William of Malmesbury:
Counterfeit Money in the Time of King Stephen, 1140
The extent to which good money could be debased under a bad king was sufficient to
ruin the work of a man like Henry I. This temporary condition was remedied after "the
nineteen long winters" by Henry II who took up the work of his grandfather, Henry I.
Dearth of money in Stephen's time, 1140: . . . Dearth of provisions, too, increased by
degrees, and the scarcity of good money was so great, from its being counterfeited, that,
sometimes out of ten or more shillings, hardly a dozen pence would be received. The king
himself was reported to have ordered the weight of the penny, as established in King
Henry's time, to be reduced, because, having exhausted the vast treasures of his
predecessor, he was unable to provide for the expense of so many soldiers. All things,
then, became venal in England; and churches and abbeys were no longer secretly, but even
publicly exposed to sale.
From: J. A. Giles, ed., William of Malmesbury's Chronicle of the Kings of England, (London: H. G. Bohn, 1847), Book II, p. 511;reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H.
Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce
Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 139.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998