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Persistent Food Shortages in Venetian Crete: A First Hypothesis

Irene Sotiropoulou ()
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Irene Sotiropoulou: Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK

JRFM, 2021, vol. 14, issue 4, 1-15

Abstract: This paper examines the persistent food shortages in the island of Crete under Venetian rule (1204–1669) through the prism of the monetary system of Venetian territories and in combination with the other economic policies of the Venetian empire. From the available sources and analysis, it seems that the policies of Venice which prioritised the food security of the metropolis, the financial support to the elites, and the elite-favouring monetary and taxation system were contradictory and self-defeating. In particular, the monetary structure of the colonial economy and the taxation system seem to have been forcing both Cretans and Venetian settlers to produce wine for export instead of grain despite the repeated food shortages. The parallel circulation of various high-value (white money) and low-value (black money) currencies in the same economy and the insistence of the Venetian administration to receive taxes in white money seems to have been consistently undermining the food security policy adopted by the same authorities. The paper contributes to the discussion of how parallel currencies can stabilise an economy or can create structural destabilisation propensities, depending on coeval economic structures that usually go unexamined when we examine monetary instruments.

Keywords: parallel currencies; black money; white money; Venice; Crete; food security (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C E F2 F3 G (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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