Periodic Recoinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions for the Rise and Fall of the Bracteate Economy

24 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2016

See all articles by Roger Svensson

Roger Svensson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: November 2016

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Svensson, Roger, Periodic Recoinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions for the Rise and Fall of the Bracteate Economy (November 2016). The Economic History Review, Vol. 69, Issue 4, pp. 1108-1131, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2853804 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12283

Roger Svensson (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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