How was money used in early medieval times and by whom? Why did people accept silver coins as a common means of payment? How can we understand the beginnings of a monetary economy? How can we describe and properly analyse the physical remains of monetary thinking like the numerous coin finds and silver hoards from this period? To address these questions the author studies the relationship between monetary systems operating in the Saxon-Slavic borderlands and corresponding coin finds from the early medieval period, between c. 965 and 1120. These questions are examined through an anonymous coin group, the so called Cross deniers, which were probably struck by German rulers in the eastern parts of Saxony, bordering territories inhabited by Slavic tribes.
A basic premise is that the use of money was organised and structured differently by the various issuing authorities in the German Empire, creating separate 'monetary systems'. Several examples are given to demonstrate how monetary systems might indicate how the political and economic powers were organised, mirroring distinctive political and fiscal structures on a regional basis.
Monetary systems in the early Middle Ages, from the perspective of the issuing authorities, should be regarded as efficient tools to control limited spaces as markets and the zone of jurisdiction in a town. The official nominal value of coins was restricted in space and time. Monetisation can then be described from two different angles: monetary systems reflect the perspective of the coin issuers, while the composition of the hoards and their archaeological contexts reveal the perspective of the coin and silver users.
Monetary structures underwent profound changes in the German Empire following the succession of the Salian dynasty in the first half of the 11th century. Monetary standards on a regional basis were developed, implemented and pushed forward by local authorities. In the 10th century the supremacy of the Ottonian emperors in monetary affairs had been unquestioned. The use of money intensified further under the Salians and became more regulated and controlled by being put under surveillance. It is argued that these changes triggered different reactions, which are witnessed even outside the Empire in the Slavic borderlands. The Cross deniers, which abound in Slavic hoards from the second half of the 11th century, aptly demonstrate this growing regional focus and the increasing awareness of coined silver and its value among the Slavic population. A more conscious manifestation of these developments is seen on Slavic territory at the beginning of the 12th century when coins even appear as part of the grave ritual.
Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 2000. , 391 p.