Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Woods, D.
Anglo-Saxon England
The Agnus Dei Penny of King Aethelred II: A Call to Hope in the Lord (Isaiah LX)?
Optional Fields
Aethelred; Penny; Agnus Dei

It has traditionally been assumed that the so-called Agnus Dei penny of Æthelred the Unready (978–1016) depicts the dove of the Holy Spirit on the reverse. It is argued here that it depicts an eagle rather than a dove, so that the obverse alludes to the forgiveness of sins as described at Isaiah 40.1-2, while the reverse alludes to the effects of hope in the Lord subsequent to this forgiveness as described at Isaiah 40.29-31. Hence the coin proclaims the hope of Æthelred that, once the English have won the forgiveness of the Lord, they will ‘take wings as eagles’ and rout the Viking foe. However, the issue was quickly abandoned when it became clear that this would not in fact happen.

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK
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