It’s the little things

Yesterday, I recorded this tiny coin, DEV-10B247– it’s a cut penny, meaning that it was cut from a larger, higher value coin, for ease of use. We get lots of cut coins, and they can be absolutely miniscule! This can make them tricky to identify clearly, especially when large parts of the legend (the text around the outside) are missing. 

However, in this case, I was really lucky. If you look at the image closely you can see the legend very clearly. It reads VS.DEV. And boom! There you have your coin identification. 

The legend POSUI DEVM ADIVTOREM MEVM is something of a motto for the Tudor family, and it appears on everyone’s coins, after it was re-introduced under Henry VII. It had been found on earlier coins, going back to Edward III, but the Tudor version was designed by an artist from Antwerp called Alexander von Brugsal, and it means “I have made God my aide.” 

But there is only one Tudor ruler who adapted the motto to reflect their partnership with their consort. It’s not the much married Henry VIII, but his daughter, Mary. She changed the motto to the first person plural, stating that she and her husband, Philip of Spain, had made God THEIR aide. That’s what those two little letters signify- they are the last two letters of POSIMVS, the first word in her version of the legend. So this coin is cut from a groat of Philip and Mary. 

Philip and Mary only reigned together for four years (some would say thankfully, given her famously “bloody” suppression of Protestant religion), but Mary adapted her coinage significantly to incorporate her husband’s image and presence. On her shillings, like this one, they face one another, an intimate portrait of a royal couple in your pocket or purse, which was much remarked upon.

SOM-A50924, shilling of Philip and Mary

Having made such huge changes and efforts to incorporate her husband’s image and proclaim the importance of this relationship, it must have been bitter when the marriage went sour. Philip was unfaithful and ruthlessly manipulated Mary to get funds for his wars in the Netherlands. She endured two false pregnancies which are now thought to have been manifestations of the cancer that killed her. When she died, he was far away in Brussels, but his face and her allegiance to him were right there on her coins.