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Research Coins: Feature Auction


England Returns to the Catholic Church

CNG 103, Lot: 1137. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $7500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ITALY, Papale (Stato pontificio). Julius III. 1550-1555. AR Medal (48mm, 46.54 g, 12h). Return of the Roman Catholic Church to England under Queen Mary. By Giovanni da Cavino. Dated RY 5 (AD 1554), though a contemporary cast. IVLIVS TERTIVS · PONT · MAX · A · V ·, bust right, wearing zucchetto and mantum; IO · CΛVINO · F on truncation of bust / ANGLIA RESVRGES, Pope Julius standing left, raising personification of England kneeling right, casting aside bow and quiver; in background, Cardinal Reginald Pole and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V standing facing; to right, Philip and Mary standing facing one another; in exergue, VT NVNC/ NOVISSIMO/ DIE. Cf. Johnson & Martini 1172 (in bronze); Lawrence 96; cf. Lincoln 553-5 (bronze); Mazio –; Eimer 31b (this medal illustrated); MI 70/15. Near EF, toned, lightly chased in obverse field.

This celebrated medal is most frequently encountered in French re-strikes made from the 18th Century onward (see Eimer 31c). Contemporary cast examples are extremely rare, especially so in silver.

To complement his handsome portrait of Julius III on the obverse, Cavino took as his model for the reverse a very rare sestertius of Vespasian; ‘Roma Resurges’ RIC ii, 2nd ed., 109. Cavino made struck copies (Paduans) of this sestertius, see Klawans 3-4. On the medal he added more participants to the scene. Pope Julius, who takes the place of Vespasian on the sestertius, raises England, who replaces Roma, to her feet. Cardinal Pole and the Emperor Charles V, substituted by Cavino for Minerva, accompany England. Behind the Pope stand Philip and Mary facing one another. Mary is clutching her stomach that appears swollen. This has been interpreted as alluding to the pregnancy that Mary announced in November of 1554. This was the same month Cardinal Pole came to London and the formalities of reconciliation with the Holy See were concluded in the English Parliament. Had a child been born and survived, English and European history would have taken a very different course, but tragically for Mary it was a phantom pregnancy.