The Role of Gold in Medieval Money

coins-159889_640Historically, gold was in very short supply in Europe and was hardly the basis for money. Thus, the role of precious metals in money was very limited as can be seen by the affirmation of David Hackett Fischer:

The supply of these precious metals was relatively small in the medievalSubscription8.11 West. Scholars have estimated that as late as the year 1500, all the gold in Europe would have fit within a two-meter cube (that is eight cubic meters in all). The supply of silver was much larger, but still very small by modern standards. As late as 1200, England’s silver stock totaled only 300 tons, and would have fit into a fourteen meter cube. Altogether, it amounted to only a few ounces of sterling for every man, woman and child in the realm” (David Hackett Fischer, The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996, p. 24).