French denier

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Denier of Charlemagne. AD 768-814. 21mm, 1.19 g, Toulouse mint.
Denier of Pepin I of Aquitaine 817-838.
Denier of the Republic of Genoa (1139-1339).

The denier was a medieval coin which takes its name from the Frankish coin first issued (as the denarius) in the late seventh century;[1] in English it is sometimes referred to as a silver penny. Its appearance represents the end of gold coinage, which, at the start of Frankish rule, had either been Byzantine or "pseudo-imperial" (minted by the Franks in imitation of Byzantine coinage). Silver would be the basis for Frankish coinage going forward.


The name denier was derived from the name of the ancient Roman coin the denarius, a silver coin originally worth ten asses.

The denier was minted in France and Italy for the whole of the Middle Ages, in countries such as the patriarchate of Aquileia, the Kingdom of Sicily, the Republic of Genoa, and the Republic of Siena among the others.


In the eighth century, Charlemagne introduced an accounting system in which 12 deniers equaled one sou and 20 sous equaled one livre.[2] Also three deniers equaled one liard. Only the denier was an actual coin; the others were "money of account", used only for accounting. This system and the denier itself served as the model for many of Europe's currencies, including the British pound, Italian lira, Spanish peseta and the Portuguese dinheiro.

The British equivalent of the denier was the penny. Before decimalisation, 12 pennies made a shilling and 240 pennies made up one British pound. The symbol for both the old denier and, until decimalisation, the penny used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere was "d" as in 2d. or "two pence".

Interest rates[edit]

In Ancien Régime France, the denier was used as a notional measure of interest rates on loans. Thus, a rate of 4% (or one in 25) would be expressed as "denier 25"; a rate of 5% as "denier 20"; and so forth.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Spufford (21 September 1989). Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-521-37590-0. 
  2. ^ William W. Kibler (January 1995). Medieval France: An Encyclopedia. Psychology Press. p. 534. ISBN 978-0-8240-4444-2. 
  3. ^ Ammannati, Francesco, ed. (2012). Religione e istituzioni religiose nell'economia europea, 1000-1800: Religion and religious institutions in the European economy, 1000-1800. Florence: Firenze University Press. p. 311. ISBN 9788866551232.