Manipulating the Coinage

Guy Rowlands

in The Financial Decline of a Great Power

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199585076
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744600 | DOI:
Manipulating the Coinage

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The varied methods of borrowing and venal office exploitation were still not sufficient for tapping the country's wealth, so after 1689 successive Finance Ministers sought bullion from abroad and began to manipulate the coinage, mainly to cream off ‘seigniorage’ through the royal mints. While the larger coins were not physically debased, they were repeatedly rerated upwards and downwards against the unit of account, the livre, which lost around one-third of its value in silver terms. The manipulations after 1699 were largely intended to bring more coin into circulation in France and achieve periodic windfalls for the government. Unfortunately the fiat values of the coins were regularly misjudged and the government sometimes sought too great a profit, stimulating fraudulent recoining organised on a large scale by some of the king's own financial contractors. The manipulations also worsened the exchange rates and added significantly to the costs of paying for military supplies.

Keywords: bullion imports; coinage; debasement; false-coining; dual-currency system

Chapter.  10325 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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