The Coinage of Poland
in Riga, 1581-1621

During the Livonia War (1558-1582) Poland gained the control over the remarkable territory of current Latvia. Riga was able to get the status of the Free City during 1561-1581. However, in 1581 Riga had to accept Poland as the superior and the status of the Free City was lost.

King of Poland, Stephan Bathory, gave the mintage privilege to Riga already in January 14, 1581, immediately after Riga gave up to Poland. The Riga coins had to be in accordance with the minting rules of Rzceczpospolita (State of Poland-Lithuania). The old monetary system of the Livonia Confederation was totally changed. The weight and money account unit, Riga mark, was replaced by the thaler system. Besides the known one - schilling - the new denominations appeared in Riga mint - grossus, dreipolcher (1 1/2 grossus), 3 grossus, 6 grossus. There were struck also golden ducats. However, no thalers were struck in Riga. Until the new monetary system was fully established, the previous monetary relation remained. 6 schillings = 1 grossus. 35-36 grossus = 1 thaler. When the new system was fully integrated, the relation was: 3 schillings = 1 grossus.

After the death of Stephan Bathory, the new king of Poland became Sigismund III Vasa, the son of king of Sweden, Johann III. When he died in 1592, Sigismund III Vasa became also the king of Sweden. But, because he became catholic and also wanted to add Estonia (Swedish territory) to Poland, Sweden disliked him. Finally he was removed from the throne of Sweden. This was a reason for the Polish-Swedish War (1600-1629), and the main battlefield again was Vidzeme (northern part of Latvia) and Estonia. Riga was conquered by Sweden in 1621. The Peace Treaty between Sweden and Poland was signed in Altmark (Prussia) in 1629. Riga, part of Duchy of Livonia and Vidzeme were ceded to Sweden. Eastern part of Duchy of Livonia (since then it was called Inflantia or Livland) remained under the reign of Poland until 1772.

During the reign of Sigismund III Vasa, Riga continued the coinage. However, during the Polish-Swedish War the silver content continuously decreased (remarkable "jump" in 1602), especially in schillings. In 1620 the monetary account was already 1 thaler = 75 grossus = 225 schillings. The main denominations were schillings and 3 grossus, but golden ducats were struck as well in limited amounts in separate years.

3 grossus coin was quite popular in Riga and abroad. The evidence for this are the fake 3 grossus coins, struck in Dubrovnik (Ragusa), Croatia. It is possible easy to distinguish the genuine coin and the fake: the genuine (Riga) coins have lion's head, but the fakes (Dubrovnik) have branch of tree in the gates on reverse of coin. Sweden also minted forgeries of Riga schillings just after entering Riga.

The kings of Poland and their coinage in Riga.

 Stephan Bathory, 1576-1586

 Sigismund III Vasa, 1587-1632


Home Main Stephan, 1576-1586

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