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Precious Metal Flows and Currency Circulation in the Mughal Empire

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From the late sixteenth century, the Mughal empire became, with the sole exception of Ming China, the biggest importer of foreign bullion outside Europe. In many modern publications, references to this phenomenon are confined to the context of studying the East-West trade in general, while there is some discussion of its relevance as a factor of change in the Mughal economy. An attempt has been made here to quantify precious metal flows to the Mughal empire and to put them in the perspective of its mint production and silver currency circulation. The significance of India's trade network with Iran and the Ottoman empire is highlighted together with the suggestion that the economic organisation of these regions had a greater influence on the transmission of precious metals to the former than is usually acknowledged. Also, as the level of money supply in medieval monetary economies was inextricably linked with the structure of the bullion market, mint organisation and fiscal measures of the state, the objective here is to point out the importance of this interface in any assessment of a precise relationship between trade and real economic changes.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford


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