By R. W. Southern
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The civilization of the twelfth century owes a great deal to the tears which were shed in the eleventh. They were the forerwmer of a new world of sentiment, of devotion, and even of action. On their way, the pilgrims met many interesting people, whose personal histories are a mirror in which we fmd reflected the great events of the time. Only two of these people can concern us here. The frrst was a hermit in Htmgary called Gerard. He was a Venetian by birth, who had set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem a few years before this time.
By 1204, this integration had not yet reached the point when gold currencies had once more become a common medium of exchange. But during the l1ext hWldred years new gold coinages made their appearance in one country after another ill ,vestem Europe. They were the heralds of a new economic situatioll in which Europe was established as an important export area. The position of two centuries earlier had been reversed: instead of the European consumer scraping the bottom of the till to pay for the spices and luxuries of the East, the Italian merchant was seeking new markets for the ever-increasing flow ofgoods from beyond the Alps.
Packed in barrels and loaded on carts they were an essential part of the war-train of a king, and loads of this kind must have been a common sight on medieval roads. But largescale commerce required something less cumbrous than this: in particular, a coin of higher value and less weight than the silver penny would have been a convenience. But this, as we shall see, was not easy to come by. Immediately beyond the frontiers of Latin Christendom, in Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Empire, lay countries where gold coins were an ordinary medium of exchange.
The Making of the Middle Ages by R. W. Southern