Weight: 4.010 g
CM George III French 10
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Gold solidus of Charlemagne
Minted in Dorestad, Netherlands
In the mid- to late eighth century the Frankish kingdom developed into the most powerful in western Europe. This process began when Pepin III ('the Short') seized the throne in 751, and continued in the reign of his more famous son Charles I, or Charlemagne (768-814). Charlemagne defeated the Saxons and Avars to the east, and conquered the kingdom of the Lombards in northern Italy in 774. His conquests brought both wealth and power, and on Christmas Day 800 he was crowned Emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III.
Very few of Charlemagne's surviving coins carry the imperial title, and he probably only used the title on his coins for the last two years of his reign, following his recognition by the Byzantine emperor in 812. Most of his coins describe him either as king of the Franks, or as king of the Franks and the Lombards. This gold solidus from the port of Dorestad near the mouth of the Rhine describes him as king of the Franks and the Lombards, although Dorestad itself was in Frisia (modern Netherlands and Belgium).
P. Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe (London, Seaby, 1991)
P. Grierson and M. Blackburn, Medieval European coinage, wit (Cambridge University Press, 1986)