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Technologies of money in the Middle Ages: the 'Principles of Minting'

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  • Volckart, Oliver

Abstract

The paper discusses which options medieval political authorities had to satisfy the demand for complex currencies. It distinguishes several models, each of which caused problems: A first one, where the basic unit was supplemented by a range of other denominations whose weight and purity where exactly proportional. While this did not take the proportionally larger labour costs involved in the production of small change into account, the second model did: here, small change had an over proportionally high content of base metal. In consequence, the stable numerical ratios between units of the same currency began to shift. The third option involved using gold for high purchasing power coins; a strategy that made currencies vulnerable to changes in the relative market prices of gold and silver. Again, the outcome was a that the numerical ratios between units of the same currency became instable. The paper discusses how political authorities chose between these options, how they supplied their mints with the necessary bullion and how minting was organised.

Suggested Citation

  • Volckart, Oliver, 2018. "Technologies of money in the Middle Ages: the 'Principles of Minting'," Economic History Working Papers 87152, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:87152
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/87152/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    2. Chilosi, David & Volckart, Oliver, 2011. "Money, States, and Empire: Financial Integration and Institutional Change in Central Europe, 1400–1520," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(03), pages 762-791, September.
    3. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    4. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
    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. Volckart Oliver, 2009. "Regeln, Willkür und der gute Ruf: Geldpolitik und Finanzmarkteffizienz in Deutschland, 14. bis 16. Jahrhundert," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 50(2), pages 101-130, December.
    7. Flandreau, Marc R, 2002. ""Water Seeks a Level": Modeling Bimetallic Exchange Rates and the Bimetallic Band," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 491-519, May.
    8. Simon A.C. Penn & Christopher Dyer, 1990. "Wages and earnings in late medieval England: evidence from the enforcement of the labour laws," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 43(3), pages 356-376, August.
    9. North, Douglass C. & Thomas, Robert Paul, 1971. "The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Theoretical Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 777-803, December.
    10. John H. Munro, 2009. "Warfare, Liquidity Crises, and Coinage Debasements in Burgundian Flanders, 1384 - 1482: Monetary or Fiscal Remedies?," Working Papers tecipa-355, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    11. Lopez,Robert S., 1976. "The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950–1350," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521290463, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Medieval monetary policies; mining; minting;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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