A Comparative Chronology of Money

Monetary History from Ancient Times to the Present Day

500 - 1099 AD

© Roy Davies & Glyn Davies, 1996 & 1999.

Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. (Page numbers in the 3rd edition published in 2002 may be slightly different).

c. 561 Coins are minted again in England by Bishop Liudard
The minting of coins in Britain had been abandoned after about 435 as a result of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. Bishop Liudard came over from France with the Merovingian Princess Bertha who married Prince Aethelbart who later, in 590, becomes King of Kent.

p 118

c. 604-616 Bishop Mellitus issues gold coins from a mint in London
These are used more for ornament than as currency.

p 118

620-625 Sutton Hoo ceremonial Saxon burial ship
Among the various treasures on board, are 37 Merovingian gold coins, but no English coins.

p 119-121

c. 630 Saxons first start to produce gold coins in significant numbers
As a result of the gradual rebuilding of commercial and cultural contacts with France and Italy Anglo-Merovingian types of coinage begin to circulate in south-east England.

p 118-119

c. 630-c. 650 Crondall hoard of coins
A hoard of 101 gold coins, most of which were minted in England, is buried at Crondall in Hampshire. The precise date is not certain.

p 119-121

c. 675 Silver starts to displace gold in Saxon coinage
Initially silver is used with gold as an alloy but early in the 8th century silver and base metals are the only ones used.

p 121-122

752 Pepin the Short of France starts minting the Denier
This new silver coin serves as a model for the English penny.

p 124

757-796 Reign of Offa, King of Mercia the most powerful Saxon Kingdom
During Offa's reign the minting of coins in England reaches new heights, both in terms of quality and quantity.

p 123-126

c. 765 King Heaberth of Kent produces the first English pennies
After the conquest of Kent by Offa, King of Mercia, production of the silver penny increases enormously and it replaces the older, more crudely designed sceat as the main English coin, except in Northumbria.

p 123-126

789 Vikings raid Portland
For the next 2-3 centuries England is subjected to repeated Viking attacks.

p 127

806-821 Reign of Emperor Hien Tsung and the development of paper money
In China a severe shortage of copper for making coins causes the emperor to issue paper money notes.

p 180

871-899 Reign of Alfred the Great
Alfred prevents the Danes from conquering the whole of England. The output of the mints is vastly increased to pay for the defence of Wessex.

p 127-128

910 Another state issue of paper money in China

p 180

925-940 Reign of Athelstan
Athelstan reconquers the Danelaw and unites the whole of England. This leads to the establishment of a single national currency.

p 129

928 Statute of Greatley
Among the provisions of this statute is that England should have a single national currency.

p 129

c. 960- Issues of Chinese paper money start to become regular

p 180

959-975 Reign of Edgar the Pacific
Edgar reforms the English coinage by controlling the issue of dies and strictly regulating the moneyers to ensure that the coinage is of uniform type and standard.

p 129-130

973 Beginning of a regular six-year cycle of recoinage
Because of their convenience as a royally authenticated means of payment the value of coins is higher than the value of their silver content. By recalling, melting down and reminting coins Edgar and his successors not only maintain the quality of the currency but also make handsome profits from the operation.

p 129-130

978-1016 Reign of Aethelred II, the Unready
Aethelred adopts a policy of trying to buy off the Vikings. His 75 mints produce nearly 40 million pennies to pay Danegeld.

p 130-132

1016-1035 Cnut of Denmark reigns over England
Cnut pays nearly 20 million pennies to his invasion force and disbands it. During his reign England prospers and English coins continue to arrive in Scandinavia in large quantities, this time mainly as a result of trade.

p 132-133

c. 1020 Quantity of Chinese paper money reaches an excessive level
The total amount is nominally worth 2,830,000 ounces of silver. Vast amounts of cash are used to buy off potential invaders from the north and to pay for imports causing a cash famine. As a result the authorities increase the note issues thus fuelling inflation.

p 180

1032 Private note-Issuing banks add to inflation in China
By this time there are 16 of these note-issuing houses.

p 180

1042-1066 Reign of Edward the Confessor
The length of the English recoinage cycle is reduced to less than three years in order to make greater profits from minting.

p 133

1066 Battle of Hastings
William the Conqueror's invasion is financed partly by debasement of the currency in Normandy but in England he introduces an efficient system of taxation, thus avoiding debasement. Subsequently, throughout the Middle Ages England's coinage tends to maintain its value to a greater degree than most continental currencies.

p 135

1086 The Domesday Book is compiled
This detailed survey of the wealth of England provides the information for determining appropriate levels and yields of taxation and forms the basis of the new English fiscal system.

p 135-138, 159

1095-1270 The Crusades
The need to transfer large sums of money to finance the Crusades provides a stimulus to the re-emergence of banking in western Europe.

p 152-155

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Roy Davies - Last updated 25 May 2005.