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Good or bad money?: debasement, society and the state in the late Middle Ages

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  • David Chilosi
  • Oliver Volckart

Abstract

This paper revisits the question of debasement by analysing a newly compiled dataset with a novel approach, as well as employing conventional methods. It finds that mercantile influence on monetary policies favoured relative stability, and wage-payers did not typically gain from silver debasement. Excess demand for bullion was not a major cause of debasement. Yet monetary issues were important. Warfare made the debasement of silver but not of gold more likely. Regime types had an importance comparable to that of warfare: Princes debased silver more often than monetary unions and especially city-states. It is likely that fiscal debasements were more frequent in principalities, not least because princes debased for fiscal reasons also in the absence exceptional needs. The conclusion discusses the implications of the findings.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27946/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 27946.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:27946

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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  1. Glassman, Debra & Redish, Angela, 1988. "Currency depreciation in early modern England and France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 75-97, January.
  2. Munro, John H., 2000. "The 'New Institutional Economics' and the Changing Fortunes of Fairs in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: the Textile Trades, Warfare, and Transaction Costs," MPRA Paper 11029, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2001.
  3. Oliver Volckart, 2008. "‘The big problem of the petty coins’, and how it could be solved in the late Middle Ages," Economic History Working Papers 22310, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  4. David Chilosi & Oliver Volckart, 2009. "Money, states and empire: financial integration cycles and institutional change in Central Europe, 1400-1520," Economic History Working Papers 27884, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  5. N. J. Mayhew, 1995. "Population, money supply, and the velocity of circulation in England, 1300–1700," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(2), pages 238-257, 05.
  6. Volckart, Oliver & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2006. "Estimating Financial Integration in the Middle Ages: What Can We Learn from a TAR Model?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(01), pages 122-139, March.
  7. Kindleberger, Charles P., 1991. "The Economic Crisis of 1619 to 1623," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 149-175, March.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Francois R. Velde, 1997. "The big problem of small change," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Bordo, Michael D., 1986. "Money, deflation and seigniorage in the fifteenth century: A review essay," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 337-346, November.
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Cited by:
  1. David Chilosi & Oliver Volckart, 2010. "Books or bullion? Printing, mining and financial integration in Central Europe from the 1460s," Economic History Working Papers 28986, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. David Chilosi, 2013. "Risky institutions: political regimes and the cost of public borrowing in early modern Italy," Economic History Working Papers 50815, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

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