O’Brien Coin Guide: Why did Henry II not issue coins for Ireland?


Background

Henry’s Troubled Succession

Henry was born in France at Le Mans on 5 March 1133 as the eldest child of Geoffrey the Fair, Count of Anjou, and the Empress Matilda, so titled because of her first marriage to Henry V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry’s mother was a very powerful woman:

  • She was the eldest daughter of Henry I, King of England and Duke of Normandy.
  • She was born into a powerful ruling class of Normans, who traditionally owned extensive estates in both England and Normandy. Matilda was married at a young age to Henry V; after his death she was remarried to Geoffrey.
  • Following Henry I’s death in 1135, Matilda hoped to claim the English throne but instead her cousin Stephen of Blois was crowned king and recognised as the Duke of Normandy, resulting in civil war between their rival supporters
    • This was a period of prolonged civil war in England and is now known by English historians as “the anarchy”
    • This civil war was was inconclusive – with no outright victor
    • By the late 1140s the active phase of the civil war was over, barring the occasional outbreak of fighting
    • Many of the barons were making individual peace agreements with each other to secure their war gains
  • When Henry was made the Duke of Normandy by his father, the French king (Louis) responded by putting forward King Stephen’s son Eustace as the rightful heir to the duchy and launching a military campaign to remove Henry from the province
    • Henry’s father advised him to come to terms with Louis and peace was made between them in August 1151
    • Under the settlement Henry did homage to Louis for Normandy, accepting Louis as his feudal lord, and gave him the disputed lands of the Norman Vexin; in return, Louis recognised him as duke
  • At around this time Henry was also probably secretly planning his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine
    • Eleanor was then still the wife of Louis. Eleanor was the Duchess of Aquitaine, a duchy in the south of France, and was considered beautiful, lively and controversial, but had not borne Louis any sons.
      • Louis had the marriage annulled and Henry married Eleanor eight weeks later on 18 May.
      • The marriage instantly reignited Henry’s tensions with Louis: the marriage was considered an insult, it ran counter to feudal practice and it threatened the inheritance of Louis and Eleanor’s two daughters, who might otherwise have had claims to Aquitaine on Eleanor’s death.
      • With his new lands, Henry now possessed a much larger proportion of France than Louis
  • Meanwhile, back in England, the civil war lumbered on intermittently between Stephen and Matilda.
  • On landing in England on 8 December 1154, Henry quickly took oaths of loyalty from some of the barons and was then crowned alongside Eleanor at Westminster on 19 December.
    • The royal court was gathered in April 1155, where the barons swore fealty to the King and his sons.
    • Several potential rivals still existed, including Stephen’s son William and Henry’s brothers Geoffrey and William, but—fortunately for Henry—they all died in the next few years, leaving Henry’s position remarkably secure
      • Sadly, Henry inherited a difficult situation in England, as the kingdom had suffered extensively during the civil war. In many parts of the country the fighting had caused serious devastation, although some other areas remained largely unaffected.
        • Numerous unauthorised, castles had been built as bases for local lords.
        • The royal forest law had collapsed in large parts of the country.
        • The king’s income had declined seriously and royal control over the mints remained limited.
  • Clearly, Henry II had a lot on his hands … and a new income stream (from Ireland) would greatly improve his chances of funding and winning a war in France – a war he had to fight in order to hold on to his own family’s lands and those of his new wife, Eleanor.
    • Henry’s many titles and lands included :-
      • King of England
      • Lord of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales
      • Count of Anjou, Brittany, Poitou, Normandy, Maine, and Gascony.
      • He also claimed Aquitaine through marriage to the heiress Eleanor in 1152.
    • Henry’s many French possessions caused him to live for more than half his reign outside England.
    • It was essential for him to establish a judicial and administrative system which would work during his absence.
      • Henry seemed unwilling to entrust any of his sons with resources that could be used against him.
        • Henry the Young King instigated rebellion against Henry II (1173-74); he wanted to reign independently over at least part of the territory his father had promised him, and to break away from his dependence on Henry II, who controlled the purse strings
          • He was joined by his two brothers (Richard and Geoffrey) while 5-year-old John remained in England
          • Henry II raised a very expensive army of more than 20,000 mercenaries and put down the rebellion
        • After the rebellion of 1173-74, Henry II began pacifying the provinces that had rebelled against him
          • the King travelled to Anjou for this purpose
          • Geoffrey dealt with Brittany
          • Richard was dispatched to Aquitaine to punish the barons who had fought for him.
            • Richard concentrated on putting down internal revolts in Aquitaine and Gascony
            • His brothers (Henry and Geoffrey) joined the rebels and fought against Richard
          • After Richard had subdued his rebellious barons, he again challenged his father.
            • From 1180 to 1183 the tension between Henry and Richard grew, as King Henry commanded Richard to pay homage to Henry the Young King, but Richard refused.
            • Finally, in 1183 Henry the Young King and Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, invaded Aquitaine in an attempt to subdue Richard.
              • Richard’s barons joined in the fray and turned against their duke.
              • However, Richard and his army succeeded in holding back the invading armies, and they executed any prisoners.
              • The conflict paused briefly in June 1183 when the Young King died.
                • With the death of Henry the Young King, Richard became the eldest surviving son and therefore heir to the English crown.
                • King Henry demanded that Richard give up Aquitaine (which he planned to give to his youngest son John as his inheritance).
                • Richard refused, and conflict continued between them.
                • Henry II soon gave John permission to invade Aquitaine.
            • In 1188 Henry II planned to concede Aquitaine to his youngest son John.
            • The following year, Richard attempted to take the throne of England for himself by joining Philip’s expedition against his father.
              • On 4 July 1189, the forces of Richard and Philip defeated Henry’s army at Ballans.
              • Henry, with John’s consent, agreed to name Richard his heir apparent.
              • Two days later Henry II died in Chinon

Ireland

Ireland was clearly an important territory for Henry II and, more importantly, it was a ‘green field’ site for economic exploitation insofar as if he granted his vassals land there, they would be obliged to pay him taxes and provide services in return for the favour, i.e. the feudal system at work.

  • Several of his ambitious knights made incursions into Ireland at the behest of a deposed native Irish king
  • Pope Adrian IV (born Nicholas Breakspear) becomes the first English Pope 1154-1159
    • In 1154, the Pope gave this venture his blessing because he too would benefit financially
    • In 1155, Pope Adrian IV issues the papal bull Laudabiliter, which gives Henry dispensation to invade Ireland and bring the Irish Church under the control of the Church of Rome
  • in order to prevent a series of independent Cambro-Norman kingdoms being set up in Ireland, Henry invaded Ireland with a substantial force and ‘forced’ the submission of all of the Norman knights + most of the native Irish kings
    • once Henry II received their homage, he left Ireland
    • he then (later) granted the title ‘Lord of Ireland’ to his youngest son, John
    • John then set about extracting wealth from his new lands

Henry II’s English Coinage

Henry II

The short cross coinage of Henry’s was copied all the way to into Eastern Europe. His sons Richard and John, as well as his grandson Henry III, all used the same pattern for years; with the name Henry still a part of the design,

Henry II of England, Short Cross Class 1B Penny, Moneyer Oslac of Worcester

Henry II of England, Short Cross Class 1B Penny, Moneyer Oslac of Worcester

Henry II of England, Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) Class C Penny, 1158-1180 Moneyer possibly Willem of Newcastle. S.1339

Henry II of England, Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) Class C Penny, 1158-1180 Moneyer possibly Willem of Newcastle. S.1339

Henry II. 1154-1189. AR Penny (19mm, 1.46 g, 8h). Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) type; class D. London mint; Æthelwine, moneyer. Struck circa 1167-1170. + ҺENRI : [ ... ], crowned facing bust, holding scepter / + [ ... ]ALPENE [ ... ]:, cross pattée, with crosslet in angles.

Henry II. 1154-1189. AR Penny (19mm, 1.46 g, 8h). Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) type; class D. London mint; Æthelwine, moneyer. Struck circa 1167-1170. + ҺENRI : [ … ], crowned facing bust, holding scepter / + [ … ]ALPENE [ … ]:, cross pattée, with crosslet in angles.

Henry II. 1154-1189. AR Penny (19mm, 1.35 g, 6h). Short Cross type, class Ia1. Northampton mint; Willelm, moneyer. Struck 1180. ҺENRICVS RE X, crowned facing bust, holding scepter / + WILLELm · ON · NORΛ, voided cross, with four pellets in angles

Henry II. 1154-1189. AR Penny (19mm, 1.35 g, 6h). Short Cross type, class Ia1. Northampton mint; Willelm, moneyer. Struck 1180. ҺENRICVS RE X, crowned facing bust, holding scepter / + WILLELm · ON · NORΛ, voided cross, with four pellets in angles

Henry II’s Anglo-Gallic Coinage

Henry II (Henri I d’Aquitaine). 1154-1189. BI Denier (17.5mm, 0.85 g, 4h). Bordeaux mint. + hENRICVS REX (S horizontal), cross pattée / º+º/ AQVI/ TANI/ ºЄº in four lines. SCBC 8001; Elias 1

Henry II (Henri I d’Aquitaine). 1154-1189. BI Denier (17.5mm, 0.85 g, 4h). Bordeaux mint. + hENRICVS REX (S horizontal), cross pattée. SCBC 8001; Elias 1

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Coinage

ANGLO-GALLIC, Eleanor of Aquitaine (after 1185), wife of Henry II. Denier, 0.90g (Elias 11 var.) nearly very fine

ANGLO-GALLIC, Eleanor of Aquitaine (after 1185), wife of Henry II (and former wife of Louis VII of France). Denier, 0.90g (Elias 11 var.) nearly VF

Eleanor was the daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine and count of Poitiers, who possessed one of the largest domains in France—larger, in fact, than those held by the French king.

  • In July 1137 married the heir to the French throne, who succeeded his father, Louis VI, the following month. Eleanor became queen of France, a title she held for the next 15 years.
  • From 1147 to 1149 Eleanor accompanied Louis VII on the ‘Second Crusade’ to protect the fragile Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, founded after the First Crusade only 50 years before, from Turkish assault.
  • Eleanor’s conduct during this expedition, especially at the court of her uncle Raymond of Poitiers at Antioch, aroused Louis’s jealousy and marked the beginning of their estrangement.
  • After their return to France and a short-lived reconciliation, their marriage was annulled in March 1152.
    • According to feudal customs, Eleanor then regained possession of Aquitaine
  • Just two months later she married the grandson of Henry I of England, Henry Plantagenet, count of Anjou and duke of Normandy.
    • In 1154 he became, as Henry II, king of England, with the result that England, Normandy, and the west of France were united under his rule

Henry II’s Childrens’ Coinage

Henry II had five sons and, unusually, he ruled England jointly with his second son (Henry the young king). Next in line were Richard, Geoffrey and John, respectively. After Henry II fell seriously ill in 1170, he put in place his plan to divide his kingdom, although he would retain overall authority over his sons and their territories – something that caused great resentment and led to several plots against him by his sons – aided first by Louis VII and then by Philip II, kings of France.

13th-century depiction of Henry and his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John

13th-century depiction of Henry and his legitimate children: (l to r) William, Young Henry, Richard, Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John

William

  • William was the first son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
  • He died in his infancy – nothing much is known about him and no coins were issued in his name

Henry the Young King

  • Born 28 February 1155 – died 11 June 1183
  • Associate King of England (co-ruler with his father) 1170–1183
  • Henry was the second son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
  • At only three years of age, he was betrothed to Margaret, daughter of Louis VII of France and his second wife, on condition that Margaret’s dowry would be the Vexin, the border region between Normandy (then held by England) and France.
  • Henry II took advantage of Pope Alexander III’s political difficulties to secure the Pope’s permission for the children to be married in 1160.
  • On June 14, 1170, the young Henry was crowned king (theoretically to rule in association with his father) at Westminster by Archbishop Roger of York.
  • York’s officiation, usurping a prerogative of the archbishop of Canterbury, exacerbated the dispute between the latter, namely, Thomas Becket, and Henry II, which ended with Becket’s murder six months later.
  • Crowned again on Aug. 27, 1172 (this time with Margaret), the Young King received no share of his father’s power.
    • With his mother and his brothers Richard (the future Richard I) and Geoffrey, he nearly overthrew Henry II in 1173.
    • Forgiven for this revolt, he intrigued further against his father with Louis VII.
    • In 1182–83 he waged war against Richard over Poitou, and he was preparing to fight Richard again when he died in France of dysentery.

Richard, 4th Duke of Normandy

  • Richard was the third son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
ANGLO-GALLIC. Richard I, the Lionhearted as Count of Poitou, 1172-1189. Denier, 0.95g (Elias 8), nearly very fine

ANGLO-GALLIC. Richard I, the Lionhearted as Count of Poitou, 1172-1189. Denier, 0.95g (Elias 8), nearly very fine

ANGLO-GALLIC. Richard I, the Lionhearted as Duke of Aquitaine, 1172-1189. Denier. Bordeaux mint

ANGLO-GALLIC. Richard I, the Lionhearted as Duke of Aquitaine, 1172-1189. Denier. Bordeaux mint

Geoffrey, 2nd Duke of Brittany

  • Born 23 September 1158 – died 19 August 1186
  • 2nd Duke of Brittany (1171-1186), through his marriage with the heiress Constance
  • 3rd Earl of Richmond (1181-1186),
  • Geoffrey was the fourth son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
    • He was stamped to death in a riding accident during a tournament in 1186 in Paris.
An incomplete silver denier of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Duke of Brittany (1169-1186 AD), issued c.1175-1186 AD

An incomplete silver denier of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Duke of Brittany (1169-1186 AD), issued c.1175-1186

John Lackland

  • John was the fifth and youngest son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
  • As such, he was not expected to inherit significant lands – hence his nickname John Lackland
  • Following the failed rebellion of his elder brothers between 1173 and 1174, John became Henry’s favourite child
    • He, too, plotted against his father – something Henry II discovered just before he died in 1189

John issued one silver halfpenny under his own name and title during Henry II’s reign 

John as Lord of Ireland (First Profile issue) Elis moneyer, Dublin

John (as Lord of Ireland) First Profile issue, Elis moneyer, Dublin mint

  • This brief issue of round halfpennies was struck in the Dublin mint
  • Three different moneyers struck the coins – ELIS, RAVL BLUNT and ROGER
  • This was the first of two coinage issues by John as Lord of Ireland

John’s second and third Irish issue as Lord of Ireland occurred after Henry II died, i.e. during the reign of his older brother, Richard I (the lion heart). Two distinct types were issued.

  • The Dominus / Cross Potent Issues, 1190-98
  • The Dominus / Cross Pommee Issues, 1198-9

Henry II’s Vassals’ Coinage

Hugh De Lacy was a leading figure in Henry II’s invasion of Ireland in 1171 and, as his most trusted knight, was left in charge when Henry II left. Hugh de Lacy served three times as Lord Deputy of Ireland and did much to break the power of the native Irish High Kings and enhance Anglo-Norman influence but he did not issue coins in his own name.

However, it soon became apparent that several of Henry’s trusted knights were increasing their land holdings (and power) via further conquest and strategic marriages. This alarmed Henry, so he made his youngest son (John) King of Ireland and sent him over to Ireland to receive homage from both Norman and native Irish rulers. John’s first expedition to Ireland was a disaster from a number of viewpoints – political, military and financial.

In 1186 Hugh De Lacy was assassinated by an Irishman and plans were made to send John back to Ireland.

  • However, the death of his brother, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, in France cancelled these plans
  • John did not return to Ireland until his second expedition in 1210.
  • John de Courcey was left in charge of Ireland.

John de Courcey (de Curcy)

John de Courcey became the most powerful lord in Ireland, when he conquered and held the provinces of Ulster and Connacht. This caused more than a little jealousy amongst his peers in Ireland and when John left Ireland in December 1185 and returned to England, Henry II granted the office of justiciar to the Baron John de Courcy, who had massive influence in Ulster.

  • Between 1185 and 1185, de Courcey issued coins.
John De Courcy, Lord of Ulster (1177-1205), Farthing, anonymous issue, Downpatrick Mint

John De Courcy, Lord of Ulster (1177-1205), Farthing, anonymous issue, Downpatrick Mint

Silver farthing, minted by John de Courcy in Downpatrick,1185-1205

Silver farthing, minted by John de Courcy in Downpatrick,1185-1205

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One thought on “O’Brien Coin Guide: Why did Henry II not issue coins for Ireland?

  1. Reblogged this on Coins Of Planet Earth and commented:
    Intrestin’ article about the short-cross coinage of Henry II, The short-cross design, introduced in 1180 by Henry, was widely copied in Europe and, still marked henricvs, was used by his sons for over 60 years in England until his grandson Henry III introduced a new long-cross coinage in 1247. But why did such an influential coinage not get minted for Ireland after Henry II’s successful invasion and adoption of the title Lord Of Ireland ? The O’Brien coin guide offers an answer;

    Like

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