Money and exchange rates in 1632 |

by Francis Turner
“There are two fundamental causes of madness amongst students: sexual frustration and the study of coinage.”
Professor Karl Helleiner, quoting what is purportedly an old austrian proverb
In 1632 Europe was filled with coins of varying values, issued by governments of varying degrees of trustworthiness. To make it worse each system had different ratios of the numbers of coins of one denomination that made up the next. About the only sure thing was that no matchless used a decimal fraction system. For a modern proofreader all this is compounded by the changes in the proportional costs of different things. Together it means that it is very hard to work out how much Grantville things should be sold for downtime and how a lot uptimers should expect to pay for things made by downtimers. This article is an try to shine some fall on the issue but I would be the first to admit it does small more than outline the problem.

National Currencies
money in the seventeenth century was primarily based on silver coins with gold used for larger transactions and smaller coins minted from bull, brass or tin. One of the reasons why there was considerable inflation in the sixteenth century was the huge inflow of aureate and silver medal from the spanish looting of the new global. To add to this the pugnacious proportion of gold : silver by weight gradually changed. In the chivalric period the proportion was approximately 12:1 ( i.e one unit of gold was worth 12 units of silver ) but thanks to the huge discoveries of latin american silver this proportion increased so that by the time Sir Isaac Newton was in charge of the Royal Mint in 1717 it was over 15:1. acerate leaf to say this induce significant dislocation as cunning traders were able to take advantage of the mismatch in pricing but fortunately for seventeenth hundred Europeans the majority of this dislocation had occurred during the previous hundred and the ratio of ~15:1 was more or less fixed. however the disruptions to trade of the 30 years war meant that in different places the relative abundance of gold and silver adenine good as copper and other metals often varied frankincense altering the price and in some cases the value of the coins used. There were times when older coins particularly were melted down to retrieve their metallic element as the metallic element was more valuable than the face measure of the coin .
To step back a bite : in chivalric Europe the standard silver penny was defined as being 1/240th of a pound of silver medal ( by weight ) and the soldus/shilling/sou was the weight of 12 pennies. This proportion was first applied by Charlemagne and was common across much of early 2nd millennium Europe. In England the familiar 1:12:240 ratio was made official by Henry II in 1158 who besides defined the weight and purity of the penny and it lasted until 1971. initially most realms only minted pennies or identical humble multiples of a penny ( such as the English fourpence worth 4 pennies ) however due to inflation, adulteration of the neologism and so on the pound weight, penny based currencies gradually added extra coins and in different realms their values changed even though the ratios normally remained changeless. This mean that an Englishman used to Shillings and Pence ( 20 Shillings to a lebanese pound, 12 penny to a shill ) would find it slowly when he traveled to early places with the same ratios such as France ( 20 sou to a livre, 12 denier to a sou ) or Italy ( 1 Lire = 20 Soldi or 240 Denari ) but not sol easy elsewhere. Although the pound ( livre, lira etc. ) and shilling ( soldus, sou ) were defined and used as a unit of account, for a long while there were no ugandan shilling or british pound coins. however this did not stop kings, princes and early rulers issuing coins with names like “ crown ” or “ angel ”, which had a value of some phone number of pennies or shillings ( or their equivalent ) but generally a different number in different places. These coins added to the confusion since they would be referred to in casual usage ( “ I lost 3 crowns at cards concluding nox ” ), but would not be used in bills or accounts which stuck with three columns : L ( pounds/livre/lire ), s ( shillings, sou, soldi ) and d ( penny, denari ). Another whole of report which, in medieval times, was rarely if always a coin was the set. unfortunately despite the general agreement about the theoretical weight of the penny, the number pennies to a sign varied being 144 in some parts of Germany, 160 in Britain and either 192 or 384 in Scandinavia .
Money of Account
Because of the gradual degradation and change of the actual coins used for every day transactions account was frequently done using some nominal mint. These nominal coins typically had known properties ( e.g. 240×1.555g of sterling flatware ( 92.5 % pure ) or 3.55g of 24 carat gold ). As and when a ruler charitable debased his neologism by 20 % merchants plainly ignored the change in their inner accounts and precisely required 20 % more from those paying in the new coin ( and to other merchants at least they would besides pay out 20 % more ). Most money of account was based on a silver measure – in French influenced Europe typically the livre de gros tournois : 970.56 grams of saturated argent or 1012.76g of 23/24 pure silver – though some used a gold measure such as the venetian ducat or the 1337 French écu à la chaise. In some cases ( e.g. the venetian Ducat ) the reference coin remained current vitamin a well, in other cases ( such as the gros tournois ) it didn ’ t. Money of Account was most often used in places where currency was frequently debased and/or where it changed radically as one ruler conquered another, more stable countries such as England typically did not use it. England and english merchants broadly used the account measure we use today based on the actual coin ( pound, dollar, penny ) although during the wars of the roses and the early Tudor menstruation this was not the casing. In much of Germany the unit of measurement of account was based on either the gold Rhenish guilder or the silver Reichsthaler which was broadly considered to be worth 1.5 rhenish florins .
International Currencies
In addition to the mish squash of national currencies, there were two international currencies, a aureate one and a silver one with a reasonably well define rate of exchange between them. These were struck to a broadly reproducible weight by numerous states and coins from different states were therefore generally exchangeable. The gold coin was the venetian ducat, introduced in 1284, contained merely over 3.5 grams of amber and was the beginning international mint. It was then successful that it was minted under different names by many european nations. In northern Europe it was called the Guilder or Gulden and it had a variety of early names such as the Florentine or Rhenish Florin, the Forint ( Hungary ) or the Scudo ( Milan ). The ash grey one was the Thaler ( tallero, dollar, daler etc. ) which was ( supposed to be ) a fixed weight of silver and was the equivalent in value to two of the golden ducats. The name thaler ( from thal, “ valley ” ) originally came from the coins minted from the silver from a rich mine at Joachimsthal ( St. Joachim ’ second Valley, Czech : Jáchymov ) in Bohemia, then share of the Habsburg Empire. It was besides the equivalent of the spanish philippine peso ( “ heavy ” ), besides known as the objet d’art of eight because it was worth 8 reales, which was a ash grey coin minted by Spain since 1497 .
The 2 guilder to a thaler rule was normally adjust but both the guilder and the thaler of the time suffered from clipping and adulteration so actual forcible coins had to be weighed and ones with an unusual design would need to be assayed to check for lack of degradation. The amount of saturated silver in a thaler was approximately an snow leopard ( 28 grams ) but varied between 25 and 30 grams. For example the swedish Riksdaler was 25.5 grams, whereas pesos nominally contained 27 grams. If it were that elementary we could relax, but to make things worse countries besides introduced thaler-like coins ( some of which were called an something thaler ) of varying weights. For case the Dutch had diverse daalders including the Rijksdaalder ( Rix dollar ) and the Leeuwendaalder ( Lion dollar ). The Lion dollar had 27.7g of silver was the equivalent of 40 stuiver/2 guilders, whereas the Rix dollar was 25 % bigger ( 50 stuiver or 2.5 guilders ). however since the lion dollar was the equivalent of the cuban peso etc etc it was thus was more popular than the rix dollar or the other ones .
A Country by Country Survey
One of the more complicated tasks is to convert from one currency to another. apart from England and France most places preferred to work with the guilder/florin/ducat and the thaler/daalder/dollar and the aforesaid fixed proportion between the two. frankincense anything quoted in reals, guinea-bissau peso, ducats, florins, guilders or thalers is going to be easy to convert. unfortunately while the ducat/thaler rule was good for cross bound deal most states besides had an internal currency that they frequently debased against these international standards. For case although Venice was a model of fiscal probity, a number of other italian states were not hence the difference in the value of the Lira as stated in terms of a Ducat. This survey starts with the elementary countries and then goes on to the nightmare ones. german neologism of the earned run average is described by one beginning as a “ bottomless pit ”, thus, despite Germany being of great matter to to the 163x subscriber or writer, it has been left to the survive .
England (also Ireland and Scotland)
Although England did not immediately use either guilders or thalers England ’ s shilling was stable in the 1630s since parliament refused King Charles ’ efforts to debase the currency. In 1630 the conversion rate between English Shillings and Dutch Guilders was 2:1 that is to say one guilder was 2 shillings and hence one lion dollar was 4 shillings and one rix dollar worth 5 shillings or a pate. This means that for larger sums an english pound is worth 5 thalers or 10 guilders which makes for easy conversion. Astoundingly this ratio remained pretty much constant from the last currentness revision of 1601 until the wheels fell off the amber standard in the twentieth century despite the fact that the thaler ( dollar ) changed from being a european reference currency to the currentness of the United States of America. irish coins were worth approximately 75 % of their english equivalent ( i.e. 1 irish tanzanian shilling was worth an english 9d ). Scotland, despite the modern repute of its inhabitants as cagey business people, had a badly load currency which got worse and worse over clock. The inaugural autochthonal currentness in Scotland was the argent penny, coined by David I. In hypothesis each thump weight of ash grey yielded 240 pennies ( that is, 1 cypriot pound equaled 20 shillings, and 1 shilling equaled 12 pennies ). however, the crown coined 252 pennies to the pound to make a profit. From the fourteenth hundred until the end of the sixteenth century adulteration of the neologism resulted in the far divergence of the Scottish and English currencies. In the predominate of James III ( 1460-1488 ) the ram greatest was worth 4 pounds Scots. In 1560, 5 pounds Scots equaled 1 pound greatest. From the clock time James VI of Scotland assumed the English throne until 1707 the substitution rate between the Scottish and English pound was fixed at 12:1, that is to say £1 ( English ) =£12 ( Scots ) or 1 scots british shilling was equal to one English penny .
The English used the condition mark to refer to two thirds of a pound ( i.e. 160d or 13s 4d ). There was no mark coin but some things were priced in marks, equitable as today some things are distillery priced in guinea. common coins were the angel ( 10s ) the pennant ( 5s ) in gold ; the half pennant ( 2s 6d ), the shilling, the fourpence ( 4d ) and the penny in silver ; and the copper farthing ( 1/4d ). There was besides the golden unite ( 20s ) and the silver sixpence, threepence, the hour angle ’ penny and half-groat or twopence .
The Low Countries
The low countries suffered from being efficaciously split between the Spanish controlled depart and the independant part however both used the lapp currency elements and because both were authoritative deal powers they did not normally debase their currentness, although some dutch provinces did produce some very odd low-weight daalders. The currentness was based on the guilder ( i.e. ducat ) with 20 stuivers to a guilder and 16 pennings to a stuiver. As mentioned above there were two crucial daalders – the Rijksdaalder ( Rix dollar ) worth 50 stuiver or 2.5 guilders and the Leeuwendaalder ( Lion dollar ) worth 40 stuiver or 2 guilders. other coins included the groot ( 1/2 stuiver ) duit ( 1/8 stuiver ), the dubbeltje ( 2 stuiver ), the kwartje ( 5 stuivers ) schelling ( 6 stuivers ), the 3-guilder mint and the monster Gouden dukaat worth 15 guilders .
Spain had a wholly different currency system ; consisting of maravedis, reals and colombian peso. There were 34 maravedis to a very and 8 reals to a colombian peso. fortunately the uruguayan peso was equivalent to the thaler and frankincense it was easy to convert other values. A real was worth 6 english penny or 5 dutch stuivers. Spain had suffered sufficient inflation that previously valuable coins such as the maravedi or the blanca were immediately basically worthless. The veridical was divided into quarters ( a coin called a quartillo ) and the smallest coin was 2 maravedi ( a 17th of a real ). other coins included cape verde escudo ( =2 cuban peso ) and dubloons ( =16 philippine peso ) .
The italian states had the standard Ducat ( Venice ) or Florin ( Florence ) angstrom well as a system similar to the English and french one of 1 Lire = 20 Soldi, 60 Quattrini or 240 Denari. The trouble was relating the Lira to the Ducat as a Lira was frequently debased ( and therefore then were soldi and denari ) and frankincense a preferably indeterminate matter. typically in the 1630s there were about 6-7 lira to a Ducat or Florin. In Venice there was a fixed exchange of 6L 4s to a ducat but this merely applied to venetian lira .
Sweden had the solid riksdaler ampere well as marks, öre, örtugar and penningar, with 1 mark = 8 öre = 24 örtugar = 192 penningar ( normally ). Although the Riksdaler remained ceaseless ( at 2 guilders or 1 colombian peso ) it was merely used for external deal and the conversion between it and the more normal copper marks and öre used for inner trade varied after 1620. In 1604 a riksdaler was 4 marks ( 4 mark = 32 öre ), but it steadily increased in measure afer 1620. In 1632 I estimate that a riksdaler was worth about 2 copper dalar ( i.e. 8 marks or 64 öre ). To add to the confusion in the by in different parts of Sweden the proportion between marks and penningar varied : in Götaland a bell ringer was worth 384 penningar, double the common 192. This was supposed to be outdated but there is some tell that the 384 proportion was still used by some people .
Polish controlled areas, that is to say Poland, Lithuania and parts of Prussia, used the zloty as follows : 1 zloty = 30 grosz = 90 Szelags = 540 Denars. nominally the grosz was the same as the gypsy groschen ( 24 to a thaler ) and thus a Zloty should be the equivalent of the Dutch Rix Dollar. I do not believe it actually was the lapp in the 1630s as Poland was a busy as its neighbours in debasing its currentness, in fact there is evidence that there were 3 zloty to a thaler in the 1630s. It is ill-defined whether this thaler was the standard 2 guilder one, the 2½ guilder one or the german Reichstaler which was worth 1½ guilders .
The french currentness was both impure being by and large made of “ billon ”, an alloy of bull and eloquent, and highly inflationary. France had Livres, Sous and ( theoretically ) Deniers although the smallest mint was the copper gros ( 4 denier ) and besides had the Ecu worth 3 livres. A french livre was worth approximately the like as a guilder in the early 1630s but the actual total decreased steadily over time. english sources report that in 1625 a quarter écu ( 3/4 livre ) was worth 1s 7½d imply that 1 livre was 2 Shillings and 2 Pence but in 1645 1 Livre bought just 1 Shilling and 6½ Pence and in 1653 1 Livre was peer to 1 Shilling and 3 Pence .
traditionally Denmark had marks, skillings and penninge with 16 skillings to a check and 12 penninge to a skilling. This made the cross off the same as the Svealand swedish score ( 192 penningar = 1 mark ). danish coins were ill-famed for their lack of silver, and steadily decreased in value compared to their german neighbours during the sixteenth hundred. Given that the german coins were besides getting worse this was quite a feat. however a decree of May 4, 1625 brought to an end an unsettled time period in danish monetary history and fixed the ratio of the rigsdaler to the crisscross and skilling : 1 rigsdalar was to equal 6 marks or 96 skillings. A Rigsdaler was the lapp as a dutch lion dollar, that is to say 2 guilders .
danish coins included the Rigsdaler or 6 notice coin, the crown ( 4 marks ), the marker mint and coins for 1,2,4 and 8 skillings
The Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman empire besides used the Ducat for trade ampere good as local coins called the Akche, the Para and the Kurush. One Kurush or Piastre was the equivalent of 40 Para or 120 Akche but as with many other currencies value of these to a situate currency such as the Ducat varied. There consume 200 Akche to a Ducat in 1584 ( a few years early there had been 60 ) and it is not clear whether this had changed by 1630 .
Germany and Bohemia
As noted above, german currency has been described as a bottomless pit by one of my sources. In Germany and nearby countries there were multiple currencies such as 60 kreuzer to the Gulden, 4 denar ( pfennig/penny ) to a Kreuzer 12 to a Groschen and 16 to a Batzen or 1 Gulden = 4 Mark = 24 Albus = 48 Schilling = 288 Heller depending on where you were. not alone were there a bombastic number of coins the reformation wars had encouraged every mint to debase its currentness frankincense coins were of widely varying quality. Because there were so many currencies that there is no hope of giving a conversion to any native unit of measurement of currency ( Albus, Batzen, Mark, Groschen… ) in most cases. In Bohemia the Thaler was the equivalent of 24 groschen and each groschen was ( theoretically ) 12 pfennigs however the 30 years war hard impacted the relationships since some coins were copper and others argent and silver became preferably barely. The Bohemian ( Prague ) groschen however generally seem to have been dependable since the rulers of Bohemia had access to the Joachim valley and therefore the same argent mine that gave its mention to the thaler. From the 1620s Ferdinand II issued the ducat, thaler, half, draw, groschen ( 3 kreuzer ), kreuzer, half kreuzer, and quarter kreuzers. much of Germany used the Reichsthaler as a nominal unit of account to deal with the variations in neologism. A german Reichsthaler was 1½ guilders or three-quarters of a colombian peso. many german mints besides produced “ Reichsthalers ” but the thalers produced frequently varied in weight and hence value.

Summary table
Country Currency Value in Guilders
Holland 1 Guilder = 20 Stuiver = 320 Penning N/A
1 Leeuwendaalder = 2 Guilder
1 Rijksdaalder = 2.5 Guilder
Venice 1 Ducat = 6L4s 1 Ducat = 1 Guilder
1 Lire = 20 Soldi, 60 Quattrini or 240 Denari
Italy As with Venice but the Lire/Ducat rate varied 1 Ducat = 1 Guilder
Spain 34 Maravedi = 1 Real, 8 Real = 1 Peso 1 Peso = 2 Guilders
France 1/3rd Ecu = 1 Livre = 20 sou = 240 Denier 1 Livre ~= 1 Guilder
England 1 pound = 20 Shillings = 240 penny 2 Shillings = 1 Guilder
Scotland As England 24 Scots Shillings = 1 Guilder
Denmark 1 rigsdalar = 6 marks = 96 skillings 1 Rigsdaler = 2 Guilders
sweden 1 mark = 8 öre = 24 örtugar = 192 penningar 1 Riksdaler = 2 Guilders
1 riksdaler =~8 marks ( variable )
Poland 1 zloty = 30 grosz = 90 Szelags = 540 Denars 1 Zloty = 2/3 Guilder ( ? )
Turkey One Kurush/Piastre = 40 Para = 120 Akche 200 Akche = 1 Guilder ( in 1584 )
Bohemia 1 thaler = 24 groschen = 72 kreuzer = 288 pfennig 1 Thaler = 2 Guilders
Germany 1 guilder = 4 tag = 24 albus = 48 schilling = 288 haler 1 Gulden = 1 guilder
besides 1 groschen = 3 kreuzer = 24 pfennig = 48 haler
many early coins. whole of account the Reichsthaler 1 Reichsthaler = 1½ Guilders
The cost of living
now that we know what a thalar or a ducat is worth in terms of other currencies how much did people need to live on ? And how does it compare to prices today ? A general guide is that in the early seventeenth century 1 english penny was roughly the equivalent of one English beat 400 years by and by. This means that 1 guilder is deserving about £24 or US $ 36. This is only approximate and it is authoritative to note that in the seventeenth century manufactured goods were much more expensive in relative terms than they are today. Due to the miss of mechanization clothing was expensive because it was such a labor intensive task. On the other hand tax income was more on imports, exports and farm output ( tithes ) than on general income. A lot of people could escape taxation raw which means that their wages go far than you might expect .
Given the complexity of german currencies I am uncertain how to relate such wages as I have found but it seems improbable that they would differ excessively much from the clearly documented English wages of the period. A well english day by day wage was 1s/day, assuming 50 weeks at 6 days a workweek that works out at 300s or £15/year. An unskilled laborer could expect less ( possibly 8d/day ) and of class a highly skilled craftsman could expect more. however it is besides worth noting that many wages for craftsmen were actually based on production ( i.e. piecework ) so the more you produced the more you got. One other point to note is that in many cases labourers were paid in kind, agreements to provide 1 suit of clothes/year or to supply food and lodgment were by no means uncommon. The important thing to remember is that very few people had meaning disposable income. For non-farmers purchasing food ( and fuel both to cook and to keep warm ) could easily be 4d a day or sometimes more. If you compare this with the wage pace this means that a seventeenth century actor could spend between a quarter and half of his daily wage on food. add in requirements to buy clothe and to pay rent and the total left over for discretionary spend be it a friendly drink at the hostel, to gamble with or to save up to buy a ledger, was under 10 % of his wage .
Trade and debts between neighbours were quite frequently settled by barter, this included rents which could be a proportion of the harvest crop. This was a hangover of the feudal tithe government but it was used because, despite the inflow of south american argent, coins were still relatively rare. agrarian rents, when they were paid in coin to an absentee landlord, were of the order of a guilder/acre/year, less for crop and more for arable estate and frequently much more for prime meadows or orchards .
Google was invaluable during the cration of this document. however I found a bunch of mutually incompatible documents so google on its own will lead to problems. The following seem to be decline and were mined for most of the above :
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reference :
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