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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1509: Gold, Coins, and Power in the Early Middle Ages

Thursday 4 July 2019, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Jonathan Jarrett, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 1509-aThe War of the Coins: Numismatic Evidence for the Gothic War
(Language: English)
Marco Cristini, Classe di Scienze Umane, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Military History, Numismatics, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1509-bAngels and the King's Evil: Projections of Royal Authority
(Language: English)
Nicholas Rogers, Independent Scholar, Chicago
Index terms: Law, Medicine, Numismatics, Political Thought
Paper 1509-c'All that glitters is not gold': Heroes and Material Wealth
(Language: English)
Vera Kemper, Faculty of Icelandic & Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland, Háskóli Íslands
Index terms: Folk Studies, Literacy and Orality, Mentalities

Paper -a:
Ostrogothic kings minted coins throughout the war against Justinian. Theodahad and Vitiges stressed the continuity with Theodoric in both typology and symbolism, but their successors altered the legends and the iconography of coins. Moreover, Totila minted tremisses in the name of the long-dead emperor Anastasius instead of Justinian. These changes, together with a study of the most important Italian mints, integrate the information about the war provided by Cassiodorus and Procopius of Caesarea and allow a better understanding of the aims of the last Ostrogothic kings, who considered coinage, as well as warfare, the continuation of politics by other means.

Paper -b:
In England, from the end of the 15th to the middle of the 17th century, gold angel coins were incorporated into a ceremony in which the monarch would heal people suffering from scrofula by touch. The recipients of the touch were supposed to wear these coins on their person until they were well. Although angels were coins, the subset of angels used in the royal touch were effectively demonetized both by the proscription against spending them as well as the fact that they had been bored to permit suspension, thereby troubling their status as coined money. This paper examines the work that this troubled status accomplished in the royal healing of scrofula, arguing that these coins worked within and beyond the ceremony to both express and maintain the English monarch's authority as at once economic, political, ideological, and sacral.

Paper -c:
The protagonists appearing in the Fornaldarsǫgur are to be regarded as perfect. The men possess a superior physique in combination with a broad range of acquired skills. However, many stories see the protagonist chasing gold or gold-ordained objects, either for their own or someone else's gain. Examples can be seen in Hrólfs saga kraka and Vǫlsunga saga. Wealth and power carry malicious and avaricious connotations that appear contrary to heroic ideals. Questions such as why, how and to what extent ensue. This paper seeks to explore the juxtaposition between the heroic imagery and the worldly desire for gold.