The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession

By Peter L. Bernstein | Go to book overview

6
The Legacy of Eoba,
Babba, and Udd

As the long stagnation that followed the fall of Rome yielded to a meaningful pace of economic development after the first millennium, the search for the meaning of value became a focus of increasing study and debate in Europe. A great debate developed among the scholastics and the monks in the universities over the definition of a “just price.” Saint Thomas Aquinas himself, in the thirteenth century, acknowledged that “It is true that money is subordinated to something else as its end; still, to the extent that it is useful in the quest for all material goods by its power, it somehow contains them all…. This is how it has some likeness to beatitude.”1 Gold is a fountain of beatitude.

Commercialization and trade cannot take place without money. Creating new monetary systems from the ground up is no simple matter, for nothing can function as money unless it comes in a format that will be acceptable to everyone who uses it. No decree establishing a system can work unless the arrangements match the values, traditions, and needs of the community. The history of money—and much else affected by

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