Silver penny of Charles II, 'the Bald'

Frankish, AD 840-77
Minted in Melle, Poitou-Charentes, France

Heir to the kingdom of Charlemagne

The Frankish emperor Charlemagne (AD 768-814) created a huge and unwieldy empire covering most of western Europe, apart from southern Italy, the Iberian peninsula and the British Isles. Without the administrative framework of the ancient Roman Empire, it was difficult to hold such a large unit together, and the empire was divided up on on the death of Charlemagne's son Louis in 840.

The following century saw almost continuous warfare between the rival descendants of Charlemagne and Louis, each of whom tried to stress his own legitimacy as Charlemagne's heir. Coinage was one method, with many of Charlemagne's descendents produced coinage in imitation of that of Charlemagne and Louis.

Sharing his grandfather's name, Charles II 'the Bald' (AD 840-77), king of the western Franks, issued coins with the same monogram of the name KAROLUS, and his early coins are virtually identical with those of Charlemagne. However, some coins, like this example, can be identified as his because they were issued at mints which only became active after Charlemagne's death, such as Melle in Aquitaine. From 864 Charles' coins become easier to recognize, since he replaced the legend CARLUS REX ('King Charles') with GRATIA DEI REX ('King by the grace of God').

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More information


R.H.M. Dolley and K.F. Morrison, The Carolingian coins in the B (London, The British Museum Press, 1966)

P. Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe (London, Seaby, 1991)


Diameter: 21.000 mm
Weight: 1.710 g

Museum number

CM 1838-7-10-1134



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