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The coal burner

NapNap Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭✭

A medieval Viking-era Swedish coin of Anund Jacob.

King Anund Jacob of Sweden was born as just Jacob to king Olof "Skötkonung" of Sweden and Queen Estrid , his parents had converted to Christianity prior to his birth and gave their son a Christian biblical name. Sweden was only just adopting Christianity at this time, and the name Jacob was not very recognizable or acceptable to the Swedes, so he was also named Anund, and is remembered to history by this name. He became a co-ruler with his father late in Olof's reign, and became king in 1022. Despite a long reign (1022-1050), Anund's history is poorly documented and remembered, with a lack of contemporary sources.

He did produce coins, but the volume of coinage seemed to take a sharp decline after Olof's death, and would cease altogether at some point during Anund's reign. Coins of Olof are by no means common, but those in the name of Anund are very rare. Hoard and metal detecting finds have probably increased the number known over the last few decades, but there are still only about 30 or 40 known, many of which are in museums. Anund's coins take three main flavors, all imitating contemporary coins of England-
1- Those in his name imitating Aethelred II’s long cross type
2- Those in his name imitating Cnut's pointed helmet type
3- Blundered coins that die link or stylistically link to the above two

There is the likelihood that much if not all of his coinage was produced in the first few years of his reign, and may have ceased by 1030. The coins were probably all produced at Sigtuna.

Here is a coin produced at Sigtuna, in the name of Anund, by the moneyer Thormoth at Sigtuna, copying Cnut's pointed helmet English type:


Anund is remembered to history as "Kolbränna" or "coal-burner". Sadly, this was not because he cooked a mean steak on the barbecue. Rather, it presumably is due to his tactic of burning down the houses of his enemies. Keep in mind that this was probably not just an act of property vandalism. If you've read "Njáls saga", an Icelandic saga, you might recall the climax of the story, when the protagonist's house is burned by his enemies with the family still inside. This was a raiding tactic familiar to the Nordic people. A force would besiege a house, or hall, or fort, where people lived and farmed, and set the building on fire. Women and young children were usually permitted to leave, but the men would not be allowed exit and die by fire. This is brutal medieval Viking era stuff. This is Anund.

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