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The King and the Leaden Coin: The Economic Background of ‘Sine Qua Non’ Causality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2016

William J. Courtenay*
The University of Wisconsin, Madison


In 1255, in his commentary on the fourth book of Peter Lombard's Sentences, Thomas Aquinas rejected a solution to the problem of sacramental causality, one that was enjoying a certain degree of popularity in the mid-thirteenth century. The opinion that Thomas rejected was that the sacraments effect grace not through an inherent, created virtue but rather through a pact, covenant, or ordination of God that guarantees grace to the person who receives the sacraments, if the latter are properly administered and the recipient places no obstacle in the way of their effectiveness. This type of sacramental causality, termed causality sine qua non, was usually illustrated, Thomas informs us, with the following example. A king might decree that any person possessing a certain leaden coin would receive 100 pounds. In such a case, it would not be the leaden coin that causes the reception of the 100 pounds, but rather the arbitrary acceptation of the token by the king. For Thomas, the leaden coin would be only the occasion for the reward, not its cause. Therefore Thomas rejected this solution which, it seemed to him, would make the sacraments nothing more than the occasion or accidental cause of grace. He sealed his rejection by equating such causality with the way in which the racial color of the builder of a house could be said to be the cause of the house. Thomas maintained this position throughout his life, and, although he altered his solution to the problem of sacramental causality, he in no way altered his rejection of the type of causality based on the example of the king and the leaden coin.

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1 Aquinas, Thomas, IV Sent. dist. 1 q. 1 a. 4, qc. 1: ‘Quidam enim dicunt, quod non sunt causae quasi facientes aliquid in anima, sed causae sine quibus non: quia increata virtus, quae sola effectus ad gratiam pertinentes in anima facit, sacramentis assistit per quamdam Dei ordinationem, et quasi pactionem. Sic enim ordinavit et quasi pepigit Deus, ut qui sacramenta accipiunt, simul ab iis gratiam recipiant, non quasi sacramenta aliquid faciant ad hoc. Et est simile de illo qui accipit denarium plumbeum facta tali ordinatione, ut qui habuerit unum de illis denariis, habeat centum libras a rege: qui quidem denarius non dat illas centum libras, sed solus rex accipienti ipsum. Et quia pactio talis non erat facta in sacramentis veteris legis, ut accedentes ad ipsa gratiam acciperent, ideo dicuntur gratiam non conferre, sed promittebant tantum. Sed hoc non videtur sufficere ad salvandum dicta sanctorum. Causa enim sine qua non, si nihil omnino faciat ad inducendum effectum vel disponendo vel meliorando, quantum ad rationem causandi, nihil habebit supra causas per accidens; sicut album est causa domus, si aedificator sit albus; et secundum hoc sacramenta essent causae per accidens tantum sanctificationis.’

2 Cf. Aquinas, Thomas, Summa theologiae III q. 62 a. 1: ‘Quidam tamen dicunt quod non sunt causa gratiae aliquid operando, sed quia Deus, sacramentis adhibitis, in anima gratiam operatur. Et ponunt exemplum de illo qui afferens denarium plumbeum, accipit centum libras ex regis ordinatione; non quod denarius ille aliquid operetur ad habendum praedictae pecuniae quantitatem, sed hoc operatur sola voluntas regis. Unde et Bernardus dicit in quodam sermone De cena Dom.: Sicut “investitur canonicus per librum, abbas per baculum, episcopus per anulum, sic divisiones gratiarum diversae sunt traditae sacramentis.” — Sed si quis recte consideret, iste modus non transcendit rationem signi. Nam denarius plumbeus non est nisi quoddam signum regiae ordinationis de hoc quod pecunia recipiatur ab isto. Similiter liber est quoddam signum quo designatur traditio canonicatus. Secundum hoc igitur sacramenta novae legis nihil plus essent quam signa gratiae; cum tamen ex multis Sanctorum auctoritatibus habeatur quod sacramenta novae legis non solum significant, sed causant gratiam.’

3 In keeping with present scholarly practice in the late-medieval field, the term ‘Nominalist’ is used in this paper to refer to the thought of William of Ockham and those most directly influenced by him. Accordingly, it is most applicable in late-medieval theology to such figures as Ockham, Pierre d'Ailly, Marsilius of Inghen, Gabriel Biel, and, to a lesser degree, Robert Holcot, Adam Wodeham, and Gregory of Rimini. It does not include Peter Aureol or Durand of St. Pourçain, in spite of their similarity to Ockham on certain issues. The concept of covenantal causality is not a small point in sacramental theology but rather one of the fundamental principles of the Nominalist worldview. Although not created by the Nominalists, it was utilized by Ockham and his followers to solve a wide variety of theological problems. For a further discussion of this issue see: W. J. Courtenay, ‘Covenant and Causality in Pierre d'Ailly,’ Speculum 46 (1971) 94119.


4 For example see: Pierre Pourrat, Theology of the Sacraments: A Study in Positive Theology (3rd ed.; London 1924) 167169; Antonius Piolanti, De sacramentis (Collectio theologica Romana VI; Rome 1945) I 69; Emmanuel Doronzo, De sacramentis in genere (Milwaukee 1946) 163–164; Bernard Leeming, Principles of Sacramental Theology (London 1956) 287, 290–294.

5 For example see: Iserloh, Erwin, Gnade und Eucharistie in der philosophischen Theologie des Wilhelm von Ockham: ihre Bedeutung für die Ursachen der Reformation (Wiesbaden 1956) 134147.

6 I have chosen the term ‘covenantal’ since this type of causality operates on the basis of a covenant, pact, or contract. The Latin term most frequently used in describing such causality is pactum. This type of causality is equivalent to what is called ‘juridical causality’ in modern Catholic discussions of the sacraments, that is, the way in which a legally binding contract causes the observance of the terms of that contract or the way in which paper currency buys goods and services. The similarity of this last example, the major example of juridical causality in modern discussions, with the king and the leaden coin will become apparent in the course of this paper. In general, I have avoided using the modern Catholic terminology, since such terms are based on the post-Tridentine theories of sacramental causality and do not exactly correspond to the medieval discussions. In fact, the grouping of the various medieval opinions under the categories of recent theological debate has been one of the major barriers prohibiting our understanding of this area of medieval thought.

7 As a result of the Pelagian and Donatist controversies, Baptism was the only sacrament that was extensively treated in the ancient Church.

8 See Landgraf, A. M., Dogmengeschichte der Frühscholastik : III. Die Lehre von den Sakramenten (Regensburg 1954); D. Van den Eynde, ‘The Theory of the Composition of the Sacraments in Early Scholasticism (1125–1240),’ Franciscan Studies 11 (1951) 1–20, 117–144; D. Van den Eynde, Les Définitions des sacrements pendant la première période de la Scholastique (Louvain 1950).

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9 See Grundmann, H., Religiöse Bewegungen im Mittelalter (Berlin 1935).

10 Hugh of St. Victor, , De sacramentis I part ix ch. 4.

11 William of Auxerre, Summa aurea IV tr. 1–2. Cf. M. Gierens, De causalitate sacramentorum seu de modo explicandi efficientiam sacramentorum Novae Legis (Rome 1935) 2729; F. Gillmann, Zur Sakramentenlehre des Wilhelm von Auxerre (Würzburg 1918); A. Van Hove, ‘Doctrina Gulielmi Altissiodorensis De causalitate sacramentorum,’ Divus Thomas 33 (1930) 305–324. William of Auxerre has, incorrectly, been placed in support of occasionalism by some modern Catholic theologians, e.g., Antonius Piolanti, De sacramentis (Rome 1945) I 69.

12 Alexander of Hales, In IV Sententiarum dist. 1 sect. 1–4.

13 Roland of Cremona, Sent. IV dist. 1; cf. H. D. Simonin and S. Meersseman, De sacramentorum efficientia apud theologos Ord. Praed. Fasc. I: 1229–1276 (Rome 1936) 15.

14 Lynch, K. F., ‘Texts Illustrating the Causality of the Sacraments from William of Melitona, Assisi Bibl. Comm. 182, and Brussels Bibl. Royale 1542,’ Franciscan Studies 17 (1957) 238272. The fourth book of the Summa Halensis, or Summa Alexandri, was compiled for the most part from William of Melitona's Qq de sacramentis: cf. Alexandri de Hales Summa theologica IV lib., III proleg. (Quaracchi 1948) ccxl-ccxliii; cf. also the texts in Gierens, op. cit. (above note 11) 30–33, and W. Lampen, De causalitate sacramentorum iuxta scholam Franciscanam (Bonn 1931) 6–17.


15 Magnus, Albertus, In IV Sententiarum dist. 1 B, art. 5.

16 Texts in D. Van den Eynde, ‘Stephen Langton and Hugh of St. Cher on the Causality of the Sacraments,’ Franciscan Studies 11 (1951) [141]-[155]. Cf. J. F. Veal, The Sacramental Theology of Stephen Langton and the Influence upon him of Peter the Chanter (Rome 1955) 16–21.

17 Texts in Van den Eynde, D., Franciscan Studies 11 (1951) [141] - [155].

18 Texts in Simonin and Meersseman 108–117.

19 It has been suggested, e.g. by Doronzo, De sacramentis in genere (Milwaukee 1946) 164, that this reaction, which grows into what I have termed ‘covenantal causality’ and which has been incorrectly called occasionalism, originated with William of Auvergne (1180–1249). The passage in William on which this is based, De sacramentis in speciali (ed. Paris 1674) I 418 b, is too brief and too vague to support this. My own conjecture is that William intended only to repeat the position of Hugh of St. Victor, that God is the author of grace and acts directly to produce grace in the recipient. Such direct action is not covenantal.

20 Fishacre, Richard, Sent. IV dist. 1 (Simonin and Meersseman 18–20): ‘Est enim haec relatio non a natura aliqua — in natura autem est — sed a voluntate, ut denarius fit pretium, nulla in eo facta mutatione vel superadditione alterius quam relationis. Foedus ergo quod pactum est inter Deum et homines, in sacramentis est. Unde ratione talis relationis est in signis illis sanctitas et eis, quod Dei est, attribuitur.’ ‘… si tunc stetisset, quod nunc baptismus, sicut si aliquis minister regis distribueret signa stanea pauperibus, quae si servarent, per illa reciperentur ad prandium regis, sed non statim, sed cras, quando comedet rex, et deinde minister alius regis daret, hora prandii, consimilia vel alia signa aliis pauperibus, posset dici quod signa prius data essent eiusdem efficaciae cum ultimo datis, quia utraque faciunt intrare et eodem tempore, scilicet ad horam prandii.’

21 Kilwardby, Robert, Sent. IV dist. 1 (Simonin and Meersseman 27–28): ‘Secundi dicunt quod sacramentum sensibile vere dicitur iustificare et vere dicitur causa et vere dicitur disponere ad iustitiam sed extendendo nomina ista. Non enim disponit vel efficit vel causat tamquam qualitatem vel potentiam activam in se habens qua alteret et qualificet animam, sicut ignis agit per inditum vel innatum calorem, sed tamquam habens sibi assistentem virtutem divinam, quae ad eius praesentiam facit et causat iustitiam et haec habet ex institutione divina et pactione eius, qua instituit, ut qui rite susciperet suum sacramentum, susciperet internam occultam operationem virtutis divinae iustificantis. Nihil igitur in se habet sacramentum sensibile nisi quandam relationem qua associatum est, ex divina pactione, virtuti divinae iustificativae, per quod vel propter quod dicitur iustificare vel disponere ad iustitiam vel huiusmodi. Et ponunt [Fishacre and others] exemplum tale: Litterae regis liberant de carcere non per aliquam virtutem activam illis insitam, quae procedit ad liberandos solvendos et extrahendos, sed per significativam potentiam quae est relativa et instituta ad hoc. Similiter si institueret rex signum aliquod obtinendi coronam vel primatum, illud signum causaret habenti ipsum coronam vel dignitatem non efficiendo in ipsum aliquid per influentiam sed significando per regiam institutionem, cui scilicet significationi adnexa est vel sociata alia virtus a rege ordinata ad efficiendum, quod ex pactione signi debet fieri. … sed secunda [opinio] verisimilior est….’

22 Some advocates of covenantal causality quoted a passage from one of Bernard of Clairvaux's sermons that seemed to support their position, a fact that has led some historians to see Bernard as the originator of this opinion. Bernard, however, does not refer to a pact or covenant — a concept crucial to this theory. The significance of Bernard for the theory of covenantal causality and ascribed value will be discussed in more detail toward the end of this paper.

23 Fishacre, , Sent. IV dist. 1 (Simonin and Meersseman 17): ‘Si diceret tibi Deus: Quacumque die sic te permiseris immergi et cum tali verborum prolatione, sanabo te ab infirmitate tua, si hoc faciens deinde curareris, dicere posses te curatum per aquam et talia verba et per Deum, et proprie efficiens sanitatis fuisset Deus. Sed aqua et verbum sunt sine quibus non fecit, et actio aliquando attribuitur per se agenti et hoc proprie; aliquando autem ei, sine quo non egit agens, et hoc per quandam consuetam extensionem sermonis. Sic Naaman septimo mersus in Iordane, quod et typum gessit baptismi, ad verbum prophetae sanatus est a corporali lepra, et dici poterat, quod eum sanasset aqua; item quod propheta; item verissime quod Deus ad verbum prophetae per aquam. Sic propriisime Deus baptizat et iustificat; per extensionem sermonis aqua sanctificata verbo et sacerdos; et sicut ibi nihil unum ex verbo vocali prophetae et aqua, nec fuit aliquid in illa aqua tunc, quod non prius, nec aliud quam in alia aqua.’

24 Cf. footnote 20.

25 Assigning a nominal value to a coin, higher than the market value of the precious metal it contains, may lead to almost immediate inflation in an economic system based on the commodity theory of money. If, however, that coin can be eventually converted into precious metal in the amount of its nominal value, no inflation need take place.

26 Villani, , Chronicle VI 21. Cf. Ernst Kantorowicz, Frederick The Second, 1194–1250 (London 1931) 541; William Charlton, ‘Leather Currency,’ The British Numismatic Journal and Proceedings of the British Numismatic Society Ser. 1 III (1906) 316; Paul Einzig, Primitive Money in its Ethnological, Historical and Economic Aspects (London 1949) 268–299. The occasional practice, referred to by Charlton and Einzig, by which the French monarchy issued leather pieces containing a small, silver nail, e.g. during the reigns of Philip I, Louis IX, John the Good, and Charles the Wise, differed somewhat from the case of Frederick II. The presence of the silver nail added some intrinsic value to the ‘coin,’ although not as high as its nominal value.

27 Aristides, Orat. Platon. II 145. Cf. François Lenormant, La Monnaie dans l'Antiquité (Paris 1878) I 220.

28 Aeschines, , Dial. Socrat. 78. Cf. R. Bosworth Smith, Carthage and the Carthaginians (London 1913) 31.

29 Seneca, , De beneficiis V 14 4. Seneca attributes leather currency to Sparta, but he may have been confusing it with Carthage. According to Plutarch (Lycurgus 9; Lysander 20) and archaeological evidence, Sparta used iron bars as currency.

30 Charlton, , op. cit. 312–313, mentions Eusebius and Isidore in this regard, but I have been unable to find references in their works.

31 For the distinction between primitive money and substitute money see Einzig, op. cit. esp. 268–269, 319–339.

32 Cf. Fulcher of Chartres, Gesta Francorum Iherusalem peregrinantium III 27 (ed. H. Hagenmeyer [Heidelberg 1913] 694–695).

33 The remarks made here on the economic importance of token coinage are introductory to a longer study on medieval tokens yet to be completed. For further discussion see: W. J. Courtenay, ‘Token Coinage and the Administration of Poor Relief During the Late Middle Ages,’ Journal of Interdisciplinary History 3 (1972).

34 Typical in this regard is the comment of Philip Grierson in his Coins and Medals: A Select Bibliography (London 1954) 7879: ‘The lists that follow include works dealing with coin-weights and jettons, whose importance for the student of coinage is obvious, but omit continental tokens (méreaux, Gildepfenningen, etc.), which are mainly of antiquarian interest.’ The opinion that tokens seldom if ever served as a substitute for real money can be found in such a major work as A. Luschin von Ebengreuth, Allgemeine Münzkunde und Geldgeschichte des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit (Berlin 1926) 30–31.

35 Tesserae, or tokens of lead, were used in the Roman period as tax receipts, sales receipts, religious souvenirs, etc. There seems, however, to be no direct connection between the Roman tesserae and the medieval merelli. For an examination of the type and function of the Roman tesserae see: F. Ficoroni, Piombi antichi (Rome 1740); L. Dancoisne, ‘Tessères romaines de plomb,’ Revue belge de numismatique 47 (1891) 210–218; R. Mowat, ‘Contre marques sur les tessères romaines de bronze et de plomb: les spintriennes,’ Rivista italiana di numismatica 11 (1898) 21–42; M. Rostovtsew and M. Prou, Catalogue des plombs de l'antiquité du moyen ǎge et des temps modernes conservés au départment des médailles et antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale (Paris 1900); M. Rostowzew [= Rostovtsew], ‘Tessere di piombo,’ Rivista italiana di numismatica 15 (1902) 151–164.

36 See charters of 1167 and 1173 from William, Count of Nevers, in Du Cange IV 364–365.

37 See Rouyer, Jules and Hucher, Eugène, Histoire du jeton au moyen ǎge (Paris 1858); J. Rouyer, ‘Des jetons du moyen ǎge au type de l'ours,’ Mélanges de Revue numismatique 1 (1875) 473–484; J. de Fontenay, Nouvelle étude de jetons (Autun 1850); J. Rouyer, ‘Les méreaux des offices de l'hotel du Roi considérés surtout dans ce qui concerne l'office de la fourrière,’ Revue numismatique 63 (1898) 519–527; J. Rouyer, ‘Miscellanea en fait de jetons et de méreaux,’ Revue numismatique 64 (1899) 356–373; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Catalogue de la Collection F. Feuardent: Jetons et méreaux, depuis Louis IX jusqu'à la fin du consulat de Bonaparte (3 vols.; Paris 1904–1915); Bernard, ‘Italian Jettons,’ Numismatic Chronicle (1920) 216–272; M. Hoc, ‘A propos de jetons des anciens Pays-Bas,’ Numisma 15 (1965) 31–43.

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38 See Rouyer, and Hucher, , Histoire du jeton au moyen ǎge ; Rouyer, Revue numismatique 63 (1898) 519527; Catalogue de la Collection F. Feuardent; E. Hucher, ‘Second supplément à l'essai sur les monnaies du Maine,’ Revue numismatique 13 (1848) 364.

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39 Rouyer, Jules, ‘Notes pour servir à l’étude des méreaux,’ Revue numismatique 14 (1849) 358.

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40 Hermand, Alexandre, ‘Recherches sur les monnaies, médailles et jetons, dont la ville de Saint-Omer a été l ‘objet,’ Mém. de la Société des antiquaires de la Morinie 2 (1834); J. Rouyer, Revue numismatique 14 (1849) 356–377; E. Hucher, ‘Méreaux de plomb,’ Revue numismatique 23 (1858) 338–350; J. Rouyer, ‘Méreaux de la Sainte Chapelle de Paris,’ Revue numismatique 27 (1862) 481–497; L. Dancoisne, Numismatique béthunoise, recueil des monnaies, méreaux, médailles et jetons de la ville et de l'arrondissement de Béthune (Arras 1859) and the review by J. Rouyer, Revue numismatique 27 (1862) 318–322; J. Rouyer, ‘Notes concernant des méreaux et d'autres pièces du měme genre,’ Revue numismatique 29 (1864) 444–463; Arthur Forgeais, Collection de plombs historiés trouvés dans la Seine et recueillis par Arthur Forgeais 3rd ser. (Paris 1864); Adrien Blanchet and A. Dieudonné, Manuel de numismatique française (Paris 1930) III 511–520.

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41 See discussion in Revue numismatique 1 (1836) 43, 132–133; Rouyer, J., Revue numis-matique 14 (1849) 357; Charles Robert, ‘Monnaies de Mǎcon,’ Revue numismatique 25 (1860) 481; J. Rouyer, Revue numismatique 27 (1862) 319–320; A. Blanchet and A. Dieudonné, Manuel III 513–518.

42 Alms money has survived from the reigns of Pepin the Short and Alfred the Great. See Frhr. von Schrötter, Friedrich, Wörterbuch der Münzkunde (Berlin and Leipzig 1930) 22.

43 Majer, Giovannina, ‘Le tessere delle scuole religiose di Venezia,Rivista italiana di numismatica e scienze affini 38 [Ser. 3 II] (1925) 1718.

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44 Eklund, O., ‘Charity Tokens of the Netherlands,The Numismatist 60 (1947) 867876; 61 (1948) 19–28; Piero Vandoni, ‘Tessere Milanesi di beneficenza,’ Rivista italiana di numismatica e scienze affini Ser. 5 nr. 56 (1954) 112–139.

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45 In addition to those issued by churches and confraternities, some tokens have survived that were issued by noblemen or municipal governments. These tokens seem to have served functions similar to those issued by the churches. Cf. Adrien Blanchet and A. Dieudonné, Manuel III 521ff.

46 The document of 1401 outlines the distribution of the méreaux at Sainte Chapelle in Paris. For the discussion about whether the distribution of nummi matutinales at Tours in 1216 refers to the méreaux see the comments of J. Rouyer and E. Cartier, Revue numismatique 15 (1850) 84, 241–242.

47 Cf. Robert, , Revue numismatique 25 (1860) 481483; Forgeais, Collection de plombs; Revue numismatique 68 (1903) 68–69; Blanchet and Dieudonné, Manuel III 512; Jean Tricou, ‘Un moule a méreaux Lyonnais du XIIIe ou XIVe siècle,’ Revue numismatique Sér. 4 34 (1931) 97–100.

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48 From the statutes of the school of San Teodoro in Venice: ‘Et avanti si faccia essa elemosina sia dato un Bollettin a cadaun delli poveri doveranno ricever dita elemosina. E non possa esser data se non a chi farà mestier per necessità’ (Archivio di Stato, Venezia, Rubrica universale di tutte le parti, ordini e terminazioni della Venetiana Scola di San Teodoro, ecc. c. 208). Cf. Majer, , Rivista italiana di numismatica 38 (1925) 1718. For the earliest evidence from northern France see: J. Rouyer, ‘Quelques anciens méreaux de Tournai et souvenirs qui s'y rattachent,’ Revue belge de numismatique 40 (1884) 165–189.

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49 Dancoisne, L. and Delanoy, R., Recueil de monnaies, médailles et jetons, pour servir à l'histoire de Douai et de son arrondissement (Douai 1836); J. Rouyer, Revue numismatique 14 (1849) 361; Blanchet and Dieudonné, Manuel III 517.

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50 de Lespinasse, R., Les métiers et corporations de la ville de Paris (Paris 1892) II 524ff.; Blanchet and Dieudonné, Manuel III 512.

51 Cf. Blanchet and Dieudonné, Manuel III 512–520.

52 The office of royal almoner seems to have been introduced in France in the second half of the twelfth century. The office was expanded considerably under Louis IX.

53 The distribution of ‘maundy money’ by the English kings was probably a medieval practice, although most references to the institution are from the eighteenth century. For medieval examples of French royal maundy tokens, see: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Catalogue de la Collection Rouyer comp. Henri de la Tour; I: Jetons et méreaux du moyen ǎge (Paris 1899) 1920.

54 Fishacre, Unlike, Kilwardby, writing some five years later, ascribes the theory of covenantal causality to an unnamed group of theologians, which may possibly have included Robert Grosseteste. That Kilwardby is not relying specifically on Fishacre is indicated by the markedly different examples chosen to illustrate the theory. Although Kilwardby does not use the example of the king and the leaden coin, he gives an example of a royal token or sign which, like Fishacre's, has limited applicability. Cf. footnote 20.

55 Gierens, , op. cit. (above note 11) 33–37; Lampen, op. cit. (above note 14) 18–32. Cf. P. Remy, ‘La Causalité des sacrements d'après Saint Bonaventure,’ Études franciscaines 42 (1930) 324339; W. Lampen, ‘De causalitate sacramentorum iuxta S. Bonaventuram,’ Antonianum 7 (1932) 77–86. Lampen, op. cit. (above note 14) 25–26: ‘Sacramento enim dicunt assistere divinam virtutem, quae est causa gratiae, et fidem et devotionem suscipientis, quae disponit ad gratiam. — Et adducunt simile: quoniam ad verbum Elisei, Naaman se lavante, astitit virtus divina effectiva sanitatis et devotio et obedientia Naaman dispositiva; nulla tamen causalitas fuit nec in verbo Elisei nec in aqua Iordanis. Si ergo Dominus ita instituisset, ut ad verbum Elisei non solum ipse Naaman, sed ceteri accedentes curarentur, et hoc ex quadam pactione, ita quod semper assisteret vis divina, aqua illa diceretur curare et sanare lepram et esse causa curationis et habere virtutem curandi. Sic in sacramentis dicunt, quod ad prolationes verbi assistit virtus divina aquis et infundit gratiam et regenerat, dum homo subicit se per fidei professionem et obedientiam. Dicunt ergo, quod sacramenta dicuntur habere virtutem et dicuntur causa et dicuntur efficere secundum communem modum loquendi propter assistentiam divinae virtutis.

‘Et si tu quaeras, utrum habeant virtutem aliquam creatam super increatam, respondent, quod praeter virtutem increatam est dicere aliquam virtutem habere sacramentum, sed extenso nomine virtutis. Si enim virtus dicat aliquam qualitatem vel naturam sive essentiam advenientem sacramento, sicut virtus proprie dicitur, sic secundum eos non est dicendum, quod habeat virtutem, sed extenditur nomen virtutis ad aliquam ordinationem, ut quando aliquid habet efficacem ordinationem ad aliquid, dicitur habere virtutem respectu illius. —- Et ponunt hoc exemplum: rex statuit, ut qui habent tale signum, habeant centum marcas. Post istam institutionem signum illud non habet aliquam proprietatem absolutam, quam non haberet prius; ad aliquid tamen est ordinatum, ad quod non erat prius. Et quia habet efficacem ordinationem, dicitur habere virtutem, ut faciat aliquem habere centum marcas, et tamen nihil plus habet de bonitate nunc quam prius. … Sic dicunt, quod sacramenta sunt talia signa a Deo instituta, ut qui ea susceperit debito modo habeat tantum de gratia vel habeat gratiam ad hunc actum; illa, inquam, ordinatio efficax secundum istos virtus est sacramenti, et ratione illius disponit hominem, ut habeat gratiam, quia efficaciter ordinat ad habendam et suscipiendam gratiam.’

Bonaventure gradually changed from an undecided position in the Commentary on the fourth book of the Sentences to a more energetic support of covenantal causality in his Commentary on the third book and in his Breviloquium.

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56 Aquinas, Thomas, In decem libros Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nicomachum expositio V lect. 9 sect. 978–991. Cf. also Thomas Aquinas, In libros Politicorum Aristotelis expositio I lect. 7 sect. 111–121.

57 Aquinas, Thomas, Summa theologiae II-II q. 78.

58 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics V 8; Politics, I 9–10. For discussions of Aristotelian and Thomistic monetary theory see: Schumpeter, Joseph A., History of Economic Analysis (ed. E. B. Schumpeter; New York 1954); Walter Taeuber, Geld und Kredit im Mittelalter (Berlin 1933); Edmund Schreiber, Die volkswirtschaftlichen Anschauungen der Scholastik seit Thomas v. Aquin (Jena 1913); A. E. Monroe, Monetary Theory before Adam Smith (Cambridge, Mass. 1923); and J. T. Noonan, Jr., The Scholastic Analysis of Usury (Cambridge, Mass. 1957).

59 Particularly misleading in this regard is the assertion of Monroe, A. E. that the valor impositus was considered in partial opposition to the bonitas intrinseca, so that to stress one automatically decreased the importance of the other; see Monroe, op. cit. 25–31. Similar difficulties occur in the monographs of Ernst Stampe; see his War Carolus Molinaeus Nominalist? Eine Untersuchung über seinen Valor extrinsecus monetae (Sb. Akad. Berlin [1926] nr. 9) and Zur Entstehung des Nominalismus: Die Geldgesetzgebung Frankreichs von 1547 bis 1643 und ihre treibenden Kräfte (Abh. Akad. Berlin [1932] nr. 3).

60 Aquinas, Thomas, In decem libros Ethicorum V lect. 9 sect. 981: ‘Non enim appretiantur secundum dignitatem naturae ipsorum: alioquin unus mus, quod est animal sensibile, maioris pretii esset quam una margarita, quae est res inanimata: sed rebus pretia imponuntur, secundum quod homines indigent eis ad suum usum.’

61 I intend to examine this concept in more detail in a separate article.

62 This is also true for the covenantal theory. The king is not arbitrarily determining the value or buying power of the hundred marks; rather he is determining the ratio between the lead token and regular currency. The buying power of the token is determined not by the fiat of the king or the number of tokens in circulation but rather by its redeemability in ‘hard’ currency.

63 Aquinas, Thomas, In decem libros Ethicorum V lect. 9 sect. 987: ‘Verum est autem quod etiam denarius patitur hoc idem quod aliae res, quod scilicet non semper pro eo accipit homo quod vult, quia non semper potest aequale, idest non semper est eiusdem valoris; sed tamen taliter debet esse institutus, ut magis permaneat in eodem valore quam aliae res.’

64 Ibid., sect. 982: ‘Et quod secundum rei veritatem indigentia omnia mensuret, manifestum est per hoc, quod numisma factum est secundum compositionem, idest secundum conventionem quamdam inter homines, propter commutationem necessitatis, idest rerum necessariarum. Est enim condictum inter homines quod afferenti denarium detur id quo indiget. Et inde est quod denarius vocatur numisma: nomos enim lex est, quia scilicet denarius non est mensura per naturam, sed nomo, idest a lege: est enim in potestate nostra transmutare denarios et reddere eos inutiles [i.e., as currency].’

65 Cf. Monroe, op. cit. (above note 58) 25–31.

66 Aquinas, Thomas, Summa theologiae II-II q. 78 a. 1.

67 Aquinas, Thomas, On Kingship II 7 (transl. and ed. by Phelan, G. B. and Eschmann, I. T. [Toronto 1949] 74–78).

68 For an exposition of the position of what modern economists call the nominalist school, see the work of its leading exponent, Keynes, J. M., A Treatise on Money (London 1930). For the position of the materialist school, which maintains the commodity theory of monetary value, see: Karl Helfferich, Money (London 1927); Karl Menger, Grundsätze der Volks-wirtschaftslehre (Vienna 1871); J. Laurence Laughlin, Principles of Money (New York 1903).

69 The application of the theory of covenantal causality to the ideas of social contract and royal absolutism in Nominalist political thought will be the subject of a future paper.

70 The subsequent development of covenantal causality and its impact on sacramental and monetary thought in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries will be traced in a later article.

71 Bernard, Sermo in coena Domini (PL 183, 271–272): ‘Sicut enim in exterioribus diversa sunt signa, et, ut coepto immoremur exemplo, variae sunt investiturae secundum ea de quibus investimur: verba gratia, investitur canonicus per librum, abbas per baculum, episcopus per baculum et annulum simul: sicut, inquam, in huiusmodi rebus est, sic et divisiones gratiarum diversis sunt traditae sacramentis.’

72 Thomas, Summa theologiae III q. 62 a. 1: ‘Unde et Bernardus dicit in quodam sermone De cena Dom.: Sicut “investitur canonicus per librum, abbas per baculum, episcopus per anulum, sic divisiones gratiarum diversae sunt traditae sacramentis.” — Sed si quis recte consideret, iste modus non transcendit rationem signi. … Similiter liber est quoddam signum quo designatur traditio canonicatus.’

73 A slightly different view and an earlier dating of this transformation has been suggested by Southern, R. W., The Making of the Middle Ages (London 1953).

74 The strong Aristotelian character of Thomas' attack on covenantal causality is further reflected in Thomas' utilization not only of Aristotle's distinction between per se and per accidens causality but also of Aristotle's explanation of accidental causality in terms of the incidental attributes of a housebuilder. See Aristotle, , Physics II 3–5 (194b-197a); Metaphysics V 2 (1013a-1014a). Moreover, Thomas may have seen in the example of the king and the leaden coin the same type of chance or intentional causality expressed in Aristotle's example of the man collecting subscriptions for a feast (197a).

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