Even more evidence of Richard III’s innocence….?


I confess to not knowing that Edward V coins had ever been minted. There doesn’t really seem to have been time to have reached that point. However, as it’s clear they were coined and distributed, I have cause to consider the implication.

We have the old, old story that Richard was a dastardly, murderous uncle who intended all along to snatch his nephew’s throne. Well, if that were so, would he really authorise the preparation and issue of coins bearing said nephew’s name? Surely he would regard it as a pointless waste of money? Cut the Edward V and go straight from Edward IV to Richard III. (Cue cunning snigger and rubbing together of evil, clawed hands.)

But no, Edward V coins were issued, and promptly. To my mind this is yet more evidence that Richard was innocent of any wickedness. He had every intention of seeing his nephew crowned, and was as shocked as everyone else when the truth about Edward IV’s dealings with Lady Eleanor Talbot came to light.

To read about the recently discovered coin, go here.

Since I originally found the newspaper article about the discovery in Tolpuddle of the Edward V Angel, I have been in touch with Susan Troxell who, in December 2015, delved into the very same point about the unlikelihood of Richard ordering the minting of such coins if he had designs upon stealing the throne. She has written a detailed and considered blog about it (being much more knowledgeable and erudite than me!) and I cannot encourage you enough to take a look. While it deepens the mystery in some ways, with boar’s head symbols appearing on some coins, in others it flings the curtains aside and lets a lot of light in!




  1. We are assuming that the instruction to mint the coins came directly from Richard. It may simply be that the mint went ahead on the assumption that Edward V was the next king and new coins were required. It may have been a fairly automatic process.

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  2. The newspaper article is incorrect. The coins struck for Richard III (RICARD DI GRA) were not the first to have a boar’s head as mint mark. The Edward V coins also had a boar’s head as mint mark, which strongly suggests that they were struck on Richard’s orders when he was Lord Protector.

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    1. Is there a boar’s head on the above coin? I confess I’ve looked, but clearly not in the right place.


      1. I can’t tell for sure either, but the pic in Susan’s article clearly does show a boar’s head. From what I understand the boar is the only safe way to tell Edward IV and Edward V coins apart, so if the coin Mr Biddle found doesn’t have a boar (the mint mark above looks like a rose?) then it could actually be an Edward IV coin.

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  3. Yes, I saw the boar in Susan’s article, but just couldn’t see anything similar in this one. The mysteries go on and on… I imagine Richard would be flabbergasted if he knew how we examine every small thing he ever did. Or didn’t.

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  4. I would like to respond to the observation about Edward V coins being produced “automatically”. This may be true for coins of lesser value like groats or pennies, but for gold coins to be minted under a new regime usually required the input of those who were in the highest echelons, and most definitely the Mint Master. In fact, there are articles describing the very process; it often came to the king’s council to be discussed and approved. This is because gold coinage was a most serious and contentious issue in England and on the Continent – how much gold do you smelt into the coinage, etc., had very significant economic repercussions (not to bore you, but Edward IV experimented with “devaluation” – by subtracting how much gold would be in his coins; it’s very similar to today’s arguments over the ‘gold standard’, etc.). If you ever read the Parliamentary Rolls of Edward IV, there is much angst expressed about “bullion being taken from our land”; it’s not people sneaking bars of gold out of England, it’s about English gold coinage being taken out during trade exchanges, by Italians or Burgundians selling their fabrics or products there, and in exchange are receiving English gold coins like Angels and taking them back to Venice or Bruges. This was probably the first time macro-economics and monetary policy are coming to a head, and therefore, the production gold coins would never go under the ‘radar screen’ of the king’s government. I believe this same concern was expressed in Richard III’s first and only parliament. And in actuality, this sort of dynamic had been happening for at least 200 years when Henry II executed – without any semblance of trial – those who had cheated his moneyers and caused his coinage to be produced with less gold or silver than was supposed to be; this just shows you how serious the nature of coins were back then and continued to be. BTW, Henry II’s execution of those men is quite a harrowing tale.

    So, I have to be doubtful that some anonymous mint workers would decide to hammer out gold coins given the uncertain confluences of the protectorate, unless they were given explicit instructions – whether that was from Hastings (the Mint Master) or the Lord Protector himself (Richard).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting post, White Lily. When I put forward the notion that perhaps the order had not necessarily come from Richard himself, I was not thinking that the decision would have come from some anonymous mint workers, but from the Master of the Mint who must have been empowered to make some decisions without reference to the King and/or Lord Protector. It seems to me that among all the things Richard would have to deal with on reaching London, the physical design of coins would not have been high on his agenda. No one was expecting there to be any hitch in the succession of Edward V, so it would seem a fairly straight-forward decision to make.

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    2. According to the article by coin expert Christopher Blunt, “The Coinage of Edward V with Some Remarks on the Later Issues of Edward IV”, British Numismatic Journal, Vol. 22, No. 16 (1934), pp. 213-225, the coins were struck at Tower Mint during May and June, 1483, under the orders of Lord Treasurer John Wood. Richard arrived in London within the first week of May, I think as early as May 5?

      It wasn’t just Angels that were produced under Edward V; pennies and groats bearing the king’s name and boar’s head privy marks were also issued.

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  5. In terms of whether Richard as Lord Protector was directly involved in the decision to use his badge as a privy mark on coinage, we’ll probably never know. He did appoint John Wood as Lord Treasurer, and I believe that this was a new appointment as Wood had earlier served under Edward IV as speaker of the commons in the January 1483 parliament. The previous Lord Treasurer was the Earl of Essex, a Bourchier, and he died in April, 1483. One can only presume that the royal council, in May and June, would have had to discuss the usual business of govt in addition to Edward V’s coronation. Designs on coins were of great interest to kings, and the Angel was in particular of great interest to Edward IV (he also came up with a “Ryal” or “Rose Ryal” coin, that has imagery containing the Yorkist badges). Even if Richard didn’t actively order his badge to be used as a privy mark, it shows that those in power during the months of May/June recognized Richard as having a central role, and the Edward V coins give silent testimony to that.

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