The English coinages of William I (1066-1087) and William II (1087-1100) and their implications for our understanding and the public representation of the early Norman period

Thompson-Rohde, Anja Christina Friedel (2020) The English coinages of William I (1066-1087) and William II (1087-1100) and their implications for our understanding and the public representation of the early Norman period. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This multi-disciplinary project brings together the largest dataset of the surviving English coins of William the Conqueror and William Rufus yet collated. The dataset focuses on those coins which are held in public collections, thus creating a particular and specific base from which to examine not just the information held within the coins but also their contribution to museological questions. It examines these data using numismatic and statistical methods, interprets those findings from the standpoints of economic, social, and personal history, and investigates how the resulting stories can be effectively used in the UK heritage industry to engage wide audiences, and to affect the public representation of Early Norman England. The project outcomes are therefore twofold: It identifies new narratives which deepen and add nuance to our understanding of the period, and provides indisputable evidence of the value of public numismatic collections to the aims and purposes of museums in 21st century British society.

Examination of the coins reveals a picture of surprising diversity and continuation of traditional practices over the time of the Norman Conquest. This diversity manifests throughout the period of study, beyond the point at which previous numismatic research had posited the imposition of kingdom-wide conformity in the coins; the project confirms that uniformity was not achieved even by the end of William Rufus’ reign. The analyses also show regional variation within the kingdom, hinting at the survival of a Danelaw identity in the coins over 100 years after England had been united through the reconquest of the Danelaw by the West Saxons.

The coinage additionally retains traces of specific historic events, notably the Northern Rebellion and the Harrying of the North in 1068-1070, and possibly also the First Crusade to the Holy Land in 1095-1099. Beyond these wider political events, the coins also show details of the lives of individual people, in the shape of the moneyers named on the reverse of the coins, who are revealed as a group of men with a high degree of control over their working practices, their careers, and their moneying legacies.

These narratives enhance our understanding of life in England in the early years of Norman rule, and the project confirms that they can be intriguing and engaging for a wide variety of potential audiences. People from various social groups find the stories interesting and surprising, and are thereby encouraged to investigate further and discover more about the period. The coins are thus shown to be an invaluable resource for prompting curiosity and engagement in the public, and helping them to access historical research and revelation. This counters the perception that coin collections are difficult to relate to current museum aims, and can offer resistance to the trend for their marginalisation in UK museums, by confirming that far from being irrelevant to sector objectives, numismatics are vital to fulfilling museum potential in modern society.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Loveluck, Christopher
Burch, Stuart
Keywords: Archaeology, History, Museology, Numismatics, Medieval, Norman, 11th Century, England, William I, William the Conqueror, William II, William Rufus, Coins, Pennies, Money, Mints, Social history, Moneyers, Museums
Subjects: C Auxiliary sciences of history > CJ Numismatics
D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 59896
Depositing User: Thompson-Rohde, Anja
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2020 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 04:30

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