Were Coins Widely Used in the Medieval Era?

Coins were common during the Middle Ages after 1100. Patrons frequently paid merchants, craftspeople, laborers, and artists in coins. Members of the nobility, including kings, barons, and lords, collected taxes in coins and kept treasuries. People also used other forms of payment during the medieval period. Merchants and bankers frequently operated using a system known as "money of account," which used accounting measures to track transactions for large quantities of goods and services. Merchants also used bills of exchange, and the barter system was a common form of trade.

What Are Some Characteristics of Medieval Coins?

Until the 13th century, all coins minted in Western Europe were made of silver; however, Byzantium and countries in the Middle East minted gold coins, and Western European countries often used these coins. The gold "florin" coins from the city of Florence appeared in 1252, and an English gold coin known as the "noble" appeared in 1480. Gold coins had different names in various countries, such as the "ducat" in Venice and the "franc" in France. Mints gradually began adding copper to silver pennies during the medieval period. Some countries used less copper than others, and silver coins, such as the Rhineland groschen and the English penny, became known as "white money".

Do Medieval Coins Have Value?

Exceptionally rare medieval coins are highly sought by collectors and tend to have very high values. In some cases, valuable medieval coins sell for millions of dollars, as was the case with the rare 1343 English gold coin depicting Edward III that sold at auction for $6.8 million. Medieval coins are not all rare, though, and they vary greatly in value, depending on age, condition, and rarity. Common coins in poor shape may only sell for a few dollars each.