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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 12, March 19, 2006, Article 23

FRANCES TERESA STUART, BRITTANIA MODEL

Last week Martin Purdy noted that "Lady Frances Stuart was
alive when the figure of Britannia first appeared on Charles II's
copper coinage."  Curious, I did an Internet search and found
this information about her:

"Her blue eyes flashed as she tossed her golden brown curls. It
was hard to sit still for her portrait. Frances' thoughts were
racing with the excitement and honour of knowing her likeness
would be engraved on a special medal. And all because she had
captured the heart of King Charles II.

Immortality would follow for Frances Teresa Stuart, a Scots
woman, whose profile was to depict Britannia, the stirring
symbol of Great Britain, on the nation's coinage. (Her portrait
appeared on British pennies until 1971 when the decimal system
was introduced.)

Celebrated diarist Samuel Pepys, a keen observer of women,
wrote of Frances' striking looks, "But it was the finest sight
to me". . . . . .that ever I did see in all my life. . . . . .
Miss Stuart. . . . . .is now the greatest beauty I ever saw, I
think, in my life. . . . . .". She became known at court as
"La Belle Stuart".

"In 1664, England, at war with the Dutch, won several naval
victories. Charles II decided to celebrate by having several
medals struck. A figure of Britannia contemplating her victories
was to adorn the medals, and the King chose Frances for the model.
Thus she secured her place in history by posing for this
famous engraving.

Pepys wrote in his diary, "At my goldsmith's did observe the
King's new medal, where, in little, there is Mrs. Stewart's
face as well done as ever I saw anything in my whole life, I
think: and a pretty thing it is, that he should choose her face
to represent Britannia by."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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