Money History
Medieval Europe

In most parts of the world, life during the Middle Ages was greatly influenced by the colonial rule of the Romans of the past. This was especially true in the western regions of Europe that had witnessed enough transformations since the Roman period. Incidentally, most of the famous Roman public establishments well-known worldwide faded away with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. This also included the currency as well as the official economic systems that had been responsible for the manufacture and flow of money during the Roman period. The German rulers who had taken control of the western part of the erstwhile Roman Empire actually had no purpose for the complicated taxation method developed by the Roman authorities to support their luxurious framework as well as sustain a huge permanent army. In fact, none of these aspects had any place or needed in the German society.

Nevertheless, like their predecessors, both the monarchy as well as the aristocrats in the era after the Romans accorded as much importance to the precious metals. However, unlike the Romans, the Germanic rulers did not use precious metals such as gold and silver to manufacture coins and thereby circulate them among the masses. Contrarily, now the kings and bishops began to amass these precious metals in their personal treasuries. Henceforth, these precious metals were not only accessible to a privileged few, but also became their personal assets. And it took another several hundred years for a structure similar to the fundamental intricacy of the Roman fiscal system to be set up again in Europe.

Money in Rome: c. AD 450-c. 750

Although the uncivilized societies in the neighborhood of the Roman Empire during the early centuries of our times were by now accustomed with money both in perception and in usage, they basically used coins in the bullion form. This aspect is evident from the fact that coins belonging to the erstwhile Roman Empire has been found in several places, including the regions adjoining the Rhine and Danube front line as well as the distant northern lands. Records from the era state members of these barbarian societies generally collected and used the gold and silver coins of the Roman Empire as esteemed ornaments or melted them to manufacture new items of extravagance. However, some of these coins were also kept for their monetary use. While these barbarian societies were often at war with the Roman Empire, during times of peace they also carried out trade across the borders of the empire. Normally, business transactions were done through barter system, but they also used the gold and silver coins to mend any discrepancy in the value of items or while making purchases for costly commodities such as furs and even slaves. It has been seen that among the barbarian groups, the more organized ones often had cordial relations with the Roman Empire and their chiefs obtained royally gifts in the form of coins and salvers. Normally, the Roman Emperors presented such gifts with two purposes - to recognize the value of these societies as former allies of the empire and to appease them keeping in view any hostile move by them in future. It is interesting to learn that in 451 A.D., Roman general Aetius presented a magnificent salver made of 225 kg gold to the Visigoths' king - ruler of one such barbarian group. This extravagant golden plate makes the silver bowls that were placed in the grave of a seventh century English monarch at Sutton Hoo appear as too reticent.

The geographical link notwithstanding, the pecuniary systems of the regions in the western part of Europe transformed radically following the collapse of the Roman regime there. The coins used by many of the barbarian territories beyond Italy were practically made of complete gold. One explanation offered for the focus on coins of such high denomination is that the use of currency had undergone a change that in the later part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, their urban-based economy was slowly substituted by a rural financial system that was rooted in large countryside property. Simultaneously, the taxation practice of the Romans had either collapsed or become redundant. Trade and commerce with outside regions and other nations persisted, but the intensity had been diminished. Most importantly, during this period, the usage or distribution of coins had gone into a comatose. In such a scenario, there was virtually little use of coins of smaller denominations, but the importance and requirement of gold coins persisted as they were most appropriate for resolving authorized damages or making payments towards compensation that were typical of the Germanic social order. Gold coins were used in charitable imbursements, shelling out the salaries of the army as well as providing the requirements of the top administrators.

Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian kings reigning over the adjacent territories initially considered that their kingdoms were theoretically still a part of the empire and hence they continued manufacturing their gold coins named after the consecutive emperors at Constantinople at the time. The gold coins struck by these barbarian societies were generally described as 'pseudo' of fake imperial coins and could be easily differentiated from the original coins minted by the Roman Empire owing to their design. However, it needs to be mentioned that compared to the gold coins of the Roman Empire, the gold coins struck by these barbarian rulers were not always low-grade in quality, but they lacked in consistency in standard. While the gold coins were struck in the names of the current emperors at Constantinople, the smaller value coins struck in silver and bronze bore the names and/ or initials of the barbarian rulers. Slowly, but steadily, all links with the Roman Empire were severed when all coins produced by these barbarian societies were named after the authorities issuing them locally.

Further changes vis-à-vis the monetary system was witnesses in the later part of the sixth and seventh centuries. For instance, there was a mushrooming growth of mints in the less federal kingdom of Frankish. In addition, during this period also witnessed initial indications of the diminishing monopoly of the rulers regarding issuance of coins and gradually others. For instance, the Church or the religious authorities now owned their coins too. All these notwithstanding, the Roman tradition of wasting gold coins not only continued, but even increased especially owing to the regular unfavorable equilibrium in trade in luxurious items with the East as well as the inclination of the rich and the Church to stockpile whatever gold coins they possessed. The diminishing stock of gold could not be supplemented by bringing in new supplies since there was no noteworthy source of this precious metal in the West. Moreover, the earlier consistent combinations of imperial solidi granted as financial backings from the Byzantine Empire had stopped. Consequently, the region witnessed an acute scarcity of bullion and all over the barbarian territories gold was now restricted to smaller denomination such as the tremissis - one third of the value of a solidus. From the very beginning, there was an inclination among the barbarian kingdoms towards their gold coins being more weighty and superior compared to the ones issued by the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this tendency among the barbarian rulers increased manifold. However, the acceleration and degree of this process differed depending on the personal situations faced by each descendant monarchy.

As the demand for coins began to increase, this problem became more severe. Although the barbarian societies were mostly engages in fratricidal conflicts, the thriving barbarian reigns developed more established situations and build up monetary systems that endorsed business life as well as the exploitation of money. Besides, the recently approved markets and fairs required coins of lesser value compared to the gold tremissis. It has been seen that the increasing authority of the Christian Church played a vital role during this period. While the Church added to the exhaustion on bullion by altering gold coins into slavers and ornaments, it also aggravated the circulation of money in fulfilling its functions as the collector and distributor of charity, sponsor of artisans and also as a contributor to the restoration of trade and commerce.

The Merovingian France is an ideal example of such developments. While the circumstances changed more or less in all the barbarian territories following the fall of the powerful Roman Empire, during the first half of the seventh century, Merovingian France witnessed the tremissis and the rare imperial solidi speedily become weak as people began to make gold impure by adding silver. Following a short fold over, around 675 A.D., these coins were substituted by silver coins. Many of the silver coins of this period bore the words 'DENARIVS' and were equivalent in size as well as weight of the tremissis. England, ruled by the Anglo-Saxons, heavily relied on the continental bullion and hence could not carry on with gold coinage following the collapse of the Merovingian standard and switched over to silver around the same period. Like silver was scarce earlier, now gold became a rare commodity. Although the gold plates or slavers hoarded for long came to some use during this time, but it is likely that silver once again became obtainable from new mining sources. It is presumed that the new silver mines were located in the Melle area of western France and these mines gradually yielded more and more of the metal later.

Although the west European silver pennies made of thick material are historically insignificant, they were very useful for the people of the era. These silver pennies were called sceattas - the name derived from an Old English word denoting 'treasure'. The Netherlands-based Frisians were the most significant people who led to increasing commercial activities as well as the exploitation of coins from around 700 A.D. onwards. The Frisians were mainly engaged in buying and selling slaves and also exchanged commodities from the north for the luxurious items of the south. As a result of this, their sceattas eventually turned out to be an important aspect of the currency prevalent in northern Europe. The use of sceattas became widespread during the early eighth century and although reservedly, many people attribute this phenomenon to Ribe, a southern Danish town on the North Sea coast that was a key settlement for this type of trade.

The weight as well as the superiority of the sceattas deteriorated sometime around the second quarter of the eighth century. Some of the sceattas issued in England at a later period contained so less silver that they almost appeared like bronze coins. The cause for such rapid deterioration of the sceattas and its eventual collapse is multifaceted. Even this time, the primary reasons seem to be the scarcity of bullion supplies coupled with an unfavorable equilibrium of trade. However, according to historians, the most important reason behind the collapse of sceattas is the conquest of the sovereign atheistic Frisian territory by the Christian Carolingians.

In fact, the history of money in Western Europe during this period, covering several centuries, may be compared to the changeover of the Roman Empire from the indispensable unanimity of the empire to the plurality or multiplicity of the succeeding barbarian governments. Although all the barbarian dynasties inherited the different Roman practices, including the monetary system, each of them had their own characteristic identity.

Penny age: c. 750-1150

Currency in Europe was passing through an evolutionary period during the inception of the Carolingian Age (751 A.D. to 987 A.D.). While the remainder or glimmer of the Roman monetary system vis-à-vis coinage and taxation was making an effort to survive in the south of Europe, the economic structure of the medieval descendant of the Romans was by now functional in the north-west regions of the continent. The tendency of decentralizing feature of the new regime was in the process of being repealed. The fall of Spain to the Arabs between 711 A.D. and 715 A.D. was an indication of the new progression. In fact, following the conquest of Spain by the Arabs, the entire peninsula came under the purview of the Islamic world and took on the monetary system prevailing in the territories under Umayyad caliph, whose rule extended from the Indus in the east to the Atlantic in the west. Around 80 mints operational during the previous Visigothic period were now trimmed down to a solitary mint located at Cordoba. This mint served the coinage requirements of the whole country. And it was obvious that the financial institutions set up during the barbarian regime after the fall of the Roman Empire and that in the Islamic world varied greatly. In fact, each was in contrast to the other.

Even the new currency of the Islamic world was much different from the older one of the barbarian regimes. The new coins were made of thinner material and continued to be the regular silver denomination of Europe for the remaining part of the Medieval Ages. Unlike in the post Roman barbarian period, the restructuring also made the royal control on minting coins more tight. And this control was evident from the fact that all coins minted during the period carried the rulers name or initial and tide. At the same time, the number of mints in the empire was reduced significantly and all the coins were struck in consistent pattern all over the ruler's territory. And this included the northern parts of Spain that was regained from the Arabs and also in the erstwhile Lombard kingdom in northern Italy. In fact, the coinage issued during the Carolingian period was in high quantity that was maintained by monetary and commercial accomplishments, especially owing to the effectual utilization of the silver mines at Melle in the western part of France.

Here, it needs to be mentioned that the danger of the Vikings was an important aspect in Europe during the ninth century. It is interesting to note that this factor was not only responsible for the expansion of the European currency supply, but, at the same time, also responsible for its deterioration. The Carolingians opened several new mints to fulfill the requirement of coins to reimburse the enormous royalties demanded by the Viking invaders. The quantity of coins minted in the southern parts of England that was split politically once again increased suddenly. In simple words, the Viking invasions actually immensely disturbed the rural as well as the urban life and also had an effect on the internal and external trade that had brought affluence to the region earlier. The prosperity of the region was dependent on external trade and this was completely affected. The Carolingian monetary system too was equally affected by the Viking menace, but they managed to cope up by virtue of good reserves and new bullion. In contrast, the English monetary system was virtually pushed to the edge of collapse as their pennies now only had 25 per cent silver content. Some of them contained even lesser percentage of silver.

Despite the elementary internal alterations in the fiscal system in vast areas in Western Europe, there was hardly any change in the normal use of coins in the territories that were a part of the erstwhile Roman Empire from the prevailing system in the later part of the empire. In the early stages after the fall of the Roman Empire, Frisia witnessed an expansion in minting, while the conquest of Germany by the Carolingians led to some development there and sporadic issues in Scandinavia. However, there was a swift expansion of the monetary system towards the east as Germany came under the rule of the Saxon dynasty in the early part of the tenth century. Now the seat of power was in Bavaria and the political transformation was balanced by the unearthing of rich silver deposits in the Harz Mountains adjoining Goslar in Saxony during the middle of the tenth century.

The expansion of use of money as well as minting persisted as inhabitants in the eastern and western borders of the German Empire like in Hungary, Bohemia, Scandinavia and Poland established settled states. Initially, these settled states used foreign coins and later realized the benefits of adapting their own currency. And by the year 1000, people were striking coins in all parts of the region extending from Dublin to Kiev. Despite such advancement all over, the people of Scotland did not have their own coins till another century later. It has been found that most of the coins struck during this period were small and irregular and they were mostly minted more for allotment, and less for exchange as money. In such a scenario, the usual currency requirements were fulfilled by foreign coins that were acquired as compliments or through trade. In Eastern Europe, a national coinage system came into complete existence from the 11th century. But even this was on a restricted measure when compared to the more established and mine-owning states of Western Europe.

Development of money in the northern and central parts of Italy was much on the lines of north Europe. In these parts of Italy the silver penny was adopted as the standard unit of money. For a long period, the Carolingian rulers dominated the monetary system and later the German imperial rulers, who succeeded the Carolingians, took charge of the currency. Normally, no one other than the imperial authority had any right to mint coins till the later part of the 12th century. Genoa was the first city to obtain the authority to mint coins in 1138. It may be mentioned here that between the eighth century and later part of the 10th century, even the Papacy issued coins under the joint name of the contemporary Pope and the Carolingian emperor. However, these coins were issued in small numbers and not widespread in use. Contrary to the other regions in the continent, the currency of Italy and Sicily stayed outside the common European monetary system. This specialty revealed the status of Italy and Sicily as a contact venue between the Byzantine and Islamic empires as their currency comprised gold as well as copper coins, which were frequently drawn from the Arab and Byzantine prototypes. On the other hand, the Normans adopted principality (rule of a prince over a small state) mode of governance for themselves during the 11th century, carried on issuing gold and copper coins following the local convention vis-à-vis the monetary system. They, however, also included coins having silver as the base metal into their monetary system.


For several hundred years, the Byzantine Empire remained situated between two diverse worlds - unenlightened Europe and the Islamic territory. Hence, the Byzantine Empire was not only an important area of authority and trade, but it was also a remarkable culture in its own right. The coins of the empire served as a prototype as well as inspiration for the initial independent coins issued by the neighboring states and their successors. What is most important is the fact that the empire's gold solidus or nomisma, the base of Byzantine monetary system, dominated the trade in the entire Mediterranean region for more than half a millennium. Hence, the solidus was rightly called the 'dollar of the Middle Ages'. The solidus of the Byzantine Empire was also known as the bezant to people inhabiting a vast area comprising Asia and Europe. It is interesting to note that when many rulers in the West desired to make oblations in gold coins, they usually used the bezants for the purpose.

Like coins of the earlier Roman Empire, the bezant was possibly created keeping in view the requirement of the state rather than the advantages of trade and commerce. The steady accessibility of an established gold coin helped the state to carry out its functions, such as collecting currency through taxation to reimburse for the large permanent army, employees of the state, buildings, ceremonies and even foreign financial assistances, effectively. In fact, it is presumed that the large standing army maintained by the Byzantine Empire may have alone recurrently used up nearly half of the state's annual earnings. Compared to the other nations of Western Europe of the era, the Byzantine Empire imposed heavy taxes and also spent on a massive scale. The taxation system in the empire was based on land levy and in order to meet the expenses towards the high land tax, the land owners often sold the surplus amount produced by them. On many occasion, the excess produce was sold to the state itself to provide the army, administration and those in imperial positions.

As taxes were normally collected in gold coins and not in kind, it made the process of collection as well as distribution much simple. At the same time, this process helped the state to build up stockpiles of wealth. Such treasure reserves were crucial for the Byzantine Empire as the state did not have any scope of obtaining loans or credit from any quarters. During times of economic crisis, the emperor either had to fall back on his regalia or valuable symbols of office. Alternately, he had to seek help from the Church or the big tycoons to help him prevail over the emergency.

The gold coin of the Byzantine Empire was hugely successful in fulfilling its purpose and the requirements of the state. In addition to its value as a currency, the Byzantine gold coin also played a crucial role in the everyday life of the people. Apart from the gold coin, the Byzantine Empire also issued other coins in smaller denominations usually made of copper enabling the people to carry out small transactions. Whatever the case may be, existence of such a coinage in the Byzantine Empire helped the state increase its stockpiles of wealth. While it was mandatory to pay the taxes in gold coins, the state was able to make reimbursements in copper. And this comprised the change out of gold obtained from taxes.

During the initial stage of the Byzantine Empire there was an assortment of relatively small gold and copper coins. However, from the middle of the eighth century the only small denomination coin available in the empire was the copper follis. Silver coins that were of intermediary denomination - between the gold coins and the copper follis - were only issued from time to time. However, during the ninth and tenth centuries, the silver coin milaresion (valued at 1/12 of nomisma) was reasonably available. Generally speaking, the Byzantine Empire was mainly a rural and farming society. Trade was carried on in Constantinople and few other urban centers. In other parts of the empire, trade usually denoted transactions of agricultural produce and other smaller or low-value items. Besides, it was also very seasonal in nature. The merchants had a very low standing in the Byzantine Empire and they were governed by the rules of the state. According to historians, the comparative shortage of low denomination coins in the empire between the 7th and 12th centuries indicate that the urban market was very limited in the Byzantine Empire during this period.

Western Europe: c. 1150-1450

Issuance of coins became a conventional feature almost all over Europe by the 12th century and minting was turning out to be more consolidated. States like Scandinavia and some kingdoms in Eastern Europe that adopted coinage at a later stage maintained a comparatively consolidated approach towards the supply of currency in conjunction with implied regal dominations. The situation was same in the Christian monarchies in Spain even as they spread out at the cost of the Arab people. The monarchy has always maintained its control on coinage in England, but here too the number of functional mints had lessened slowly but surely to a few and these too were controlled from London. On the other hand, the royal coinage in France was always considered inconsequential, but now stretched its function remarkably as the national currency devaluing the coins issued by the feudal rulers. The use of the coins issued by these feudal lords was restricted to the lands owned by them. On the other hand, in the Holy Roman Empire comprising Italy, Germany and the Netherlands more and more people began to issue coins, but they were of little importance. This is primarily owing to the fact that the most noteworthy and powerful coins had already been ascertained.

The preoccupation over the regulation of minting during the 12th century was sign of the enhanced function or responsibility of money in the European society. During this period, Europe witnessed a rapid growth in population, setting up of new towns and cities as well as escalating trade - both local and international. In such a situation, it became essential to modify the coinage with a view to meet the growing fiscal requirements. Fresh supplies of silver from the newly discovered mines enhanced the general supply of coins and made it possible to re-establish the high-value, superior silver coinage in different regions such as northern Italy and the Netherlands. It may be noted here that financial activities like trade and commerce were flourishing to the maximum in these regions during the era.

However, the expansion of the latest silver coins differed in the perspective of local coinage. Initially, there was an inclination to make the value of the new silver coins equivalent to 12 local pennies or an appropriate portion or multiple thereof with a view to incorporate it into the extensive accounting system of 12 denarii or pennies to the solidus or shilling (soldo or sou) and 20 solidi to the librum (livre or pound). This method shaped a money of account and performed a crucial role in the latter part of the primeval currency further than its expediency in computing. In fact, this system functioned as a universal standard for altering the values of the coins since the fiscal systems prevailing in Europe turned out to be more diverse and complex.

Comparatively bigger silver coins that were used in the multiple of the previous penny value had extended into nearly all European coinage systems during the 13th and early 14th centuries and were generally used under a denomination that was drawn from the Italian word grosso denaro or simply grosso that denoted 'big penny'. Eventually, the grosso came to be known as the groat in English. In fact, the original grosso was presented in Venice in 1202 and was valued equivalent to local denarii. Nevertheless, the fact was that although the Venetian grosso as well as the Florentine grosso were considered equal to 12 denarii, they both weighed little more than the English penny in circulation at that time. On the other hand, the French gros tournois pioneered in 1266 was valued as equivalent to 12 deniers tournois or one sou and was double in weight when compared to the grosso. The English groat that was included in England's currency only from 1351 was valued at four pence and was of the same dimension as the gros tournois.

The discovery of the new silver deposits and the supply of the metal had a great effect on the replenishment of currency in Europe. For example, experts have approximated that the quantity of coins that were in distribution in England in 1300 was so enormous that it never came on the same plane for a second time till around 1600. However, it needs to be mentioned here that in spite of the widespread circulation of the new silver coins in the region, most transactions involving substantial amount of money was frequently made possible through the use of silver bullions. In most cases, such silver ingots were stamped to authenticate that they contained the same amount of pure silver as available in the Venetian grosso or the sterling penny of England. It is believed that people even used gold dust measured by the ounce and sealed in bags in some places around the Mediterranean region for transactions. It is also believed that a major part of the activities of the currency exchangers during this period concerned exchanging local currency and scores of silver or gold weighed in ounces. Later, the gradual restoration of the gold coin put this system out of place.

Slowly but surely, coins corresponding to the old penny were adulterated in their silver content and in comparison to the superior quality silver currency, the worth of these coins waned very fast in many places. With the passage of time, the old silver coins contained more copper than silver and were hence nicknamed 'black money'. It is important to note that such a situation could have led to an unforeseen impact on the prices of commodities since these old silver coins regularly formed the base coin for currency exchange. However, this process of debasement of the worth of the old silver coins also promoted the use of coins for transactions of smaller value. At places where the worth of the base coins turned out to be virtually insignificant for use in any kind of transaction, they eventually disappeared from the scene and were replaced by coins of their multiple value or higher worth in the respective region's fiscal system. In places such as England where superior quality silver was used to mint even coins of minimum denominations like the halfpenny and farthing, the dimension of the coins got smaller to unrealistic sizes, but still preserved considerable buying capacity.

During the period between 1251 A.D. and 1252 A.D., Genoa and Florence also introduced gold coins called the genovino and the florin respectively. In due course, florin was to emerge as an extremely vital currency in international trade for the following 100 years. At the same time, florin widened the perception of gold coinage all over Europe and encouraged others to mint several replicas of this coin. The florins introduced by Aragon were vital in the western regions of the Mediterranean, while the florins minted by Lubeck were important in the ports of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic region. Similarly, the gulden that was minted on the model of florin severed as a common coinage for several smaller states in the land of the Rhine. It was seen that only the ducat of Venice that was pioneered in 1284 largely succeeded in becoming a strong rival of the florin at a later period. And gradually, the ducat became the leading currency in trade around the Mediterranean region. Around the 14th century, several rulers in Western Europe adopted the concept of gold coinage when more and more people in different regions became acquainted with gold coins. However, it was not easy for them to mint gold coins immediately as they had to pass through lots of trial and error before minting them. This was primarily owing to the fact that they needed to produce gold coins that accurately manifested the comparative worth of gold and silver and allow both the coins to be in circulation effectively. There was also the need to maintain a fixed bond between the gold and silver coins depending on their respective values.

On the whole, money played a very crucial part both in the administration as well as among the public during this period. Now gradually the rulers reimbursed their employees' salaries in currency instead of gifting lands. At the same time, they also did away with the previous medieval system of paying their armies from the money collected from taxation. Despite being a tradition as well as a model, the old system was in effect extremely restricted and also rigid. Now the practice was paying the armies with cash. On the other hand, long-drawn and extensive conflicts such as the Hundred Years' War between France and England that continued from 1337 to 1453 A.D. promoted making financial support to allies and reimbursement of enormous sums as ransom and grants. At the same time, the military expeditions and pilgrimages to far away place also required conveyance of huge funds.

It was also seen that the feudal leaseholders converted their labor services progressively into cash payments. On the other hand, their masters or the rulers depended more on reimbursements in currency like this. Otherwise, they made use of their real estates further openly and meticulously to generate surplus produce that could be sold to earn money. The arrangement of weekly markets during the 13th century enabled low-value transactions using currency of lesser denominations to enter new regions that were far off from the cities and towns precincts. Although unlike the modern times, prices of commodities normally increased intermittently. However, notwithstanding the concern of the people who gained from the permanent lease and committed to the perception of fair costs and fair wages, the salaries had an inclination to maintain the same regularity. Although there were many reasons that added to the increase in prices and wages, the enhanced availability of money was said to be the primary issue. For example, labor scarcity owing to the fall in the populace during the Black Death between 1346 A.D. and 1347 A.D. encouraged the wages to go up.

On the one hand, mints owned by rulers of different lands vied for ingots that were accessible to strike more and more coins; they also felt the demands for bonding dissimilar coinages with a view to smoothen the progress of continuing trade. The currencies of the different principalities in the land of the Rhine were bonded through a series of agreements among the princes ruling the region during the 14th century. As per the agreements, the princes agreed to mint their individual gold coins and even silver coins from time to time, but maintain a universal benchmark. In the same way, from the middle of the 14th century, many cities of the Hanseatic League, also known as the 'Hansa', situated on the coasts of the Baltic Sea circulated a silver coin called the witten that was minted according to the common standards in the Wendish Monetary Union. Again, in Italy of the 15th century, several lesser important authorities issuing coins minted ducats according to the standards of the original ducat introduced by Venice.

The political happenings of the period on contributed to this tendency. Having attained control of almost all the secular smaller states ruled by princes (principalities) in the Netherlands - Flanders, Hainaut, Holland, Luxemburg and Brabant, the House of Burgundy pioneered a general currency for the entire region. Barring Portugal, even the different monarchies situated in the peninsula of Iberian were also conquered by a single ruler. On the other hand, during the 1490s, the Castilian money eventually turned out to be the national currency of Spain. Following the sufferings of the Hundred Years' War against England from 1337 to 1453 A.D, an arrangement of imperial mints spread all over France strengthened the pervasiveness of the national coinage and also reinstated its permanence.

The firm financial crunch owing to an acute shortage of bullion was gradually alleviating by the middle of the 15th century. To a great extent it was also owing to the discovery of a number of new silver deposits and several improvements in the mining methods. In addition, new bullion delivered from North and South America had a great impact on the European monetary system. In effect, it modernized the currency in Europe following the Middle Ages.

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