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Medieval Sourcebook:
From The Laws of the Visigoths:
On Coinage, c. 681

Monetary regulations establishing a sound coinage formed a part of the program of the early kings of France, Anglo-Saxon England, Lombardy, and the Visigothic kingdoms for the enrichment of their territories. Sweating, debasing, clipping, and counterfeiting of coins prevalent throughout the Middle Ages indicate that the art of designing and striking coins was not highly developed.

Law of the Visigoths. King Eruigius:

V11.6.i. We do not forbid the torture of slaves by the lord or lady in person for cases of false money, so that the truth might be more easily arrived at by such torture; so that if the serf of another betray something, or say what is true, if his lord wishes it, he might be freed by his lord; and a reward should be given by the fisc to his lord. But if the lord be unwilling to free him, three gold uncias might be given by the fisc to the serf; if he be a free man he deserves six uncias of gold for revealing the truth.

V11.6.ii. Whoever shall have debased, clipped, or shaved the coinage should be arrested as soon as the judge learns of it, and, if he be a serf, his right hand should be cut off.

Vll.6.iii. Whoever takes gold for ornaments, debases it, or corrupts it with an alloy of bronze or silver or other more common metal, let him be held as a thief.

Vll.6.v. Let none dare to refuse a gold solidus of full weight, to whomsoever it belong, if it be not debased; nor require money of less weight for anything of his. Whoever shall do anything against this rule and refuse a gold solidus of full weight that is not false, or seek reward for changing it, shall be arrested by the judge, and compelled to pay three gold solidi to him whose money he refused. And one third of a solidus shall be kept by the judge.

Xll.3.xviii. One pound of gold is worth seventy-two solidi of gold. One uncia is worth six solidi. A stater of gold is worth three solidi. A drachma is worth twelve silver solid. A third of a gold solidus is worth five silver solidi. A seliqua is worth one and a third silver solidi.


From: Monumenta Germaniae Historiae, Legum, Karl Zeumer, ed., (Hanover, 1902), Sectio I, Tome I, pp. 309-310, 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. 128-129.

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.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, September 1998
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