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Grivna

GRIVNA

A Russian monetary and weight unit used from the ninth or tenth century to the eighteenth century.

Initially the grivna was a unit of account (twenty-five dirhams or Islamic silver coins) and a unit of weight (c. 68 grams, or 2.4 ounces), used interchangeably for denominating imported coined silver. Since foreign coins fluctuated in weight and fineness and diminished in import frequency, by the late tenth century the grivna weighed around 51.2 grams (1.8 ounces) and equaled fifty cut dirhams. By the eleventh century, the ratio of coins to weight of a grivna was further altered with the appearance of a rodlike, or Novgorodian type, silver ingot in northern Rus, weighing around 200 grams (7 ounces). This unit, called mark in German, like the silver itself, was imported from western and central Europe to northern Russia via the Baltic. Consequently, in Novgorod there developed a 1:4 relationship between the silver ingot, called grivna of silver, and the old grivna, or grivna of kunas. Both units diffused outside of Novgorod to other parts of Russia, including the Golden Horde, but the relationship of the grivna of kunas to the grivna of silver fluctuated throughout the lands until the fifteenth century, when the ingots were replaced by Russian coins. However, the term grivna (grivenka) and the 200 grams (7 ounces) it represented remained in Russian metrology until the eighteenth century.

The southern Rus lands also manufactured and used silver grivna ingots, but they were hexagonal in shape and, following the weight of the Byzantine litra, weighed around 160 grams (5.6 ounces). These Kievan-type ingots were known in southern Rus from the early eleventh century until the Mongol conquest.

See also: altyn; denga; kopeck; ruble

bibliography

Noonan, Thomas S. (1987). "The Monetary History of Kiev in the pre-Mongol Period." Harvard Ukrainian Studies 11:384443.

Pritsak, Omeljan. (1998). The Origins of the Old Rus' Weights and Monetary Systems. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.

Spassky, Ivan Georgievich. (1967). The Russian Monetary System: A Historico-Numismatic Survey, tr. Z. I. Gorishina and rev. L. S. Forrer. Amsterdam: Jacques Schulman.

Roman K. Kovalev

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