It may seem a little unseasonable to reference county cricket’s most enduring of rivalries in the midst of a particularly drab spell of midwinter dreariness, but it can do no harm to evoke somewhat happier times – at least if you have a leaning towards one of the two historical protagonists in this – and other – encounters. Mr Knowles, you may be advised to read no further…


King Edward IV is perhaps the noblest and most redoubtable of figures from England’s 15th century Wars of the Roses – at least from the perspective of those who championed the white rose of the Yorkist dynasty. He was the most martial of leaders, taking the throne by force of arms not once, but twice – and, in the process, inflicting the most devastating and eviscerating of defeats on one army by another in any conflict ever fought on English soil.


I have long since maintained that a coin, contemporary with and bearing the image of any such historic figure, is the best way to connect with their deeds and disposition from the comfort of your own home (I’m sure that walking battlefields or visiting castles can conjure up similarly tangible empathy, but the sight of a face – however stylised – and the fact that you are able to hold a piece of history in your hand must be hard to beat). To this end, I’m pleased to reflect on a coin we currently have for sale which dates to Edward’s first period of kingship, way back to the tail end of the 1460’s


By way of a (mercifully) brief background, the Wars of the Roses were a series of internecine struggles between the supporters of two purported royal bloodlines, whose leaders were vying for the regency of England in the latter half of the 15th century. It was a protracted and convoluted conflict, characterised by many intrigues, inveiglements, deceptions and defections, which are perhaps best illustrated by the fact that during the four decades over which the enmity persisted, Edward was both the eighth and eleventh titular head of state (and you can argue those figures both up and down with equal conviction, but – showing admirable self-control, I’ll leave it at that – for now…)


What is considerably more certain is that Edward earned his spurs, and his crown, on the field of battle. He was a hugely imposing figure, unusually tall for his time at 6’4”, and he led by example with sword in hand. His first attempt to secure the throne by force resulted in decisive victories at Northampton and Mortimer’s Cross, but the defeat of his allies at Wakefield and St Albans during the same nine-month period meant that the wider conflict was unresolved. It needed a climactic encounter to bring things to a definitive end, and Edward’s army administered just such a crushing blow at Towton, a dozen miles or so to the south east of York. Upwards of 40,000 men (and some say half as many again) took to the field, and a day of triturating hand to hand savagery left many of them dead, but circumstances favoured the Yorkists and the merciless bloodletting which followed the ultimate rout left the Lancastrian cause in near-terminal disarray with many of its leading figures having been butchered.


Even after such an outright victory, Edward’s tenure of the throne was not without challenge – intermittent fighting punctuated his first decade as king and he was ultimately forced to flee to Flanders when menaced by a significant Franco-Lancastrian army in 1470. After six months in exile however, Edward returned to his homelands, raised an army and again slashed, poleaxed, battered and cleaved the Lancastrians into submission at Edgcote, Barnet and Tewksbury. His ‘second reign’ once the opposition had again been enfeebled brought a decade of relative calm, and he was able to turn his attentions to a wider sphere of endeavours more becoming of an English king, declaring war on France – and eliciting a vast financial settlement without a blow being struck in anger – and later seeking to interfere with the possession of the Scottish throne, though this proved to be a largely futile endeavour.


Our coin is a silver groat, worth four pennies, and was struck in Edward’s London mint, based in the Tower of London and under the stewardship of William Lord Hastings who was elevated to the position as a trusted friend (and cousin) of the king, having fought alongside him at numerous battles. In all probability it dates to either 1468 or 1469 (as indicated by its weight, which show it to be of ‘light coinage’ stature). The tressure as noted in our description refers to the double border of nine arcs around Edward’s bust, which was a standard decorative feature on English medieval coins of this era. The inscriptions on the reverse read POSUI DEUM ADJUTOREM MEUM (I have made god my helper) and CIVITAS LONDON (London City); on the front around Edward’s likeness, we have EDWARD DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC (Edward by the Grace of God King of England and France). As to the significance of the ‘pellets trefoil’ in the quarters of the long cross on the reverse, and the rose and saltire stops after POSUI and DEUM, I’ll have to leave that to our numismatic department to unravel – updates as and when available!

The Hoard Limited ( ) © 2023 | Designed by Jarilo Design