Coinage Policies in Medieval Sweden
Polish Numismatic News, Vol. 59(1-2), pp. 129-87, 2015
51 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019 Last revised: 19 Feb 2021
Date Written: March 3, 2015
The purpose of this study is to analyse which kinds of monetary taxation and coinage policies the minting authorities applied in Sweden in the period 1153–1512. In medieval Europe, old coins were frequently declared invalid and were exchanged for new ones at fixed rates and dates. Here, the question of whether and when such periodic recoinage was applied in medieval Sweden is analyzed against the historical record. A theory of how short-lived and long-lived coinage systems work is applied to Swedish coinage. Sweden adopted similar coin forms as those minted in Continental Europe in the Middle Ages, but also adopted the corresponding continental coinage and monetary taxation policies linked to these coin forms. Swedish experience is extraordinarily well in line with what one would expect from the theory of short-lived coins. Economic backwardness, limited monetization of society and separate currency areas facilitated recoinage. Recoinage with varying frequency was applied in 1180–1290 when only bracteates were minted. This is evidenced by many different coin types per reign, coin hoards which are dominated by a few types and dating of types to specific periods of the kings’ reigns. However, monetization increased in the late thirteenth century, making recoinage more difficult. and bracteates were replaced by long-lived two-faced coins in 1290. With an end to recoinage, the Swedish kings then accelerated the debasement of the long-lived coins. The disappearing recoinage fees were compensated for by debasing the silver content. Such debasements – interrupted by several coinage reforms – were applied until the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Keywords: Periodic Recoinage, Monetary Taxation, Economic Development
JEL Classification: E31, E42, E52, N13
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