A magnificent bracelet comprising seven gold coins spanning the reigns of six Medieval and Renaissance French kings from 1429 to 1610. L to R: (1) écu d’or au soleil from the reign of Henri III, dated 1587; (2) écu d’or au soleil from the reign of Charles IX, dated 1566; (3) écu d’or au soleil du dauphiné from the reign of François I, issued 1515-1528; (4) royal d’or from the reign of Charles VII le Victorieux, issued 1429-1431; (5) écu d’or au soleil from the reign of François I, issued 1515-1519; (6) écu d’or au soleil from the reign of Henri IV, issued 1590-1610; and (7) henri d’or from the reign of Henri II, dated 1559. The larger center coin is 24K gold and the other six are 23K. The coins are mounted, probably around 1900, in simple 18K gold collet settings that do not detract from the beauty of the coins. All of the coins are very near the top rarity ratings for coin collectors, and had they not been set into the bracelet, their current numismatic value would be around $22,000. The pendant came from the family that owned the Medieval French coin pendant in our collection.
Henri III (r 1575-1589) was the last king from the House of Valois. He was bullied by his mother, Catherine de Médicis, tried to marry Queen Elizabeth I despite being openly gay, and was eventually assassinated by a Catholic zealot.
Charles IX (r 1562-1589) was Henri III’s older brother and was also bullied by their mother Catherine with whom he orchestrated the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre that killed 70,000 French Protestants.
François I (r 1515-1547) was France’s Renaissance king, known for building projects such as the Châteaux at Fontainebleau, Amboise, and Chambord, and for bringing Leonardo da Vinci (and the Mona Lisa) to France in the artist’s later years.
Charles VII “le Victorieux” or "le Bien Servi (“the Victorious” or “the Well-Served”) (r 1422-1461) was put on the throne through the efforts of Jeanne d’Arc who helped him win the Hundred Years’ War. The coin was minted right around the same year Jeanne was burned at the stake for witchcraft.
Henri IV “le Grand,” “le Bon Roi,” or “le Vert Galant” (“the Great,” “the Good King,” or “the Green Gallant”) (r 1590-1610) was the first king from the House of Bourbon. Though he was originally a Protestant, he converted to Catholicism to claim the throne, famously remarking “Paris is worth a Mass.” He pardoned all Protestants with the Edict of Nantes and was promptly assassinated by yet another Catholic zealot. He was called “le Vert Galant” because of his prowess with numerous simultaneous mistresses even at what was considered the very advanced age of 56.
Henri II (r 1547-1559) was responsible for bringing the previously mentioned notorious Catherine de Médicis to France as his bride. He created the world’s first patent system for new inventions but spent much of the rest of his time cutting out the tongues of Protestant ministers or burning them at the stake. All three of his sons became Kings of France, including one that Henri married off to Mary, Queen of Scots. He was struck in the eye with a lance during a jousting tournament and died of sepsis and brain damage.
- Origin: France, 1429-1610
- Condition: excellent; sharp detail on coins
- Dimensions: 8” long, 1-3/16” maximum width
- Weight: 37.8 grams.