Thursday, November 29, 2012

Exchanges in Currency

 In a time when economic discussions lead to the topic of currencies and their stability, it's easy to forget there were once many more currencies in play than there are today.  Add coin collecting and numismatics to Giovanni's list of hobbies and interests.   

 This next book is a small reminder of that complex history which has been studied and shared in numerous pubblications.  Tabella di Ragguaglio Fra La Lira Italiana Colle Lire Bolognesi e Milanesi e viceversa per uso del dipartimento del Reno, or Table of Comparison Of The Italian Lira With the Bolognese and the Milanese Lira and vice versa for use of the Department of Renois a little paperback version of a currency converter for the year 1807.  There are no online versions available, though it has been cited in the bibliographies of a few other works.  

Though there are little more than columns of numbers printed here, this table represents a period in history when Napoleon was at his peak and Italy was in a state of constant change.

Since 1713, Milan had been under Austrian rule.  Napoleon invaded in 1796 which resulted in the founding of Cisalpine Republic with Milan as it's capital.  In 1802, it was renamed the Italian Republic after a constitutional change was made in order to proclaim Napoleon as President of Italy.  A new currency was planned though never instituted as in a few short years the government would change again.  
In March 1805, the Kingdom of Italy was founded when Napoleon declared himself King of Italy and in May was crowned in the Duomo of Milan.  The new currency soon followed.   

The following is quoted from Wikipedia:

"The Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy issued coins between 1807 and 1813 in denominations of 1 and 3 centesimi and 1 soldo in copper, 10 centesimi in 20% silver alloy, 5, 10 and 15 soldi, 1, 2 and 5 lire in 90% silver and 20 and 40 lire in 90% gold. All except the 10 centesimi bore a portrait of Napoleon, with the denominations below 1 lira also showing a radiate crown and the higher denominations, a shield representing the various constituent territories of the Kingdom.........The kingdom was given a new national currency, replacing the local coins circulating in the country: the Italian lira, of the same size, weight, and metal of the French franc.[2] Mintage being decided by Napoleon with an imperial decree on March 21, 1806, the production of the new coins began in 1807. The monetary unit was the silver lira, which was 5 grams heavy. There were multiples of £2 (10 grams of silver) and £5 (25 grams of silver), and precious coins of £20 (6.45 grams of gold) and £40 (12.9 grams of gold). The lira was basically divided in 100 cents, and there were coins of 1 cent (2.1 grams of copper), 3 cents (6.3 grams of copper), and 10 cents (2 grams of poor silver), but following the tradition, there was a division in 20 soldi, with coins of 1 soldo (10.5 grams of copper, in practice 5 cents), 5 soldi (1.25 grams of silver), 10 soldi (2.5 grams of silver), and 15 soldi (3.75 grams of silver)."

Map of Italian States in 1804

A Map of the Kingdom of Italy in 1807

The New Currency 

example Bolognese Lira (1813)
2 Lire 
example Bolognese Lira (1810)
5 Lire 

example Milanese Lira (1807)
 3 centesimi
example Milanese Lira (1808)
5 Lire

The Previous Bolognese Currency

Before Napoleon created the Kingdom of Italy, Bologna was briefly called the Bolognese Republic in June 1796, was then annexed by the Cispadane Republic  in October 1796 and later merged with the Transpadane Republic in July 1797 to form the the Cisalpine Republic .   

The website Panorama-Numismatico offers interesting background information on the Bolognese lire.  Below is a rough translation of a quote concerning this period:
"In 1796 Napoleon arrived in Bologna at the head of the French army and 
declared the papal government  collapsed. He claimed to bring freedom but 
immediately put in place heavy requisitions the proceeds of which were for the most part sent to France or used to defray the expenses of the army.  With the silver coins he began to mint the scudi into 10 paoli and the mezzi scudi into five paoli. Their number was enormous, and today these coins are easy to find on the numismatic market. Political events, after centuries of immobility, had a tumultuous course that ended in 1805 with the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy where Napoleon was king. Thus came to an end the last remnants of the city's autonomy: the types of the new coins minted in Bologna became identical to those coined in the other mints of the Kingdom of Italy, the only difference was a small letter located on the reverse side (B for Bologna, M for Milan, V for Venice) or small brand engravers and mint masters. The old metrological system (1 lira = 20 soldi = 240 denari) was replaced by the decimal introduced by Napoleon (1 lira or franc = 100 centimes). The new coins were aligned to the French and their weight was expressed in grams as the new metric weight."                                                                                                                                                           

example of 10 Paoli from the
  Cispadane Republic
Bologna (1796)
example of 10 Paoli from the 
Cispadane Republic
Bologna (1796)

The Previous Milanese Currency

"In the late 18th century, silver coins circulated in denominations of 5 soldi, ½, 1 and 1½ lire, ½ and 1 scudo. Gold coins were also struck in denominations of 1 zecchino, ½ and 1 sovrano, and 1 doppia. The Cispadane Republic issued gold 20 lire coins, whilst the Cisalpine Republic issued silver 30 soldi and 1 scudo coins."

Italian States, Cisalpine Republic, Scudo of 6 Lire, 1800 [Silver]

A little history from :
"On his Italian campaign of 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte and his French revolutionary army rapidly conquered large parts of northern Italy – Lombardy as well as parts of the Papal States and Sardinia-Piedmont. In the process, the French were supported by the strong resentments of the Italian population against Austrian foreign rule. Subsequently, Napoleon began to develop a French satellite state system. He founded several reliant republics, among them the Cisalpine Republic with the capital of Milan and the Ligurian Republic around Genoa. Later, more foundations followed, such as the Parthenopaean Republic with Napels, the Roman Republic with Rome, and the Helvetic Republic with Aarau as capitals.

Napoleon justified his policies with reference to empires such as the Roman and Carolingian, and, like them, used coinage as means of political propaganda. The obverse of this piece shows, according to antique Roman pattern, the personification of the Cisalpine Republic. The inscription on the reverse reads PACE CELEBRATA FORO BONAPARTE FONDATO ANNO IX. This coin thus celebrates the laying of the foundation of the Forum Bonaparte at Milan, and the peace of Lunéville that was made up in 1801 – the year 11 of the French revolutionary calendar – between France and Austria and also included the Holy Roman Empire."
example of 30 soldi,  Cisalpine Republic
Milano (1801)

example of 30 soldi, Cisalpine Republic
Milano (1801)

For another illustration of the confusion and chaos that must have existed in these years, see the videos below which play the anthem (the same song for all three) and display the flag of most of the governments of Northern Italy under Napoleon.

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