Regular taxes could not meet the expenses; Somerset and Northumberland therefore carried to extremes the inflation of the currency started by Henry. Fortunately the possibilities of paper money were still unknown to the Western world. The worst they could do was to debase the currency to the lowest level in English history, ordering the mints to turn out shillings which were only one-quarter silver and three-quarters alloy. The great influx from the Spanish mines of Mexico and Peru was already beginning to lower the value of silver radically by increasing its supply, even without this deliberate inflation. The result was that prices jumped, and there was widespread distress.
(from A History of England and the British Empire)