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Mirosław Bochenek

Nicolaus Copernicus versus Thomas Gresham. Dispute over the authorship of the law of inferior money

Publication year:
2023
Pages number:
382
Nr wydania:
pierwsze
Series:
Nicolaus Copernicus
Publisher:
Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika
ISBN (oprawa twarda):
978-83-231-5125-8 (hardcover)
ISBN (oprawa miękka):
978-83-231-5124-1 (paperback)

Mirosław Bochenek

Nicolaus Copernicus versus Thomas Gresham. Dispute over the authorship of the law of inferior money

Known as the Great Astronomer,1 Nicolaus Copernicus was also an outstanding researcher of economic life, i.e. an economist, the author of monetary treatises of a theoretical and practical nature. His knowledge made him an unrivalled authority on money. Unfortunately, his treatises devoted to an ever-present issue for over two thousand years, monetary debasement, despite containing original and timeless concepts which were far ahead of his time, were not published during his lifetime. They quickly fell into oblivion and remained unknown for three hundred years. For this reason, the credit due to him was unjustifiably attributed to other economic writers. Despite many attempts, mainly by Polish scholars, it has not yet been possible to convince economists around the world, including in Poland, to restore recognition for the authorship of his creations to the great astronomer.

Three monetary treatises and one letter on the subject emerged from his hand. An abridgement made in the sixteenth century by a Toruń copyist is also customarily attributed to him. It took Polish and German scholars almost two centuries to identify these and to establish their correct titles and dates. Despite this, knowledge of them is dramatically slim. Only one, the last treatise, is generally mentioned. To make matters worse, even many contemporary authors of economic works still use incorrect titles and dates. This state of affairs is incomprehensible to a Polish economist, especially since Copernicus is counted among the few Polish economists of world renown.

from the Introduction

Introduction by his magnificence rector of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń / 9

Introduction / 11

Chapter 1.
The birth of metallism and monetary thought in ancient Greece, its degradation and description of this by Aristophanes / 17

Chapter 2.
Nicole Oresme’s monetary treatise as a response to the problem of monetary debasement in the Middle Ages / 51

Chapter 3.
Nicolaus Copernicus’ monetary treatises and their significance / 89

Chapter 4.
Thomas Gresham and his efforts to rescue the exchequer of England / 131

Chapter 5.
The heresy of Henry Dunning Macleod and the unfounded proliferation of the false name “Gresham’s Law” / 147

Chapter 6.
Debate among polish scholars on the contribution of Nicolaus Copernicus to the discovery of the law of inferior money / 209

Summary / 311
Bibliography / 341
Personal index / 373

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