Swords, Shields and Shillings: Le Goff Takes You Back in Time!

In this age of cryptocurrency and digital wallets, the idea of clutching a silver coin might seem like a vestige of a distant past. Jacques Le Goff, the eminent medieval historian, stirs the cauldron of history with his latest offering, “Money in the Middle Ages.” Published by Polity, this magnum opus brings alive the clamor of marketplaces, the intrigue of royal treasuries, and the clash of economic interests that laid the foundation for modern financial systems.

Le Goff, whose academic prowess is not unknown to scholars, has curated a rich tapestry, weaving insights and anecdotes about the birth and evolution of money during medieval times. The pages of this book breathe life into an era when the exchange of coins marked the economic rhythms of empires and small towns alike.

The book unfolds as an illuminating journey through the Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries), an era often remembered for its chivalry, religious fervor, and social hierarchies. However, the focus here is not just kings and knights but rather the common merchant, the money-lender, the mint master, and the evolving concept of wealth.

A notable aspect is the author’s examination of the interplay between the Church and money. Le Goff brilliantly captures the dichotomy of a religious establishment preaching against avarice, while at the same time amassing considerable wealth. He also delves into the role of currency in fostering international trade, with the medieval fairs and the Hanseatic League serving as historical milestones.

In an era where barter was still prominent, the inception and gradual permeation of coinage into the fabric of society are painted vividly. Le Goff astutely observes the psychological change this brought about, giving birth to concepts of savings, investment, and economic class differentiation. His analysis of the various coins, from the Byzantine solidus to the Venetian ducat, reveals how the material, weight, and iconography of money held both practical and symbolic significance.

Though scholarly, “Money in the Middle Ages” doesn’t fall into the trap of being abstruse. The prose is engaging, and the narrative is rich with anecdotes and historical figures, from Charlemagne to Marco Polo. Le Goff’s articulate style ensures that the economic analysis is accessible even to readers who may not be well-versed in economics.

If the book has one flaw, it might be the sheer breadth of material. At times, the reader may find themselves yearning for more focus on a particular region or time period. However, this is a minor grievance in what is otherwise an intellectual treasure trove.

“Money in the Middle Ages” is a sumptuous banquet for history buffs and economic enthusiasts. With its erudite content and captivating storytelling, it holds the potential to redefine the reader’s perception of medieval economics and society. Jacques Le Goff has not just penned a book; he has created a time machine that transports you to the bustling markets and hallowed halls of a bygone era.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irenehttp://ledgerlife.io/
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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