Cast gold medal of King Charles I, by Nicolas Briot: the Dominion of the Seas
London, England, AD 1630
The Divine Right of the King
When Charles I (reigned 1625-49) inherited the English throne he determined to have a series of medals made that commemorated the events in his life and which reinforced the concept of the monarch's divine right to rule.
The success of his ambitious plans was largely due to the French engraver Nicolas Briot (about 1579-1646). Briot was a Protestant who had been appointed Chief Engraver at the Paris Mint in 1605-6. He had a criminal streak, overreaching himself while attempting the mechanization of French coin production, fraudulently using an old unmechanical method, rather than the non-existent new one he promoted. Despite his behaviour in Paris, he persuaded the government to make use of his technical abilities: a 'mill and engines which will prevent counterfeiting' and in 1626 he was ordered to make puncheons and dies for 'certain pieces of largesse of gold and silver in memory of his Majesty's coronation', the first of the sequence of medals for Charles I. Briot made cast and struck versions of the medal.
The medal was a formal assertion of English power at sea that had been made at regular intervals in the past. The Latin legend boldly asserts 'Nor is that a limit to me, which is a boundary to the world'.
M. Jones, A catalogue of the French me-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)
E. Hawkins, Medallic illustrations of the (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1885)