View Full Version : Medieval Coinage

02-05-2006, 03:09 AM
Ok so I'm getting desperate here. I know that on medieval france (1300) the basic type of coin was the denier. After that, there was the gold obole. How many deniers made a gold obole? What were the other kinds of coins?

Approximately how much were they worth? I read somewhere that during Carlomagne's reign (when the denier was established) a denier could buy a meal. Was its value the same during 1300??

Please!! I need help!!

02-05-2006, 03:29 AM

I'm a member of both the American Numismatics Association and the American Numismatics Society. I specialize in ancient Greek and Roman coins so I can't answer your question offhand; however, there are a number of online mailing lists which experts participate in. I'll sent your questions in to them.


02-05-2006, 07:08 AM
Than you very much!! :)

02-05-2006, 09:01 AM
This is what I have on coin values (note that English coinage is in there, too). I suspect that marks were monies of account ie not actual coins:

1 pound, livre (French), liber (Latin) = 20 shillings, sous (French), solidus (Latin)
1 crown = 5 shillings
1 shilling = 12 pence, deniers (French), denarius (Latin)
1 penny = 4 farthings
1 mark = 13s 4d

I thought gold coins were pretty rare in France in 1300 and not minted locally, but I am not a coinage expert. I owuld be very interested to know where you got info on obols for 1300.

The outstanding scholar on this is Peter Spufford. He goes through all the different coins and all the regions they apply to, and even talks about relative value of one French coinage set to another (and when the different regions faded and a more national coinage was established). I can't remember if he has worked on how much a coin would buy. I have some notes from various sources from a document I was working on a couple of years ago,. but I am not sure how reliable my notes are - they are in my pile of data that needs verification. I am part of a project working on Medieval background material for fiction writers - which is where this info is from.

If I can help you more, I am happy to, but won't be at my desk again till late February.


02-05-2006, 09:05 AM
I thought gold coins were pretty rare in France in 1300 and not minted locally, but I am not a coinage expert. I owuld be very interested to know where you got info on obols for 1300.

I don't think the gold obole was actually made of gold, either. I think that was just its name. Plus, coins were mostly minted locally during that time period which created quite an economic chaos, which is also making my research job much harder because every Count, Duke or King had their own coins.

02-05-2006, 09:06 AM
Sorry, I just realised - 1266 Louis IX introduced the gros. So one more coin for the list. It followed the coinage of Tours in value, and its value changed over time (ranging between 12-25 deniers). It was mostly used for very large cash payments - ie not an everyday coin.

02-05-2006, 09:12 AM
It wasn't every count etc in France. By 1300 the realm was on its way to being fairly unified, and only a few differing sets of coinage were in daily use. And one set (that of Tours, from memory) was definitely considered the dominant one. What's more, they all had the same set of names and it was alwys 12d = 1 sous etc. - they all descended from Roman coinage. How much a barrel of wine cost is the hard bit - but the coinage isn't so complicated.

02-05-2006, 09:20 AM
As I had it understood, Louis IX started unifying the coin under the Tours one and Phillip the fair continued the job, but after his death the unifying of the coin was undone and counts started minting their own coins again.

02-05-2006, 12:09 PM
But any unravelling is after 1314, as far as I can see (and I am not sure how *far* things unravelled). In 1300, the coinage was surely reasonably stable.