Money in the Middle-Ages

How money was used

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In the 14th and 15th century, they used gold, silver and copper coins. Each had a very particular role to play in society. Gold coins were used by princes for international commerce.
Silver coins (also called “white” coins) were used to pay wages, for inter-regional commerce and taxes.

Copper coins (also called “black” coins) were used as small change and were usually associated with begging.
At the end of the 14th century, 1 gold coin was worth 45 silver coins.1 pound was worth 20 sols and 1 sol was worth 12 deniers, which means 240 deniers were worth 1 pound.

Prices and Wages

Wages were paid in silver coinseither in ‘blanc’ (10 deniers) or in ‘gros’ (20 deniers) depending on the inflation. In the 15th century, an unqualified worker, like a road worker, earned a silver coin a day, whereas a bricklayer earned four. Wages were usually paid at the end of the week.A sheep, or even a pig, were worth a bricklayer’s two-week wage. A dozen eggs cost roughly three deniers. One or two deniers could buy a loaf of bread.

Counterfeit money in Brittany

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According to the “very old custom of Brittany”, producing counterfeit money was a highly punishable crime. Indeed, culprits were sentenced to “being boiled to death”. The counterfeiters were not punished for the financial prejudice they caused, but for stealing a privilege reserved to the Dukes. There were not many who tried…