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Power politics and princely debts: why Germany's common currency failed, 1549-56

Volckart, Oliver (2017) Power politics and princely debts: why Germany's common currency failed, 1549-56. Economic History Review, 70 (3). pp. 758-778. ISSN 0013-0117

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ehr.12421


Using new sources, this article examines how in the years around 1550 Charles V and the imperial estates came close to creating a common currency for the Holy Roman Empire. The article analyses whose interests prevailed in the negotiations and how, despite the resistance of some important actors, the Imperial diet of 1551 was able to unanimously agree on the currency bill. It also analyses why the common currency still failed: This was the case because of the desire of many princes to ease the repayment of their debts by establishing a bimetallic currency, and even more importantly because of Charles V's attempt to weaken the Elector of Saxony by undervaluing the taler. In this, Charles exploited the diet's implicit ex-ante agreement with him to set the rates at which old money was allowed to continue in circulation. His manipulations provoked resistance, raised the costs of implementing the common currency, and caused its failure.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Economic History Society
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2017 16:41
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:30

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