Anglo-Saxon law and practice relating to mints and moneyers : with particular reference to the mints of Chichester, London, Dover and Northampton and the moneyer(s) Cynsige or Kinsey / by R.S. Kinsey

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  ANGLO-SAXON LAW AND PRACTICERELATING TO MINTS AND MONEYERS With Particular Reference to the Mints of Chichester, London, Dover, and Northampton and the Moneyer(s)Cynsige or Kinsey.  By R. S. KINSEY THE object of this paper is to suggest new approaches to Anglo-Saxon numis-matics, namely legal, philological, and genealogical. In view of the greatvariety of spellings found in Anglo-Saxon personal names, and to avoidbeing pedantic, I have modernized the form of those Anglo-Saxon nameswhich are still current or of familiar names like those of the English kings. PART I At the close of the eighth century, the only mint south of the Humberappears to have been that of Canterbury, and it supplied the coinage of theMercian overlords as well as that of the vassal kings of Kent and the arch-bishops of Canterbury. After the defeat of the Mercians by the Wessex kingEgbert at the battle of Ellandun in A.D. 825, Wessex men tended to supplantthe Kentish holders of the more important offices of the mint. Egbert, nodoubt in A.D. 829, established a mint at London. Brooke considers thatWinchester was for a time the location of a mint for Wessex kings, and thatfour out of the five moneyers of Ethelwulf at Winchester were transferred toCanterbury and worked for the Wessex kings. The only major mint in opera-tion at the time of Alfred's accession in A.D. 871 has usually been identifiedas Canterbury, but as Alfred's authority spread over Mercia, he opened newmints at Gloucester, London, Exeter, and Winchester (G. C. Brooke, EnglishCoins). Sir J. Craig claims that the royal prerogative over coinage is said to bethe work of Alfred the Great (871-901) and his House. He is said to havedecreed that coins must name the territorial ruler to the exclusion of thePrinces of the Church, saving only for his lifetime the reigning Archbishopof Canterbury, Plegmund, by whose death in 914 the older practice haddied out; but even before Plegmund's time the archiepiscopal facing portraithad been dropped in favour of the profile royal portrait. The bare nameof the king might alone be recorded, but more often it was followed by theword 'Rex' which might, or might not, be defined by an abbreviation forthe Latin name of a people, e.g. of the West Saxons or English (Sir J. Craig, The Mint, p. 7). I have, however, failed to find any positive references to thisdecree of Alfred in any of the extant laws.In England, as on the Continent, private moneyers and the greater ecclesia-stics continued for a long time to issue money carrying their names, without  ANGLO-SAXON LAW AND PRACTICE13 any visible intervention by the State, although it is true that from the end of the eighth century it was common for coins to carry the name and sometimesthe portrait of the king.It is more probable that it was ^Ethelstan who srcinally made the mintingof money a royal monopoly, for it is Athelstan's law which is the first inwhich we see the royal control of coinage being introduced.It is probable that the idea of Anglo-Saxon kings having their coins carrythe royal portrait came from the Byzantines, with whom it had long been theobligatory practice (see R. S. Lopez, Mohammed and Charlemagne , Speculumxviii (1943), et seq.; Relations Anglo-Byzantine, Byzantion, xviii (1948), 159;G. C. Brooke, English Coins, p. 66).As Sir Charles Oman pointed out ( The Coins of England, p. 56), the re-arrangement of the mints byjEthelstanmay have accounted for the disappear-ance of the archiepiscopal coins of Canterbury. Plegmund issued such coins inAlfred's reign as well as in that of Edward the Elder, but after Plegmund'sdeath his successors did not issue coinage in their own names. If the practicewere not expressly forbidden by Edward, then certainly the law of ^Ethelstanput a stop to it, although permitting certain episcopal dignatories the right tomoneyers, and therefore to the seigniorage on all bullion passing through theirmints.It is assumed that the greater number of Alfred's coins were struck duringthe years of comparative tranquillity which followed the expulsion of theDanes from Wessex.It seems almost as certain as it can be that not all the coins bearing Alfred'sname were struck under his authority or in his dominion.So far as we can judge, after Alfred's reign the bulk of the coinage wasstruck either in Chester and old Mercia from tribute silver from Wales, or inthe reconquered territory of the Danelaw where the 'New English' wereturning their loot into the form of money. Before the tenth century the onlyplaces where kings are known to have put moneyers were of Roman founda-tion (Carl Stephenson, Borough and Town, p. 50).  ALthelstan  jEthelstan's suzerainty had been acknowledged in 927 by Constantine of the Scots and by some of the smaller rulers of Wales. The earliest referencerelating to moneyers and mints in the Anglo-Saxon dooms or legal codes isin the code of rEthelstan, which was promulgated at a meeting of the Councilor Witan at Grately, near Andover in Hampshire, the exact date of which isnot known but was about the year 928. This code is known to lawyers as 'II jEthelstan', and that section of it relating to moneyers and mints is containedin a part which is of a different character from the remainder of this legal code,and formed a separate set of enactments which was incorporated in it andwas intended for the use of boroughs and related to trading regulations(Dorothy Whitelock, English Historical Documents, i, 384). It is not knownwhether interpolation was done during ^Ethelstan's reign or at some time later(F. L. Attenborough, Laws of the Earliest English Kings, p. 113). It is thoughtthat the provisions of the code probably applied only to Wessex, as the places  14 ANGLO-SAXON LAW AND PRACTICE 14 mentioned in it are, with the exception of London, all south of the Thames (E.H.D. i. 72). ^Ethelstan forbade the coining of money outside a port  andallotted thirty-seven moneyers to twelve specified places, and added that thereshall be one moneyer in each of the other boroughs (R. H. M. Dolley,  Medieval England, sub Coinage , p. 277). It was Edward the Elder who firstordered that no one should trade except in a port, and with the witness of theportreeve or other trustworthy man (I Edward, 1). yEthelstan first repeatedEdward's doom and then amended it by providing that transactions involvingless than 20 pence (which was, in those days, the price of a cow) may lawfullybe conducted elsewhere (II /Ethelstan 12, 13; VI /Ethelstan 6) (C. Stephenson,op. cit., p. 65). The earlier law prohibiting trade outside a port apparentlycould not be enforced and so, under IV /Ethelstan 2, the provision is repealed.This would seem to imply that trade was being carried on outside the recog-nized boroughs as a money economy moved into the countryside (ArchibaldR. Lewis, The Northern Seas, p. 306). A modern English translation (Atten-borough, op. cit.) of the relevant text of chapter or section 14 of ^Ethelstan'scode is as follows:Thirdly, (we declare) that there shall be one coinage throughout the king'srealm, and no man shall mint money except in a port. 1 1. And if a moneyer if found guilty (of issuing base or light coins) the hand shall 1 Port. 'Port  ' was a term used for a mercantile town. When there was a desire in the Anglo-Saxon laws to emphasize the fact that a burh was a centre of trade, it is called a 'port', but notevery 'port' was a burh (Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 195). Burhs were regarded asadministrative centres. In earlier times most of the places mentioned in the 'Burghal Hidage' musthave been merely royal estates or villages, e.g. Southampton (H. M. Chadwick, Studies in Anglo-Saxon Institutions). About one-third of the thirty-one burhs recorded in the main list of 'The Burghal Hidage'(which was probably drawn up towards the end of Alfred's reign, or soon after his death) weresmall military centres of temporary importance and never developed into towns. Some twelve arementioned as ports before the Norman Conquest and nineteen are known to have had mints. Thenine or ten burhs which never became ports, mint places, or boroughs may have owed their fateto the greater suitability of neighbouring places for trade and administration, but this only showsthat walls alone did not make a borough in the municipal sense, although where they were con-veniently situated they normally provided the natural shell for the growth of town life in stormytimes (J. Tait, The Medieval English Borough, p. 18).The term 'port', although only attaining prominence in the records of the tenth century, isderived from the Latin word portus, which had meant not only a seaport, but any regularly con-stituted trading centre. Like the word castrum it comes from the spoken Latin and so in allprobability must have borne some relation to an actually surviving Roman institution.In Anglo-Saxon laws two features are characteristic of the port—the market and the mint.Neither was the creation of the tenth century, for both had continued to exist in the Roman citiestaken over by the Saxons.Long before mints were established elsewhere in England, money had been coined in the ancient caestra, and in these places had been located the earliest official markets (C. Stephenson, op. cit.,pp. 66-7).[A place could be regarded as a burh if it was(a) a stronghold, a place of refuge, monetary centre;(b) a place which had a moot that was a unit in the general, national system of moots; or(c) a place in which a market was held.]The term 'burh' had acquired a technical meaning. It was a specially authorized and protectedfortress, permanently maintained by the inhabitants of the surrounding district, and included anofficial market and an official mint. A borough which had been made a governmental centreranked as a port, and was under the control of a royal official called a portreeve (C. Stephenson,op. cit., p. 66; Maitland, op. cit., pp. 193 et seq.; Chadwick, pp. 128 et seq.; W. A. Morris, The Medieval Sheriff, pp. 6 et seq.).  RELATING TO MINTS AND MONEYERS15 be cut off  1 with which he committed the crime, and fastened up on the mint. But if he is accused and he wishes to clear himself, then shall he go to the hot iron (ordeal) 2 and redeem the hand with which he is accused of having committed the crime. Andif he is proved guilty the same punishment shall be inflicted as we have alreadydeclared.2. In Canterbury there shall be seven moneyers: four for the king, two for thearchbishop, one for the abbot. In Rochester, two for the king and one for thebishop. In London eight; in Winchester six; in Lewes two; in Hastings one; anotherin Chichester; two in Southampton; two in Wareham; (one in Dorchester); two inExeter; two at Shaftesbury; and one in (each of) the other boroughs.Within certain limits it may be assumed that in these dooms or laws port  and burh are synonymous terms, as the last clause of the above doomobviously means that a moneyer should exist for each borough other thanthose specified, that is to say in each other port. Its twelve places namedare all in the south of England, and for the remainder of his kingdom itseems that iEthelstan meant that the mint should be placed in the officialdistrict borough; the shire borough as it had come to be called (C. Stephenson,op. cit., p. 66). This distribution of mints in ports is similar to the restric-tion for mints to be set up in eparchiai or provinces of the ByzantineEmpire and to ' comitatus' of the Lombards and Franks (R. S. Lopez,op. cit., p. 159).Already by ^Ethelstan's time, a burh had become an entity known to the law,and every burh was to have its own moneyer. According to Tait (op. cit.,p. 27) the use of the term 'borough' or 'burh' in ^Ethelstan's time as equi-valent to 'port' seems to imply that the former was losing its military signi-ficance and coming to mean little more than ' town'. ^Ethelstan's Code of Laws does not include Mercia or the recently annexed Northumbria. York,being the only mint north of the Humber, most certainly would have beengranted several moneyers (including several for the archbishop) and probablyLincoln and various other places would have been allowed mints andmoneyers (Oman, op. cit., p. 86).It is in this enactment of the Witan of Grately that is found the earliestconception of a universal national currency in Anglo-Saxon Britain under astrictly centralized royal control and the office of moneyer at a mint is firstmentioned, although the names of moneyers had appeared on coins since the 1 Amputation. This penalty is thought to have been introduced by /Ethelstan from the Byzantine.It was not previously enacted, except in two much older Anglo-Saxon laws, which were in respectof particularly grave crimes (Ine, 18, 37; Alfred, 6). Outside England, amputation for monetaryoffences was first introduced by the Emperor Heraclius at the beginning of the seventh century,and re-enacted by the Basilic or Macedonian Dynasty at the end of the ninth century. This law of Heraclius was copied almost at once by the Lombards, the Visigoths, and the Arabs. It was acentury later that England introduced this penalty (R. S. Lopez, op. cit., p. 158). 2 Ordeal was an appeal to God for a sign visible on the body of the person put to proof (H. Potter, Hist. Intro. English Law, p. 282). The hot-iron ordeal consisted of the heating of apiece of iron and then causing the accused to carry it a given distance. If it was a case of simpleordeal, the piece of iron weighed one pound and the distance to be carried was three feet, but if hewas committed to the threefold ordeal the piece of iron weighed three pounds and the distance tobe carried was nine feet. In both cases, after the weight had been carried the requisite distance,the accused's hand was bound up and unwrapped after three days. If it proved to be septic thedefendant was pronounced to be guilty (F. L. Attenborough, Law of the Earliest English Kings, p. 188).
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