The currency origin – leu (lion)

On the 16th of September Romanians celebrate 187 years since the creation of the first Romanian Leu (In translation: Lion). The leu becomes officially the National Romanian Currency on the 16th of September 1835, when Alexandru Ghica, ruler of Vallachia, establishes the Leu, equivalent of 60 parale as a National coin. At that time, Romania did not exist as a whole, but was divided into 3 big counties: Vallachia (south), Moldavia (north, east) and Transylvania (center, north, west). Mihail Sturza, the ruler of Moldavia also wanted to inaugurate coin in Moldova in 1835, but he didn’t have the acceptance if the Otoman Empire – for whom a state that pays tribute could not have their own coin as it would have been the first sign of full independency.

The history of the Romanian Leu however begins in the XVIIth Century when the 3 Romanian Counties were using as a trade coin the dutch talers – löwenthaler – that had as a coin image the image of a lion. The Romanian simple people were calling it generically “Leu” (translation: lion). This coin was used until the second half of the XVIII century. Even after the dutch lowenthaler was brought out of use, it was still used by the Romanian locals as a value reference, reporting the prices to it.

It came only natural that the new established Romanian currency received the name Leu, as the population was already using it.

An interesting to mention fact is that Bulgarians, our south neibourghs, are using Leva as a national coin, which is also translated as Lion. Even the American currency, dollar, receives its name from the dutch löwenthaler (löwenthaler – thaler, daler, dolar).