A Comparative Chronology of Money

Monetary History from Ancient Times to the Present Day

1100 - 1299

© 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).

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

1100-1135 Reign of Henry I
The quality of England's silver currency falls drastically.

p 138-139

1124 Punishment of the mint masters
At the Assize of Winchester on Christmas day all the mint masters are punished by having their right hands cut off. Not surprisingly this produces a temporary improvement in the quality of the coinage.

p 139

1138-1153 Civil War between Stephen and Matilda
Some powerful English barons issue their own currencies.

p 139

1149 Hung Tsun's Chhuan Chih or A Treatise on Coinage
This Chinese work is the first known on numismatics in any language.

p 182

1156 Earliest known foreign exchange contract
Two brothers borrow 115 Genoese pounds and agree to reimburse the bank's agents in Constantinople the sum of 460 bezants one month after their arrival in that city. In the following century the use of such contracts grows rapidly particularly when profits from time differences are seen as not infringing canon laws against usury.

p 155-156

1158 Henry II reforms the English coinage
This restores the prestige of English money which is maintained at a high level for the next four centuries.

p 142

1159 Scutage tax introduced by Henry II in lieu of military service
The annual 40 days service owed to him by his tenants-in-chief and their retainers is commuted into cash payments and with the proceeds he is able to establish a permanent army of mercenaries or professional soldiers as they commonly became known after this time from the solidus or king's shilling that they earn.

p 141-142

1160 Emperor Kao Tsung reforms the Chinese paper currency
Earlier issues have been excessive and so have become almost worthless. Therefore Kao Tsung replaces them with a new issue.

p 181

c. 1160-c. 1200 English wooden tallies evolve into instruments of credit
Tallies were wooden sticks originally used as receipts. Notches whose sizes represented a particular sum of money would be cut into the stick which would then be split down the middle. One part would be kept by the creditor, the other by the debtor. Sometimes the loans were fictitiously swollen to get round the prohibition of usury. During the 12th century the English Exchequer starts issuing tallies as a form of credit. Tallies were not finally abolished until 1826.

p 147-152, 663

1166 Henry II levies a tax to support the Crusades
This is the first of a series of taxes levied by Henry over the years with the same objective. The Templars and Hospitallers act as his bankers in the Holy Land.

p 156

1166 Hyperinflation in China
The nominal value of the official paper note issues reaches 43,600,000 ounces of silver. In addition there are various local note issues.

p 181

1185 Henry II levies a new Crusading Tax
A levy of sixpence in the pound on all movable property is imposed along with a 1 per cent tax on all incomes whether from land or any other source.

p 156

1187 Battle of Hattin
Henry II's eastern account contains approximately 20,000 pounds of silver but he does not allow anyone to spend it until after Saladin's crushing victory over the Crusaders.

p 156

1188 The Saladin Tithe
Henry extends the provisions of the crusading tax of 1185 and attempts to speed up the assessment process by introducing self-assessment.

p 157

1189-1199 Reign of Richard I
On ascending the throne Richard immediately begins to "privatise" the monarchy's assets to raise money for the 3rd Crusade which starts in 1190. On his return through Europe he is taken prisoner, sold to Emperor Henry VI and then held for ransom.

p 157

1194 Richard released after being ransomed for £100,000
The speed with which the money is raised is a sign of England's prosperity.

p 157

1215 The Magna Carta signed
Among its provisions were restrictions on the right of the king to raise taxes without the consent of the Barons.

p 158

1232-1253 Gold coins are issued by several Italian states
Under the influence of Byzantine and Arab coinage Messina and Brindisi (1232), Florence (1252) and Genoa (1253) issue gold coins. The type minted in Florence, the florin, becomes widely copied in other parts of Europe.

p 124

1236 First Mongol issues of paper money
The Mongol empire, which now includes China, issues paper money on a moderate scale.

p 181

1260 Kublai Khan's first issue of paper money
By this time the note circulation has reached a substantial level.

p 181

1275 Edward I forbids the Jews to exact usury
The resulting shortage of money leads to an increase in clipping and a decline in the quality of the coinage. The Jews get blamed and suffer wholesale arrests in 1278 and expulsion from England in 1290.

p 143

1275-1292 Marco Polo lives in China
From his subsequent account of his Travels, Europe learns of paper money.

p 181

1279-1281 Edward I issues 3 new coins
The halfpenny, farthing, and groat (4 pence). The first two meet the demand for low-denomination coinage at a time when a penny would be a typical whole day's pay.

p 143

1282 The first recorded Trial of the Pyx
A public test of the purity of gold and silver coins, which continues in Britain to this day.

p 144-146

1283 Statute of Burnell
This introduces a central registrar of large credit transactions in England.

p 172

1294 Paper money issued in Persia
This disastrous experiment lasts barely two months and is confined to the city of Tabriz. Subsequently Rashid al Din, prime minister of Persia round about this time, describes both printing and paper money in his History of the World.

p 182

1299 Statute of Stepney on Bad Money
The importation of debased coins into England is forbidden and restrictions on the export of silver bullion and coins are introduced. These provisions are strengthened in 1351.

p 163

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Roy Davies - Last updated 25 May 2005.