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The De Moneta of Nicholas Oresme and English Mint Documents

  • The De Moneta of Nicholas Oresme
February 14, 2009

Tags History of the Austrian School of EconomicsMoney and Banking

Nicole Oresme has been called the most brilliant scientist of the 14th century: mathematician, musicologist, physicist, philosopher, and economist. On top of that, he was a Bishop and a theologian. His writings of money bear much in common with Carl Menger. Oresme's treatise on money, De Moneta, provides a detailed account of the function of money and the effects of inflation.

And as Guido Hulsmann argues in The Ethics of Money Production, Oresme was the first theorist to present a fully worked out ethics of money, one that shows the sheer immorality of government monopoly over money and the social effects of debasement.

In this translation and commentary by Charles Johnson, published first in 1958, we gain new insight into this pre-Austrian thinker of the middle ages. Oresme anticipated Gresham's Law, argued that money is not the possession of the state, and makes a detailed case that money belongs to the community and individuals primarily.

This text offers the additional advantage of printing the original Latin alongside the English so that the reader can compare.

Having this book in print begins the process of restoring a high place for Oresme in the history of economic thought.

 

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References

Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, New York, 1956