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Medieval, France – 942 AD

Richard Sans Peur

From Ancient Galleries

Obverse: Small cross at start of Richard I legend; large cross pattée in center with four pellets in each quarter.
Reverse: Small pediment cross at start of Rotomagus legend; temple façade with St André cross; pellets in each quarter.

LEGEND
Obv: + RICΛRDVS I, cross pattée in center, with four pellets in each quarter. Rev: + ROTOMΛGVS, temple façade with cross mounted to pediment; in center, cross of Saint André with pellets in each quarter.

This interesting silver denier circulated in northern West Francia during the Carolingian period, but was issued by the Norman Duke, Richard I “Sans-Peur” (the Fearless), the first official Marquis of Normandy. Richard was the eldest natural son of William I Longsword and grandson of the Viking chieftain Rollo, the founder of the duchy of Normandy. He was a child when his father was murdered by Arnulf of Flanders in 942, and was nearly killed soon thereafter, when the Carolingian king of France, Louis IV d’Otremer, invaded Normandy with Hughes le Grand, count of Paris. Richard I was imprisoned by the King, but eventually escaped and was able to reclaimed Normandy. He faced another crisis when Louis’ successor, Lothaire, invaded with the counts of Anjou, Blois-Chartres, and Flanders in the 960s. Richard made peace with his neighbors at Gisors in 965 AD, and thereafter concentrated on solidifying his rule in Normandy by making family alliances with the various Scandinavian tribes in the region. He also gained ecclesiastical support by promoting Christianity and rebuilding a number of churches. Richard was first married to Emma, daughter of Hughes le Grand, but she died young, and childless. He had a number of children with his second wife, Gunnor, including his heir, Richard II le Bon, and Emma of Normandy. Through Emma’s marriage to two kings of England, Aethelred II the Unready and Cnut the Great, Richard was grandfather of the English kings Hardeknud III (see Hardeknud as REX penny) and Edward the Confessor. Through his son, Richard II, Richard I was also the great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, first Norman king of England. Richard’s legacy was his ability to reinforce the power of the Ducale and the Church, while also bringing peace and prosperity to the region of Normandy. Richard I also greatly expanded feudalism in Normandy and, by the end of his reign, most important landholders held their lands in the feudal tenure.

DOCUMENTATION
Value: Denier. Metal: AR Silver. Weight: 1.23 grams. Mint: Rotomagus (Roeun), Provincial Normandy. Date: 942-996 AD. Attribution: Dumas, plate XV, 10-11; Legros, 191-92; Duplessy 16, Féodales 17; Poey d’Avant -; Fecamp 773.

Legend, Documentation and Attribution

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