Diameter: 19.000 mm
Weight: 1.330 g
CM 1818 Banks 34-115
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Silver penny of Louis I 'the Pious'
Frankish, AD 814-40
Minted in Dorestad, Netherlands
Trade and empire in the 9th century
Louis I, 'the Pious' succeeded his father Charlemagne as king of the Franks and emperor of Rome in AD 814. It was only with great difficulty that he held the empire together, faced with repeated coastal attacks by the Vikings, and rebellion from his sons. On his death in 840 the empire fragmented, and was never fully reunited.
While Charlemagne apparently only used his imperial title on coins at the very end of his reign, Louis used the title much more often. This silver coin gives him the title IMP AUG, for Imperator Augustus ('Emperor Augustus'), the normal imperial title on coins of the Roman Empire.
The coin was struck at the important trading centre of Dorestad in Frisia, near the mouth of the Rhine. The importance of Dorestad is shown by the fact that it was attacked repeatedly by the Vikings, but was apparently able to recover enough after each attack to be worth attacking again. The importance of Dorestad's long-distance trade is also indicated by the fact that imitations of coins made at the Dorestad mint were produced both in the town of Hedeby in Denmark and in the kingdom of East Anglia in England.
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)