A Comparative Chronology of Money

Monetary History from Ancient Times to the Present Day

1300 - 1499

© Roy Davies & Glyn Davies, 1996 & 1999.

Maintained by Roy Davies.

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).

1319-1331 Parts of India and Japan issue paper money
These are short-lived imitations of Chinese currency.

p 182

1337 - 1453 Hundred Years War between England and France
In the early stages of the war the net balance of ransom, loot, bounty and plunder favours the English. Later, when the tide began to turn new, unpopular taxes are introduced to finance the English war effort.

p 164-165

1344 The Weight of the Penny is Reduced
To reduce the temptations offered to illegal exporters of coin, the weight of the penny, which has remained almost unchanged for 200 years, is slightly reduced.

p 164

1348-1350 The Black Death ravages Europe
This is followed by several other outbreaks of plague over the next hundred years, causing a reduction in the size of the population and a collapse in economic growth.

p 159-161

1351 Statute of Labourers
This stipulates the maximum rates of pay in England at pre-plague levels for the main occupations and restricts mobility of labour.

p 162

1351 Another Reduction in the Weight of the Penny
Edward III makes a more substantial reduction than the one he made in 1344.

p 164

1351 Restrictions on the Export of English Bullion and Coins
Anxieties over the unofficial drain of gold and silver bullion and coinage to the Continent cause the government to tighten the provisions of the Statute of Stepney 1299, but without much effect.

p 163

1352 The Statute of Purveyors
The English parliament is unhappy about the reductions in the weight of the penny and expresses the hope that the king will no more tamper with the coinage than with the standards of weights and measures.

p 164

1355 Nicole Oresme's De Origine Natura Jura et Mutationibus Monetarum is published
Oresme, the greatest economic thinker of the Middle Ages, argues that the quantity of precious metal in circulation determines the value of the currency. Later, in 1370, he becomes chaplain and adviser to King Charles V of France.

p 228-229

1356 Battle of Poitiers
King John II of France is captured by the English who demand a ransom of 3 million crowns (£500,000) but in the end they accept a little less than half the amount. Part of the ransom is used in building Windsor Castle.

p 165

1377-1399 Reign of Richard II
In 1377 Richard II imposes an unpopular flat rate poll tax followed by similar taxes in 1379 and 1381.  

p 159, 166-167

1381 The Peasants' Revolt
The uprising, belatedly caused in large part by anger at the poll tax, is suppressed.

p 167

1381 Richard Aylesbury opposes ban on the export of bullion
He argues that a legal ban is unnecessary provided total commodity exports at least balance imports.

p 225

1401 Bank of Barcelona founded

p 233

1403 Charging interest on loans is ruled legal in Florence
Despite the traditional Christian prohibition of usury, Italian banks such as the Lombards, who have agents in the main economic centres of Europe, have been making charges for loans. The lawyer and theologian Lorenzo di Antonio Ridolfi wins a case which legalises interest payments by the Florentine government.

p 219-220

1407 Bank of St George, Genoa, founded

p 548

1440 Gutenberg invents the modern printing press
Although Europe already knew of the use of paper money in China, the printing press design is subsequently modified, by Leonardo da Vinci among others, for use in minting coins nearly two centuries before printed banknotes are produced in the West.

p 178-179

1448 Hyperinflation in China
The Ming note nominally worth 1,000 cash has a market value of only three.

p 183

c. 1450 Portuguese start voyages along the coast of Africa
In the 14th and 15th centuries Europe suffers from a "Great Bullion Famine." This is partially alleviated as the Portuguese open up a new route for sub-Saharan gold via Ghana and Mali.

p 175,176,186

1452-1519 Life of Leonardo da Vinci
Among Leonardo's drawings are designs for a press to produce more uniform coins quickly using a water driven mill. This innovation is widely adopted and the new money is termed milled money.

p 178-179

1453 Fall of Constantinople
The capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks and the disruption caused to existing trade routes is a motivating factor in the subsequent European voyages of exploration.

p 174,176

c. 1455 China abandons paper money
There are no known references to paper money being in circulation after this date. Thus after well over 500 years of experience with paper currencies, during which there have been repeated episodes of inflation and currency reform, China ceases to use paper money.

p 183

1455-1485 The Wars of the Roses
By the end of these wars the English currency has suffered badly from wear and tear, clipping and counterfeiting of coins.

p 173,190

1487 Fuggers Bank founded in Augsburg
The increased availability of gold from Africa and later, after the discoveries of Columbus, the Caribbean, raises the relative value of silver and consequently the Fuggers profit greatly by financing European silver mines.

p 186,552

1489 Henry VII slashes Mint charges and issues the first gold sovereigns
By reducing the mint charges Henry encourages people to bring gold and silver to the mints, causing a huge increase in their output of coins in the following years. Up to 1489 the English pound has simply been a unit of account. Now, with the issue of the sovereign, it is also a coin.

p 191

1492 Columbus discovers America
In less than a decade after Columbus's first voyage the size of the world known to Europeans is more than doubled. Within a generation it is more than trebled. However, the discovery of highly profitable new trade routes to the already well-known trading centres of India and China is a more important motivation than the discovery of new lands.

p 175-176,185

1494 First book on double entry bookkeeping is published in Italy
Double entry bookkeeping has been in use for probably well over a century in Italy before the publication of the Summa de Arithmetica, Geometrica, Proportioni et Proportionalita by Friar Luca Pacioli.

p 234-236

1498 Proclamation against "Roman" coins
During the Wars of the Roses good domestic currency was extremely rare in England and use was made of illegally imported European and Irish coinage, almost all of which was also grossly underweight. By this proclamation Henry VII tries to prohibit the use of groats and half-groats issued by the Holy Roman Emperor.

p 192

1498 Vasco da Gama reaches India
The development of new, long-distance trade routes involving new modes of transport as a result of the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Columbus stimulates the development of capital and foreign exchange markets, and the use of bills of exchange. The pooling of resources to reduce the risks of trade with far-away destinations leads to the development of new experimental forms of equity capital from which the joint-stock company eventually evolves.

p 176-177

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Roy Davies - Last updated 25 May 2005.