Gold, Peace, and Prosperity

The Birth of a New Currency

Ron Paul

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Depreciation Is Nothing New

A gold bezant, the major trading coin

of Byzantium.


In Marco Polo’s great book of travels, he talks about a coin called the bezant circulating in Kublai Khan’s Mongol Chinese empire.  The emperor, like the vast majority of politicians, found the lure of paper money irresistible.  In his case, however, it was money printed on pieces of mulberry tree bark.  The same disastrous effects, seen everywhere else in history, followed.  Prices increased, and the gold bezant took on increasing importance [18] for the people as the government debauched the irredeemable fiat currency.  Abuse of paper money helped lead, notes Antony Sutton, to the expulsion of the Mongol dynasty from China.  Government demands that the people accept printed mulberry bark as equivalent to metallic money had no effect.


The bezant, however, was minted not by the Chinese, but by the Byzantine Empire.  For ten centuries Byzantine coins were accepted all over the world, and Byzantium dominated trade for thousands of miles in every direction from Constantinople.  Even the royal accounts of medieval England, says Dr. Sutton, were kept in bezants.  The Byzantine Empire only declined when it debased the bezant, adding more cheap alloys and removing gold.

Back to Chapter Two

Forward to Chapter Four

Copyright © 1981 by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, Inc., Post Office Box 1776, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566.

Permission to quote from, or to reproduce liberal portions of, this publication is granted, provided due acknowledgement is made.

Printed in the United States of America.

Photographs courtesy of the Chase Manhattan Archives.

Second printing.