The uncontrolled monetary system of Germany [на самом деле речь идет не о "бесконтрольной системе", а об отсутствии общегерманского контроля над денежной политикой князей - Б.] had completely broken down; the gulden, the more or less standardized coin of south Germany, had begun as early as 1619 to fluctuate in relation to the taler of the north. In the course of three years the taler reached a value of four gulden in Austria, eight at Strasbourg, ten in Ansbach and Hildesheim, twelve in Saxony and Silesia, and soared to fifteen at Nuremburg. At Ulm the municipality fixed it forcibly at eight, at Vienna the gulden sank to less than an eighth of its nominal value, and at Prague the taler began to disappear altogether from circulation. In saxony the government was losing half the normal yield on the taxes through bad money.
In Prague the gravity of the situation was increased by the necessities of the government. Frederick [Фридрих Пфальцский, выбранный королем Чехии в 1619 году, после свержения Фердинанда Габсбурга, и бежавший из Чехии после сражения на Белой Горе в 1620 г. - Б.] had begun the trouble by slightly debasing the currency during his year of rule; Ferdinand's nominee, Liechtenstein, continued the process, reduced the amount of silver in the coinage by more than seventy-five per cent and attempted to fill the imperial coffers - and his own - with the profit which he made on the mint. In January 1622 Ferdinand, in hope of further gain, made a contract with a group of speculators for the establishment of a privately controlled mint in Prague. The currency was drastically debased while prices were forcibly stabilized; the plan failed utterly, for the people became suspicious and hoarded what good money they had, while in spite of the provision of the government, food alone rose to twelve times its normal price. External trade stopped altogether and for ordinary exchanges of everyday life the people took for barter. To add to the damage done by this crazy scheme, the chief object of the contractors was rather their own enrichment than the payment of Ferdinand's debts.
At this moment Ferdinand was besieged with demands to buy the confiscated lands [то есть земель, отобранных у дворян-"мятежников", свергнувших его пятью годами раньше - Б.]. The loyal nobility and many wealthy merchants offered him what had once been fair prices in the Prague money, prices which he cpuld not now refuse to take without repudiating his own currency. It was one thing to sell the lands and another to make use of the money; Ferdinand has accepted his own coin, but his soldiers threw it back in their officers' faces, because the local peasantry would not take it in exchange for the necessities of life. Throughout Bohemia trade came almost to a standstill, the peasants would not supply the towns with food, the army was mutinous, the civil population starving, and certain contractors, of whom Liechtenstein was not the least, were among the richest men in Europe. At Christmas 1623, Fedinand devalued the money and broke the contract. By that time the greater part of the confiscated land had been sold for an average price of less than a third its nominal value. His first move towards financial security had been catastrophic, for not only he lost the advantage of confiscation, but he had completed the economic ruin of Bohemia. Wealth, which had been widely distributed among the industrious peasantry and an active urban population, had become, through political persecution and the disastrous effects of the inflation, concentrated in a few unscrupulous hands. As a source of imperial revenue Bohemia has become useless.