Livre tournois

Livre tournois

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The livre tournois was:
  1. one of numerous currencies used in France in the Middle Ages
    France in the Middle Ages
    France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

    ; and
  2. a unit of account
    Unit of account
    A unit of account is a standard monetary unit of measurement of value/cost of goods, services, or assets. It is one of three well-known functions of money. It lends meaning to profits, losses, liability, or assets....

     (i.e., a monetary unit used in accounting) used in France in the Middle Ages and the early modern period
    Early Modern France
    Kingdom of France is the early modern period of French history from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century...

    .

Circulating currency


The denier tournois coin was initially minted by the abbey of Saint Martin in the Touraine
Touraine
The Touraine is one of the traditional provinces of France. Its capital was Tours. During the political reorganization of French territory in 1790, the Touraine was divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, :Loir-et-Cher and Indre.-Geography:...

 region of France. Soon after Philip II of France
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

 seized the counties of Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

 and Touraine
Touraine
The Touraine is one of the traditional provinces of France. Its capital was Tours. During the political reorganization of French territory in 1790, the Touraine was divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, :Loir-et-Cher and Indre.-Geography:...

 in 1203 and standardized the use of the livre tournois there, the livre tournois began to supersede the livre parisis
Livre parisis
The livre parisis |pound]]) was a standard for minting French coins and a unit of account. Like the livre tournois, which was divided into 20 sols tournois each of 12 deniers tournois, the livre parisis was also divided into 20 sols parisis each of 12 deniers parisis, but the livre parisis was...

(Paris pound) which had been up to that point the official currency of the Capetian dynasty
Capetian dynasty
The Capetian dynasty , also known as the House of France, is the largest and oldest European royal house, consisting of the descendants of King Hugh Capet of France in the male line. Hugh Capet himself was a cognatic descendant of the Carolingians and the Merovingians, earlier rulers of France...

.

The livre tournois was, in common with the original livre
French livre
The livre was the currency of France until 1795. Several different livres existed, some concurrently. The livre was the name of both units of account and coins.-Etymology:...

 of Charlemagne, divided into 20 sols
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

(sous after 1715), each of which was divided into 12 deniers
French denier
The denier was a Frankish coin created by Charlemagne in the Early Middle Ages. It was introduced together with an accounting system in which twelve deniers equaled one sou and twenty sous equalled one livre...

.

Between 1360 and 1641, coins worth one livre tournois were minted, known as francs
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

(the name coming from the inscription "Johannes Dei Gratia Francorum Rex", "Jean, by the grace of God, King of the French"). Other francs were minted under Charles V of France
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

, Henri III of France
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

 and Henri IV of France
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

. The use of the name "franc" became a synonym for livre tournois in accounting.

The first French paper money, issued between 1701 and 1720, was denominated in livres tournois (see "Standard Catalog of World Paper Money", Albert Pick). This was the last time the name was used officially, as later notes and coins were denominated simply in livres, the livre parisis
Livre parisis
The livre parisis |pound]]) was a standard for minting French coins and a unit of account. Like the livre tournois, which was divided into 20 sols tournois each of 12 deniers tournois, the livre parisis was also divided into 20 sols parisis each of 12 deniers parisis, but the livre parisis was...

 having finally been abolished in 1667.

Accounting currency


With many forms of domestic and international domestic (with different weights, purities and quality) circulating throughout Europe in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the use of an accounting currency became a financial necessity. In the world of international banking of the 13th century, it was the florin
Italian coin florin
The Italian florin was a coin struck from 1252 to 1533 with no significant change in its design or metal content standard. It had 54 grains of nominally pure gold worth approximately 200 modern US Dollars...

 and ducat
Ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

 which were often used. In France, the livre tournois and the currency system based on it became a standard monetary unit of accounting and continued to be used even when the "livre tournois" ceased to exist as an actual coin. For example, the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 treaty of 1803 specified the relative ratios of the franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

, dollar
Dollar
The dollar is the name of the official currency of many countries, including Australia, Belize, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States.-Etymology:...

 and livre tournois.

The official use of the livre tournois accounting unit in all contracts in France was legislated in 1549, but it had been one of the standard units of accounting in France since the 13th century. In 1577 the livre tournois accounting unit was officially abolished and accountants switched to the écu
ECU
ECU may refer to:Automotive terms* Electronic control unit, a generic term for any embedded system that controls one or more of the electrical systems or subsystems in a motor vehicle...

, which was at that time the major French gold coin in actual circulation, but in 1602 the livre tournois accounting unit was brought back. (A monetary unit of accounting based on the livre parisis continued to be used for minor uses in and around Paris and was not officially abolished until 1667 by Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

).

Since coins in Europe in the Middle Ages and the Early modern period (the French écu
Écu (coin)
The term écu may refer to one of several French coins. The first écu was a gold coin minted during the reign of Louis IX of France, in 1266. Ecu means shield, and the coin was so called because its design included a shield bearing a coat of arms. The word is related to scudo and escudo...

, Louis, teston d'argent, denier
French denier
The denier was a Frankish coin created by Charlemagne in the Early Middle Ages. It was introduced together with an accounting system in which twelve deniers equaled one sou and twenty sous equalled one livre...

, double, franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

; the Spanish doubloon
Doubloon
The doubloon , was a two-escudo or 32-reales gold coin, weighing 6.77 grams . Doubloons were minted in Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Nueva Granada...

, pistole
Pistole
Pistole is the French name given to a Spanish gold coin in use in 1537; it was a double escudo, the gold unit. The name was also given to the Louis d'Or of Louis XIII of France, and to other European gold coins of about the value of the Spanish coin...

, real
Spanish real
The real was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced...

; the Italian florin, ducat
Ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

 or sequin
Sequin (coin)
The sequin is a gold coin weighing of .986 gold, minted by the Republic of Venice from the 13th century onwards.The design of the Venetian gold ducat, or zecchino, remained unchanged for over 500 years, from its introduction in 1284 to the takeover of Venice by Napoleon in 1797...

; the German and Austrian thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

; the Dutch gulden, etc.) did not have any indication of their value, their official value was determined by royal edicts. In cases of financial need, French kings could use the official value for currency devaluation. This could be done in two ways: (1) the amount of precious metal in a newly minted French coin could be reduced while nevertheless maintaining the old value in livres tournois or (2) the official value of a domestic or foreign coin in circulation could be increased. By reversing these techniques, currencies could be reinforced.

For example:
  • the worth of an écu d'or, a French gold coin, was changed from 60 sols to 57 sols in 1573.
  • to curb increasing use of the Spanish real
    Spanish real
    The real was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced...

    , its official worth was decreased to 4 sols 2 deniers in the 1570s.


Royal finance officers faced many difficulties. In addition to currency speculation, forgery and the intentional shaving of precious metal from coins
Coin clipping
Coin debasement is the act of decreasing the amount of precious metal in a coin, while continuing to circulate it at face value. This was frequently done by governments in order to inflate the amount of currency in circulation; typically, some of the precious metal was replaced by a cheaper metal...

 (which was harshly punished), they had the difficult problem of setting values for gold, silver, copper and billon
Billon (alloy)
Billon is an alloy of a precious metal with a majority base metal content . It is used chiefly for making coins, medals, and token coins.The word comes from the French bille....

 coins, responding to the often large influx of foreign coin and the appearance of inferior foreign coins of intentionally similar design. For more on these issues, see Monetary policy
Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

 and Gresham's Law
Gresham's Law
Gresham's law is an economic principle that states: "When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation." It is commonly...

.

See also

  • French livre
    French livre
    The livre was the currency of France until 1795. Several different livres existed, some concurrently. The livre was the name of both units of account and coins.-Etymology:...

  • Livre parisis
    Livre parisis
    The livre parisis |pound]]) was a standard for minting French coins and a unit of account. Like the livre tournois, which was divided into 20 sols tournois each of 12 deniers tournois, the livre parisis was also divided into 20 sols parisis each of 12 deniers parisis, but the livre parisis was...

     (Paris pound)
  • French franc
    French franc
    The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

  • Louis (coin)
  • Luxembourgish livre
  • Écu (coin)
    Écu (coin)
    The term écu may refer to one of several French coins. The first écu was a gold coin minted during the reign of Louis IX of France, in 1266. Ecu means shield, and the coin was so called because its design included a shield bearing a coat of arms. The word is related to scudo and escudo...

  • Roman currency
    Roman currency
    The Roman currency during most of the Roman Republic and the western half of the Roman Empire consisted of coins including the aureus , the denarius , the sestertius , the dupondius , and the as...