The leu is the national currency of Romania, but did you know how old this currency actually is?
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In a monetary reform carried out on 1 July 2005, Romania exchanged the previous leu, the ROL, with a new leu called the RON, based on a value of 1 RON for 10,000 ROL.
Romanians’ money, from the beginning to the present day
The etymology of this name is based on the circulation in the 17th century of Dutch lion thalers – in Dutch Leeuwendaalder, and in German Löwenthaler and, until 1901, Löwenthaler -, these coins being so named due to the presence of a winged lion engraved on the reverse side .
Even after the withdrawal of thalers from circulation, the term “leu” remained used as a generic reference to the coin.
In 1867, the Romanian leu became the monetary unit of the United Principalities of Moldova and Romania.
In the monetary history of the Romanian territory, the oldest attested coin is the silver drachma, issued by the Greek city of Histria, in 480 BC
The Geto-Dacians used Macedonian coins, then issued their own silver coins, similar to those of the Celts, and later the famous kosoni gold coins.
Roman coins, such as republican or imperial denarii, also entered the territory of Dacia, even before the Roman occupation, and continued to circulate even after the Aurelian withdrawal, being later replaced by Byzantine coins.
Within the medieval Romanian states, coins were issued, the first ruler to issue coins being Vladislav I in Wallachia, he struck silver mountain ducats, and Petru Musat in Moldova, he issued silver bullocks.
In contrast to Wallachia and Moldova, Transylvania had monetary issues in the Western-European style: gros, obols, dinars, kreitsars, guilders, thalers and ducats, starting in 1538 en
Various types of coins have circulated on the Romanian territory over the centuries, including Turkish thalers, Hungarian and Austrian golds, zlotys, Russian carboaves, and Venetian czechs, totaling over 100 types.
For example, a coin dated 1713 even featured a ruler’s head. It is about Constantin Brâncoveanu, who issued a coin-medal with his effigy, an action considered to be “a sign of independence”, but which provoked the Ottoman revolt.
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There could have been a currency called “Romanian”
The Sadagura coins were the first common coins of the Romanian Principalities of Moldova and Muntenia, being put into circulation by the Russian army of occupation, during the Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774).
Through the Organic Regulations adopted in 1831 in Wallachia and in 1832 in Moldova, the coins that could be used on Romanian territory were established, such as the Austrian yellow or the silver saint.
As a gesture of recognition of the Union, ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza proposed the issue of a coin called “Romanian” or “Romanat”, at the suggestion of Ion Heliade Rădulescu.
However, this initiative could not be put into practice, being conditioned by the amount of precious metal available in the state treasury, as well as by the Ottoman will, which did not accept the issue of its own coins for the vassal states.
Cuza nevertheless tried to strike a copper coin in 1864 in Paris bearing his face, but it did not enter circulation due to Turkish opposition.
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