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„Zlotul românesc” sau „moldovenesc” – o monedă de calcul de tradiţie bizantino-balcanică din Moldova secolelor XV-XVI / The „Wallachian Zlot” or the „Moldavian Zlot” – An Account Coin of Byzantine-Balkan Tradition from 15th-16th Centuries Moldavia

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Excerpt The approach from another angle of the long and complex political, economic and cultural links of the Romanians with the south-east European and north-pontic regions reveals the way in which they left long-lasting marks also in the field of monetary practices. The language of official and legal Romanian documents bears witness to the Byzantine-Balkan or Golden Horde monetary legacy. Historians have long remarked that, but it was believed that certain formal elements occurring exclusively in the field of monetary terminology had been preserved for a very long time, especially due to some very conservative practices of princely chanceries in Wallachia and Moldavia (1). A more thorough scrutiny into the matter revealed that the Byzantine-Balkan and Tartarian tradition survived far longer than expected, reaching, in some cases, the early modern age. Until the 1990s no thorough studies emerged that might have started from a systematic and exhaustive approach of the monetary and financial language of mediaeval Romanian documents. That prevented us, until now, from understanding correctly, and regrettably, not even in the most common way, the primary meaning of certain notions. In this sense, the "Tartarian zlots" and "perper" cases are, perhaps, the most illustrative examples of this situation (2).
The lack of a special analysis of this kind of vocabulary has entailed the impossibility of identifying accurately which were actually the material and institutional elements concealed behind startlingly perennial and lavishly diverse notions. At the same time, it was not possible to unravel the mechanism by which the Romanian feudal society took over certain monetary terms, as well as the extraordinary local symbiosis leading to the intermingling and long conservation of very diverse traditions and realities that during the 15th and 16th centuries developed into a uniformizing baffling linguistic pattern. Influenced by the wide range of monetary terms more often mentioned in Wallachian or Moldavian documents, the researchers who tackled the subject emphasized what appeared to be a dissimilar evolution and failed to reveal the existence of monetary practices common to both Romanian Principalities. In our opinion, this likeness was steeped in a common cultural legacy, already in existence when the Golden Horde enforced its political rule over Moldavia.
The first step towards understanding the exact nature of the Byzantine-Balkan origin or Golden Horde monetary terms was made when we approached the issue of the "Tartarian Zlots". On that occasion, we could find that this mysterious notion surprisingly designated more types of account coins, and by no means a particular category of real coins, as long believed (3). That brings us to an important chapter of European and Islamic mediaeval civilizations, namely the account coins.
These imaginary monetary units used to be issued on a large scale in the mediaeval world. In certain regions they survived up to the 18th century, or even until later, by the middle of the 19th century. Unlike real coins that played the important role of functioning as exchange and accumulation means, account coins were destined to stand for units measuring the value of goods and services (4). In a world where the use on a large scale of real coins issued after very diverse monetary systems was an everyday reality even inside the same political entity, account coins could help uniformizing the circulation on the inner market, while allowing the access of certain foreign issues even in very remote areas. At the same time, the use of account coins was also a measure of protection against a continuous alteration, more exactly reduction, in the fine metal content of real coins, above all silver ones, as well as against cyclic fluctuations of the silver/gold ratio on monetary markets, as they ideally represented the equivalent of a precise amount of precious metal. We'd like to point out a detail, often overlooked by researchers, namely that an account monetary unit is not made up only of a certain amount of precious metal, but it also had a pre-established title. In most cases, account coins originate in real coins. However, often a "freezing" of the relationships existing in a given moment between various denominations of a real monetary system occurred. The "fossilization" of mediaeval account systems was caused by certain administrative or bureaucratic reasons, but it also spread from "irrational" elements, such as, for example, the general public's daily counting customs and practices. The intermingling of these factors explains the extraordinary longevity of account monetary systems; the capacity to survive for many centuries after the real monetary systems that had generated them had gone out of use. In day-to-day practice, between real monetary systems, in which the operations were performed, and the account ones, in which the calculations were made, strong tensions occurred, due to the fact that at the level of real circulation took place alterations and adjustments, generated by economic, financial-monetary, technological, social or political changes, while account coins systems tended to stay stable, unchanged.
Due to the intricate social structure, the authorities rarely took the risk of altering, even only partially, the account monetary systems in such a way as to harmonize them with the real Circulation facts. The cases in which these systems were fundamentally changed by administrative decisions were extremely rare. When such situations occurred, however, they started usually from bottom to top, under the pressure of the great transformations on the real monetary markets that would render the old account units totally inoperative, making them useless (5).
With two exceptions, the inner sources in Wallachia and Moldavia that we have studied do not mention explicitly the use of account coins. The oldest case, known to us, dates from Moldavia of 1548 - 1549. On that occasion, the princely correspondence mentions the terms "floreni nostre terre usuales" or "secundum usum huius terre nostre". In our opinion, the terms might be ad-hoc translations of Romanian expressions. This assertion is based on the fact that the texts of the letters, although written in Latin, often observe the Romanian syntax, and comprise a few obviously Romanian structures, for instance: "promptam pecunia", which corresponds to the well-known formula "in cash". In spite of that, the lack of reliable formulas in Romanian texts prevents us from accurately identifying the expression used by those who dictated the letters. As a matter of fact, we do not know the contemporary Slavonic technical term that used to designate account coins in the official or everyday language.
On the other hand, a few local or foreign sources, written in Latin, regarding Moldavia or Oltenia, designate account coins from these regions by the denominations of "currentes", "ex currentibus", "pecunia imaginaria", technical terms identical to those usually used for designating western account coins.
The scarcity of data on the use of account coins by Romanians in the Middle Ages and early modern age is partially compensated by the numerous "pecunia imaginaria" mentions occurring in the official documents from the 3rd and 4th decades of the 18th century issued by the Austrian chancery in Oltenia. These include astonishingly profound and accurately documented reports worked out by the clerks Niccolo di Porta and Dobner (6). Although these data are late, there are many clues proving beyond any doubt that they do not refer to the concrete situation in Oltenia of 1718 - 1739, but regard a local reality in Wallachia, dating from an earlier period, before the annexation of the territories west of the Olt by the Austrians. Moreover, these documents shed Light upon the use of a very intricate and complex, even sophisticated, account coins system that could not have developed over such a long time, by the assimilation of different traditions (7).
A thorough look into the 14th-17th centuries documents leads to the conclusion that in many cases the denominations of coins that we come across do not refer in any way to real coins, but, for certain, to account coins. The use of account coins in the Romanian mediaeval space, the takeover and generalization, during the last two decades of the 17th century of the Romanian account "leu" (8), had already been apprehended many decades before by the researchers Constantin Moisil (9) and Gheorghe Zane (10). In spite of the importance of knowing how account coins were used in order to understand the monetary and financial practices of the mediaeval Romanian society, the mentioned authors, as well as other researchers, failed to carry out a thorough analysis of this fascinating subject. In later years, the interest in this issue has grown (11). Unfortunately, what has been published is only the beginning of a systematic research in the field, as the interest has been focused only on the issue of the "Tartarian zlots" or of the "Romanian perper", but there are many other account coins used during the 14th – 18th centuries in Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania (12).
In the present study we shall tackle an account coin of Byzantine-Balkan origin from Moldavia, leaving aside those of western or central European origin, such as the "grivnas" or "rubles" which, behind their name of Slav origin, conceal a typically western monetary reality, the account mark. The account coin conventionally named by us the "Romanian zlot" occurs in foreign documents regarding Moldavia, dating from the 15th - 16th centuries under very various names, such as: "zlotich valaskich", "zlothi Moldawski", "ducati ex currentibus in dictis locis Velachie", "floreninostre terre usuales", "florenis secundum usum huius terre nostre" or "florenus unus
Moldavicum, qui est asperorum 12".
The term of "zlotich valaskich" is mentioned more times in the border and trade treaty from the 7th of August 1519, concluded in the name of the king of Poland, Sigismund I and of the prince of Moldavia, Ştefăniţă (Stephen V) (13). This "Romanian zlot" is in fact a Moldavian one, taking into account that in the terminology of Polish official documents Moldavia is very often named "Wallachia". Due to its special relevance, we shall quote in length the provisions comprised in the references to this coin: "Item, gdi bi kto s oboiey strony dziewkę, zonę abo wdowę sgwalcill abo gwaltem wziąll, tedy taky gwaltownyk ma placyc osmnascie kop Podolskich a na Valaska lidzbą aspramy szescdziesiąt zlotich Valaskich. (At the same time, if someone, from anywhere, rapes or abducts a virgin or a widow, then, that rapist will have to pay eighteen marks [kopa] of Podolia (14), or in aspers, after the account of the Romanian [exchequer], sixty Romanian zlots)." Another fragment from the same source specifies that "Item, a kto dziewke s gey dobrq wolq a prziasliwie vesmie, ma dac poltori kopi, a lidzbi Walaskey piqcz zlotich asprami" (At the same time, if the abduction of the virgin is done wilfully and without violence, the abductor will pay one kopa and a half, or after the Romanian account, five zlots in aspers) (15).
A few references to this "zlot", named either "Moldavian" or "Wallachian" i.e. "Romanian" can be found in the treaty between Moldavia and Poland from the 12th of May 1527, agreed between Petru (Peter) Rareş and Sigismund I. This agreement stipulated that the failure to pay in time the fines by a subject of the Polish king, entailed a fine of one kopa of Podolia, or of one Moldavian zlot, if the doer was a subject of the Voyevode of Suceava: "A yesli by ktoryey czlowyek tak s Moldawyan yako s podolan thego dnya wedlye okazanya nye zaplaczil by, then, na kym prawo przwyodv, zwicziaszczi ku glowny sumye skazany yedna kopa Podolskye przilozicz a zaplaczicz za wyną a starosczye swemu thesz za wyne zlothi Moldawski badzye powynyeny dacz" (16).
For strikes hurting the body, the damage was established at 120 Moldavian zlots: "A yesthli by kto ony abo ktorego thakowego zbyl, thedy ten sbithina swe rany ζ ona obczisnq pryszyqze, ktore then, czo go byl, y za szkody yemu zaplaczi a, rancze odkupuyancz, stho y dwadziesczczia slothich
Moldawskich starosczye zaplaczycz bandzye povynyen" (17).
The text of the new treaty resumes the clause specified in the 1519 agreement regarding the abducting of girls and women, by mentioning a damage quota of 18 kopa; if the doer was a Moldavian, 60 Romanian zlots, if the doer was Podolian or Halician: "Item, yestly bi ktori Podolanin do podolya abo do Haliczki zyemye ζ Moldawski zyemye wzyql dzyewkq gwalthem, then czlowyek Walaschinowj za vyne oszmnascze kop przepadnye. A yesthly bi Walaschin s Podolya abo s Haliczki zyemye moczq abo gwalthem wzyql dzyewkq, then Podolskyemu abo Haliczkyemu czlowyeku szeczdzieszyanth zlotich Walaskich za vyne przepadnye" (18). For murder, or wounds causing death it is compulsory to pay a fine of 120 Romanian zlots, reduced to only 60, if the doer was a commoner: "I to abi bylo powsczyqgnyono, ustavyono iest, ysz, yesli bi slachta, thak krola yego milosczi yako y woyewodi Moldawskiego poddany, kogo chodzqczego s poswy ubyl abo ranyl, thedi themu ranemu abo ubithemu ma za rany y za schkodi placzicz. A yesli bi kto zabyl, za glowq y za schkodi ma dossicz uczinicz. A tho zaplacziwszi starossczie za wynq ma dacz szesczdzieszianth zlotich Walaskich y sto zlotych. A yesli by nye byl szlachczicz then, czo byl abo zabyl, thedi, zaplaczwszi rany abo glowq y schkodi, vyni ma dacz starosczye szesczdzyeszyqnt zlotich Walaskich" (19).
The existence of these "Moldavian zlots" was known by the historians Ion Nistor (20) and Alexandru I. Gonţa (21). Ion Nistor, as Alexandru I. Gonţa is just his follower, does nothing else but to establish the ratio of 18 groats = 1 Moldavian zlot, at a rate in aspers, failing to perceive the true nature of this coin, or its value at the beginning of the 16th century. The expression "na Valaskq lidzbq", as well as the specification that Moldavian coins used to be paid in Ottoman aspers, obviously point to the fact that "Moldavian zlots" used to be account coins. A more thorough insight into local and foreign Moldavian sources from the 15th - 17th centuries proves that the specifications above are not the only ones regarding this account coin. Among the references we could identify also other names applied to coins that have two common features with "the Moldavian zlot" from 1519 and 1527. First of all they refer explicitly to the fact that these coins are characteristic of Moldavia, and second, they emphasize beyond any doubt their nature of account coins.
In other sources such coins appear more often than not under names like: "floreni", or more rarely "ducati" (21) hat can be explained by the fact that the mentions come from economic strata where the florin or ducat had become synonymous, as early as the 14th century, with the gold coin. Thus, the oldest references to a Moldavian account coin were found in two decisions made on the 3r d and 6th of March 1444 by Officium Mercantiae in Genova in favor of Angelo and Graveoto Giustiniani. They refer to the granting of reprisal rights to the two Genova merchants, against Stephen II, Voivode of Moldavia and against his subjects. The two Giustiniani had succeeded to prove that they had suffered considerable loss because of an illegal decision by the prince, and the authorities yielded them the right to compensation, and to recover the equivalent value of the confiscated goods, as well as that of the expenses made in Moldavia, during the attempt to resolve the conflict by compromising. These reprisals rose to the total sum of: "...ducatis quatormilibus quingentis ex currentibus in dictis locis Velachie... et pro ducatis octuaginta 8 ex curentibus in dictis locis, pro expensis factis per dictum Angelum, suo et dicto nomine, in dictis locis, in quibus stetit cum eius sclavo menses decern octo, item pro ducatis, pro ducatis viginti septem dicte monete, pro damno equorum duorum amissorum in ictinere, in reditu de Ihuihavia, passo per dictum Angelum, item pro ducatis decern octo bonis, pro salario spectabilis domini vicarii ducalis et Sapientum Communis; item pro libris decern lanuinorum, pro merende scribe prefati domini vicarii; item, pro libris 5 lanuinorum solutis eius Sapienţii; item pro libris 10 lanuinorum, pro mercede cancelariorum; item pro libris sex lanuinorum, pro mercede scribe nostri..." (22).
Although he knew mediaeval Latin rather well, Nicolae Iorga mistakenly translated the term "ex currentibus" by the phrase "the one who runs around there", being convinced that the meaning was gold coins, or ducats, expressed in real gold coins (23). A few years later, referring to the same issue, in a rather confusing sentence, the great historian admitted that the above mentioned "Moldavia zlots"...used to be paid in "aspers" (24). That remark, closer to reality, gave the opportunity to identify the coins in question, as account coins. In spite of that, neither Gheorghe Zâne (25), Alexandru I. Gonţa (26), who would tackle the issue, d id not draw the only plausible conclusion resulting from this document.
Another series of mentions regarding a "Moldavian" florin can be found in the correspondence involving the debts of Johann Maurer ("loan Zidarul", Muratoris" or "Lapicidus"), of the Voyevode of Moldavia, Petru (Peter) Rareş and his son, Iliaş (Elias) and the local council of the town of Bistriţa. Thus, in a letter from the 2nd of July 1546, Petru (Peter) Rareş wrote that the debts of the Bistriţa mason rose to: "...quindecim centum floreninostre terre usuales..." (27), but, as another letter from the 20th of December 1548 specifies, to: "...ob certam pecuniarum summam..., videlicet usuales terre nostre quingentos florenos mille.." (28). On the 7th of May 1549, the prince asked the Bistriţa people to pay: "...ab eis octo centa florenis secundum usum huius terre nostre et très equos, insuper ut solvet mortem eorum secundum consuetudinem regni." Money and horses used to be the compensation for the killing of a few Moldavian subjects by some inhabitants of the
Transylvanian village Bârgău (29).
Also these texts were partially singled out and looked into by Ion Nistor (30), and later resumed and analysed in their context by the author of this paper, in the study dedicated to the "Tartarian zlots" (31).
Unfortunately, on that occasion, from lack of space, we had to restrict our investigation to this numismatic term. Although we could prove that in the language employed in the Moldavian chancery by the middle of the 16th century, the phrases: " floreninostre terre usuales", "florenis secundum usum huius terre nostre" and "florenus heydenisch" were used concomitantly and with no disaimination in order to designate the "Tartarian zlots", as well as the fact that they were the equivalent of 12 aspers (32), we did not go deeper into the matter to reveal that in fact all these names were synonymous, not only with the "Tartarian zlot", but also withthe "Romanian zlot" or with the "Moldavian zlot".
This particular identity, as well as the 1x12 ratio, clearly result from the extremely important data on the "Moldavian florin", that can be found in the letter of 19th April 1562 sent by Johannes Belsius to Emperor Maximilian II. Belsius refers to the intentions of the Prince loan Iacob (John James) Despot Heraclide to issue his own coins: "Despotus autem monetam cudere novam praesumet ad florenum unum Moldauicum, qui est asperarum 12, item duorum, 3. et 4., nec non et mascguros" (33).
This source was commented from a numismatic point of view by Il. Ţabrea (34). The author mentioned reached the conclusion that "Moldavian" florins were not identical with the so-called "ort" of Despot, of which only one specimen is known, weighing 8.10 g (35). According to II. Ţabrea such an ort could in no way be worth 12 aspers, as Belsius asserts, but only ten. The author relied upon the equivalence between ducat (60 aspers) = 11/3 thalers (of 40 aspers) (36). Belsius' data on the "Moldavian florin" has been tackled also by Bogdan Murgescu, who used them in a study on the evolution of the value of the "Tartarian zlot" (37).
In our opinion, Belsius' look into the "florenus moldavicus", worth 12 aspers was undoubtedly valid, as confirmed by more sources. Furthermore, it seems rather plausible that in the spring of 1562, when the profound monetary reform of Prince loan Iacob (John James) Despot (38) was applied, provisory specimens were struck of one or more "Moldavian" florins, that, for unknown reasons were not put into circulation.
Viewed in a wider context, taking into account both the usual monetary practices within Moldavian society, and the real circulation trends, under the pressure of the American silver impact upon the European market, it is obvious that Despot tried to lay the foundation for a new monetary system, even if he had in mind also to resolve certain acute financial needs. As he was carrying on Lăpuşneanu's measure of introducing a new silver denomination, matched after, Mathias Corvin's dinars, but equivalent with the Ottoman aspers, Despot intended to unify the local real monetary market, while obtaining great benefits from the withdrawal and restriking of foreign coins.
For pragmatic reasons, the reform aimed at turning the Moldavian account florin into real coin. The former was used on a large scale for establishing the value of everyday transactions, creating the monetary tool able to facilitate their realization, without the inherent losses resulted from converting and using foreign coins.
Last, but not least, the reform aimed at creating local correspondents of foreign coins of great worth, the gold thaler and ducat that used to prevail in the world of international commercial and political payments. The coins named "floreni Valachienses" are mentioned also in the wills of the former Voivode Ştefan (Stephen) Tomşa (1563 - 1564) and of his collaborators, loan (John) Motoc ("Mociug") and Petru (Peter) Spancioc ("Stancu"). It seems that this document, remained unknown to numismatists, was elaborated at Lwow, on the 5th of May 1564, before they were executed by Polish authorities, at the request of the Ottomans. Ştefan Tomşa left to Saint Mary's Orthodox Church in Lwow the sum of: "...trecentos florenos in auri... ", and to his wife "22.000 asperorum, item triginta aureos". Another sum of the prince's fortune was mentioned as being "tenetur eisdem Melchiori ducentos florenos numeri et monetae polonicales" (Melchior Has, in Lwow) (39). Ioan Motoc left "duo millia viginti unum aureos florenorum" (40). The most interesting data can be found in Petru Spancioc's will, a former "dwornik terre Moldaviensis". He decided to leave to the church where he would be buried (Saint Mary's): "Imprimis recognavit, quia ipse ducentos florenos Valachienses pro ecclesia, uhi corpus illius sepelietur..." (41).
The document under study comprises a wide range of monetary terms, designating real or account coins, most of them rather often met in the middle of the 16th century in the Lwow documents. Apparently, we could rather easily identify "aspers", which, at first sight, can only be the usual Ottoman silver coins. Nevertheless, as the term lacks another specification, one cannot rule out altogether the hypothesis that this name could conceal the new Moldavian silver coins of Princes Alexandru (Alexander) Lăpuşneanu, Despot and Ştefan (Stephen) Tomşa. These pieces, traced after Mathias Corvin's dinars, are improperly designated by Romanian numismatists as "dinars", in spite of the fact that contemporary sources invariably name them "aspers".
The "floreni in auro" or "aurei" coins, mentioned with no specifications, could be Hungarian or Transylvanian gold florins or Venetian ducats, taking into account that these were the real gold issues most often used in Moldavia of those times. In spite of that, we shall see further on, there are also other possibilities of identification.
The clearest identification is that of the coins named in the text "floreni numeri et monetae polonicales". Obviously, they are the Polish account zlots - equivalent with 30 groats, in real silver coin. Unfortunately, we lack data on real coins left by the prince in the custody of the Lwow banker.
The identification of the coins designated in this document as "floreni Valachienses" is difficult because of the ambiguities in the text. Paradoxically, the situation is complicated not only because the phrase "in auro" is missing, but above all the existence during that time of some actual Moldavian gold ducats, issued by Despot in 1563 (42). The terms in the will can be interpreted as designating both the real Moldavian gold ducats, and the usual Moldavian account florins. Nevertheless, we mink that there are a few more arguments driving us to suppose that that those "ducentos florenos Valachienses" were real coins, although in their case, the "in auro" specification is missing. Despot 's Moldavian ducats are designated by Bielski in "Kronika Polska" by the same name of "zlots": "No more than a year lasted Despot's reign, as he no longer listened to Laski's advice, and began to inflict heavy taxes and great hardships on Moldavians, to spoil churches of their precious things, casting money and striking gold zlots" (43).
Although at present we do know just one specimen of this issue, it is natural for us to believe that the number of struck pieces was much larger, at least 30,000 - 40,000, and the usual amount of gold coins that could be struck with a pair of dies. On the other hand, the high positions occupied by Spancioc during Despot’s reigns, when he was justice of the peace of Ţara de Sus (The High Lands) and under Ştefan (Stephen) Tomşa, when he became even sword bearer, make us consider it a true possibility for him to have entered acquired a large amount of loan Iacob Despot Heraclid's ducats. The same idea of the mention of reed ducats is reinforced by the comparison of the value of the sum left by Spancioc with that provided by the other convicts to the church in Lwow. The sum of gold ducats 200 spelled in his will is comparable with that of three hundred gold coins promised by the former prince Ştefan (Stephen) (Stephen) Tomşa. If Spancioc's inheritance had consisted only of 200 "Moldavian account florini", the whole sum would have risen to only about 40-48 real ducats, according to the rate used for converting the 2400 aspers.
The most important element defining the "Moldavian zlot" from the 15th- 16th centuries is the numerical ratio between the latter and the actual (real) silver coins, making up such an account monetary unit. One "florenus" or one Moldavian "zlot" was equal to 12 silver coins. Not only Johannes Belsius' text clearly confirms this fact. This equivalence results from turning the sums into the aspers mentioned in the letter addressed to the Bistriţa town council on the 13th of January 1549 by Prince Iliaş (Elias) Rareş. In a letter was written that craftsman Johannes Maurer had initially taken: "...octo decim milia asperorum, promptam pecuniam, nondum negociis confectis..." (44). Taking into account that in more letters the same debt of the Bistriţa builder towards the princes of Moldavia is supposed to have risen to 1500 "floreninostre terre usuales", there results the same equivalence of "Moldavian florin" = 12 aspers "promptam pecunia", "cash", as the scribe of the princely chancery covetously puts it down.
The existence of this numerical ratio of 1x12, as an account base for the "Moldavian zlot" is of great importance in identifying the origin of the account coin in question. It is obvious that all the "gold" account coin, expressed by 12 current silver coins originating in the account hyperper created after the reform of Alexius I , that was equal to 12 silver miliaresia, themselves account coins after 1092 - 1093 (45). While in the Byzantine world, until 1203 silver issues played a minor role in the monetary circulation, their role grew in importance after 1204, following the decrease in the amount of gold coins and the introduction on a large scale of the Venetian groats, weighing 2.19 g. In the last quarter of the 13th century the account hyperper, covered by 12 silver coins would generalize, which was brought about also by the striking, beginning with1295, of Byzantine silver coins inspired by the Venetian model, the so-called basilika (in the singular basilikon). In the last quarter of the 13th century and the beginning of the next one the use of the account hyperpers, bringing together 12 silver coins spread also to Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, the Frankish Greece, Raguse, Cattaro, Sebenico and Wallachia (46). At Ragusa and in the Venetian Crete the use of these account coins spread further during the 17th century, while in Wallachia, until the first quarter of the 19th century, the last known mention dates from 1819 (47).
In Wallachia there were two account perpers, one of them conventionally named by us "legal", that is used for calendaring official payments, and that preserved the initial metrological characteristics, of 13.37 g of silver, of which 12.40 g, fine metal, and a "real" perper, used for everyday payments, whose value fluctuated according to the coin in which it was expressed (Bulgarian groats, Wallachian ducats or Ottoman akças), and to the inherent devaluation in time. In order to compensate, even partially, for the reduction of the weight and title of silver coins in Wallachia, at the end of the 14th century and the first half of the 15t h, also a local account perper was used, corresponding not to 12, but to silver coins (48).
The occurrence of an account coin in duodecimal system in Moldavia, as well as in Wallachia should not astonish us, if we bear in mind the oldness and extent of the very encompassing economic, cultural and religious relations maintained by the population in the region between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dnester River with the Byzantine-Balkan world in the 12th-15th centuries (49). The name of this account coin, that originally was nothing else but a "Moldavian perper", was changed into "Moldavian ducat ", in the second half of the 14th century and the beginning of the next. The semantic change occurred as a result of the introduction on a large scale, of the Venetian ducats and Hungarian florins, designated by the generic term of "zlots" by Romanians. Shortly, these names would become synonymous with any gold coin. Taking into account the duodecimal nature of the "Moldavian zlot", we can identify references to "Moldavian zlots" even in certain cases in which the text of the documents fails to mention these names explicitly. In this sense, we may remind the following excerpt in the Moldavian-Polish treaty from the 7th of August 1519: Item, kto sią sprawi przet starostami, temv wssitko ma bidz wroczono, telko ma dacz dwanasczie aspr viesznogo" (At the same time, the one who prove his justice before the chiefs, will have everything returned to him, and he will have to give only twelve aspers, for the [tax] vieszne") (50), the twelve aspers of this fine representing the equivalent of a "Moldavian zlot".
This series includes also the reference of Antonio Maria Graziani in "De Vita Ioannis Francisci Commendoni Cardinalis" regarding the very simple formalities for pronouncing thedivorce in Moldavia. On that subject he asserts: "Men often dissolve the marriage for the most insignificant words, sending to his wife divorce papers and paying to the exchequer twelve dinars" (51). The reference to "dinars" instead of the usual "aspers" should not confuse us. The author regarded the two coins as one, due to the fact that he addresses an audience ignorant of the notion of asper, but familiar with the dinar, as a silver coin of low value.
A mention to the gold equivalent of "Moldavian zlot", seems to have been preserved in a corrupted form in Johann Sommer's work, a close friend of Despot, who lived for a while in Moldavia. As he describes the same surprising levity with which the marriage can be untied in this country, he used to assert that the tax paid by women for obtaining the separation from their husbands was only "...a third of a gold coin..." (52). In case we are not faced with a lapsus calami (53), the sum specified by Sommer is only a little higher than the value of ¼ gold florin of a "Moldavian zlot".
A late vestige of the mention of the "Moldavian zlot" of 12 aspers was conveyed to us in the "Cartea românească de învăţătură" [The Romanian Book of Teachings] of Prince Vasile (Basil) Lupu, issued in 1646. Paragraph 36 reads: "Those who will steal plough or plough iron or yoke, and they will be caught, they will count from which day they stole to which day they were found in order to pay for each day 12 aspers, that are two silver potronics or how much he will give to a man who works for each day (54). As mentioned above, in the case of the account perper in Wallachia, indirectly mentioned in the "law book", the indication of the ratio 12 aspers = two silver potronics, cannot be characteristic of the 1646 period, when the "Cartea românească de învăţătură" was printed. On the basis of this monetary ratio we can assert that the text in question made reference to an older reality, from the end of the 16th century or in the first decades of the 17th century.
The silver value of the "Moldavian zlot" can be reconstructed on the basis of the data preserved in the 1519 treaty, that equaled 60 such "zlots" to 18 kopa of Podolia (1,080 account groats or 2,160 of Vi groats, in real coin) (55), which leads to an exchange rate of one "Moldavian zlot" = 20 account groats or 40 pieces of Vi groats, in real coin (56). Taking into account that, in 1519, the ½ groat coins belonging to the Crown used to have the legal weight of 1.031 g and contained 0.387 g fine silver, it results that legally one "Moldavian zlof was equal to 15.48 g fine silver. This weight of the "zlot" points to the existence of a prevailing "asper" containing 1.29 g fine silver. It is obvious that such an amount exceeded that corresponding to any known Ottoman asper and even less to that used at the time the treaty was concluded (57). Such an amount of silver cannot correspond to one dang (dirhem) of the Golden Horde in circulation by the middle of the 14th century (58), as it exceeded the silver content of any Moldavian groat from the 14th-15th centuries. This metrological specification automatically leads to the dating of the adopting or constituting of the "Moldavian zlot". The weight of 1.29 g of silver of the "Moldavian asper" is a supplementary sign that this account coin generalization had already been made before the independent principality of Moldavia was found. It coincides with the age when the account perpers spread in the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria and Wallachia.
Compared with the Wallachian legal perper, that used to contain only 12.40 g of fine silver, the Moldavian zlot was 20% heavier. At the same time, it was 15% lighter than the silver perper from Pera, which, by 1390, was equal to 18.12 g of fine silver (59).
There are a few sources proving that between the end of the 15th century and the 16th century the "Moldavian zlot" was sometimes confounded also with the "Tartarian zlot' (60). That results clearly from the correspondence between Petru (Peter) Rareş and Iliaş (Elias) Rareş and the Bistriţa town council regarding Johannes Maurer's debt that we mentioned above. In a letter in the German language of Petru (Peter) Rareş from the 9th of February 1546 the sum of "...quindecim centum floreninostre terre usuales..." is translated by the formula "1000 und 500 fl. Heydnysch" (61). We have already shown a decade ago that the German expression "heidnische golden" or "florenus heydnysch" represents only the equivalent of the well-known Slavonic monetary name of "zlat' tatarskih'" - "Tartarian zlot", in Moldavian documents (62).
The duodecimal nature of these account coins is clearly confirmed by the equivalence of the sum of 1500 "florini" with 18,000 "aspers", which makes 12 "aspers" for one "florenus usualis Terrae Nostrae" or for one "florenus heydenisch". The "Aspers" mentioned by LTiaş (Elias) Rareş cannot be but the Ottoman akças, as a letter from the 12th of August 1553, lets us know that Alexandru (Alexander) Lăpuşneanu accepted as compensation for the debts of the Bistriţa craftsman the sum of 3 6 0 Hungarian gold florins (63), therefore 5 0 aspers for one florin, which represents the official rate of the Ottoman coin in Moldavia at that time.
If we take into account that from 1491 to 1566, the legal weight of the asper was 0.73 g, of which only 0.66 g fine silver, it results that in 1548 - 1562 one "Moldavian zlot" corresponded only to an amount of 7.88 g fine silver (8.76 g brutto). Due to an unchanged legal value of the Ottoman asper, the same equivalence was still valid in 1562, at the time when Johann Belsius sent to Prague data on the "Moldavian zlot".
The difference between the silver equivalent of the "Moldavian zlot" resulted from the mentions in the Moldavian-Polish treaty from 1519 and those in the princely correspondence from 1546 - 1 5 6 2 is about 50%o. We think that this difference can be explained by the fact that in the first case we have the "Moldavian legal zlot", used for official payments, while in the second case it is the "real Moldavian zlot", used in private and commercial transactions.
The letter from 1553, mentioned above, allows reconstructing the gold value of the "Moldavian zlot" in 1546-1562. The sum of 1500 "floreni usuales" is compensated by paying 360 Hungarian gold florins, which points to the fact that the "Moldavian zlot" represented 24% of a Hungarian gold coin. This value is surprisingly close to that of 25% of the Hungarian florin that in 1473 a "heidnische golden" used to have (64). The 4 % difference between the two equivalences, as a matter of fact a very low one, can be explained by the fact that between 1473 and 1546 the rate turned from the legal exchange rate of 1 florin = 48 aspers, to a rate of 1 florin = 50 de aspers. Comparing the two values one may conclude that during the time span between the last quarter of the 15th century and the beginning of the 60 of the 16th century, the gold value of the "real Moldavian zlot" remained practically almost unchanged (65).
The comparison between the silver equivalences of the "legal Moldavian zlot" and those of the "legal Wallachian perper" certainly points to the fact that, in spite of their common origin they evolved in completely different circulatory conditions, that is they developed starting from different real coins, namely the Bulgarian groat and the Wallachian ducat, as well as the Tartarian dirhem. In spite of that, the alignment of the "real Moldavian zlot" to the Ottoman asper at the end of the 1 5 th century resulted in its value becoming identical, or very close, to that of the "real Wallachian perper", in its turn based on the same real coin. However, as we have already asserted in the study dedicated to the "Tartarian zlot", the dissolution of the traditional account system would be more rapid in Moldavia than in Wallachia.
In spite of the identical terminology of the "Tartarian zlot" and the "Moldavian zlot", during the 15th-16th centuries, a series of elements prove the synonymy as being relatively late, as the two account coins have completely different origins. As we asserted in 1991, even the name of "Tartarian zlot" actually concealed two types of account coins, one conventionally named by us, "heavy Tartarian zlot" and the other "light Tartarian zlot", their ratio being of 1 "heavy zlot" = 10 "light zlots" (66).
The "heavy Tartarian zlot", named also "dango" is older, being mentioned only the first three quarters of the 15th century. In Moldavia, Poland and Lithuania it was worth 2 ½ gold florins, and in the Golden Horde 2 ½ "saggi d'oro" (misqali). In silver it was worth 60 dirhems, 60 Polish or Prague groats, respectively, which meant it was equal to 1 ½ marks of Krakow, to one mark or one kopa of Lithuania, or to a Moldavian ruble or grivna. The "light Tartarian zlot", during the last quarter of the 15th century in Moldavia was worth ¼ gold florin (67). An equivalent of this account coin is known in the Golden Horde, in Persia, Armenia and Russia in the 14th-17th centuries. It corresponded to a unit of six real silver coins, eloquently described by the author of the commercial work "Tarifa": "In Sara... vendese la dita seda e zascaduna altra marcadantia a raxon de contanţi bexanti, e bexanto 1 li conta tangi 6". [At Saray... the said silk is sold, as well as any other merchandise counting in account bexanti, and six danghi are counted in account bexanti]" (68). The fact that in the Golden Horde there were two account coins named similarly in sources by the terms of "dinar", "besant' or "altyn", that were represented by 60 silver coins, or, by six real silver coins, respectively, makes us search in the same area also the origin of equivalent account coins, designated in sources by the generic name of "Tartarian zlots".
"The Moldavian zlot" and "the light Tartarian zlot" were mistaken for each other in the last quarter of the 15th century, when the Ottoman asper was more and more used in Moldavia, at the time when the exchange rate between the Hungarian florin, the most common gold coin used in this country, and the Ottoman asper reached the ratio of 1/48. At that moment, the number of 12 aspers, the metrological base for the "Moldavian zlot", became equal to the value of a quarter of a florin, the metrological base for a "light Tartarian zlot", even if a silver one, the equivalence was not perfect (- 2%). The relative stability of the exchange rate of the two types of coins until 1566 favoured extension up to the intermingling of the equivalence between the "real Moldavian zlot" and the "light Tartarian zlot”.
The existence of an account coin of Byzantine-Balkan origin in 15th – 16th centuries Moldavia further emphasizes the importance of the cultural legacy of south-east Europe taken over by the Romanians living between the Carpathians and the Dnester River. The simultaneous use of certain account coins in Wallachia and Moldavia constitutes a common element of the mediaeval Romanian civilization. That intermingling was further consolidated by the unification of the circulatory world at the end of the 16th century, in the wake of the widespread Ottoman akça.
Mediaeval Moldavia was a territory open to influences from the north-pontic steppes, and also from Central Europe. At the same time, it represented the crossroads of interesting cultural syntheses. That is perfectly illustrated by the intermingling up to identification between the old "Moldavian zlot' and the "Tartarian zlot". From the second half of the 16th century, after 1562, the historical sources we have investigated would mention only the "Tartarian zlots", until the disappearance of this account coin in the second half of the 17th century and early 18th century. In the second half of the 16th century, during the reign of John James Despot Heraclide there was an attempt to turn these account coins into real silver coins. By that time, also real gold coins emerged, such as the ducat or florin, named by sources also "Moldavian zlots".
Paginaţia 223-246
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Titlul volumului de apariție
  • Cercetări Numismatice; VIII; anul 2002