Monthly Archives: 11:12 AM

The Vierlander, a precursor of the Euro. A first step towards monetary unification

Since the invention of money, a lot of regions, cities, countries and people use their own means of payment. Consquently, the variety of currencies has always been enormous Today the euro, the currency of an evergrowing number of European countries, is the result of a long process of monetary unification. The vierlander (= four lands), the 15th century silver coin we are focussing on this month, is one of the early forerunners of monetary union.

The money changer’s bench

One may wonder why the Museum of the National Bank of Belgium placed a wooden table right in the centre of the main exhibition hall where the history of money is told. The answer is quite simple, the bench belonged to a money changer. The owner of the bench did not only change money, as his profession might suggest, he also acted as a banker. Money changers found their way to the cities of the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages. If you only think about the enormous variety of coins in circulation, it becomes quite obvious money changers played an important role in the economic life of a medieval citizen.