Coins of the Venetian Republic

Coins of the Venetian Republic began to be minted during the reign of Louis I the Pious (814-840). The first coins were silver denarii. Over time, the republic became one of the most powerful trading states in medieval Europe. The peculiarity of the coin business in Venice was that the republic provided not only its own needs, but also determined the monetary circulation of both medieval Europe and the Mediterranean.

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The Venetian Mattapan became the finest silver coin to be widely used as a commercial coin.

In 1284, a gold coin was issued in Venice, copying the weight of the Florentine florin, but having an original appearance. On the obverse was depicted Christ in a mandora (from Italian mandora – amygdala, in Christian art – an oval halo framing the figure of Christ), on the reverse – a kneeling doge, receiving a banner from the hands of Saint Mark. The circular legend “Sit tibia Christi dates, qualm to Regis site ducats” (“This duchy, which you rule, is dedicated to you, Christ”), gave rise to the name “ducat”. Subsequently, when imitations of this coin appeared in other European states, the name zecchin (Italian zecchin) from Italian was assigned to the Venetian gold coins. Zeca – mint. They were produced with unchanged weight characteristics and gold content for five centuries until the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797. The phenomenon of this coin is that for many centuries of its existence, the ducat has escaped damage. Most European countries have issued ducats for 700 years, adhering to the original characteristics: the weight of the coin is about 3.5 grams, the fineness of the gold alloy is about 980th. The alloy of 986-carat gold is called ducat gold.

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In 1332, in the Republic of Venice, for the first time among European countries, a sold was minted, which in its essence was the Italian name for shilling and by definition was equal to 12 denarii. Up to this point, for five centuries, the shilling was a monetary unit of account. Likewise, Venice at the end of the 15th century became the first state in which the lyre (from Latin libra) began to be issued in the form of a coin, which was also a monetary unit equal to 12 shillings before that.

In addition to innovations that had a significant impact on world money circulation, Venice became one of the first European states to massively issue colonial money. Tornzesello XIV-XVI centuries were intended exclusively for the colonies in Greece and were banned in the metropolis.

Denarius period

The monetary reform of Charlemagne (748-814) in the Frankish state, which also included the Venetian Republic, established a monetary system, according to which 1 pound was divided into 20 solidi (shillings), each of which, in turn, into 12 denarii … Thus, 240 denarii should be minted from 1 pound of silver [1]. The appearance of the new denarii has completely changed. The obverse contained a cross in the center and a circular inscription “CARLVS REX FR [ANCORVM]”. On the reverse in the center was the monogram of Charlemagne, and in a circle – the designation of the city in which this coin was minted [1]. After the collapse of the Carolingian Empire into several kingdoms, denarii continued to be minted on their territories. The shilling and the pound for a long time remained counting and weight units, since no real coins of this denomination were issued. Until the 13th century, only denarii and their derivatives were in circulation [2] [3].

The first of the surviving coins, which can be identified by the inscription “VENECIAS”, dates back to 819-822, the time of the reign of Louis I the Pious [4]. In subsequent years, a large number of denarii were minted in Venice, some of which had the designation of the place of issue, some did not. In general, their appearance and peculiarity of minting did not differ from similar coins of other Western European cities [5].

In 924, King Rudolph II of Burgundy gave the Doge Orson II the right to start an independent issue of Venetian coins. It should be noted that not a single denarius of Venice has survived, indicating the rulers of the time described [6].

Venetian ducats

During the early Middle Ages, gold coins were no longer minted in western and northern Europe. The reason for this was both insufficient gold production and a decrease in its supply from the countries of the Middle East and North Africa captured by the Arabs. A small number of gold coins that circulated in Europe, in most cases, were Byzantine solidi, which were called “bezants” or “Byzantines” [26]. “Besant’s” were not money with strictly defined weight characteristics and the amount of gold contained in them [27]. The lack of a full-fledged gold monetary unit created a number of difficulties in trade between various European countries.

Large quantities of the noble metal began to flow to European countries. Its source was both the plundered wealth of the conquered peoples and the renewal of trade relations with the Maghreb. This region was the location of the largest center for the production of gold in the Middle Ages, Bamboo. The intensification of international trade required the presence of large denominations of banknotes. Silver pennies and pfennigs, which were widespread in the described time, did not satisfy the needs of merchants. The most developed trading city-states began to mint their own gold coins. In 1252, the Fiorino Doro (from the Italian fore – flower) [28] was released in Florence, which became the ancestor of the florin and guilder currency units. The gold coin of another trading state, Genoa, Geno vino [29] did not become widespread.

The prosperous Venetian Republic did not stay away from the general European trends and in 1284 began to mint its own gold coins, which became the first ducats [30] [31].

In 1284, a gold coin was issued in Venice, copying the weight of the Florentine florin, but having an original appearance. On the obverse there was a depiction of Christ in a mandora, on the reverse – a kneeling doge, receiving a banner from the hands of Saint Mark. The circular legend “Sit tibia Christi dates, qualm to Regis site ducats” (“This duchy, which you rule, is dedicated to you, Christ”) and led to the appearance of the name “ducat” [31] [30]. Subsequently, when imitations of this coin appeared in other European states, the name zecchin (Italian zecchin) from Italian was assigned to the Venetian gold coins. Zeca – mint [32]. They were produced with unchanged weight characteristics and gold content for five centuries until the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797 [33].