The Value of Foreign Coin in England, 1266
The variety of coins finding their way into the exchequer was symptomatic of the
development of English trade in the thirteenth century. Something of the art of the
money-changer can be comprehended by a study of the relative values of the coins passing
through his hands.
Kinds of silver, namely: of Montpellier which is so good that an examined pound failed
of full measure by one penny or two at most. The same for the silver of Eregha [?]. The
silver of Fugacio (?) from which place the pound failed by four pence at most. The silver
of Vrucela ( ?) and of Flanders whence the pound failed by four pence. Silver of Verona;
the pound usually lacked twelve pence. The silver of Valencia failed by eight pence;
silver of Pampeluna, the pound lacked two pence. And all these things have been decided on
Concerning the denarii of Venice: a pound was under weight only by one penny. The same
for the money of Genoa. Likewise those of Montpellier of Spain. The legal money of
Cologne: a pound lacked six pence. The false money of Cologne: whence a pound failed by
three shillings. The Brussels pound is commonly short three shillings. The Marseilles
pound lacks six pence. But in these things the money-changer is watchful so that he may
buy a pound of whatever silver he pleases according to what returns a better profit to
himself rather than to what will redound to the profit of the king, wherefore the latter
receives a fixed payment of ten pounds. Wherefore, whether the money-changer is
industrious or not the profit and not the loss will be the king's. But the king will not
suffer from lack of diligence. Moreover, from silver vessels the money-changer receives
thirteen pence for each pound; and similarly from gold vessels. And if these vessels are
intact and exposed for sale, what can be sold for profit over and above the weight ought
to be sold. And likewise concerning the profit on gold vessels when a gold cup is
sometimes worth more than its weight by twenty shillings, or one mark, or ten shillings.
From: Hubert Hall, ed., The Red Book of the Exchequer, (London: HMSO, 1896), p.
979, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval
Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York:
Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 146-147.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998