Monetary system in medieval Serbia - part two

Article 168 of Dusan’s Code started the statutory regulation of monetary relations by stipulating that dinars could be minted only in imperial towns. This first ever Serbian coinage law allowed the goldsmith working in imperial towns to mint imperial money, while the composition and weight were set in accordance with conventional rules. At that time, around the middle of the XIV century, it was still inappropriate to determine by law the permissible departure from the prescribed weight of coins. The primitive coinage methods applied made it possible for coins of the same kind to differ significantly in weight. The Mine Law enacted in 1412 by Despot Stefan Lazarevic (1389-1427) prohibited the sorting of coins and the checking of their weight. Coins turned out by a mint were sorted and weighed so that the lighter coins could be put in circulation and the heavier coins are re-minted or hoarded. The prohibition against sorting and checking the weight of the newly minted coins indirectly sanctioned the ruler’s right to mint coins whose weight is different from the prescribed weight. That was the beginning of the legalized debasement of coins and reduction of their material to a functional value.
The minting of coins in the late Middle Ages was an important source of royal revenue. Royal rights, stemmed from the ruler’s supreme ownership of the country. Supreme ownership of the country allowed the ruler to exercise his royal rights also in parts of the state territory directly owned by representatives of the privileged classes and thereby limit the right of direct owners to use their lend. Coin minting was seen partly as major and partly minor royal rights. As a prerogative of sovereignty over the whole state, it was included in minor royal rights. In the late middle Ages, the exercise of monetary rights meant that the ruler either organized the minting of money or leased the mints.
Before Dusan’s Code and after his sudden death, royal monetary rights were exercised in medieval Serbia by leasing out mints. However, Article 168 of Dusan’s Code solely legalized organization of minting by the ruler. In this way, Dusan and his supervisors could control the mints. The earlier leasing system meant that the mint lessee answered to the ruler for the weight and quality of coins with his reputation only. Such system provided greater opportunities for abuse than when the ruler organized the minting, because neither the minters nor the supervisors were appointed by the ruler. Dusan organized the minting of money himself in order to complete the unification of money he had started by re-minting the old regal and early imperial coins.

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