This book is part of the Cambridge international reference series of 17 books for historians, numismatists, and archaeologists that considers European coinage spanning more than a millennium from c. 450 to c. 1500. The titles of the 17 books, the geographical areas they cover, and the span of the circulation years, are provided on a single page at the beginning of this book. 

Authors: Miguel Crusafont, Anna M. Balaguer, and Philip Grierson
Publisher:  Cambridge University Press – 887 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

At the outset of our review of this book – the first one so far we’ve done on coins in BIZ INDIA Online News, let us quote how the authors describe this book::

This volume of Medieval European Coinage is the first English-language survey to bring the latest research on the coinage of Spain and Portugal, c. 1000 – 1500 to an international audience. 

A major work of reference by leading numismatic experts, the volume provides and authoritative and up-to-date account of the coinages of Aragon, Castile, Catalonia, Leon, Navarre, and Portugal, which have rarely been studied together.

It considers how money circulated throughout the peninsula, offering news syntheses of the monetary history of the individual kingdoms, and includes an extensive catalogue of the Aragonese, Castilian, Catalan, Leonese, Navarrese, and Portuguese coins in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

This major contribution to the field will be a valuable point of reference for the study of medieval history, numismatics, and archaeology.

To provide you a brief overview of this thick book of nearly 900 pages, we list below the titles of its chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. Finds, Hoards and Monetary Circulation in the Iberian Peninsula
  3. The Muslim Element
  4. The Carolingians and the Earliest Coinages to C. 1100
  5. The Crown of Catalonia – Aragon
  6. The Kingdom of Majorca, 1276-1343
  7. The Kingdom of Navarre
  8. Thru Kingdom of Castile-Leon
  9. The Kingdom of Portugal


Right after the Contents, and before the Foreword, you will find these useful sections that I strongly suggest go into, in order to save time looking for the information you want:

  1. A glossy three-page itemization of Plates containing photos of various coins
  2. A long, three-page detailed list of 76 Figures that are essentially charts or visuals of various kinds, enabling you to take a quick glance at recorded information. For example on page 106, Figure 1 entitled Payments made in gold coinage, 970 to 1500, shows you how much the traders in different Iberian regions paid out in gold coins for various products. (Remember, at one time there was no paper money – gold was the currency or medium of exchange)
  3. A brief group of seven Maps of places in the Iberian region of Europe where the coins were minted
  4. A series of 43 Tables providing valuable data on coins such as regional origins of coins (where they were minted), centuries or series of years when the coins came into being, as well as names of authors and titles of various publications on coins, and much, much more information that can save you hundreds, if not thousands of hours spent on research and investment.

This is a very systematically organized reference book in which information is fairly easy to locate. Most of the chapters have these important headings:

  • Bibliography
  • Map of the region being studied
  • Historical Introduction
  • Coinage (Main Issues)
  • Names of kings and queens (and coins issued during their reigns)
  • County names
  • Transitional coins
  • Local coinage

This is an important, informative, and highly valuable (in terms of knowledge and money) reference-resource for archaeologists, coin collectors, geographers, gold and silver collectors, historians, investors, and anyone interested in monetary history, and the history of Portugal and Spain.



Dr. Miguel Crusafont is the leading expert on the coinage of Catalonia-Aragon, and author of numerous books including the standard reference Numismatica de la catalano-aragonesa medieval (785-1516) published in 1982 and the recent Catalog general de la moneda Cataluña published in 2009. He is editor of the journal Act Numismatica and has been President of the Societat Catalana d’Estudis Numismatics (Institut d’Estudis Catalans)since 1996.

Dr. Anna M. Balaguer i Prunes has published extensively on medieval Islamic, Castillian, Catalan, Aragonese and Portuguese coinages, as well as the coinage of the Iberian Peninsula. These publications include Del mancus a la dobla (1993) and Historia de la moneda dels comtats catalans (1999) as well as articles and chapters in many other works. She is a member of the Asociacion Numismatica Espanola (Barcelona) and the Instituto de la Sintra (Portugal).

Professor Philip Grierson (1910-2006) was Professor of Numismatics at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and formerly Professor of Numismatics and History of Coinage at the University of Brussels. He was Honorary Keeper of Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, to which he bequeathed his unrivalled collection of medieval European coins.


Jacket Illustration:

Gold excelente of Ferdinand and Isabella, struck 1475-97, Seville mint. FM-PG.14091a-2006 copyright Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.