||James II Era silver Medal 1688, by G. Bower, Eimer-288b, MI-623/39, 50mm, cast, MS63 NGC. Struck to portray William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1677-90, who is shown in high relief facing right on the obverse in his canonical robes. The reverse depicts medallic images of his bishops: at center Henry Compton of London, and surrounding him Francis Turner of Ely, Thomas Ken of Bath, John Trelawney of Bristol, Thomas White of Peterborough, John Lake of Chichester, and William Lloyd of Saint Asaph. All were in office at the time except for Compton. This is an exceptionally fine, rare piece relating to King James II's split with the Anglican church as he converted to Catholicism. Just before this medal was made, the king had declared a formal freedom of choice of religion for England in a pair of declarations -- his Declaration of Indulgence and the second Declaration for Liberty of Conscience of 1687, which together suspended penal laws and religious oaths enforcing conformity to the Anglican Church. But a protest came in reaction to this seemingly freeing act, as numerous clerical leaders refused to read, and validate, those declarations, fearing that these proposals would lead to a renewal of Catholicism and civil unrest. Sancroft led the protest against the crown, and six of the seven bishops depicted on this medal's reverse joined in his stand (the seventh, Compton of London, had been suspended prior to this event). In consequence of their stand, the bishops were sent to the Tower of London to consider their situations. At trial they were acquitted, but the die of protest against the newly Catholic king had already been cast. On the eve of the so-called Bloodless or Glorious Revolution, Parliament selected James's Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange as the new monarchs. Their combined 14 years as titular heads of both state and religion secured the Protestant charge. This medal was created literally on the cusp of the moment of change from James II to William & Mary, when the Church of England remained forever forward Anglican.
Realized $1,116.25. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.