Currency Change in Pre-millennial Catalonia: Coinage, Counts and Economics
Numismatic Chronicle, No.169 (2009)
Barcelona in the late tenth century was on the verge of becoming a commercial as well as a political capital. The wealth of the four counties that its ruler, Count-Marquis Borrell II (945–93), controlled had been growing throughout his reign. Agricultural yields rose as a result of an increase in cultivation and an extension of the frontier that had been established by the conquests of the Carolingian rulers Charlemagne (768–814) and Louis the Pious (814–40). The no-man’s land between the Christian counties and the Muslim city-states of Lleida and Tortosa, referred to by one charter as the ‘extreme utmost limits of the March’, was crossed by traders apparently using the old Roman roads, linking Barcelona to Valencia, to Lleida and Saragossa and, at some removes, Córdoba, whither Borrell periodically sent embassies. Wills of the period bequeath Greek and Andalusi fabrics, and the land charters of the area demonstrate a thriving land market, especially on the frontiers, made possible by the growing surpluses.