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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Medieval & Modern Coins| ▸ |France||View Options:  |  |  |   

Coins of France

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 B.C., holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia, which became the Kingdom of France in 987, emerged as a major European power in the Middle Ages under King Philip Augustus. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803?15) shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.

France, Louis XIV the Sun King, 1643 - 1715

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XIV| |the| |Sun| |King,| |1643| |-| |1715|, |demi| |ecu| |de| |Flandre|
Under Louis XIV, the Sun King, France reached the apogee of its power. His reign began at age four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days; one of the longest of any European monarch. He fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis converted a hunting lodge into the spectacular Palace of Versailles, and by compelling the noble elite to inhabit his lavish palace, he pacified the aristocracy and eliminated the remnants of feudalism. He consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution.
WO95140. Silver demi ecu de Flandre, Duplessy 1510, Gadoury 182 (1686IL), Ciani 1885, SCWC KM 262.2, aVF, dark toning, scratches, small edge flaw on reverse; edge lettering: DOMINE SALVUM FAC REGEM CHRISTIANISSIMVM (Lord, save our most Christian king), weight 18.319 g, maximum diameter 36.7 mm, die axis 180o, Lille mint, 1686; obverse LVD?XIIII?D?G (sun) FR ET?NAV REX (Louis XIV, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre), draped bust right, wearing large long wig; reverse BENEDICTVM 1686 + SIT?NOMEN?DOMINI IL (Blessed be the name of the Lord, divided by date and IL mintmark), crowned quartered shield of France, New and Old Burgundy; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; rare; $800.00 SALE |PRICE| $720.00
 


France, Henry III, 1574 - 1589

|France|, |France,| |Henry| |III,| |1574| |-| |1589|, |ecu| |d'or|
Three months after Henri was elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, his brother, Charles IX of France, died and Henri returned to France to assume the French throne. Henri brought several Polish inventions back to France, including septic facilities which deposited excrement outside the castle walls, a bath with regulated hot and cold water, and the fork. Henri gave protestant Huguenots the right of public worship, except in Paris and at Court. In response, Henry I, Duke of Guise, formed the Catholic League. Henri III was forced to flee Paris. After he had the duke assassinated, Henri III prepared to return to Paris but was murdered before he could return. During the French Revolution, his body was disinterred, desecrated, and thrown into a common grave.
SH94141. Gold ecu d'or, Duplessy 1121A, Ciani 1408, Lafaurie 960, Friedberg 386, Kopicki 10474 (R4), gVF, some luster, well centered, tight flan, bumps, scratches, double strike in some areas, small hole, weight 3.365 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 135o, Rouen mint, 1587 B; obverse HENRICVS. III. D: G. FRANC. ET. POL. REX. (Henry III, by the grace of God, king of France and Poland) legend divided by sun at the top, crowned arms of France (three lis), B below; reverse + CRISTVS. REIGN. VINCIT. ET. IMP 1578 (Christ reigns, vanquishes and commands), cross fleurée, quadrilobe flower at the center, arms ending in lis; ex Karl Stephens Inc (Temple City, CA); rare; $650.00 SALE |PRICE| $585.00
 


France, Henry III, 1574 - 1589

|France|, |France,| |Henry| |III,| |1574| |-| |1589|, |franc|
Three months after Henri was made the elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, his brother, Charles IX of France, died and Henri returned to France to assume the French throne. Henri brought several Polish inventions back to France, including septic facilities which deposited excrement outside the castle walls, a bath with regulated hot and cold water, and the fork. Henri gave protestant Huguenots the right of public worship, except in Paris and at Court. In response, Henry I, Duke of Guise, formed the Catholic League. Henri III was eventually forced to flee Paris. After he had the duke assassinated, Henri III prepared to return to Paris but was murdered before he could return. During the French Revolution, Henri III was disinterred from his tomb, his body was desecrated and thrown into a common grave.

On May 31, 1575, Henry III created a new 14.188 grams, .833 fine silver coin with the value of 20 sols tournois. The gold écu was set at 60 sols. The gold franc equaled 1/3 écu or 20 sols. This coin, corresponding to the value of the medieval gold franc, naturally took the name franc d'argent (silver franc). Our coin is a franc avec fraise, distinguished from the contemporary franc au col plat by the addition of a lace ruff to the king's collar. It was unique to the Toulouse mint. Due to constant clipping, the coinage of francs was suspended for good on October 13, 1586. After the death of the king, however, mints held by the Catholic League struck francs in his name.
WO95133. Silver franc, Duplessy 1130A, Ciani 1434, Roberts 3612, Lafaurie 970, aVF, nice toning, tight flan cutting off some legend, small edge split, weight 12.631 g, maximum diameter 34.1 mm, die axis 0o, Toulouse (M) mint, 1583; obverse ?HENRICVS?III D?G FRANC ET?POL?REX? (Henry III, by the grace of god, King of France and Poland), laureate and cuirassed bust of Henry III, ruffled collar, pellet behind, M (Toulouse workshop letter) below bust, 1583 at bottom between end and beginning of legend; reverse (scallop shell) ?SIT?NOMEN?DOMINI?BENEDICTVM?C? (Blessed be the name of the Lord), foliate cross fleurée, H surrounded by dots in the center; $300.00 SALE |PRICE| $240.00
 


Anglo-Gallic, Henry VI de Lancastre, King of France and England, 1422 - 1453

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Henry| |VI| |de| |Lancastre,| |King| |of| |France| |and| |England,| |1422| |-| |1453|, |grand| |blanc| |aux| |écus|
In 1422, the year old king of England inherited the French throne from his mad grandfather Charles VI of France; the iconography of this type represents the unification of the two nations. Ten years later Joan of Arc would make an appearance which would eventually loosen the English grip on France until by 1436 only Normandy and part of Maine remained in Henry's control.
WO95135. Silver grand blanc aux écus, Elias 281a (RR), Ciani 602, Duplessy 445, Lafaurie 449, SCBC-SII 8166; cross ancrée (anchored) mint mark, aVF, toned, weight 3.019 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 180o, Auxerre mint, authorized 23 Nov 1422; obverse (cross ancrée) FRANCORVm: ET: ANGLIE: REX (King of France and England), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side, hERICVS (no abbreviation mark) above; reverse (cross ancrée) SIT: nOmEN: DnI: BENEDICTV (Blessed be the name of the Lord), Latin cross, fleur-de-lis to left, leopard left on right, hERICVS below; ex Classical Numismatic Auctions XX (25 March 1992), lot 1465 (catalog online); very rare; $275.00 SALE |PRICE| $225.00
 


France, Louis IX, 1226 - 1270

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |IX,| |1226| |-| |1270|, |Gros| |Tournois|
Saint Louis ruled when France was at its height, both politically and economically. Louis was a devout Catholic, and he built the Sainte-Chapelle. He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded the House of the Felles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes, the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men, and hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, and Compiégne. He died at Tunis, during his second crusade. He is the only canonized king of France; consequently, there are many places named after him, most notably St. Louis, Missouri.
WO95134. Silver Gros Tournois, Duplessy 190a, Ciani 181a, Lafaurie 198a, Roberts 2451, VF, dark toning, scratches, centers weak, weight 3.099 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, Touraine mint, c. 1266 - 1270; obverse + LVDOVICVS?REX (inner legend) +BNDICTV:SIT:NOME:DNI:NRI:DEI:IHV:XPI (outer legend triple stops), cross pattée; reverse + TVRONIS?CIVIS, châtel tournois, border of twelve lis, pellets flanking uppermost lis; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; $245.00 SALE |PRICE| $195.00
 


France, Charles IX, 1560 - 1574

|France|, |France,| |Charles| |IX,| |1560| |-| |1574|, |teston|
Charles IX ascended the throne of France upon the death of his brother Francis II. After decades of tension, war broke out between Protestants and Catholics after the massacre of Vassy in 1562. In 1572, after several unsuccessful peace attempts, Charles ordered the marriage of his sister Margaret of Valois to Henry of Navarre, a major Protestant nobleman and the future King Henry IV of France, in a last desperate bid to reconcile his people. Facing popular hostility against this policy of appeasement, Charles allowed the massacre of all Huguenot leaders who gathered in Paris for the royal wedding at the instigation of his mother Catherine de' Medici. This event, known as the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, was a significant blow to the Huguenot movement. Religious civil warfare soon began anew. Charles ordered the Siege of La Rochelle, but was unable to take the Protestant stronghold. Charles died of tuberculosis without legitimate male issue in 1574 and was succeeded by his brother Henry III.
WO94147. Silver teston, Roberts 3551, Duplessy 1063, Ciani 1356, Lafaurie 895, VF, iridescent tone on mint luster, well centered on a tight flan, die wear, weak centers, weight 9.259 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 45o, 1562; obverse CAROLVS•VIIII•D•G•FRANCO•REX• (Charles IX, by the Grace of God, King of France), laureate and cuirassed boy's bust left, mint-mark (off flan) below; reverse + SIT•NOMEN•DNI•H•BENEDIC•M•D•LXII (Blessed be the name of the Lord, 1562), crowned coat of arms (three fleur de lis), crowned C's flanking; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; very rare; $220.00 SALE |PRICE| $155.00
 


France, Henri IV, 2 August 1589 - 14 May 1610

|France|, |France,| |Henri| |IV,| |2| |August| |1589| |-| |14| |May| |1610|, |1/2| |franc|
Henry IV, also known as "Good King Henry", was King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. Upon the death of his brother-in-law and distant cousin Henry III of France, Henry was called to the French succession in 1589. He initially kept the Protestant faith but after four years and at least 12 assassination attempts, he abjured the Calvinist faith. He promulgated the Edict of Nantes in 1598, guaranteeing religious freedom and ending the Wars of Religion. He was assassinated in 1610 by a fanatical Catholic. Unpopular immediately after his accession, Henry's popularity greatly improved after his death. The "Good King Henry" (le bon roi Henri) was remembered for his geniality and his great concern about the welfare of his subjects. Henry is said to have originated the oft-repeated phrase, "a chicken in every pot."
UK88342. Silver 1/2 franc, Duplessy 1212A, Lafaurie 1061, Ciani 1534, Roberts 3581, VF, well centered, toned, areas flatly struck, tiny edge split, weight 7.028 g, maximum diameter 27.8 mm, die axis 180o, Angers mint, 1600; obverse HENRICVS•IIII•D•G•FRAN•ET•NAVA•REX• (Henry IV, by the Grace of God, King of France and Navarre), bust of king right, •F• (mintmark) below; reverse + SIT•NOMEN•DOMINI•BENEDICVM•1600 (Blessed is the Name of the Lord), floral cross, with H in center; ex Karl Stephens (Temple City, CA dealer); rare; $260.00 SALE |PRICE| $130.00
 


France, Feudal, County of Penthièvre, Etienne I, 1093 - 1138

|France|, |France,| |Feudal,| |County| |of| |Penthièvre,| |Etienne| |I,| |1093| |-| |1138|, |denier|
Etienne or Stephen of Penthièvre, Count of Tréguier, 3rd Lord of Richmond was a Breton noble and a younger son of Odo, Count of Penthièvre and Agnes of Cornouaille, sister of Hoël II, Duke of Brittany. In 1093, he succeeded to the title of Count of Tréguier; in 1098, he succeeded his brother Alain as Lord of Richmond in Yorkshire, England. Penthievre is a county in northern Brittany, a cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532.
ME92073. Billon denier, Duplessy Féodales 364; Poey d'Avant pl. XXVII, 5; Roberts 4953, VF, toned, small deposits, weight 0.825 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 120o, Penthievre mint, 1093 - 1138; obverse + STEPhAN COO), cross pattée cantoned with two stars; reverse + GVING AMP:, head right (deformed); $90.00 SALE |PRICE| $81.00
 


Vienne Archbishopric, Viennois, France, 12th Century A.D.

|France|, |Vienne| |Archbishopric,| |Viennois,| |France,| |12th| |Century| |A.D.|, |dinar|
In 1023 the Archbishops of Vienne became secular lords paramount. They had the title of Count, making them prince-archbishops, and when in 1033 the Kingdom of Arles was reunited to the Holy Roman Empire, they retained their independence and obtained from the empire the title of Archchancellors of the Kingdom of Arles.
ME91872. Silver dinar, Duplessy Féodales 2381, Poey d'Avant 4826, Boudeau 1045, Roberts -, F, dark toning, weight 0.875 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 0o, Vienne mint, 12th Century A.D.; obverse +•S•M•VIENNA•, bearded head of Saint Maurice of Vienne left; reverse MAXIMA•GALL (barred LL's), cross, pellet in each quarter; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00
 


France, County of Champagne, Comte de Provins, Thibaut III, 1197 - 1201

|France|, |France,| |County| |of| |Champagne,| |Comte| |de| |Provins,| |Thibaut| |III,| |1197| |-| |1201|, |denier|
Theobald III of Champagne was Count of Champagne from 1197 to his death. He was the younger son of Henry I, Count of Champagne and Marie, a daughter of Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He succeeded as Count of Champagne in 1197 upon the death of his older brother Henry II.
ME92752. Silver denier, Poey d'Avant 5970, Boudeau 1764, Roberts -, aVF, dark toning, weight 0.955 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, obverse TEBALT COMES, cross pattée within inner circle, double pointed arrow through center with A (alpha) at one end in the third quarter, and W (omega) at the other end in the second quarter, pellets in the 1st and fourth quarters; reverse CASTRI PRVVINS, Comb, V between annulets above; $65.00 SALE |PRICE| $58.50
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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