MONETARY CIRCULATION AT THE TIME OF MIRCEA THE ELDER
The age of Mircea the Elder is considered to be the period of progressive consolidation of the Wallachian Medieval State, when important economic changes and the establishment of political, social and spiritual structures occur. The economic progress of Wallachia is due to the development of agriculture, craftsmanship, and the intensifying of commercial activities. In this period, the Principality represented a transit area from a commercial standpoint, between the Levantine space and the Central European one. The increase of commerce naturally influenced monetary circulation, the relation between the currency in use and exchange activities, tied to the role of Wallachia in the European commercial environment.
The extension of economic and political spheres through international treaties at the time of Mircea the Elder and, implicitly, the position of Wallachia in international commerce, allowed foreign currency to enter Wallachian space and local currency to travel outside State borders.
In what concerns Wallachian currency, at the time of Mircea the Elder, the ducat and the ban were in use, as well as the currency of his predecessors, Vladislav I, Radu I and Dan I. The multitude of coins minted by Mircea the Elder, recorded in written documents and found in large numbers, demonstrate the intense circulation of these issues, a process favoured especially by the economic drive, but also by the general progress of Romanian medieval society, which began since the time of ruler Nicolae Alexandru. Issuing specific currency began with Vladislav I’s ascension to the Wallachian throne, and carried on without interruption until Mircea the Elder’s rule, constituting Wallachia’s manifestation as a sovereign, independent State while also being an economic necessity, proof of economic development based on currency exchange and the need to produce more currency. The increase in minted coins was due in part to the intensification of commercial activity during Mircea the Elder’s time as well as the need to maintain the troops needed by the ruler both in efforts to protect the country against Ottoman forces as well as struggles to remain in power.
The beginning of 2018 marks 600 years since the passing of voivode Mircea the Elder, an occasion the Bucharest Municipality Museum commemorates by opening a themed exhibition at Suțu Palace, surrounding the currency of the great ruler as well as monetary circulation in his time. With a vast numismatic heritage at its disposal, the Bucharest Municipality Museum will offer visitors the chance to discover medieval coins from the “Maria and Doctor George Severeanu” collection and from the “Numismatic” collection.
Dr. Alina Pîrvulescu
Museologist, the Numismatic and Medals Cabinet