SPAHISJI EXPERIMENTS IN COINAGE. 585
September IStli. At the same hour throughout Spain they were to go to the shops of all bankers, brokers, agents, traders, etc., seize whatever vellon money they should find, weigh it, register it, and convey it to a secure place, where it was to be kept under three padlocks, the keys being held by as many officials. When this was done they were to proclaim that the value of all vellon money was reduced to one sixth : the piece that had been circu- lating for twelve maravedis was in future to be worth but two, and so forth. All discount or premium between the metals was prohibited for the future, under the customary severe penalties, and it was hoped that the general benefit thus derived to the com- munity at large would compensate for the losses inflicted on indi- viduals, but to lessen these there were vague promises held out of satisfaction to be adjusted by the registry of the amount of vell6n seized ; and it was suggested that the king would consider any propositions made by those who should prefer honors or privileges or some other advantages in lieu of satisfaction.
Apparently it was soon found that something more was needed to bring the refractory metals closer together, and a cedula of December 23d endeavored to accomplish this by diluting the sil- ver coinage. The marc of silver, in place of furnishing sixty- seven ryals, was ordered to be worked into eighty-three and one quarlillo, thus diminishing the value of the ryal by twenty-five l^er cent ; and in accordance with this, the existing pesos, or pieces of eight, were declared to be worth ten ryals, the profit on those in private hands being generously left to the holders. Gold was more simply treated by marking up the crown from 440 to 550 maravedis, and by a subsequent decree of January 12, 1643, to 612. The effect of this on the specie premium was, however, neutralized by diminishing from 98 grains to 75'3, the amount of silver to the marc of copper in the moneda de vellon rica, and holders of the white metal were tempted to have it thus employed by offering to coin it for them in vellon without charge of seigniorage.
Taken as a whole, these decrees formed but a halting measure of contraction ; but, even as it was, it brought a strain too sudden and severe to be endured, and the effort was soon abandoned. A pragmatica of March 12, 1643, announced that the vellon coinage (except some recent issue by the mint of Segovia) should in future be current at a fourfold increase of value, the piece of two mara- vedis being raised to eight and the rest in proportion. The dilu- tion of the silver coinage was similarly revoked, or at least sus- pended until the arrival of the fleet ; the pieces of eight were to be current for eight ryals and no more, while the gold crown was reduced to 510 maravedis. As usual, the royal word and faith were pledged that there should be no further variation in the value of the vellon coinage, and that it should remain forever