Medieval currency

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This article by Ralph Mollet was first published in the 1956 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

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The Contrats and Acts of the Royal Court of Jersey found among the Archives of the Société Jersiaise give much information as to the money used in the middle ages.

Perpetual rents

All houses and lands were sold, with particularly few exceptions, for an annual perpetual rent of so many quarters, cabots or sixtonniers of wheat, payable on Michaelmas Day of each year. These rents could be sold by the owners to purchasers for a sum of money.

From 1318 to 1324 the purchase sum was in livres tournois (one livre = 20 sols). In 1360 the livres became known as francs, and the price was in francs, sols and sous. In 1399 a contrat mentions gold francs.

From 1417 to 1476 the payment was made in escus d'or (gold crowns) and from 1478 to 1549 crowns, sols and sous.

From 1549 the following currencies are mentioned, gros d'argent, gros English money (groat), nobles (15 gros par noble) and from 1587 the payments were all in escus (crown).

From the Extente of 1331, 4 1ivres tournois = £1 sterling, and 4 deniers = 1 estellan. In 1551 teston = 9s, a gros = 3s.

It is interesting to note from The General Eyre by Bolland, 1922, the prices of food in Canterbury in 1313 were as follows:

  • one quarter of wheat, 6s
  • one quarter of oats, 3s
  • a calf, 2s
  • a suckling pig, 7d
  • chicken, 1d
  • goose, 4d
  • lean goose, 3d
  • 120 eggs, 6d
  • an ox, 13s 4d
  • sheep, 18s
  • pig, 4s
  • fowl, 2d
  • capon, 4d
  • gallon of best wine, 3d
  • gallon of good beer, 1d

In 1553. Estienne Perlin, a French Physician who visited England in the last year of the reign of Edward VI, said as follows:

”Both fish and butter are cheap, for I once bought nine plaice for a denier; but you must understand that the denier is worth nine tournois French money, or thereabouts, and is called a peni. In this country there are many sorts of money; the first piece is called a fardin, another a hahapeni, which is to say the half of a penny, another is called a peni, another a gros, another sixpens, another a chelin, and five shillings a couronne. The English are very fond of French crowns, which they call in their language French couronne, and value it at 19 and 20 gros”.
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