Periodic Recoinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions for the Rise and Fall of the Bracteate Economy
24 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2016
Date Written: November 2016
Scholars in the fields of archaeology and numismatics have long been familiar with the phenomenon of periodic recoinage (renovatio monetae), which dominated monetary taxation in medieval Europe for almost 200 years. However, this form of monetary taxation is seldom, if ever, discussed in the literature of economics or economic history. No economic theory has ever been proposed to explain periodic recoinage. The present study aims to make up for this absence. It examines the qualities that typically differentiate regions with periodic recoinage from those with other monetary systems and analyses how periodic recoinage was monitored and enforced. The principal example of frequently renewed coins is uni‐faced bracteates, which were often subject to annual or even biannual recoinages. Although bracteates were not the cause of periodic recoinage, their features facilitated frequent renewals. The study discusses the economic consequences of periodic recoinage and links the breakdown of this monetary system with the end of bracteates’ role as the principal coin in the fourteenth century.
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