Very British! ~ Memorable Images 13
The figure of Britannia
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Britannia

Britannia is the Latin name for Britain, the main part of what is now the United Kingdom. Britannia is also the name for Britain personified as a classical female figure. She is portrayed on the British 50-pence piece as a seated figure armed with a shield, trident, and helmet. This presentation was adapted from a figure of Britannia on a brass coin, called a sestertius, of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, who reigned from 138 to 161. Modern coins first showed Britannia in 1672, on the copper coinage of King Charles II. Frances Teresa Stewart, who became Duchess of Richmond, may have been the model for this figure. The seated figure of Britannia amid the waves with her trident was first portrayed on coins in about 1797.

Britannia on British coins

The Britannia Inn

The title is, of course, symbolic of our country, and the figure of Britannia appears on our pennies. It was first struck on British coins in Roman times, and in 1667 Charles II revived the device, the model chosen being a lady friend of his (a maid of honour to Queen Catherine his wife), Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, concerning whose character the less said the better. Other writers have it that the model was Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, another of King Charles the Second's lady associates.

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