Apparently we’ve been living in some horrific financial crisis for over a year now, and the news simply won’t let you forget about it. You would almost think it was the end of the world, as if this kind of thing is unique to our times and to modern economies, and that it’s a problem nobody has had to deal with before. But history, as always, has something to say about the matter. Plenty of countries have gotten into a sticky situation with their accounts before, and in some of these cases empires have risen, and fallen in no small part due to bad treatment of the books. People have starved, people have gotten rich, and no small number lost their heads.
I’ve tried to give numbers of the deficits in question, but it should be noted the extreme inaccuracy in trying convert money from 600 years ago into modern terms, especially as I am no economist and certainly no mathematician. Early bullion is difficult to convert into modern terms, and in times of economic turmoil the constantly fluctuating values make for a large margin of error. What’s more, early modern and feudal economies are not based on money transactions as we think of them today, and less than 5% of the population would have any money. The first promissory notes used in Medieval Italy would have been entirely used by merchants to transfer money long distances, and were not used by ordinary people until very recently. Furthermore, I have used the pound as a modern comparison rather than the dollar because the pound has existed as a comparison at the time of all these events.