Lordship and Feudalism

Coinage, as an image of power

The Coinage of the Dukes of Normandy The Religious Establishments

In the Carolingian period, the most import mint within the territories that became Normandy was that of Rouen. The progressive subjection of the region to Norman rule did not make any difference to the production of coinage.

The Coinage of the Dukes of Normandy

Norman coinage began in c. 940 when the excessively weakened royal power released its hold over its right to mint coinage. William Long Sword, Count of Rouen, removed all reference to the royal name and inscribed his own on the coins. This coinage ceased after his assassination in 942.
Louis IV who planned to exert his tutelage over the young Richard, son of William, took control of Rouen, and struck his own coinage there. His issues were probably short-lived.

The coinage of
Richard I (942-996) is of the Christian temple type, with theexception of a series which carries a monogram in the main field inspired by the Carolingian monogram. Based on the dating given by coin hoards, many stages can be discerned in the issue of the numerous coins (deniers) of the temple type, in the name of Richard and at the Rouen mint. The reasons for the changes occurring at each stage, and their precise date, are not known, as only a very few examples of some types are known.

In the period 980-5, although still carefully formed, with well-rounded flans and well-defined lettering, the Rouen type betrays a misunderstanding of the temple as a Christian symbol, one of the main motifs of the Carolingian dynasty. This tendency was accentuated under Richard II (996-1026) and Richard III (1026-1027).

In the period of William the Conqueror, the legends surrounding the central field were replaced by combinations of besants (a flat disk used in Romanesque style decorations of arcades) and squared Us. The weight of coinage and its fineness was reduced.

Towards the mid-11th century a new category of coinage emerged, carrying the legends NORMAN DVX or NORMANNIA instead of the Christian name of the Count or the name of Rouen. On the obverse the names of men occupy the entire field in two lines. Rather than moneyers, these people are undoubtedly vicomtes, administrators, to whom the ducal prerogative of issuing coinage had been conferred. Ducal coinage was maintained without significant changes until the beginning of the 12th century and Norman currency ceased to be struck from the third quarter of the 12th century.

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The Religious Establishments

Alongside the currency initially issued by counts and subsequently by dukes, other currencies existed in Normandy, which are evidence that the right to issue coinage did not solely reside in the hands of the dominant political power.

St Ouen in Rouen
The abbey of St Ouen issued coinage using the Carolingian monogram in about the middle of the 10th century, and then again in various forms in c. 980-5. These issues need to be viewed in the context of attempts to restore the abbey burned down by the Normans in 842.

St Romain in Rouen
Another coinage was issued on behalf of an ecclesiastical institution dedicated to St Romain, Bishop of Rouen in the 7th century. Three types name St Romain and the City of Rouen, and a fourth names Romain, Bishop of Rouen and the Marquis Richard. These issues may be dated to the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th. The source was identified by J. Le Maho as the suburban church of St Romain which, at the time, housed the relics and tomb of Romain. Shortly before 1090 the transfer of relics from St Romain into the cathedral entailed a change of name for the church which was thenceforth dedicated to St Godard.

Cathedral church of Rouen
Archbishop Hugh of Rouen (942-989) is said to have struck coinage himself. It was in his name, at least, that we interpret the monogram engraved on the obverse of some coins which also retain the names of Richard and the City of Rouen. A later issue solely in the name of the church of Rouen in the form ROTOMAGUS / METROPOLIS was identified in 1985. This issue dates from the second third or middle of the 12th century.

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Jacqueline Pilet-Lemière
CRAHM-Université de Caen


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