A Note on Money: Medieval currencies derived originally from the libra (livre or pound) of pure silver from which were struck 240 silver pennies, later established as twelve pennies to the shilling or sous and
20 shilling or sous to the pound or livre. The florin, ducat, franc, livre, ecu, mark, and English pound were all theoretically more or less equivalent to the original pound, although in the course of things their weight and gold content varied. The nearest to a standard was the coin containing 3.5 grams of gold minted by Florence (the florin) and Venice (the ducat) in the mid-13th century. The word “gold” attached to the name of a coin, as franc d’or, ecu d’or, or mouton d’or, signified a real coin. When expressed by the name of the currency alone, or, in France, as a livre in one of its various forms– parisis, tournois, borelaise, each differing slightly in value- the currency in question represented money of account which existed only on paper.
720: The word Libra and its zodiacal representation of the scales of judgement is most likely the reason it is used to represent money. The U.S. $1 dollar bill has this symbol in the green seal on the right side.In the expanding economy of the 12th and 13th centuries, the profits of commerce and agricultural surplus brought burghers and peasants the cash to pay for rights and liberties. In his capacity as protector, the noble earned exemption from direct taxation by poll or hearth- tax, although not from the aids or sales taxes. These, however, took proportionately more from the poor than from the rich. The assumption was that taxpaying was ignoble; the knight’s sword arm provided his service to the state, as prayers provided the clergy’s and exempted them too from the hearth-tax. Justification for the noble lay in the “exposure of their bodies and property in war,” but in practice the rules were as changeable and diffuse as clouds in a windy sky. The tax status of the clergy, too, when it came to money for the defense of the realm, was the subject of chronic and fierce dispute.
Money could buy any kind of dispensation: to legitimize children, of which the majority were those of priests and prelates; (Out of 614 grants of legitimacy in the year 1342-43, 484 were to members of the clergy) to divide a corpse for the favorite custom of burial in two or more places; to permit nunsto keep two maids; to permit a converted Jew to visit his unconverted parents; to marry within the prohibited degree of consanguinity (with a sliding scale of fees for the second, third, and fourth degrees; to trade with the infidel Moslem (with a fee required for each ship on a scale according to cargo); to receive stolen goods up to a specific value. The collection and accounting of all these sums, largely handled through Italian bankers, made the physical counting of cash a common sight in the papal palace. Whenever he entered there, reported Alvar Pelayo, a Spanish official of the Curia, “I found brokers and clergy engaged in reckoning the money which lay in heaps before them.”
Kicked Out of Heaven Vol. I
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Quartz: Facebook’s Libra could roil central banks, governments.