European monetary space was in the 16th century the very heart of the world trading space.
Contrary to the traditional point of view, according to which money was a simple instrument for commercial exchanges obeying their rules, the authors show the existence of an autonomous monetary space, that of currency exchange, whose functioning determined to a large extent the circulation of goods.
This monetary geography was characterized by a connection between two pôles : a few family « multinational » firms practicing currency exchange as well as commerce or finance, and emerging state powers, having the right of coinage. The main fair, Lyons, then « Bisenzone », was where the tensions of the continent were polarized into a system of national currency exchanges. Monetary relations thus appeared as a new mode of individual use of the social languages which the units of account represent, a mode which both complemented and fought the fragmented state powers.
One century before the émergence of banks of issue, currency constituted a spécifie link between private practices and public prérogatives.