The Story of the British Museum, £8.99
Height: 34.000 mm
Width: 28.000 mm
George III Collection
CM George III, English Medal AR 309
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Struck silver military award for the Battle of Dunbar by Thomas Simon
London, England, AD 1650
The military might of Oliver Cromwell
This medal, made in gold and silver, was given to the officers and soldiers of Cromwell's army who fought in the Battle of Dunbar, in September 1650, part of an outbreak of civil war between the English and the Scots. The Scots proclaimed Charles II as their king, against the Commonwealth of Cromwell and Parliament, ending in the Battle of Worcester, where Charles was defeated.
The medal shows Cromwell in armour in front of the battlefield, with an image of Parliament in session on the reverse. The value of this object as propaganda is reflected in the heroic nature of the general's portrait, with the new government of England on the other side. Thomas Simon (about 1623-65) was sent to Edinburgh to take the portrait soon after the battle, which shows the importance placed on the quick production of commemorative pieces to promote the Commonwealth's cause.
Simon's abilities as a medal maker were greatly praised during and after his lifetime, and he worked as Chief Graver to the Mint during the Commonwealth (1649-60). He was less successful after the Restoration of Charles II, partly because of his work for Cromwell. Thomas and his brother Abraham were best known for their very fine portraits, and Thomas' final task in portraying Cromwell was to make the face of an effigy of the Lord Protector, paraded at his funeral in 1658.
L. Forrer, Biographical dictionary of m-3, vol. 5 (London, Spink, 1912)
J.R. Whiting, Commemorative medals: a medall (Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1972)