Gold pavillon of Philip VI

Medieval, introduced AD 1339
Minted in France

Pavilioned in splendour

France was the first kingdom in western Europe to introduce gold coinage successfully. The gold metal came mostly from Africa or Hungary, via Italy. Silver flowed out of France in exchange. The designs on French royal issues, and particularly those of King Philip VI (reigned 1328-50), show an elaborate Gothic beauty, which set the style for other royal coinages in medieval Europe.

The pavillon of 1339 was a short-lived issue. When introduced it was valued at 30 sous tournois in the French monetary system. On the front the image of the king is shown seated under a pavilion-style canopy, hence the coin's name. The canopy is decorated with fleurs-de-lis, the stylized lily that acted as the principal French royal symbol. The king holds a sceptre. The back of the coin shows a highly decorated cross, surrounded by a four-lobed design, and with crowns in its angles.

Ironically, the beautiful gold coins of this reign disguise the onset of a period of serious monetary confusion, as the beginning of the Hundred Years War between France and England in 1337 undermined the value of French coinage.

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More information


J. Duplessy, Les monnaies Françaises royale, vol. I (Paris, Maison Platt, 1988)

N.J. Mayhew, Coinage in France from the Dar (London, Seaby, 1988)

J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Diameter: 18.000 mm
Weight: 4.680 g

Museum number

CM SS Banks 127-126


Gift of Sir Joseph and Lady Banks


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