French Style Jetton -- Marriage
French Style Jetton — Marriage

This jetton, found in October 2019, is a one of a kind item in the Jamestown collection, but it has an interesting connection to two other artifacts found at Jamestown. It was made in 1616 year by Wolf Lauffer II, and includes symbolism and wording that commemorates the marriage of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria on November 24th 1615.

On the obverse the jetton portrays busts of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria (Louis in the front) facing to the right. Both are wearing elaborate ruffed collars and crowns. The legend that surrounds has the letters “LVDO XIII DG FR ET NA ANNA AVSTR HISPAN”, means “Louis XIII by the grace of God King of France and Navarre Anna of Austria and Spain”.

On the reverse side, two hearts share a crown and are united by three banners. To the right of the crown is a laurel branch and to the left is a palm branch. The top two banners are missing their lettering, but they should read CARITAS / SPES / FIDES (Charity Hope Faith). The date and makers initials are astride the hearts, 1616 and WL for Wolf Lauffer II. Below the banners are the initials L and A for Louis and Anne, and in between the initials is an unclear mark that is supposed to be the Eagle of Austria. A ruffled banner across the bottom of the jetton reads NVNQVAM MARCESCENT, meaning “never to fade”.

Wolf Lauffer also made a jetton just one year prior to making this one in 1615 to commemorate Louis XIII’s 1610 coronation. Perhaps he made these as part of a set intended for a French market. The design of this jetton is very similar to jettons manufactured by Hans Lauffer, Wolf Lauffer’s elder brother.

Anne was betrothed to Louis when they were only children, and a politically influenced double marriage was negotiated wherein Anne’s brother, later King Philip IV of Spain was married to Louis’s sister Elisabeth. The four children met each other for the first time as a group on an island in the Bidassoa river that divides France and Spain in November 1615. Politically beneficial marriages between French and Spanish rulers had begun with the marriage of Philip II of Spain and French Princess Elisabeth of Valois in 1559 and continued through Charles II’s marriage in 1679 to Marie Louise D’Orléans. Marie Louise was the granddaughter of Anne of Austria and the two were close — Anne left much of her wealth to Marie Louise upon her death in 1666. These arranged marriages solidified Spain and France as Catholic world powers, an alliance that was unpopular with Protestant English monarchs throughout the 17th century. The Jamestown collection includes two coins minted during Anne’s brother’s reign as King of Spain.

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