowledge of the art of coinage before they landed in Britain, will find it extremely difficult to point out the source from whence they derived it after their arrival; for the Anglo-Saxon money bears not, either in form, type or weight, the least resemblance to those coins which at that time were the current specie of this Island."
After observing that "the barbarous workmanship of the British coins could not have excited their attention," he expresses his surprise that the Britons should have continued their own rude method of coining "in preference to the beautiful specimens of Roman art, which were constantly before their eyes."
It is very clear from this that the laborious author of the Annals had but slight practical acquaintance with the subject, however valuable his work may be regarded as a compilation from written documents. To the general reader a detailed description of the various rude coins which must have been struck and circulated in this country after the departure of the Romans, would be tedious, and, without the assistance of illustrations, wholly impracticable. Long ere the once masters of the world withdrew for ever from their Island possession, their coins had ceased to be "beautiful specimens of art," and long previous to the introduction of Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons, they attempted to copy the degenerate types of the Roman money.
Nor was the desire to imitate better examples abandoned on the introduction of Christianity, as we may perceive in some of the pennies of Edweard the first, on which is an evident attempt to copy the representation of the gate of the prætorian camp as found on the coins of Rome, from the reign of Diocletian to that of Theodosius. A coin of Ciolwulf, found at Preston, furnishes still stronger evidence, since the reverse is a palpable copy of the common reverse of the gold coins of Valentinian, on which are represented the two sitting figures of the emperors crowned by Victory hovering above them.'
It is thus evident that the Anglo-Saxons did not disdain the best models of coinage then existing, and that the rudeness of their own money is not attributable to an unwillingness to copy but rather to a want of ability to execute coins equal to the rude examples of the Roman currency at its worst period.
As regards the weight of the Anglo-Saxon penny, it was originally of 24 grains, hence the term " penny weight." Now the Quinarius or half denarius of the Roman Empire, from the time of Arcadius and Honorius to the reign of Justin, is of very common occurrence even at this day, and no doubt circulated abundantly throughout the Roman dominions. It weighs on an average 24 grains, a fact which leads to the inference that the Saxon penny was accommodated in weight to the Roman coins which must have continued in circulation long after they were minted, and were pro
(1) This coin is engraved in the Numismatic Chronicle, vol. v, p. 10. It is not unlikely that the Victory here represented is intended by the Anglo-Saxon artist to represent the third personage of the Trinity see on this subject a note by the writer in the Numismatic Chronicle, vol. xii, p. 79.
bably, for a considerable period, current throughout those countries which had been wrested from the Romans by the Teutonic tribes. It is not contended that these tribes had not a style of their own, but it may be safely asserted that the influence of Roman art is visible in their ornaments and utensils; while the necessity of some conformity with an almost universal coinage was imperative. Notwithstanding this, we find many Saxon coins totally dissimilar in type to those of the Romans; on a considerable number the name of the King, and that of the Moneyer alone appears without any attempt to represent an effigy, but this, as before observed, cannot be attributed so much to design as to want of skill; on the contrary, when it does appear, as on many of the pennies of Alfred, it is very plainly an attempt to imitate the Imperial effigy on the coins of the lower empire with the diadem encircling the head.
In the reign of Athelstan, notices of the Saxon mints first occur. In the laws of that King it is declared that no one shall mint money except within the walls-BUTAN ON PORT, that those who work in a wood or elsewhere unauthorised shall suffer amputation of the hand, and that there shall be in Canterbury seven moneyers; in Rochester, three; in London, eight; in Winchester, six; at Lewes two; at Hastings, one; at Chichester one; at Hampton, two; at Wareham, two; at Exeter, two; at Shaftsbury, two; at the other towns one.*
The English numismatists of the last century have discussed at considerable length the possibility of the Anglo-Saxons having struck gold in their mints. We shall not here review their arguments; it will be sufficient to observe that the evidence on either side is often inconclusive, and at times at utter variance with facts, while examples are cited which only serve to shew the utter want of practical acquaintance with the subject. While one side maintained that no gold was ever coined in the Anglo-Saxon mints, simply because we have no written record of the fact, the other produced examples in opposition to this opinion, in utter ignorance that the pieces thus adduced as evidence were of Merovingian origin. Pegge not only attempted to prove the Anglo-Saxon origin of one of these coins, but did not hesitate to assign it to the mint of York in the beginning of the tenth century.
(2) Æthelstanes Domas, c. 14. (3) slea man of pa hand pe he þæt fúl mid worhte. IBID (4) Elles to þam oðrum burgum, I. Æthelstanes Domas, c. 14.