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Level 7

7AAH1025 Money in the Middle Ages

Credit Value: 20
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Rory Naismith
Teaching pattern:
 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

In the course of the Middle Ages, money meant many things: coins of copper alloy, silver or gold as well as ingots, fabric, livestock or simply abstract units of account. Fundamental to many kinds of exchange and payment, the form and flow of money had profound effects on medieval society. This module charts the different functions and manifestations of money in the Middle Ages, placing emphasis on its interplay with government, religion, thought and economic life. It covers the transformation of the Roman monetary system and the gradual emergence thereafter of new types of currency under Merovingian, Carolingian and Anglo-Saxon rulers, leading eventually to the complex monetary and financial systems of the high and late Middle Ages. A combination of written sources and medieval coins will be used to examine these developments, combining broad thematic approaches with specific case-studies.

Provisional Teaching Plan

  1. The roman Inheritance, c. 450 - 700
  2. The Rise of the Penny, c. 700 - 1200
  3. A Monetary Revolution, c. 1200 - 1400
  4. Money and the Law
  5. Iconography and Power
  6. Production
  7. Circulation
  8. Units, Metals and Commodities
  9. Uses of Money
  10. Visit to the British Museum

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory

J. Bolton, Money in the Medieval English Economy: 973–1489, (Manchester, 2012)

P. Grierson, The Coins of Medieval Europe, (London, 1991)

P. Spufford, Money and its Use in Medieval Europe, (Cambridge, 1988)

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