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Copernicus and the Money Question

  • Pawel Czartoryski

Abstract

On 3 November 1516 Copernicus was chosen by his Chapter to administer its holdings in the southern part of the diocese of Varmia. Eight days later, on 11 November, he entered upon his office in Olsztyn. There his duties brought him into close contact with the peasants. One of their most vexatious problems was the debasement of the coinage. Paper money had not yet been introduced. Ordinary business transactions were conducted with coins made of an alloy of silver and copper. Without fanfare, the percentage of silver to copper was being steadily reduced by the authorities. The resulting economic dislocation was carefully considered by Copernicus in a study which is the earliest entirely empirical discussion of the monetary question. It is equally remarkable for its secular spirit, since it is absolutely devoid of theological arguments and biblical quotations. It was completed on 15 August 1517, when Copernicus described it as his Meditata (private reflections). He wrote it in Latin, presumably with the intention of circulating it among his colleagues and friends. For the sake of convenience we shall call it “M.”

Keywords

Pure Gold Pure Silver Royal Decree Gold Coin Paper Money 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Edward Rosen 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pawel Czartoryski

There are no affiliations available

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