Home > Uncategorized > Maurice Druon: The dual prerogatives of minting coins and waging wars

Maurice Druon: The dual prerogatives of minting coins and waging wars


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Maurice Druon: A contempt for all things military

Maurice Druon: Why I exhort you not to threaten each other with your armaments


Maurice Druon
From The Strangled Queen (1955)
Translated by Humphrey Hare


“Monseigneur of Valois has just said that he wants to return to the good old customs of Monseigneur Saint Louis. But what does he mean by that? Are all the old customs to be brought back into use?”

“Certainly,” replied Valois not well understanding what the other was leading up to.

“For instance, is the right of the great barons to mint money within their domains to be reintroduced?”

The two lords looked at each other as if a great light had suddenly dawned upon them. How had they failed to think of that one before?

Indeed, the unification of the currency, as well as the royal monopoly in issuing it, were institutions of Philip the Fair. Before that, the great lords minted or had minted for them, concurrently with the royal coinage, their own gold and silver coins which had currency within their domains; and they drew huge profits from the privilege. And those who, like the Lombard bankers, furnished the raw metal and played the exchanges between one province and another found it equally profitable.

Charles of Valois at once saw himself re-establishing his fortune.

“Do you also mean, Monseigneur,” went on Tolomei, still gazing at the reliquary as if he were valuing it in his mind, “that you will re-establish the right to private war between the barons?”

This was another feudal custom which Philip the Fair had abolished so as to prevent the great vassals from causing bloodshed, at the slightest excuse, within the kingdom in order to regulate their differences, establish their glory, or banish their boredom.

“Oh, if we could do that again,” cried Robert of Artois, “I should soon recover my county from my bitch of an Aunt Mahaut.”

“If you need arms for your troops,” said Tolomei, “I can obtain them for you at the lowest possible prices from the Tuscan armourers.”

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