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Scandinavian Economic History Review

The Search for Seignorage: Periodic Re–Coinage in Medieval Sweden

Scientific Article in English
Svensson, Roger (2017). “The Search for Seignorage: Periodic Re–Coinage in Medieval Sweden”. Scandinavian Economic History Review 65(2), 189–205.

Roger Svensson

A specific monetary tax − called periodic re-coinage − was applied for almost 200 years in large parts of medieval Europe. Old coins were frequently declared invalid and exchanged for new ones based on publicly announced dates and exchange fees. A theoretical framework of how periodic re-coinage works in practice is tested on Swedish coinage. The theory suggests that economic backwardness, limited monetisation of society and separate currency areas facilitated recoinage. The Swedish experience is extraordinarily consistent with this theory. It is shown that Sweden adopted coin types similar to those minted in Continental Europe during the Middle Ages and the corresponding coinage and monetary taxation policies. Periodic recoinage was applied with varying frequency from 1180 to 1290. However, monetisation increased in the late thirteenth century, making periodic re-coinage more difficult, and long-lived coins were introduced in 1290. With the end of periodic re-coinage, Swedish kings accelerated the debasement of long-lived coins, which continued until the beginning of the sixteenth century.

Roger Svensson

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