Periodiska myntindragningar: En utvecklingsfas under svensk högmedeltid (Periodic Recoinage as a Development Phase in Medieval Sweden)

Historisk Tidskrift, Vol 141(1), pp. 3-26.

23 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2021

See all articles by Roger Svensson

Roger Svensson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: February 25, 2021

Abstract

Swedish abstract: I uppsatsen analyseras periodiska myntindragningar, ett monetärt beskattningssystem, som tillämpades under nästan 200 år i det medeltida Europa. En teori presenteras som visar att Systemet förutsatte en begränsad penningmängd och utestängandet av främmande mynt från cirkulation. Indragningarna fungerade bäst i relativt outvecklade ekonomier med små valutaområden. Trots att det inte existerar några skriftliga källor om myntindragningar i Sverige, går det inte att förkasta hypotesen att systemet även tillämpats i Sverige 1180–1290. Skattfyndens sammansättning och myntens standardisering visar dessutom att mynt snarare räknades än vägdes i Sverige redan under sent 1100-tal och tidigt 1200-tal, dock ej under Vikingatiden.

English abstract: This article analysis periodic re-coinage, a monetary taxation system, which was in use for almost two centuries in medieval Europe. A theory is presented that shows that the system only worked when there was a limited volume of coins in circulation combined with a geographical currency restraint. Renewals worked best in relatively undeveloped economies with small currency areas. Another characteristic is that silver fineness was high in areas with periodic recoinage.

Although there are no written sources about periodic recoinage in Sweden, it can be hypothesized that the system was in use in Sweden in the period 1180–1290. Empirical observations are consistent with the theory of periodic recoinage: there were many coin types in each time period, skewed coin hoards with respect to types, low monetization, high silver fineness, bracteates minting, and small currency areas.

The number of circulating coins and the degree of monetization increased as a result of urbanization at the end of the thirteenth century when currency areas became larger. This made periodic recoinage far more difficult to enforce and administrate. Bracteates were thus finally replaced by long-lived, two-faced coins in 1290. This process effectively ended the practice of periodic recoinage. Instead, Swedish kings began to accelerate the debasement of long-lived coins by reducing the silver content of coins to compensate for the disappearance of recoinage fees. A die-study shows that different coin types were struck in different mints and do not represent different chronological issues, a fact that further confirms that periodic recoinage ended around 1290.

Finally, the composition of hoards and the standardization of the coins show that coins were counted rather than weighed in Sweden already by the end of the 12th and early 13th centuries This contrasts with the practice of the Viking-age. The observation that coins were counted is very important, since count-based exchange-rates would otherwise not have been possible to maintain.

Note: Downloadable document available in Swedish.

Keywords: Periodic Recoinage, Monetary Tax, Coinage, Policies, Monetization, Debasements; Medieval Sweden

JEL Classification: E31, E42, E52, N13

Suggested Citation

Svensson, Roger, Periodiska myntindragningar: En utvecklingsfas under svensk högmedeltid (Periodic Recoinage as a Development Phase in Medieval Sweden) (February 25, 2021). Historisk Tidskrift, Vol 141(1), pp. 3-26., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3792887 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3792887

Roger Svensson (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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