Questions and Notes from “A History of Money From Ancient Times To the Present Day” by Glyn Davies

Questions from “A History of Money From Ancient Times To the Present Day” by Glyn Davies Copyright 2002, Reprinted 2005 ISBN 0-7083-1717-0

  1. Who has been the official arbiter of the purity of British coinage since 1248 A.D.? (pg. 146)
  2. How is the American word “check” related to : the British word “cheque”, chequered cloth and the tables of the Exchequer (pg. 148)
  3. Why was paper money accepted as currency first in China and later throughout the Mongol empire? Was paper money originally a sort of certificate backed by real wealth (e.g. gold, silver, produce, goods and/or property) or did it start out as fiat money that had to be accepted as payment for debts, i.e. legal tender?  Did the transition from money being like a gold or silver certificate to legal tender lead to inflation, even hyper-inflation?(pg. 181-184)
  4. What events and inventions marked and/or caused the end of feudalism? 
  5. Why was the poll tax first tolerated in 1377 but later led to tax evasion and open rebellion in 1381?  How did the Black Death contribute to the government’s urgency to find other sources of taxation such as the poll tax in addition to traditional taxes?  What can we learn about the dangers of modern variations of direct taxes like poll taxes (e.g. income taxes) that are introduced and allowed to steadily increase and never rescinded?  Was the open rebellion of 1381 due to the poll taxes having been excessive for that year or from having been prolonged?  Or was it due to both factors (pgs 167-168)
  6. When did the Black Death or bubonic plague first arrive in Europe?  From whence did it come and how did it arrive in Europe?  What affect did it have on the population?  When was the final major epidemic of the bubonic plaque? (pgs. 160-163)
  7. What motivated Henry VIII to take the monasteries and other church buildings and lands into the possession of the crown and subsequently complete the dissolution of all religious orders by 1540? (pg. 194-195)
  8. What is the historical significance of the title “Fidei Defensor” meaning “Defender of the Faith” conferred on Henry VIII by Pope Clement VII?  How did history prove this bestowal of a title ironic? (pg. 221-222)
  9. How did both the speed and scale of Elizabeth I’s recoinage ensure its success in restoring the currency to its former undebased value?  Without either scale or speed, i.e. rapid and widespread effects, would her reign’s recoinage efforts have been able to overcome the negative effects of Greham’s Law where bad money drives out good money?  How did she recoin and restore the currency to its former glory while still making a profit at the mint? (pg. 204-207)
  10. What can be done when producing small coins is economically infeasible? (three farthing coin example – pg. 208)
  11. How did the concepts of: interest payments, opportunity cost ‘lucrum cessans’ payments, and periodic payments (for long-term loans) give legitimacy to the idea of lending for profit despite the social stigmas against usury?
  12. When did machined “milled” coin come of age and begin to supplant hammered coin?  Why were “milled” coins produced in only limited quantities in England until the Restoration of Charles II in May 1660? (pg. 241-243)
  13. Why did gold supplies at first exceed silver in the New World?  What changed this dramatically so that silver output from Mexico and Peru peaked at around 300 tons per year to dwarf gold output?  How much silver is produced annually today?  Is the mercury amalgam process still used to extract silver from ore?  (pgs. 188-189)
  14. Great Britain’s government in the 17th century developed a voracious appetite for money, especially to fund its navy and ongoing wars.  It issued bonds or “Exchequer Orders to Pay” as a means of obtaining more revenue than from taxes alone.  Who was left “holding the bag” (suffering the most) when the infamous “Stop of the Exchequer” occurred on Jan. 2, 1672 which effectively halted most payments on the formerly issued bonds or “Exchequer Orders to Pay”?  Why did the government do this when they must have known that this action would gravely hurt their biggest lenders?  Did this “death blow” to these financial backers of the government set the stage for the successful nationalization of banking in England?  Would the Bank of England have been founded as it was if the goldsmiths hadn’t been thus dealt with?  Would the goldsmiths have tolerated a competitor bank whose very existence depended on the privilege of a perpetual loan to the government?  Can we blame our current government’s excessive national debts on the model and precedent established by the Bank of England? (pg. 252-260)

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