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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Value of Foreign Coin in England, 1266

The variety of coins finding their way into the exchequer was symptomatic of the development of English trade in the thirteenth century. Something of the art of the money-changer can be comprehended by a study of the relative values of the coins passing through his hands.

Kinds of silver, namely: of Montpellier which is so good that an examined pound failed of full measure by one penny or two at most. The same for the silver of Eregha [?]. The silver of Fugacio (?) from which place the pound failed by four pence at most. The silver of Vrucela ( ?) and of Flanders whence the pound failed by four pence. Silver of Verona; the pound usually lacked twelve pence. The silver of Valencia failed by eight pence; silver of Pampeluna, the pound lacked two pence. And all these things have been decided on the scales.

Concerning the denarii of Venice: a pound was under weight only by one penny. The same for the money of Genoa. Likewise those of Montpellier of Spain. The legal money of Cologne: a pound lacked six pence. The false money of Cologne: whence a pound failed by three shillings. The Brussels pound is commonly short three shillings. The Marseilles pound lacks six pence. But in these things the money-changer is watchful so that he may buy a pound of whatever silver he pleases according to what returns a better profit to himself rather than to what will redound to the profit of the king, wherefore the latter receives a fixed payment of ten pounds. Wherefore, whether the money-changer is industrious or not the profit and not the loss will be the king's. But the king will not suffer from lack of diligence. Moreover, from silver vessels the money-changer receives thirteen pence for each pound; and similarly from gold vessels. And if these vessels are intact and exposed for sale, what can be sold for profit over and above the weight ought to be sold. And likewise concerning the profit on gold vessels when a gold cup is sometimes worth more than its weight by twenty shillings, or one mark, or ten shillings.


From: Hubert Hall, ed., The Red Book of the Exchequer, (London: HMSO, 1896), p. 979, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 146-147.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998