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Pistole is the French name given to a Spanish gold coin in use from 1537; it was a double escudo, the gold unit. The name was also given to the Louis d'Or of Louis XIII of France, and to other European gold coins of about the value of the Spanish coin.[1] One pistole was worth approximately ten livres or three écus, but higher figures are also seen.[2]

The coin appears repeatedly in Dumas' fiction. He has his character state, in The Three Musketeers set in the 1620s, that one hundred pistoles were worth a thousand livres tournois when Athos bargains for the horse he takes to the battle of La Rochelle.[3]

It was also referred to by Raphael Sabatini; who wrote 'swashbuckling' tales of the 17th and 18th centuries; in his book, St Martin's Summer.

A coin with this name was minted in Scotland in 1701, under William III, with a weight of 106 grains (c. 6.84 g) and a value of 12 pounds Scots.[4]

The coin gave its name to the town of Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, where according to local legend an explorer lost a goblet worth three pistoles in the river.[5]


  1. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pistole". Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ Stanley, J.; Newton, Isaac; Ellis, John (7 July 1702). Shaw, William, ed. Select Tracts and Documents Illustrative of English Monetary History 1626-1730 [Report of the Officers of the Mint about the Preservation of the Coyne]. London: Wilsons & Milne (published 1896). pp. 136–139.
  3. ^ GF Flammarion edition, p. 396
  4. ^ I. Stewart: Scottish Coinage
  5. ^ Commission de toponymie du Québec

External links

3 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link


NOUN: 1. A gold coin equal to two escudos, formerly used in Spain. 2. Any of several gold coins used in various European countries until the late 19th century.
ETYMOLOGY: French, back-formation from pistolet, diminutive of pistole, pistol. See pistol.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

language hat  •  Link

A name formerly applied to certain foreign gold coins; ... spec., from c1600, given to a Spanish gold coin worth from 16s. 6d. to 18s.; also applied (after French) to the louis d'or of Louis XIII, issued in 1640...

language hat  •  Link

OED etymology:
from French pistole the coin, app. shortened from pistolet. The coin was not known by any corresponding name in Spain or Italy.

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