What touches all: Coinage and monetary policy in Leon-Castile to 1230

James Joseph Todesca, Fordham University


This work traces the growth of the use of money in kingdom of Leon-Castile from 711 to 1230 and assesses the monarchy's role in providing the realm with an ample and acceptable currency. Previous studies treating the early monetary history of the kingdom have tended to be predominantly numismatic in their approach and are often narrowly focused on the coins of a particular reign. The present study, however, synthesizes the numismatic and diplomatic sources within a broad chronological context. In addition, it draws on an array of evidence from the other Hispanic Christian states as well as from the Muslim south, so as to place the monetary policy shaped by the kings of Leon-Castile in the larger context of the developing Iberian economy. The work is organized into four chronological parts. Part one, surveys the ninth through eleventh centuries, a period where it is not certain that the crown was actively minting. Nonetheless, the sources from the period reveal that the economy was quickly growing reliant on coin, obtained both from Latin Europe and Muslin Andalusia. The steady monetization that occurred in these centuries, laid the foundation for the royal coinage that began after 1085. Parts two to four examine a "long twelfth century" from roughly 1085 to 1230. Responding to the poor or non-existent royal coinages before his reign, Alfonso VI (1065-1109) initiated a large scale coinage struck in a minimum of three mints. This mint network was built upon by his successors so that by 1157 there were at least seven royal mints. Under the division of the realm, from 1157-1230, minting of the billon denarius was further expanded and a gold denomination modeled on the Islamic dinar was introduced in both Leon and independent Castile. By the time the kingdoms were reunited in 1230, the crown had achieved a stable, bi-metallic currency well before most other parts of Latin Europe. By a detailed examination of these events, this study furthers our knowledge not just of a medieval currency system built on Latin and Islamic traditions but deepens our understanding of the strength of royal government in Leon-Castile.

Subject Area

Middle Ages|Economic history|European history

Recommended Citation

Todesca, James Joseph, "What touches all: Coinage and monetary policy in Leon-Castile to 1230" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9702145.