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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 XV the Beloved, 1715 - 1774

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XV| |the| |Beloved,| |1715| |-| |1774||Ecu|
France took 20 Sols de Navarre coins minted in 1719 and 1720, re-struck them as Sixth Ecu de France (between the years of 1720 and 1723) essentially creating a coin worth 1 livre. These re-struck coins, however, were eventually assigned the value of 18 Sols.
WO93952. Silver Ecu, SCWC KM 512.12, Duplessy 1680, Ciani 2122, Lafaurie 698, VF, nicely toned, weight 28.866 g, maximum diameter 41.5 mm, die axis 180o, Bayonne mint, 1771; obverse LVD•XV•D•G•FR•ET•NAV•REX (Louis XV, by the Grace of God, king of France and Navarre), young portrait left, laureate, two flowers (privy mark) below; reverse •SIT•NOMEN•DOMIN•BENEDICTVM*1771• (May the name of the Lord be blessed), crowned arms of France, crowned oval shield with three lis, surrounded by oak wreath; $360.00 (€331.20)
 


Anglo-Gallic, Henry V de Lancastre, King of England, 1413 - 1422

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Henry| |V| |de| |Lancastre,| |King| |of| |England,| |1413| |-| |1422||Gros| |Florette|
Henry V was the second English monarch from the House of Lancaster. After fighting the Welsh during the revolt of Owain Glyndwr, and against the powerful aristocratic Percys of Northumberland at the Battle of Shrewsbury, Henry came into political conflict with his father, whose health was increasingly precarious after 1405. After his father's death in 1413, Henry assumed control of the country and embarked on war with France in the ongoing Hundred Years' War (1337-1453). His military successes culminated in his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and he came close to conquering France. After months of negotiation with Charles VI of France, the Treaty of Troyes (1420) recognized Henry V as regent and heir apparent to the French throne, and he was subsequently married to Charles's daughter, Catherine of Valois. Following Henry V's sudden and unexpected death in France two years later, he was succeeded by his infant son, who reigned as Henry VI.
ME96060. Silver Gros Florette, Elias 249a (R), Duplessy 435C, Ciani 591, Lafaurie 439c; leopard mintmark, VF, light toning, porous, edge cracks, weight 2.152 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 0o, Normandy, Rouen mint, 4th issue, authorized 16 Jun 1420; obverse (leopard) h:REX:ANGLIE:Z:hERES:FRANCIE:(Henry King of the Franks), triple pellet stops, annulet under 1st letter, crown above three fleurs-de-lis, leopard rampant on left and right; reverse (leopard) SIT: nOmE: DnI: BENEDICTV (the name of our Lord be blessed), triple pellet stops, S reversed(?), annulet under 1st letter, cross fleury, h within an annulet at center, crown in first quarter, lion in fourth quarter; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; rare; $330.00 (€303.60)
 


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.
ME96059. Silver grand blanc aux écus, Elias 290a (RR), Duplessy 445, Ciani 602, Lafaurie 449, SCBC-SII 8166; rose mint mark (type II), F, dark patina, weight 2.709 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 180o, Troyes mint, 23 Nov 1422 - 1429; obverse (rose mm) FRANCORVm: ET: ANGLIE: REX (King of France and England), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side, hERICVS above; reverse (rose mm) SIT: nOmEN: DnI: BENEDICTV (Blessed be the name of the Lord), Latin cross, fleur-de-lis to left, leopard left on right, hERICVS on a line below; ex Gordon Andreas Singer (17 Aug 1990), ex Peter Woodhead; very rare; $320.00 (€294.40)
 


France, John II the Good, 1350 - 1364 A.D.

|France|, |France,| |John| |II| |the| |Good,| |1350| |-| |1364| |A.D.||Gros| |à| |la| |couronne|
When John II the Good (French: Jean le Bon) came to power, France faced many disasters: the Black Death killed nearly half its population, there were popular revolts, unemployed mercenaries plundered the country, and losses to the English, including the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, in which John was captured. While John was a prisoner in London, his son Charles had to suppress several rebellions. To liberate his father, in 1360 Charles concluded the Treaty of Brétigny, by which France surrendered territory and promised to pay an enormous ransom. In an exchange of hostages, including his son Louis, John was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom. Upon his return in France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency. John tried to get rid of the mercenaries by sending them on a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their planned meeting in Avignon. After his son Louis escaped from captivity, John shocked and dismayed his people by announcing that for "good faith and honor" he would voluntarily return to captivity in England. John was greeted in London in 1364 with parades and feasts, however, a few months after his arrival he fell ill with an unknown malady and died. His body was returned to France, where he was interred in the royal chambers at Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.
ME95905. Silver Gros à la couronne, Duplessy 305, Ciani 397, Roberts 2624, Lafaurie I 308, F, toning, weight 3.705 g, maximum diameter 31.3 mm, die axis 300o, 22 Aug - 30 Oct 1358; obverse outer legend: + BNDICTV: SIT: nOmE: DnI: nRI: DEI: IhV: XPI (the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed), inner legend: + IOhAnnES DEI : GRA (John by the Grace of God, two flowers legend break); cross fleury, base dividing inner legend; reverse crown, FRANCO / RV : REX in two lines below crown (three pellet within annulet inscription break), border of twelve lis within annulets; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; $270.00 (€248.40)
 


France, Charles VI the Well-Beloved, 1380 - 1422

|France|, |France,| |Charles| |VI| |the| |Well-Beloved,| |1380| |-| |1422||blanc| |guenar|
This first issue is much scarcer than the subsequent issues. Although called Charles the Beloved by his subjects, he was also known as Charles the Mad. Charles's first episode occurred in 1392 during a military expedition. A page dropped the king's lance, which clanged loudly against a steel helmet. Charles shuddered, drew his sword and yelled "Forward against the traitors! They wish to deliver me to the enemy!" The king began swinging his sword at his companions, fighting until one of his chamberlains and a group of soldiers were able to grab him from his mount and lay him on the ground. He then fell into a coma. The king had killed a knight and several other men. Periods of mental illness continued throughout the king's life. During one in 1393, he could not remember his name, did not know his wife, and did not know he was king. During an episode in 1395-96 he claimed he was Saint George. At this time, he recognized all the officers of his household, but did not know his wife nor his children. Sometimes he ran wildly through the corridors of his Parisian residence, and to keep him inside, the entrances were walled up. In 1405, he refused to bathe or change his clothes for five months. His later psychotic episodes were not described in detail, perhaps because of the similarity of his behavior and delusions. There were times when Charles thought that he was made of glass. He had iron rods sewn into his clothes so that he would not shatter if he came into contact with another person.
ME96062. Silver blanc guenar, Duplessy 377, Ciani 506, Roberts 2981, Lafaurie 381, aVF, full legends, toned, scratches, weight 3.191 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 180o, Paris mint, 1st emission, 11 Mar 1385 - 1389; obverse +KAROLVS:FRANCORV:REX: (Charles, King of France, double pellet stops), arms of France (three lis), double inner border; reverse +SIT:NOME:D N I:BENEDICTV (the name of our Lord be blessed, triple pellet stops), cross pattée, crown in 1st and 4th quarters, lis in 2nd and 3rd quarters; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; scarce; $250.00 (€230.00)
 


Anglo-Gallic, Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Aquitaine, 1362 - 1372

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Edward| |the| |Black| |Prince,| |Prince| |of| |Aquitaine,| |1362| |-| |1372||esterlin| |(sterling)|
Edward of Woodstock (15 June 1330 - 8 June 1376), called the Black Prince, was the eldest son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, and the father of King Richard II of England. He was the first Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362-72). He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular in England during his lifetime. Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III.
ME96063. Silver esterlin (sterling), Elias 188a (S), SCBC-SII 8133, Duplessy Féodales 1125A, Boudeau 511, Poey d'Avant 2946, F, light tone, oval flan, clashed obverse die, strike a bit weak, obverse double struck, weight 0.969 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 315o, Bordeaux mint, second issue; obverse + : ED' PO·GIT·REG·AnGL B (Edwardus Primo Genetis Regis Anglie Princeps, double annulet before legend, double pellet in annulet stops), half-length figure of Edward right, wearing floral wreath. sword in right hand over right shoulder, raising left hand in benediction, within inner border; reverse PRn-CPS - AQI-TAn (Prince of Aquitaine, double annulet before legend), long cross pattée, trefoil of three pellets in each quarter; scarce; $250.00 (€230.00)
 


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||petit| |blanc|
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his grandfather, Charles VI, shortly afterwards. He is the only English monarch to also have been crowned King of France, as Henry II, in 1431.
ME95906. Silver petit blanc, Elias 297a (R), SCBC-SII 8167, Duplessy I 446, Ciani 603, Lafaurie 450, leopard mintmark, aVF, dark toning, ink catalog marking on reverse, weight 1.260 g, maximum diameter 22.4270 mm, die axis 270o, Rouen mint, 1423 - 1449; obverse (leopard) HEN-RICVS: - REX (King Henry, triple pellet stop), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side; reverse (leopard) SIT: nOmE: DnI: BEHEDICV' (Blessed be the name of the Lord, triple pellet stops), Latin cross, h left, R right; rare; $190.00 (€174.80)
 










REFERENCES|

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Spink. The Important Collection of Anglo-Gallic and related French and English Coins - Formed by the late Edward Elias, auction, 21 Jun 1990, London.
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