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I've just finished listening to David Graeber's "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" on Audible, which I can highly recommend (though it's bit of a Weighty Tome, length wise). One of the things he consistently takes aim at is what he calls "the myth of barter" - i.e., to put it in the language of this spisodes, trying to pay for stuff with pig and so on. He mentions the same sources recording the tallying up of money in shillings etc. that you do, but decouples it firmly from the existance of coinage, or bullion: the evidence, according to Graeber, shows that people were using virtual currency as a system of value & record-keeping, but actual transactions were rarely made in coins, & were certainly not made in the kind of simple barter that we've been used to thinking about - exchanging camels for shoes or whatever. To me, this makes sense: after all, just because *we* don't take gold to the market, but use virtual money, future historians won't be remotely justified in calling our time an age of "reverting to barter". It complicates the popular economic history of the early Middle Ages as a time of withdrawal & regression, but it has the virtue of dispelling the rather idiotic idea (once you think about it) that just because the Romans were gone, people in Western Europe suddenly became too stupid to use their well established credit & currency systems.


Hi David, I have heard your request for a guest episode and am very keen, probably on Northumbria or the Northumbrian Renaissance. However I am bogged down in my finals at university. Would waiting until June/July be OK. Feel free to email me in response. Love the podcast!

The History of England

Marina, sound like a good read; I must try and catch up with it. I am clearly not qualified, but I wonder if it depended on the situation a bit. Certainly I agree that the idea of paying for something in the market with a pig or pigs is absurd (which is partly why I used it!); but equally I figure that tributes and taxes very probably were paid for in kind or in goods - hence the existence of tribute centres. Whereas I agree, folks must have used some sort of credit system to manage daily purchases - anything else would have been hideously complex. Anyway, thanks for the comment - sounds like a book I need to read!

The History of England

Hi Liz..and that's jolly good news! It would be good to get some class into this podcast!

I'll drop you an email; the offer remains open anytime. and Meanwhile, good luck with the Finals. Don't get too stressed out, it's only the rest of your life.

(Just a joke btw. it really isn't. It'll be fine.)


I have been waiting patiently for your groveling, but to no avail. This affront to my dignity shall only be forgotten on account of this being a very good episode, vellum production and all.

BTW, if we're talking guest episodes, would you be interested in one about Francia and the similarities and differences between its developments and those of Anglo-Saxon England?

The History of England

Hi Yair...yes, I would be delighted ! Just written the forthcoming episode on Offa, and there's a bit in there; it'd be really good to put England into a bit of context.

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