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

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  • Chilosi, David
  • Volckart, Oliver

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Chilosi, David & Volckart, Oliver, 2010. "Good or bad money?: debasement, society and the state in the late Middle Ages," Economic History Working Papers 27946, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:27946
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27946/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chilosi, David & Volckart, Oliver, 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.
    2. Motomura, Akira, 1994. "The Best and Worst of Currencies: Seigniorage and Currency Policy in Spain, 1597–1650," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 104-127, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Volckart, Oliver, 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.
    5. Sargent, Thomas J & Velde, Francois R, 1999. "The Big Problem of Small Change," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(2), pages 137-161, May.
    6. 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.
    7. 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, May.
    8. 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.
    9. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. ""Imaginary" or "Real" Moneys of Account in Medieval Europe? An Econometric Analysis of the Basle Pound, 1365-1429," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 479-495, October.
    10. Munro, John H., 1988. "Deflation and the petty coinage problem in the late-medieval economy: The case of Flanders, 1334-1484," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 387-423, October.
    11. 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.
    12. 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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chilosi, David, 2014. "Risky Institutions: Political Regimes and the Cost of Public Borrowing in Early Modern Italy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(03), pages 887-915, September.
    2. Volckart, Oliver, 2017. "Premodern debasement: a messy affair," Economic History Working Papers 86533, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Chilosi, David & Volckart, Oliver, 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)

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