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Charlemagne Anniversary Coin Exhibition

The Octagon Gallery of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England recognizes the role of Charlemagne as ‘beacon, king and father of Europe’ in the exhibition, Building an Empire: Money, Trade and Power in the Age of Charlemagne on the 1200th anniversary of his death. The exhibition displays a selection of the finest medieval coins from the Museum’s own collection of Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Byzantine and Islamic coins to illustrate the complex political, economic and cultural ties of the period.

The monetary system was one of the most important aspects of the change in the nature of kingship under the rule of Charlemagne.   According to the Fitzwilliam Museum, “a traveler going from one end of the empire to the other could expect the same silver coins, stamped with the emperor’s name and title, to be accepted wherever he went. As such, coinage was important for enforcing royal authority: more people would see coins than would ever witness a royal coronation or read a royal charter. Money was also already an international language and a means of impressing cultural identity and power across the known world.” As in many other major empires, the Emperor Charlemagne’s coinage was thus widely distributed across present day international borders. The Fitzwilliam exhibition runs between June 3 and August 3, 2014.

Image: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England.

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