Current Scholarship
Periodic Recoinage and Economic Development in Medieval Hessen

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Author: Roger Svensson

A common coinage policy in the Middle Ages was ‘periodic recoinageʼ. Old coins were declared invalid and had to be exchanged for new ones at a priori known exchange fees and dates. This convention was a type of monetary taxation of local trade and inhabitants. Periodic recoinage was the dominant coinage policy in large parts of central, eastern, and northern Europe for 120−200 years. Such a monetary policy required a geographical currency constraint and a limited number of coins in circulation. The leaf-thin bracteates had excellent characteristics for such renewals. The theory predicts that periodic recoinage should be applied in the early development stages of a region, for example, when labour division increases, and local markets and cities are established. In later phases, when specialization within and between cities proceeds, the system breaks down. A larger coin volume renders re-minting and monitoring impossible, and inter-regional trade breaks down the currency constraint. This model of periodic recoinage is applied to medieval Hessen (1150−1320). The results show that especially the coinage policies and economic development of Wetterau, as well as those of the Marburg area and Northern and eastern Hessen, largely correspond to this theory. However, both the frequency and continuity of renewals could vary between mints/regions and within specific mints over time.

Svensson, Roger, Periodic Recoinage and Economic Development in Medieval Hessen (September 10, 2021). pp. 199-212 in C. Stoess, R. Diry and S. Steinbach (eds.), 2021, Münzstätten, Münzprägung und Münzwege des Mittelalters im Hessen: Ergebnisse der Tagung Frankfurt und Hessen im monetären mittelalterlichen Transit. Berliner Numismatische Forschungen. Band 12. Berlin: Battenberg Gietl Verlag., Available at SSRN: or

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