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Good or bad money?: debasement, society and the state in the late Middle Ages

David Chilosi () and Oliver Volckart ()

Economic History Working Papers from London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History

Abstract: This paper revisits the question of debasement by analysing a newly compiled dataset with a novel approach, as well as employing conventional methods. It finds that mercantile influence on monetary policies favoured relative stability, and wage-payers did not typically gain from silver debasement. Excess demand for bullion was not a major cause of debasement. Yet monetary issues were important. Warfare made the debasement of silver but not of gold more likely. Regime types had an importance comparable to that of warfare: Princes debased silver more often than monetary unions and especially city-states. It is likely that fiscal debasements were more frequent in principalities, not least because princes debased for fiscal reasons also in the absence exceptional needs. The conclusion discusses the implications of the findings.

JEL-codes: N0 F3 G3 H7 B11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-05
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