Written by John Horvat II
Speaking with a friend recently, we chanced to talk about money and coins. He is a coin collector and had just visited a coin shop nearby. I mentioned my own studies of medieval economy and its coinage. Much to my surprise and delight, he reached into his inner coat pocket and pulled out a gros tournois coin minted almost 750 years ago in France.
For me it was something of an emotional experience. I had seen pictures of the coin and knew a bit of its history. But I had never actually held the coin in my hand. When my friend handed it to me, I was thrilled by the chance to “touch history.”
The Origin of the CoinThis is no ordinary coin. It is small, slightly larger yet much thinner than a dime. It is also beautiful with inscriptions and symbols full of meaning upon its faces.
It should be explained that this coin was born of prosperity, since the value of the then-standard denier, or penny, was inconveniently small for use in trade and commerce. Introduced in 1266, this medieval silver coin, worth 12 denier, provided the added value needed to favor France’s expanding economy.
It was called the gros tournois because it was minted at the city of Tours—the towers of the city’s abbey appear on one of the coin’s faces. While many cities in medieval France minted their own gros coins, the ones from Tours were among the most stable over the course of centuries.
An Extraordinary RulerHowever, what makes this particular coin very special is the fact that he who minted it was no ordinary person. His name actually appears in Latin on the coin and reads:Ludovicus Rex, or Louis the King, also known as Saint Louis.
King Saint Louis IX (1214-1270) was a virtuous ruler beloved by his people ... (to finish the article, please click on the link below)The “Strong Money” of Good King Saint Louis - Crisis Magazine