Throughout its history, the denga was a small silver coin, usually irregular in shape, with a fluctuating silver content, weighing from 0.53 to 1.3 grams (depending on region and period). The word denga was a lexicological borrowing into Russian from Mongol. The unit's origins are traced to Moscow where, beginning in the 1360s and 1370s, for the first time since the eleventh century, Rus princes began to strike coins. By early 1400s, dengi (pl.) were minted in other eastern Rus lands (Nizhegorod and Ryazan) and by the 1420s in Tver, Novgorod, and Pskov. Thereafter, dengi were minted throughout the Rus lands by various independent princes and differed in weight. However, uniformity in weight, according to Moscow's standards, was introduced to the various principalities as the Muscovite grand princes absorbed them during the course of the second half of the fifteenth century.
For most of its history, six dengi made up an altyn, and two hundred dengi the Muscovite ruble. Novgorod also struck local dengi from the 1420s until the last decades of the fifteenth century, but their weight and value were twice the amount of the dengi minted in Moscow. While the unit denga was discontinued and replaced by the kopek with the monetary reforms of Peter the Great, the Russian word dengi came to designate money in general.
See also: altyn; copper riots; grivna; kopeck; ruble
Noonan, Thomas S. (1997). "Forging a National Identity: Monetary Politics during the Reign of Vasilii I (1389–1425)." In Moskovskaya Rus (1359–1584): Kul'tura i istoricheskoe samosoznanie/Culture and Identity in Muscovy, 1359–1584, ed. A. M. Kleimola and G. D. Lenhoff. Moscow: ITZ-Garant.
Spasskii, I. G. (1967). The Russian Monetary System: A Historico-Numismatic Survey, tr. Z. I. Gorishina and rev.L. S. Forrer. Amsterdam: Jacques Schulman.
Roman K. Kovalev