British Kings and Queens and their Coinage HOUSE OF NORMANDY William I (25 Dec 1066-9 Sep 1087) - born 1027 - one marriage with four offspring William the Conqueror defeated Saxon king Harold II at the Battle of Hastings on Senlac Hill on 14th October 1066, according to the Bayeux tapestry with an arrow through the eye. He unified the state, put down serious rebellions and perhaps is best remembered for compiling the monumental Domesday Book for the feudal system. He also introduced stone castle construction an example of which is the “Whit e Tower” in the Tower of London. William died aged 60 from gastric troubles caused by a fall from his hors e. In the will to his three sons passed the Dukedom of Normandy to Robert, England to William Rufus and £5,000 of silver to his youngest, Henry. The Normans effectively ended British isolation in European politics. Numismatically there were just under seventy different Mints operating during William‟s reign which declined from then onwards, the coinage consisted of only silver pennies of varying styles. Fractions of a penny were dealt with by dividing the full penny into appropriate parts. William II (26 Sep 1087-2 Aug 1100) - born 1057 William II, known as Rufus either because of his red hair or because of his cruelty, taxed greedily. William never married or had children and his life was cut short at the age of 43 when he was shot by a stray arrow possibly fired by his attendant Walter Tyrrel whilst hunting in New Forest. Numismatically the reign of William continued like that of his father with fewer types of design. Henry I (5 Aug 1100 -1 Dec 1135) - born 1068 - two marriages with four offspring Henry I the „Beauclerc‟, or „fine scholar‟ claimed a superior right to the throne, because unlike his elder brother Robert, the Duke of Normandy, he was born while their father was king (born in purple), rather than of private station. His landmark charter, vie wed as the basis of the Magna Carta promised that the crown would adhere to the rule of law and put to rest the previous power abuse of Rufus. However Henry taxed heavily and ruled firmly, putting down rebellions in favour of his brother Robert of Normandy. He forced the baro ns to recognise his daughter Matilda as heir, but when he died in his 67th year his nephew Stephen usurped the throne. For numismatics of the reign, provision for halfpence was granted once again in 1106-7, none having been struck since the reign of Edgar, and the cut and divided pieces were not generally as acceptable as they once were. However the quality of the coinage was deteriorating and in 1107-8 coins were officially mutilated to show they had a good silver core and so cut coins could continue to be accepted. HOUSE OF BLOIS Stephen (22 Dec 1135 -April 1141) - born circa 1096 - one marriage three offspring The nobles preferred Stephen as King rather than Henry's daughter Matilda due to fears of instability under a female ruler. Stephen lacked natural leadership however and needed to please his greedy barons who later proved uncontrollable. Matilda returned from Normandy to seize her chance of ousting Stephen with her half brother Robert, Duke of Gloucester, amidst a climate of chaos and disintegration. In a bizarre twist of events, she captured Stephen, whilst the King‟s loyal nobles held Robert. The exchange saw her re-exiled; keeping Stephen on the throne until the age of 54. The civil war caused great upheaval in the coinage with the baron‟s producing their own coins as well as Matilda and her son, there are many variants and interesting designs most of them struck quite crudely. HOUSE OF ANJOU - THE PLANTAGENET KINGS Henry II (19 Dec 1154 - 6 Jul 1189) - born 5th March 1133 - married 18th May 1152 - eight offspring Henry II was the eldest son of Matilda and Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and inherited England, Normandy, Anjou and Maine from his parents, and Aquitaine from his wife, Eleanor. Well educated, and one of the most effective monarchs in British History, he laid the f oundations of the English common law system, although he is discredited for the infamous death of Thomas Beckett. His four sons were involved i n a power struggle urged on by their treacherous mother Eleanor of Aquitaine that divided the realm and exhausted Henry‟s energy at the age of 56. An important reign for coins as the new “Tealby” coinage was introduced with it‟s new cross design, called Tealby as over 5000 examples were found in 1807 in Tealby, Lincolnshire, again they are quite weakly struck. Richard I (3 Sep 1189 -6 April 1199) - born 8th September 1157 - one marriage with no offspring The third son of Henry II, Richard “The Lionheart” spent only 10 mo nths of his ten year reign in England. He bankrupted England, by using the rest of the time to free Jerusalem from the Saracens in the Crusades. He broke off from his final third crusade, after he aring news of his brother John‟s treachery. He negotiated an honourable truce with the great Muslim leader Saladin. He alienated many European leaders during the crusades making his return home dangerous. His sworn enemy Duke Leopold of Austria captured and sold him onto to his vassal Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV who literally demanded a kings‟ ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns and the Duchy of Aquitaine. Having dealt with John, he spent the rest of his time defending his French possessions and he died aged 41, from complications following a battle wound. For coinage, the short cross design continued to be issued and all bear the name of Henry with crude portraits. The only coins carrying Richard‟s name are those from the provinces of Aquitaine and Poitou in Western France. John (27 May 1199 -18 or 10 Oct 1216) - born 24 December 1167 - two marriages, second with five offspring John, the fifth son of Henry II, succeeded Richard after being named as successor by his dying brother. During his reign he lost many French possessions, was tactless, and eventually excommunicated from the church. In a lacklustre reign, he is well remembered for the 1215 Magna Carta that gave significant legal concessions to the Runnymede barons. The ensuing civil war against them was abruptly ended when he died from dysentery aged 48. The short cross design of coins again continued into John‟s reign, however there was a recoinage in 1205 of a better style and design employing now sixteen Mints. The name of Henry continued, John‟s name only appears on his Irish coinage where he was Lord of Ireland. Henry III (28 Oct 1216 -16 Nov 1272) - born 1st October 1207 - one marriage with nine offspring The elder son of John and a mere nine years of age at accession, Henry enjoyed one of the longest reigns in British history o f 56 years. Henry lacked the firm qualities needed for a King to rule, he was pious, caring, charitable and extravagant. The nobility tired of paying for his tastes, much alike the peasants who in turn paid for theirs. This culminated in a baron‟s rebellion led by Simon de Montfort who coerced the king to consult them on political matters, which was codified in the provisions of Oxford, in return for the financial help he needed. Henry died aged 65. The short cross coinage continued into Henry‟s reign for some thirty years and has time went on the workmanship deteriorated. By the 1220‟s only London, Bury St Edmunds and Canterbury continued with minting. In 1247 the new long cross design coinage commenced with the cross extending to the edge of the coin as a safeguard against the common practice of clipping. Provincial Mi nts were opened to help Mint the new design and later in 1257 an attempt at producing a gold coinage was made unsuccessfully due to the high face value. Cut halfpennies and farthings continued to circulate though specific Farthings were also issued for the first time in this reign. Edward I (20 Nov 1272 - 7 Jul 1307) - born 17th June 1239 - two marriages with seventeen offspring Edward proved a competent general and powerful leader in stark contrast to his father. His legal reforms and development of Parliament possibly at the expense of feudalism earned him the title „lawgiver‟. He sought to unite Britain and started off by successfully invading and garrisoning Wales. He promised the Welsh nobility a domestic overlord, and later surprised them by re-creating the title and investing his son, Edward, as the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. His fruitless invasion of Scotland (thwarted by Willia m Wallace and Robert I) merely incited a bitter enmity from the Scots that would develop for many years to come. Much to the relief of the Scots under Robert Bruce, Edward died aged 68 whilst preparing to re-invade them. The long cross coinage continued into this reign and was now again quite crude, it was abandoned in 1279 and a new coinage substituted. The new coinage consisted of the Groat (or Fourpence) for the first time. Athough this proved not yet popular enough to last, over thirty dies were used to make this new denomination. Being of such a large diameter they proved quite popular as jewellery and are only genuinely rare these days if never mounted. Edward II (8 Jul 1307 - 20 Jan 1327) - born 25th April 1284 - one marriage with four offspring In contrast to his father, Edward was a shy, unwilling and incompetent King. His reign was dominated by his friend Piers Gave ston and later the Despensers. He continued his father‟s Scottish campaign, but lacking military prowess, lost heavily at Bannockburn in 1314. He sent his Queen Isabella to negotiate with her brother French King Charles IV, but she had an affair with one of Edward‟s barons, Roger Mortimer and the couple later invaded England in 1326. Unpopular, weak and unable to establish control, he was betrayed by wife, deposed by his son and murdered in Berkeley Castle aged 43. The new coinage from the reign of Edward I continued in the same vein for Edward II‟s reign but there were no groats. Edward III (25 Jan 1327 -21 Jun 1377) - born 13th November 1312 - one marriage with fifteen offspring Edward unsuccessfully tried to claim the throne of France after Charles VI died, and vengefully invaded it when new king Philippe VI invaded his inherited French land. Seeking to unite Britain, he invaded and captured the Scottish King David II and began the Hundred Years War over France. A capable military king who evolved English society, he had successive victories at Crecy (1346) and Calais (1347). His son, Edward the „Black Prince‟ won an important battle at Poitiers (1356) capturing John II of France. He was elected Holy Roman Emperor but never crowned as his war chest was instead devoted to the French Wars, which already demanded heavy taxation to finance. Domestically he had to deal with the heresy of John Wycliffe and the 1350‟s Black Plague which ravaged the whole of Europe. He was sickened by the early loss of his son in 1376, which he saw as punishment for betraying his father. Edward himself died aged 64 after a 50 year reign A very significant reign for numismatics for the re-introduction of the groat but even more for the successful instigation of a British gold coinage which occurred in 1344. This at first comprised of the Double Leopard, Leopard and Helm which did not prove popular b ut was replaced later in the year by a heavier gold noble and it‟s fractions. This was lowered in weight over the next few years stabilising from 1351. This was also the year the groat was minted again. A Mint also opened in Calais, France for cross-channel trading in 1363 and the Abbot of Reading also minted coins with his insignia upon them. Richard II (22 Jun 1377 -30 Sept 1399) - born 6th January 1367 - two marriages with no offspring The Black Prince‟s son, Richard succeeded his grandfather Edward‟s throne when only 10 years old. Government was left to John of Gaunt (4th son of Edward III) who had to juggle a fragile post, Black Plague, economy and service heavy national debt from the French Wars. His youth and inexperience gave the ambitious Henry Bolingbroke (son of John of Gaunt) the chance to seize the throne whilst Richard was campaigning in Ireland in 1399. This was the effective start of the Wars of the Roses, between the Yorkists and Lancastrians. He was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle and died there the following year aged just 33. The new gold coinage and silver continued throughout Richard‟s reign without change in weight or standard. THE LANCASTRIAN KINGS Henry IV (30 Sept 1399 - 20 March 1413) - born Spring 1366 with two marriages, the first with seven offspring Henry was the son of John of Gaunt who was the fourth son of Edward III. His unpopular reign was marked by periods of frequent rebellion, following his usurpation. Richard‟s supporters resisted almost immediately, the Welsh under Glyndwr did until 1408 and the Scottish took advantage of the instability to wage continual warfare throughout his 14 year reign. Henry died in 1413 aged 47 from a combination of leprosy and epilepsy, his son Henry having governed for the last two years. As for coinage in 1412 the standard weight of coins was reduced partly due to the scarcity of bullion and also to provide revenue to the King, apart from this change denominations continued unchanged. The Calais Mint closed in 1411, but re-opened in the reign of Henry V. Henry V (21 March 1413 -31 Aug 1422) - born circa 16th September 1387 - one marriage with one son A skilled diplomat, Henry pardoned his domestic enemies to pacify and unite the warring factions and declar e war on France. Against the odds, after being heavily outnumbered he became a military hero following the Battle of Agincourt (1415), and restored Englands‟ pride and French possessions. He married the King‟s daughter, Catherine of Valois to cement the agreement becoming Prince Regent of France and heir presumptive. If he had lived another two months he would have been King of France as well as England, however he died so mewhat prematurely. His hard life as a soldier took it‟s toll as he fell seriously ill and died after having never seen his infant son and heir. As for coinage the use of privy marks on the designs became more popular, but most were removed by the last issue of the reig n and when the Calais Mint re-opened. Henry VI (1 Sep 1422 -4 Mar 1461) deposed: restored (6 Oct 1470 - 11 Apr 1471) deposed - born 6th December 1421 - one marriage with one son At nine months old, Henry inherited the thrones of Britain and France, but failed to secure either. Powerful barons dominated his youth, ran his dominions and he developed as a weak king. In France, the visionary Joan of Arc rescued the Dauphin Charles, who exploite d weak leadership to drive the English out by 1453. Abroad he was left only with Calais and domestically the Wars of the Roses resurfaced, when Edward, Duke of York was displaced in line of succession after Henry‟s Queen Margaret gave birth to a male heir. He was deposed by his cousin Edward, briefly restored in 1470 with the help of the Earl of Warwick. His second term only lasted a few months before he was deposed once again by his cousin and a month later defeated and captured at the battle of Tewkesbury. He was murdered in the Tower the following day aged 49. The supply of gold dwindled in this reign after 1426 and the Calais Mint finally closed in 1440. A Mint had also briefly oper ated for gold coins in York in 1423/4, the mintmarks became more prominent and can now date coins to within a year of manufacture. THE YORKIST KINGS Edward IV (4 Mar 1461 - 6 Oct 1470) deposed: restored (11 Apr 1471 - 9 Apr 1483) - born 28th April 1442 - one marriage with ten offspring In 1461 the Yorkist claimant Edward, seized the throne with the help of his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who was a lso known as the powerful „Kingmaker‟ for his decisive actions in determining who sat on the English throne. Unwisely, he married Elizabeth Woodville and English politics became dominated by her ambitious family, much to the distaste of Edwards‟ brothers and their allies. The po werful but treacherous Warwick later proved to be trouble when he briefly restored Henry to the throne in 1470. However Edward reassembled an army from Burgundy, and after killing Warwick at the Battle of Barnet (1471) he destroyed the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury (1471), f inally sentencing Henry VI to death in the tower of London. His reign was prosperous despite the brief interregnum, and planted the seeds and blossoming of the Renaissance in England. Edward died suddenly in 1483 aged only 40 leaving two young sons and a daughter, with a troubled legacy. In order to increase the bullion supply the weight of the penny was reduced in 1464 and the face value of the gold noble went up. A new gold coin the Ryal or Rose Noble was issued at ten shillings, but the old noble was missed so the Angel was also introduced later. Royal Mints were also opened at Canterbury and York to help with re-coinage and other short-term mints were Bristol, Coventry and Norwich. Edward V (9 Apr - 25 Jun 1483) - born 2nd November 1470 Edward was only twelve years old when he ascended to the throne, but was usurped by his ambitious uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. After Edward and his younger brother Richard were sent to the tower (supposedly for their own protection), they were never seen alive again and probably murdered, invoking one of the greatest murder mysteries in history. Understandably a very rare reign for coinage, all coins carry the mint mark halved sun and rose, but ca n only be fully determined by the die sequencing as the reigns change from Edward IV to Edward V to Richard III. Richard III (26 Jun 1483 -22 Aug 1485) - born 2nd October 1452 - one marriage with one son Richard the surviving brother of Edward IV, has been seen as a vicious usurper who murdered his two helpless young nephews. H e was probably not an evil, incompetent hunchback, as the Tudors‟ propaganda machine suggests but rather an able soldier and administrator. He lost his life and crown aged just 32 on the field of Bosworth to Henry Tudor in 1485 after being betrayed himself by one of his nobles, Lord Stanley, who in legend took Richards‟ „Royal-Circlet‟ from a thorn bush and placed it on Henry Tudors‟ head. Richard III was the last monarch to die on a battlefield. There are three types of coinage for Richard‟s reign, the first only lasted 24 days carrying on from Edward V with the halved sun and rose mint mark. The second type from the 20th July 1483 carries the boar‟s head mint mark which was issued for some 11 months. In June 1484 the second sun and rose coinage was issued. HOUSE OF TUDOR Henry VII (21 Aug 1485 - 21 Apr 1509) - born 27 January 1457 - one marriage with four offspring Henry the son of Edmund Tudor who was in turn the son of Henry V‟s widow, efficiently restored order, solvency to the crown and boosted the fragile economy. Ruling firmly he controlled the powerful nobles by confiscating private armies and rapacious taxing. He dealt successfully with their attempts to put the pretenders Lambert Simnel and „Perkin Warbeck‟ on the throne using restraint and mercy. He strengthened his unstable throne domestically by marrying the Yorkist heiress Elizabeth (daughter of Edward IV) and abroad by allying England with major European powers Spain and France. Henry left his so n a secure throne, a vast treasury and a peaceful kingdom from the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses. Henry died from Tuberculosis aged 52 in 1509. A renaissance in coinage occurred under the Tudor‟s, and Henry VII was instrumental in laying down the foundation. The most famous British gold coin – the Sovereign appeared under the Kingship of Henry in 1489 and recently celebrated it‟s 500th anniversary, though of course it has much changed since the hammered period. The magnificent coin shows Henry facing seated on a throne. The silver penny of Henry also shows the King enthroned though on a much smaller scale. The design of the angel was also revised now showing St M ichael wearing armour, and a gold ryal was briefly minted again. As for silver the biggest change was the introduction of the shilling or Testoon towards the end of Henry‟s reign and the introduction of the profile type bust with which we are still familiar on our modern coinage. Henry‟s profile appeared on not only the Testoon, b ut also on his groats and halfgroats. Henry VIII (22 Apr 1509 - 28 Jan 1547) - born 28th June 1491 - six marriages with three offspring The only surviving son of Henry VII, Henry‟s popular younger years were promising. Athletic, brave and talented he used the idea of “war as the sport of kings” to relive the 100 years war. However he only managed to bankrupt England and ruin the economy as he fought a series of useless wars in France. He demised into a cruel, paranoid tyrant who abused judicial power to remove political opponents when they fell from favour with notable victims including Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Marrying six wives was borne out of an obsession to produce a male heir to secure the succession. In 1533, he used Parliamentary Sovereignty to declare himself head of the church and break from Rome in order to aid his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Both marriages failed as they gave birth to future queens Mary I and Elizabeth I respectively rather than a son, which Jane Seymour achieved later in 1537, with the birth of Edward VI. Apart from a brief revival under his daughter Mary I, Henry‟s revolution overseen by Cranmer ensured Catholicism never resurfaced fully in England. Henry built fine Palaces including Hampton Court and the fabled Nonsuch, he was known for his great extravagance, his flamboy ancy and his own physical stature. This contributed to his death aged 55 after a severe ulceration to his leg, the result of a riding accident some time before. There were highs and lows to the coinage of Henry VIII, the main complaint being the debasement of the coinage which earned H enry the nickname “Old Coppernose” because as debased coins started to wear the highest point of the design, Henry‟s nose on his facing bust coins would turn a distinct brass colour before the rest of the coin did. This unpopular debasement of coinage occurred towards the end of Henry‟s reign in 1544 to help finance Henry‟s warchest, and even the gold coinage fell progressively in it‟s fineness from a high of 23 carats to eventually only 20 carats Numismatically the first 16 years of his reign carried on in the same vein as his Father, however in 1526 in an effort to stop gold being exported to Europe the face value was increased by 10%, so a sovereign was now worth two shillings more than before. A new co in the Crown of the Rose was introduced at 4 shillings and Sixpence to compete with the French Ecu Au Soleil, but was not successful. A new Crown of the Double Rose was therefore introduced at a round 5 shillings and 22 carat fineness the first coin ever below the standard 23 carats of previous reign‟s coinages. Another new coin was the George Noble at six shillings and eight pence value. On some coins of Henry‟s reign the initials of his various wives also appear and there are other coinages of the various archbishops and also Cardinal Wolsey, a very varied and interesting reign. Edward VI (28 Jan 1547 - 6 July 1553) - born 12 October 1537 Edward was a sickly weak boy of nine when he ascended to the throne. The Protestant reformation gained pace on his orders but government was left to his uncle Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, whose disastrous economic policy, was exacerbated and the costly problem of paying for garrisons in Scotland. The later years belong to the ambitious Nort humberland who remodelled economic policy, debasing silver coinage and oversaw the religious changes. Edward died from consumption at Greenwich aged 15 but not before having barred both his half sisters Mary and Elizabeth from succession. Even though it was a short reign, it was very important numismatically as 1551 marks the first time that a date in figures was ever produced on an English coin and was depicted on the new denominations in silver of the Crown and Halfcrown which were previously made in gold. The first coinage in Edward‟s own name from 1547 was in circulation at the same time as a posthumous coinage of Henry VIII in production from the King‟s death in 1547 until 1551 and the debasement of these coinages had continued to a low point in mid-1551. When the new coinage was introduced an issue the fineness of silver was at last restored and the quality of the workmanship increased, the gold coinage was reset at it‟s original values with a sovereign back to one pound value descending from a high of thirty shillings just before. HOUSE OF GREY Jane (10-19 July 1553) - born October 1537 - one marriage Jane was a political pawn placed onto the throne still only 15 years old, largely thanks to the efforts of her stepfather, Jo hn Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, thinking that protestant succession would keep him in power. Jane ruled for nine days, when she and her husband Guilf ord Dudley, possible victims of parental ambition, were removed from power. Her father-in-law Dudley was executed in August and Jane entered the Tower. Her death sentence was passed in October 1553 and she was be-headed on the 12th February 1554 along with her husband. There are no official coins of Lady Jane, only later medallions. HOUSE OF TUDOR Mary I (19 July 1553 - 17 Nov 1558) - born 18th February 1516 - one marriage Eldest daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, „Bloody Mary‟ undid the Protestant reform under Edward, disregarded tolerance, and heavily persecuted Protestants (nearly 300 lost their lives), to revive links with the pope and Catholicism. Married to Philip II of Spain in 1555 to reinforce her Catholic policy, her husband was not popular in Britain and did not spend much time there. Following her Spanish husband‟s foreign policy, Mary is unfairly discredited for the loss of the last English Possession in France; Calais, and longed for an heir up to her death. Having suffered ill-health for some time she died aged just 42. An important reign numismatically as it was the first time a King and a Queen had been depicted together on the shillings and sixpences facing each other on British coinage. Mary also brought the fineness of the gold coinage back up to a high of 23 ½ carats Elizabeth I (17 Nov 1558 - 24 March 1603) - born 7th September 1533 The Virgin Queen Elizabeth or „Gloriana‟ undid Catholic Mary‟s work as England reverted to Protestantism and pacified the religious divide. Skilled at politics, she was lucky to be surrounded by talented advisors, but angered them by avoiding the issue of marriage and of course never had children. She assisted Dutch Protestants and is most famous for defeating her unpopular brother in law, Philip II during the Spanish Armada war of 1588. Her reign is also known for the introduction of the potato and tobacco from the “New World” by Sir Francis Drake. A long and prosperous reign ended in 1603 when Elizabeth died of old age at 75. A significant reign for coinage as the first machine made pieces were struck from the presses of the Frenchman Eloye Mestrelle in 1561. However they were not popular as productio n was slow with the horse drawn mill press, though the quality was very good. Mestrelle was dismissed in 1572 and later executed for his collusion with forgers in 1578. Elizabeth enjoyed a long reign and this covered many different denominations being issued at various times. The gold crowns were again issued and it was not till 1600 that the large silver crown was again minted. In 1559 the old debased coins of Edward VI were called in for countermarking at a lower face value and the silver fineness was restored to 0.925 by 1582. A new denomination the three-farthings was introduced to help with small change transactions. The first attempt at international trade coins occurred in 1600-01 with the Portcullis Money for use in the East Indies with weights equivalent to the already popular Spanish trade reales. HOUSE OF STUART James I (24 March 1603 - 27 March 1625) - born 19th June 1566 - one marriage with seven offspring James, son of Mary Queen of Scots and grandson of Henry VII jointly ruled Scotland and England with the consent of the Westmi nster parliament from 1603. He ascended the Scottish throne in 1567 upon the abdication of his mother. He was extravagant even by contemporary standards and because of his Scottish Kingship was unpopular with the English. He survived the foiled gunpowder plot to kill him in 1605, and the conspirators were executed. During his reign a significant achievement was the printing of the first English language Bible in 1611. James died from a stroke in 1625 aged 58 after ruling Scotland for 58 years and England for 22 years. As James was King of both Scotland and England, the Royal title and arms on the coinage were cha nged accordingly to reflect this. In 1604 a new gold denomination the Unite was introduced when the weight of the gold pound was reduced, and a gold four shilling was also minted from 1604-19. In 1612 gold coin values were raised by 10%, then in 1619 the U nite was replaced with the lighter Laurel, along with lighter versions of the Rose-Ryal, Spur-Ryal and Angel. The first base metal coinage of note was introduced in 1613 when Lord Harrington was given a licence to produce farthings for small change. This licence was later continued by the Duke of Lennox and helped to meet the pressing demand for small change. Charles I (27 March 1625 - 30 Jan 1649) - born 19 November 1600 - one marriage with nine offspring Charles I the second son of James I had a weak and sickly childhood and was of quite small stature. He inherited a weak inflationary economy due to the influx of gold and silver from America, and impoverished it by his extravagance. He was dethroned for disregarding Parliament, trying to arrest five members and unwisely levying taxes without its consent. This caused the emergence of a radical republican army under the command of Oliver Cromwell. Charles had to leave London relying on traditional Royalist strongholds like Oxford. This means that the coinage of Charles I is one of the most complicated and fascinating in the entire British series, with the gre at number of provincial Royalist issues and the intriguing Obsidonal coinages from the City‟s under siege. Charles was captured in 1648 and was beheaded at the Mansion House on Whitehall in 1649 aged 48. He famously gave Bishop Juxon a large gold five pound piece as a last act on the scaffold and this has become known as the Juxon Medal and is on display in the British Museum. The reign is one of the most diverse and interesting numismatically ranging from the fine machine made coins of Nicholas Brio t to the crudely struck siege pieces of the Civil War struck on old silver plate. Branch Mints were set up around the country starting with Aberystwyth in 1637. The Farthing issues continued under the Duchess of Richmond and Lord Maltravers, finishing in 1644 when the licence was revoked by Parliament. At the other end of the spectrum were the silver Pounds, the largest British coins ever minted, and also the magnificent gold Triple Unites, the largest gold coins ever produced. Many different locations in England and Wales had their own mints throug hout the reign and during Civil War. The provincial mints are Aberystwyth, Asbhy, Bridgnorth, Bristol, Chester, Exeter, Hartlebury Castle, Hereford, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Truro, Worcester, York, and the siege mints of Carlisle, Newark, Scarborough and Pontefr act. With the large number of mints and denominations coupled with the troubled times during the reign, this equates to an enormous number of different coinages, showing the history and movements of the King in a very unusual period. THE COMMONWEALTH Oliver Cromwell (16 Dec 1653 - 3 Sept 1658) - born 25th April 1599 - one marriage with nine offspring Member of Parliament for Huntingdon and a Puritan farmer, Cromwell became a courageous Captain in the New Model Army of Civil War. He had himself proclaimed Lord Protector having turned down Parliaments‟ offer of the crown, achieving supreme power under the Republic. He effected a Union of England, Scotland and Ireland, though Ireland was dealt with severely, the Union was completed in the reign of Queen Anne. England became a major power in Europe under his stern leadership and dour religion. The Commonwealth was not pop ular due to the ban on popular pastimes. Oliver Cromwell died aged 59 naming his third surviving son Richard as successor. As for the coinage, the early hammered non-portrait (1649-60), was very significant as it was the only time that English language legends were used on British coinage, until the advent of the modern two pound coin with its English edge reading. The tiny silver halfpenny was issued for the last time during this reign. The milled coinage by Thomas Simon which bore Cromwell‟s portrait was made by mil ling machine of Blondeau for 1656-8. The denominations were the gold Broad of twenty shillings, the silver Crown, Halfcrown and Shilling. There had been a dramatic shortage of small change throughout the Commonwealth period, and tradesmen had taken it upon themselves to issue their own halfpenny and farthing tokens in which there was lucrative profit to be made as the accepted denominations contained far less copper than they should have to be the denominations they represent. These tokens continued in use until far into the reign of Charles II. Richard Cromwell (3 Sept 1658 - 25 May 1659) - born 4th October 1626 - died 12th July 1712 - one marriage Richard was a weak and mild character unable to take on his father‟s role after being rejected by the army as a potential leader, he stepped down in 1659, a simple farmer at heart. He was forced into exile for the next twenty years, but was given a reprieve to retur n to England in 1680, and died aged 85 in 1712 a farmer still. There are no coins of Richard Cromwell himself and the hammered commonwealth coinage continued under the anchor mint mark till 1660. HOUSE OF STUART Charles II (30 Jan 1649 - 6 Feb 1685) - born 29th May 1630 - one marriage with no offspring Several ill fated attempts to regain his inheritance from his father failed, as his armies were routed by the well organised Cromwell. A young Charles had to flee the country as the power of the Commonwealth steadily but surely took over, famously hiding in an oak tree en route to France. The restoration of the monarchy was negotiated by General George Monk who called for new elections, following a revival of royalist feeling in 1660. Charles II ascended to the throne after being recalled from his exile and the Restoration began on 29th May 1660. He was married in 1662 to Catherine of Braganza, but failed to produce an heir. He did have illegitimate issue though after amorous affairs with various women including Nell Gwynn and Barbara Villers who was responsible for the demolition of Nonsuch Palace. Charles was a keen horseman and actually rode several winners at Newmarket himself. He died aged 54 from complications following a stroke. His reign was most important numismatically for the permanent introduction of machine made “milled” coinage from 1662 and for the introduction of a copper regal coinage of halfpennies and farthings from 1672 after the withdrawal of tradesman‟s tokens. The hammered coinage finished being produced in early 1662, and the Roettier family designed the new coinage replacing Thomas Simon who was relegated to designing only the small silver coins and medallions. The major new milled denomination was the Guinea with it‟s multiples and fractions which was valued at this time at twenty shillings. The silver denominations were the same as for Cromwell with the Sixpe nce in addition with the small silver from groat to penny. Some of the silver shillings have a plume on the centre of the reverse sometimes with a plume on the obverse as a mint mark, this indicates the silver came from Wales. Some of the gold coinage has an elepant below the bust indicating the gold came from Guinea in Africa. James II (6 Feb 1685 - 11 Dec 1688) - born 14th October 1633 - two marriages with fifteen offspring James was the third son of Charles I and younger brother of Charles II and had lived the Commonwealt h period in exile in France. His first wife Anne Hyde died in 1671 after bearing him four sons and four daughters, his second wife Mary Modena bore him two sons and five daughters. James was deposed in 1688 for being a strong adherent to the Catholic faith and for trying to convert the crown as such by appointing Catholics to high positions of office. He was responsible for the “Bloody Assizes” and the appointment of Judge Jeffries who prosecuted protestant rebels around the country. As a result Tories and whigs opposed him and they invited James‟s protestant daughter Mary with her new husband William of Orange (James‟ nephew) to take over the throne. James had wanted his male heir James Fra ncis Edward issue of his second wife to succeed, however with the Landing of William at Torbay James fled and was allowed to escape to France where he rallied supporters. James built up his forces in Ireland where in 1690 they were defeated by the overwhelming power of William‟s army. James died in exile in France from a cerebral hemorrhage on September 6th 1701 aged 68. An important reign numismatically even though it was short, the first regular production of coins made from tin occurred under James with the issue of Halfpennies and Farthings, supposedly to help the tin mining industry in the West Country. After James was deposed he needed to pay for the troops he had mustered in Ireland and so the emergency coinage of the so-called “gun-money” was produced made from base metal, supposedly the result of the melting of arms and armour, produced in Dublin and Limerick and used for the two years of occupation. The plume mint mark was used on one issue of very rare shillings and the elephant and castle mintmark was used on the gold from Africa again. William III with Mary II (13 Feb 1689 - 28 Dec 1694) - William III sole ruler (28 Dec 1694 - 8 Mar 1702) - born 4th November 1650 - one marriage, with no offspring William was the nephew of James II and married James‟s daughter, his own cousin who was twelve years his junior for political reasons on the 4th November 1677. He was the elected Stadholder of the United Provinces and was invited to be King of England with his wife by the Tories and Whigs as part of their Glorious Revolution, after James II opposed them with his Catholic agenda, but no blood was shed. William‟s power was however limited by the Bill and Claim of Rights of 1689 which would never put this Country into such a position that it was in under James II again. William crushed the Jacobite revolts in Ireland by 1690 and continued with Continental Wars leading his troops into battle. Mary died in 1694 and William ruled on alone until he died as the result of a fall from his horse that tripped on a mole hill in 1702 aged 51 outliving James II exiled in France by some six months. The reign is very important numismatically as it was the first time that conjoined busts had appeared on British coinage facing the same way, and with William‟s Lion of Nassau appearing as an escutcheon on the arms of the silver and gold coins too. Mintmarks were again used to indicate gold from Africa and silver from Wales or Cornwall. Tin coinage continued until 1692, the last time it was ever used for currency. In 1696 there was the great recoinage which was aimed to phase out the old hammered coinage once and for all and to stop the value of silver and gold fluctuating so much. It was a sizeable project which was partly paid for by the dreaded window tax introduced this year to pay for national debt, and not phased out until 1851. If you had more than six windows in your house you paid tax for the extra ones, hence many older buildings in Britain have bricked up windows. This initiated the set up of five Branch Mints in remoter parts of England. Apart from London coins which have no mint mark, there were coins of Bristol, Chester, Exeter, Norwich and York, (B, C, E, N and Y mint marks). The provincial mints were striking coins for two years. Mary II with William III (13 Feb 1689 - 28 Dec 1694) - born 30th April 1662 - one marriage with no offspring Mary daughter of James II married her cousin William who was twelve years her senior when she was a mere 15 years old and it was at her insistence that William equally share the crown with her upon the invite from Parliament to sit on the throne, as she believe d the story that her stepbrother James the elder Pretender was a surrogate son smuggled into the Queen‟s bedchamber in a warming pan. Her pres ence added weight to the Glorious Revolution softening those who were opposed to William who had taken a mistress, one of Mary‟s Ladies in Waiting, Elizabeth Villiers. Mary died of smallpox at the age of only 32. Her reign with William hosts a coinage with conjoined busts which face right on the British coins, but always left on the Sco ttish coins where William was William II. Some of their gold coinage also carries the elephant and castle provenance mark indicating the gold used came from Guinea in Africa. Due to the poor state of the coinage in circulation with many worn hammered pieces the new gold was more hi ghly prized and the face value of a guinea which started the reign at 21 shillings and sixpence rose as high as 30 shillings. The great re-coinage after Mary‟s death in 1696 put an end to this fluctuation. Anne (8 March 1702 - 1 Aug 1714) - born 6th February 1665 - one marriage with seventeen offspring Anne married Prince George of Denmark on the 28th July 1683, and they tried hard to produce an heir. Anne unfortunately suffered twelve miscarriages and five children only one of whom survived infancy, a son William who died unfortunately aged 12 in 1701. Anne sided with her older sister Mary and cousin William at the time of the Glorious Revolution, and she blamed this so-called betrayal of her father as the cause for her numerous bad luck in producing an heir. In reality she suffered from the disease of the blood porphyria and also from gout and she died aged 49 as a result of these afflictions. Her reign is most significant for the Act of Union between England and Scotland agreed in 1707 and the unifying of the coinage in London and at the branch mint in Edinburgh, Scotland, whose coins are marked with an E under the bust. The reverses of the coinage were changed accordingly, the use of provenance marks continued on gold coins with the elephant and castle used on gold from Africa. Also the word VIGO was placed under the bust on coins minted from gold and silver bullion captured at the 1702 Battle of Vigo Bay. The use of plumes continued on some silver issues made of Welsh silver and roses and plumes for bullion from other West country areas. No small change was required in Anne‟s reign as there was enough in circulation from the previous reigns. However proposals were made and an issue of Farthings was in production in 1714, but Anne died halfway through the year, making this issue quite a rarity. HOUSE OF HANOVER George I (1 Aug. 1714 - 11 June 1727) - born 28th May 1660 - one marriage with two offspring After the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the 54 year old George, Elector of Hanover, was invited by Parliament to be King, as g randson of James I‟s eldest daughter Elizabeth. Thoroughly German, he made no attempt to learn English culture. He married Sophia, Princess of Zelle on 22nd Novmeber 1682, a union which produced one son and one daughter. He imprisoned his wife for adultery in Hanover and di vorced her on the 28th December 1694, and became Elector of Hanover in 1698. He arrived in England with two mistresses with the Jaco bite rebellion threatening to put James Edward Stuart on the throne. However these were easily suppressed by the end of 1715, the next major national crisis was the bursting of the south Sea bubble hit England very hard economically, ruining many financially. During his reign the role of Parliament came to prominence for governing the country, the cabinet came to the fore, mainly due to George‟s absence and lack of understanding of the English language. Therefore the foundations were laid for developing the post of Prime Minister, the first of which emerged in the capable Sir Robert Walpole. George died from a stroke on his way to his beloved Hanover on October 11th 1727 aged 67. The coinage was an interesting one too, with first the Arms of Hanover now being incorporated into the designs as well as Geo rge‟s many titles condensed into a very abbreviated form in the legends. Some gold denominations continue to have the elephant and castle mint mark, and the rose and plumes continues on the West country silver coinages. A new fraction of gold the Quarter Guinea was produced for just the year 1718 as it proved too small to be practical for use. The South Sea Company sponsored a coinage of Crowns, Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences before the Bubble burst too, these all have the SS and C on the coin reverses. The Welsh Copper Company also sponso red a coinage of shillings from 1723-26. The Halfpenny and Farthing were also minted from 1717. George II (11 June 1727 - 25 Oct 1760) - born 30th October 1683 - one marriage with eight offspring The only son of George I, George II was the last British monarch to lead his troops personally into battle at Dettingen in 17 43. George craved military glory, and was very proud of victories in Canada the Carribean and India. There was a Jacobite rebellion in 1745, with the pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie laying claim to the throne, organised in part by the Tories. This was suppressed, ending in the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746 and the Bonnie Charlie escaped to France and died later in Rome. This meant that the Whigs were now firmly in power for roughly the next fifty years and the Tories were firmly out of favour. George was married to Caroline of Anspach on 22nd August 1705 who bore him three sons and five daughters. George II‟s eldest son Frederick Prince of Wales did not see eye to eye with his father and in fact Frederick died before his father on 31st March 1751 passing the inheritance of the throne to his son George. George II also had a passion for music especially the works of Handel who had been court musician in Hanover for George I. Like his father before him George II died of a stroke in 1760 aged 76. The coinage continued in the same vein as his father‟s and progressed through a young bust and an older one. Early in his reign there was a gold coinage sponsored by the East India Company which all have the initials E I C under the young bust. A more significant coinage was later coined from bullion captured by Admiral Anson on his World tour in both gold and silver for 1745-6 and all bear the word LIMA under the bust. The roses, and roses and plumes mint marks again continue on some silver coinages, and halfpennies and farthings were minted throughout the reign. George III (25 October 1760 - 29 January 1820) - born 4th June 1738 - one marriage with fifteen offspring The longest reigning King in British history George III was the grandson of George II, his father Frederick having died before his own father in 1751. This meant that George was only 22 when he ascended the throne and enjoyed a long and prosperous reign which began with his wedding to Charlotte of Mecklinburg-Strelitz on September 8th 1761 by whom he had fifteen children. Many significant events took place during his reign, the discovery of Australia and the New World, the American War of Indepe ndence in 1776 and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1810, as well as the onset of the King‟s own madness, the disease porphyria. He suffered attacks of the disease in 1788, 1801 and 1804 and then permanently from 1810 when he also went blind. His son Prince George served as Regent until George III‟s death aged 81. The most significant numismatic event of his reign was the great advancement in minting technology, with the invention of Watt‟s steam powered coin presses employed by Matthew Boulton at the Soho Mint in Birmingham, many contracts for world coinage were won over the Royal Mint. Late 18th Century token coinage became popular again when there was a chronic shortage of loose change, with no issues of halfpennies or farthings since 1775, and a vast shortage of silver prompted the Bank of England to release some of its huge stocks of foreign silver dollars countermarked with the head of George III in a small oval and latterly in an octagonal frame at the the Century. The Bank also issued its own dollars at five shillings and sixpence face value in 1804 and tokens of three shillings and Eighteenpence from 1811 till 1816 to combat the issue of silver tradesmen‟s tokens at this time. In 1816-8 a thorough re-coinage occurred utilising the newly installed steam presses at the Royal Mint in Tower Hill, with the re -assessing of our coinage the gold Sovereign and Half-Sovereign were introduced succeeding the Guinea and it‟s fractions. The 1817 Sovereign with a face value of a shilling less than the Guinea at an even one pound utilised the now famous design of St George and the dragon. There were also magnificent Crowns from 1818 and Halfcrowns from 1816, the first issues since 1751, Shillings and Sixpences. Boulton‟s supplies of copper coinage last issued in 1807 continued to wear well for the next forty years. George IV (29 January 1820 - 26 June 1830) - born 12th August 1762 - two marriages with one daughter George was arguably the most flamboyant monarch ever and was responsible for the whole Regency period of fine art a nd architecture. His first marriage in secret to Maria Fitzherbert was invalid under the Royal Marriages Act, so in order that Parliament may cancel his already substantial debts he married Caroline of Brunswick. After the birth of Princess Charlotte in 1796 they separated, Caroline went to Italy and George remained as Prince Regent from 1810-20. Meanwhile George‟s daughter Princess Charlotte married in 1816 but died in 1817, leaving no direct heir to the throne apart from George‟s brother William. This caused a crisis and spate of Royal marriages in the quest for an heir, but not for George! Upon George III‟s death the Queen returned to England and was famously turned away at the Coronation of George IV in disgrace, the Coronation being one of this Country‟s most expensive Royal occasions ever. George reigned with flamboyant character, popularizing sports like the Derby horse races in Epsom and built the Royal Pavillion in Brighton on the south coast making the seaside the new destination for the rich to be seen. He died aged 67 after a series of strokes caused a hemorrhage in his stomach. There were some wonderful designs produced for the coinage in his ten year reign as Benedetto Pistrucci the Italian cameo engraver was in direct competition to William Wyo n for the position of chief engraver, although Pistrucci could never call himself as such as he was not British. The Proof Set of 1826 was the first officially issued by the Mint. William IV (26 June 1830 - 20 June 1837) - born 21st August 1765 - one marriage with two offspring William was third son of George III and became known as the “Sailor King” having had a fine naval career followed by years of inactivity. He proved to be quite popular as King with his simple Coronation following his elder brother‟s over indulgence for his own. William was well respected for his support for the Reform Bill of 1832 too. He did have ten illegitimate children with the actress Dorothea Jordan whom he lived with from 1791 – 1811. After the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817, William married Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg and Meinengein, who bore him two daughters both of whom died in childhood. William died of pneumonia aged 71, his death separating the joint rule of Hanover and Great Britain as under salic law his niece Victoria could not rule Hanover. Hanover‟s rule passed to William‟s brother Ernest the Duke of Cumberland, which prompted the issue of brass tokens bearing the effigy of the new Queen Victoria with her British titles on the obverse, with the reverse showing the Duke of Cumberland riding off on his horse into the distant Hanover. The “To Hanover” tokens are needless to say of no commercial value today . Another fine proof set was issued by the Royal Mint in 1831 to celebrate the Coronation of William. Victoria (20 June 1837 - 22 January 1901) - born 24th May 1819 - one marriage with nine offspring Victoria was granddaughter of George III, the daughter of his fifth son Edward. Her father Edward died while she was in infancy, but her mother Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld brought her up under a strict regimen that stood her in good stead to be Queen upon the death of her Uncle William. A Royal wedding took place on 10 February 1840 to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, with whom she had four sons and five daughters, all of whom married into some of the finest Royal families in Europe. Victoria was devastated by the death of her beloved Albert in 1861 from typhoid and never really recovered, known as the “Widow of Windsor” in seclusion for 25 years until she emerged for her Golden Jubilee. During the seclusion Victoria also became Empress of India in 1878. Victoria enjoyed the longest reign so far of any monarch and saw her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the only time this has occurred in British history so far. The Industrial Revolution was now in full force, the zenith of which was the Great Exhibition of 1851. Victoria built up the greatest Empire ever seen since the days of the Ancient Romans. There were many technological revolutions with the harnessing of electricity perhaps most significant, also the invention of the telephone and motor transport, as well as the massive growth of railways and shipping and science. Magnificent architecture from the Victorian era not only transformed London, but also cities as far apart as Sydney and Delhi, Hong Kong and Singapore. Victoria died aged 81 with her family gathered around her at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight after a 63 year reign, her body was brought back to the Capital by the Royal Train. Her long reign produced some fascinating coinage and ma ny different busts were used for the various Colonial coinages. Branch Mints opened in Australia, first in Sydney then Melbourne, and much later at Perth. There were attempts at decimalization during her reign and the biggest successful move towards this was the introduction of the Florin or one tenth of a pound in 1848. Some of the finest designs were by William Wyon for the 1839 gold Five Pounds coin used in that year‟s proof set and later for the 1847 Gothic Crown. The Wyon family dominated coin and medal production for the earlier part of Victoria‟s reign, J E Boehm engraved the Jubilee coinage of 1887, and Thomas Brock the “widow” old head coinage of 1893. HOUSE OF SAXE-COBURG GOTHA Edward VII (22 January 1901 - 6 May 1910) - born 9th November 1841 - one marriage with six offspring Edward married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, but even this joyous occasion could not bring his mothe r Victoria out of mourning for her beloved Albert and she denied him the governmental role which he craved. Though he had three sons and three daughters , Edward rebelled and indulged in a world of women with good food and wine clearly showing in the King‟s large stature. During his reign he had great influence on foreign affairs hence his reputation as “the Peacemaker” and the Edwardian age continued in the great Empire that Victoria had begun. Significantly the first manned flight occurred during his reign on 17th December 1903. Edward‟s good living caught up with him when he died after a series of heart attacks in 1910 aged 68 closing the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha lineage. The gold coin branch Mints in Australia continued in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, and a new one opened in 1908 in Ottawa in Canada. HOUSE OF WINDSOR George V (6 May 1910 - 20 January 1936) - born 3rd June 1865 - one marriage with five offspring Second son of Edward VII, George Duke of York was a fine naval officer and pushed his career until the death of his elder bro ther Albert made him heir to the throne. He married Mary of Teck in 1893 who bore him four sons and one daughter. Georg e saw Britain through the crises of World War I and even visited the front, one occasion at which he broke his pelvis after falling from his horse, the injury would pain him for the rest of his life. George suffered badly from Bronchitis in the early thirties and spent a lot of time in Bognor on the south coast of Britain to take in the good air, and henceforth the town has been known as Bognor Regis. The King was still in ill health by the time of his Silver Jubilee in 1935, and it was bronchitis that eventually killed him in January 1936 aged 70. Numismatically George‟s reign is noted for the debasement of the silver coinage in 1920 in an effort to pay the national debt, and for taking the UK off the gold standard in 1932. Branch mints for gold continuing in Australia and Canada, with a one year production in Bombay, India and a new mint in Pretoria, South Africa. The Royal Mint contracted out Penny production in 1912, 1918 and 1919 to other firms to meet unprecedented demand for currency and also omitted the year 1933 for Pennies making the rarest year for the British Penny. Edward VIII (20 January 1936 - 11 December 1936 by abdication) - born 23rd June 1894 - one marriage after abdication The Prince of Wales, Edward, was a confident playboy and a very eligible bachelor through the twenties, however he fell for t he charms of the American divorcee Mrs Wallis Simpson, which eventually led to his abdication from the throne in favour of his brother “Bertie” George the Duke of York. Edward was never a stickler for tradition as was demonstrated by his choice of eventual bride. He opposed his father on many issues one of which was with the coinage. The tradition had always been that the succeeding monarch should face on the coinage in the opposite direction to what their predecessor had. Edward was dead against this proposal and pushed for the designers to model him facing the sam e direction as his father and this would probably had come to fruition had Edward not abdicated at the end of 1936. The first coins were due for circulate in 1937 and all that were ever produced were some extremely rare proofs and trials of how the coinage would have looked a nd a few of the new twelve sided threepences which were sent out early to vending machine manufacturers so they could adapt their machinery to the new shape. Edward lived on as Duke of Windsor and was Governer of Bermuda during World War II. He died in Fra nce aged 77 on the 28th May 1972 with no offspring ever being produced. George VI (11 December 1936 - 6 February 1952) - born 14th December 1895 - one marriage with two offspring George was much more shy and reclusive than his elder brother and suffered from a speech impediment. He married Elizabeth Bow es Lyon in 1923 who bore him two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. He took speech therapy classes and overcame his stammer but it was always in the background to some degree. George as Duke of York never imagined he would be King, but after his brother chose to abdicate due to his choice of intended bride, George became King in December 1936. Great stress was put upon him throughout his reign what with World War II which he successfully brought the Country through and especially London where he and his Queen decided to stay even though Buckingham Palace was bombed. The strength of his Queen helped him through, but his heavy smoking took its toll and he died from lung cancer aged just 56. His widow lived on till she was nearly 102 years old, outliving her younger daughter Margaret by a couple of months. Elizabeth II (Queen since 6 February 1952) - born 21st April 1926 - one marriage with four offspring Our current Queen of Great Britain, her reign has seen many changes and innovations. Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten in 1947 and gave birth to Charles Prince of Wales the year after. Next a daughter Anne in 1950, a son Andrew in 1960 and finally Edward i n 1964. During her reign many countries of the old Empire have regained their independence. There have been enormous scientific advances in all areas from space travel with the moon landing in 1969, to the age of computers and the internet. This last medium of course brings you this account of our British History. Elizabeth has recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee and her coinage has seen diverse changes throughout this period with bust changes and most significantly decimalization which occurred in 1971.