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Medieval Sourcebook:
Medieval Prices


[Courtesy of Kenneth Hodges hodges@jif.berkeley.edu ]

The list of medieval prices which follows is by no means complete or thoroughly researched; I merely extracted references from some of the books I have, and I thought others might like to inspect it. The sources I used are listed at the end. If an item is listed several times, it is because I had several references I wished to record.


 

Money goes as follows:
 1 pound (L) = 20 shillings (s)
 1 crown = 5 shillings
 1 shilling = 12 pence (d)
 1 penny = 4 farthings
 1 mark = 13s 4d

The French livre, sou, and denier are equivalent to the pound, shilling and penny (Latin liber, solidus, and denarius,   which is where the English abbreviations "L.s.d" come from).

For ease, I've divided this list into the following sections:

Of course, a price list is a misleading guide to a medieval economy, because so many goods were either produced within a household, or supplied by a lord. Retainers could get money, but they would also get food, lodging, weapons (sometimes), and cloth. Knights Templar were provided with clothes, horses, and armor.


                                  TOOLS
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
2 yokes                         4s          c1350       [3]     170
Foot iron of plough             5d            "          "       "
3 mason's tools (not named)     9d            "          "       "
1 spade and shovel              3d          1457         "       "
1 axe                           5d            "          "       "
1 augur                         3d            "          "       "
1 vise                          13s 4d      1514        [5]     27-28
Large biciron                   60s           "          "        "
Small biciron                   16s           "          "        "
Anvil                           20s           "          "        "
Bellows                         30s           "          "        "
Hammers                         8d-2s 8d      "          "        "
2 chisels                       8d            "          "        "
Compete set of armorer's tools  L13 16s 11d   "          "        "
Spinning Wheel                  10 d         1457       [3]     170
                                  HORSES
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
War Horse                       up to 50s   12 cen  (?) [7]     30
War Horse                       up to L80   13 cen      [3]     72
Knight's 2 horses               L10         1374         "      76
High-grade riding horse         L10         13th cen     "      72
Draught horse                   10s-20s     13th cen     "       "

Note: Horse prices varied dramatically; for instance, they doubled between 1210 and 1310.  ([3], p. 37).

                            FOOD AND LIVESTOCK
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Wine:
  Best Gascon in London         4d/gallon   1331        [2]     194
  Best Rhenish in London        8d/London     "          "       "
Wine:
  Cheapest                      3d-4d/gal   Late 13 cen [3]     62
  Best                          8d-10d/gal    "          "       "
Ale (beer comes later):
  Good                          1.5d/gal    14 cen      [2]     201
  Medium                        1d/gal        "          "       "
  Poor                          .75d/gal      "          "       "
Ale:
  First-rate                    1-1.25d/gal 1320-1420   [3]     58
  Second-rate                   .75-1d/gal    "          "       "
Ale (best):
  Somerset                      .75d        1338        [3]     210
  London                        1.25d        "           "       "
Beer, good                      1d/quart    late 16 cen [8]     xx
Dried Fruit (eg raisins, dates, 1-4d/lb, up
  figs, prunes), almonds, rice  to 6d rare  14 cen(?)   [3]     62-63
Spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace,
  pepper, sugar, etc).          1-3s/lb       "          "        "
Pepper                          4s/lb       mid 13 cen  [9]     218
Pepper                          6d/.5lb     1279-1280   [3]     11
Saffron                         12s-15s/lb  14 cen(?)   [3]     62-63
Cow (good)                      10s         12 cen(?)   [7]     30
Cow                             9s 5d       mid 14th    [1]     99
Cow                             6s          1285-1290   [3]     206
Ox                              13s 1.25d   mid 14 cen  [1]     99
Sheep                           1s 5d         "          "       "
Wether:
  Somerset                      9d-10d      1338        [3]     210
  London                        1s 5d        "           "       "
Pig:
  Somerset                      2s          1338        [3]     210
  London                        3s           "           "       "
Fowl                            1d            "          "       "
2 Chickens                      1d          14 cen      [4]     78
2 Dozen Eggs                    1d            "          "       "
Goose (in London)               6d (legal)
                                7d-8d asked 1375        [2]     198
80 lb cheese                    3s 4d       late 13 cen [3]     114
Salted herring (wholesale)      5-10/1d     1382        [2]     198-199
Salt conger                     6d each     1422-1423   [3]     69
Oats:                            
  Somerset                      1s/quarter  1338         "      210
  London                        2s 2d per    "           "       "
                                 quarter
Cost of feeding a knight's or   L30-L60,    15 cen      [3]     199
  merchants household per year  up to L100

Related note: around 1380, these are the average costs per day of feeding people on an estate ([3], p. 65): lord, 7d; esquire, 4d; yeoman, 3d; and groom, 1d.

                           BOOKS AND EDUCATION
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Monastary School                L2 (approx) 1392-1393   [3]     75
                                per year
Schoolmaster at Croyden:
  Board                         2s/week*    1394        [2]     186
  Instruction                   13s 4d/year  "           "       "
Oxford:
  Board                         104s/year   1374         "       "
  Clothing                      40s/year     "           "       "
  Instruction                   26s 8d/year  "           "       "
University:                     
  Minimum                       L2-L3/year  Late 14 cen [3]     75
  Student of good birth         L4-L10/year  "           "       "
Fencing Instruction             10s/month   Late 16 cen [8]     xx
7 Books                         L5 (approx) 1479        [3]     76
126 Books                       L113        1397        [3]     77
To Rent a book                  .5d-1d per  mid 13 cen  [9]     172
                                pecia**

* Source says 2s/day.  This is not only insanely high, but the text also claims that the board was the same as at Oxford--i.e., 2s/week or 104s/year.

** A pecia is 16 columns of 62 lines of 32 letters, i.e., 31 744 letters, or about 7 500 - 8 000 words.  Rental period is not specified, but I would guess a year; books were rented to be copied, and copying the Bible took 15 months.  See [9], p. 172.

                                BUILDINGS
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Rent per annum for 138 shops on
  London Bridge                 L160 4s     1365        [2]     114
Rent for the three London 
  taverns with the exclusive
  right to sell sweet wines
  (hippocras, clarry, piments)  L200        1365-1375   [2]     195-196
Rent cottage                    5s/year     14 cen(?)   [3]     208
Rent craftsman's house          20s/year     "           "       "
Rent merchant's house           L2-L3/year   "           "       "
Cottage (1 bay, 2 storeys)      L2          early 14 cen "      205
Row house in York (well built)  up to L5     "           "       "
Craftsman's house (i.e., with
  shop, work area, and room
  for workers) with 2-3 bays
  and tile roof                 L10-L15     early 14 cen [3]    205
Modest hall and chamber, not
  including materials           L12         1289        [3]     79-80
Merchant's house                L33-L66     early 14 cen [3]    205
House with courtyard            L90+         "           "       "
Goldsmiths' Hall (in London,
  with hall, kitchen, buttery,
  2 chambers)                   L136        1365        [2]     114
Large tiled barn                L83         1309-1310   [3]     79
Wooden gatehouse (30' long),
  barn, and drawbridge:
  Contract                      L5 6s 8d +  1341        [3]     81
                                builder's 
                                clothing
  Estimated total               L16          "           "       "
Stone Gatehouse (40' X 18'):
  with all except stone         L16 13s 4d  1313        [3]     79-80
  estimated with stone          L30          "           "        "
Tower in castle's curtain wall  L333, L395  late 14 cen  "        "
Castle & college at Tattershall L450/annum  1434-1446    "      81
                                for 13 years
Transept of Gloucester Abbey    L781        1368-1373   [3]     79-80
Stonework of church (125', no   L113        13 cen(?)    "        "
  tower)                        (contract)

note: tithes were often calculated at 1d a week for every 20s of annual rent paid (4, p. 208).

The following are the estimates of raw materials and labor that went into the tower of Langeais, a rectangular, tapering stone tower built in 992-994.  The source is [6], pp. 47ff.  The dimensions at the base were 17.5 meters by 10 meters; the height was 16m (3 floors); the walls were 1.5m thick, made of two shells filled with loose rock.

Limestone in building: about 1050 cubic meters, or 2 600 000 kg
Wood in building: 47.5 cubic meters, or 34 600 kg
Nails: 3 400, or 50 kg
Mortar: 350 cubic meters.
To make the mortar:
  sand: 225 cubic meters, or 360 000 kg
  limestone: 40 cubic meters, or 160 000 kg
  green wood: 540 cubic meters, or 286 000 kg
Labor Costs, in Average Working Days (AWD):
  procurement: 14 250
  transport: 2 880
  labor:
    unskilled: 63 500
    mason: 12 700
    smith: 1 600
                            CLOTH AND CLOTHING
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Fashionable gown                easily L10, late 14 cen [2]     53
                                up to L50
Gentry:
  Shoes                         4d          1470s       [3]     79
  Boots                         6d            "          "       "
  Purse                         1.5d          "          "       "
  Hat                           10d, 1s 2d    "          "       "
Craftsman's tabard and super-
  tunic                         3s          1285-1290   [3]     206
Reeve's murrey (dark brown) robe 6s 4d      1349-1352    "      176
Reeve's red robe                5s 3d           "        "       "
Peasants (wealthy):
  Linen Chemise                 8d          1313        [3]     175
  Shoes                         6d           "           "       "
  Woolen garment                3s           "           "       "
  Fur-lined garments            6s 8d       early 14 cen "       "
  Tunic                         3s           "           "       "
  Linen                         1s           "           "       "
Landless serfs' tunics          1d-6d       mid 14 cen   "      176
Cloth for peasant tunics        8d-1s 3d    early 14 cen "       "
                                per yard
Best Wool                       5s/yard     1380        [3]     78
"Tawny and russet"              6s/yard     1479-1482    "      "
Silk                            10s-12s     15 cen(?)    "      " 
                                per yard
Furs added to garment           +L2-L3 to   15 cen(?)   "       79
                                garment
The worth of cloth provided
  yearly by a lord to:
  esquires                      2s 11d/yard 1289-1290   [3]     78
  yeomen                        2s/yard         "        "       "
  lesser servants               1s 7d/yard      "        "       "

Note: loose tunics take 2.25-2.5 yards.  In the late 14th century, shorter doubled (lined) tunics, known as doublets, became fashionable, requiring 4 yards ([3], pp 175,176).

                                  ARMOR
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Mail                            100s        12 cen(??   [7]     30
Ready-made Milanese armor       L8 6s 8d    1441        [4]     112
Squire's armor                  L5-L6 16s 8d "           "       "
Armor for Prince of Wales, 
  "gilt and graven"             L340        1614        [5]     20
Complete Lance Armor            L3 6s 8d    1590        [5]     185
Complete corselets              30s          "           "       "
Cuirass of proof with pauldrons 40s          "           "       "
Normal cuirass with pauldrons   26s 8d       "           "       "
Target of proof                 30s          "           "       "
Morion                          3s 4d        "           "       "
Burgonet                        4s           "           "       "
Cuirass of pistol-proof with
  pauldrons                     L1 6s       1624        [5]     189-190
Cuirass without pauldrons       L1           "           "         "
Lance Armor                     L4           "           "         "
Targets of Proof                24s          "           "         "
Cuirass with cap                L4           "           "         "
Armor of proof                  L14 2s 8d   1667         "      68
Bascinet                        13s 4d +    1369         "      88
                                3s 4d to
                                line it
Armor in a merchant's house
  (leather?)                    5s          1285-1290   [3]     206
Total Armor owned by a knight   L16 6s 8d   1374         "      76
Armor in house of Thomas of
  Woodstock, duke of Gloucester L103        1397         "      77
Fee for cleaning rust off
  corselets                     5d each     1567        [5]     80
Fee for varnishing, replacing
  straps, and rivetting helmet
  and corselet                  1s 4d       1613        [5]     90
Barrel for cleaning mail        9d          1467        [5]     79 

Note: mail is chain mail; almost all the rest is plate-armor. The armor of the knight in 1374 was probably mail with some plates; same for Gloucester's. Mail was extremely susceptible to rust, and was cleaned by rolling it in sand and vinegar in a barrel. Pauldrons are shoulder plates; morions are open helms, burgonets and bascinets closed helms; and a target refers to any of a number different kind of shields. Armor of proof is tested during the making with blows or shots from the strongest weapons of the time; if a weapon is listed, the armor does not claim to be proof against everything, only that it is proof up to that weapon's strength (eg pistol proof is not musket proof, but may be sword proof). All plate armor was lined with cloth, to pad the wearer, quiet the armor, and reduce wear between the pieces. This, along with the necessary straps, was a significant amount of the expense. An armorer asking for money to set up shop in 1624 estimated production costs and profit for a number of different types of armor: I give two examples below ([5], pp. 189-190).

Cuirass of proof with pauldrons: 
  plates:                         5s 6d
  finishing, rivets, and straps:  7s 6d
  selling price                  26s
Lance armor:
  plates                        14s 5d
  finishing, et cetera          40s
  selling price                 80s
                                 WEAPONS
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Cheap sword (peasant's)         6d          1340s       [3]     174
Pair of wheel-lock pistols, 
  with tools for them           L2 16s      mid 17th    [4]     208
Holsters for pistols            6d             "         "       "
Wheel-lock carbine              L1 10s         "         "       "
Shoulder belt for carbine       1s             "         "       "
Pair of flintlock pistols       L2 5s          "         "       "
Flintlock carbine               L1 2s          "         "       "
Musket                          16s 6d-18s 6d  "         "       "

Note: It was mandatory in England for all freemen to own certain types of weapons and armor. (In 1181, every freeman having goods worth 10 marks (1 mark = 13s 4d) had to have a mail shirt, a helmet, and a spear. All other freemen should have helmet, spear, and gambeson (quilted armor) [4], p. 39.) Later, the government stored arms and armour in churches for use; in the 13th century anyone with an income of L2-L5 (wealthy peasants) had to have bows; archery practice became compulsory on Sundays and holidays. You may know that the extreme range of the longbow was 400 yards, but did you know that a statute of Henry VIII no one over 24 could practice at a range of less than 220 yards? (See [4], p. 95 and elsewhere).

Note: for guessing prices, see the section on tools (an axe for 5d). An armorer might make 24s a month; say a week to make a decent sword, and you might get a price that way. See the section on books and education for fencing instruction.

                                 MARRIAGE
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Sample peasant dowries:         13s 4d,     14 cen(?)   [3]     179 
                                35s 11d,
                                57s, 63s 4d
For serfs, mechet (fees) to lord,
  depending on wealth           1s-13s 4d   14 cen(?)   [3]     179
Wedding feast, wealthy peasant  20s           "          "       "
Wealthy peasant wedding total   L3-L4         "          "       "
Dowry for esquire's daughter    up to L66   15 cen       "      84
                                13s 4d
Dowry for baron's daughter      L1000 +       "          "       "
London parents (both sets)
  each offered couple           L100        1385        [2]     154

Note: these costs will be wildly varying depending on circumstance.

                                 FUNERALS
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Cheap gentlewoman's funeral
  (bell-ringing, clergy, food)  L7          1497        [3]     85
Brass monument, with a figure
  incised, on marble base--
  fitting for lesser aristocrat L8          early 14 cen "       "
Bishop Mitford's funeral 
  (with 1450 guests!)           L130+       1407         "       "
Memorial Chapel for Richard
  Beauchamp, earl of Warwick    L2481       1439-1463    "       "
Bronze effigy on guilded tomb   L400            "        "       "

Note: Christopher Dyer gives as a rough rule of thumb 1 year's income for 
a funeral ([3], p. 85)
                                  TRAVEL
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
Queen's chariot                 L400        14 cen      [1]     99
Lady Eleanor's chariot          L1000       14 cen      [1]     99
Chariot                         L8          1381        [3]     72
Chariot maintence               1-3s/year   14 cen       "      "
Barge                           L10           "          "      "
Iron-bound cart                 4s          c1350        "      170
Guide for a night               1d          14 cen      [1]     129
Ferry ride per horseman         1d           "           "       "
Keeping an earl's warhorse
  82 days in summer             36s 9.5d    1287        [3]     71

Note: [1], pp 126-129, gives the following prices at an inn in 1331.  For one day, 3 men with 4 servants spent: Bread, 4d; beer, 2d; wine 1.25d; meat,  5.5d; potage, .25d; candles, .25d; fueld, 2d; beds, 2d; fodder for horses, 10d.  The four servants staying alone sleep 2 nights for 1d.  Generally, all 7 spend 2d a night on beds; in London, it is 1d per head.

                              MISCELLANEOUS
Item                            Price       Date        Source  Page
6 silver spoons                 14s         1382        [2]     24
2 gold rings with diamonds      L15          "           "       "
Gold Ring with ruby             26s 8d       "           "       "
3 strings of pearls             70s          "           "       "
6 gold necklaces                100s         "           "       "
Fee to enroll an apprentice:
  with mercers (rich merchants) 2s          14 cen      [2]     111
  with carpenters               1s            "          "       "
Fee to join guild at end of
  apprenticeship:
  with mercers                  20s           "         [2]     111
  with carpenters               3s 4d         "          "       "
Fee to join guild               6s 8d-L3    14 cen(?)   [3]     208
Fee to gain freedom of a town
  (to enjoy its exemption from
  feudal duties, I assume)      3s 4d-20s   14 cen(?0   [3]     208
To empty a cesspit in a city    6s 8d       15 cen(?)   [3]     209
Candles
  Somerset                      1.5d/lb     1338        [3]     210
  London                        2d-2.5d/lb   "           "       "
Candles
  tallow                        1.5d/lb     15 cen(?)   [3]     74
  wax                           6.5d/lb     1406-1407    "      "
Vat                             4d          1457        [3]     170
Barrel                          3d           "           "       "
Bottle                          4d           "           "       "
2 buckets                       1s           "           "       "
1 sheet                         4d           "           "       "
1 mattress                      2d           "           "       "
4 pillows                       4d           "           "       "
3 boards for a bed              4d           "           "       "
2 sheets, 4 blankets            5s 8p       1349-1352    "       "
16 bedspreads, 20 sheets,
  8 featherbeds                 L3 1s       1285-1290   [3]     206
Duke's bed of cloth of gold, 
  with blue satin canopy        L182 3s     1397        [3]     77
Table                           6d          1457        [3]     170
Chair                           3d           "           "       " 
Chest with necessaries thereto  2s 2d        "           "       "
2 chests                        6d each      "           "       "
Metal ewer                      6d          1349-1352    "       "
Brass pot                       2s              "        "       "
Basin and ewer                  8d              "        "       "
Basin and ewer                  2s 8d           "        "       "
Towel                           6d              "        "       "
Coffer                          1s              "        "       "
2 stools                        8d              "        "       "
Ceramic cooking pot             .5d         1340s        "      174

Note: most of these come from inventories of peasants' belongings.  The fine goods would be more expensive.

Note about lighting: great houses could use 100 lb of wax and tallow in a single winter night ([3], p. 74).  Others, not as rich, would go to sleep earlier.

                                  WAGES
Profession                      Wage        Date        Source  Page
Mercenaries:
  knight banneret               4s/day      1316        [4]     78
  knight                        2s/day       "           "       "
  man-at-arms or squire         1s/day       "           "       "
Regular Army
  Esquires, constables, and 
    centenars                   1s/day      1346        [4]     79
  Mounted archers, armored
    infantry, hobilars, 
    vintenars                   6d/day       "           "       "
  Welsh vintenars               4d/day       "           "       "
  Archers                       3d/day       "           "       "
  Welsh infantry                2d/day       "           "       "
  Captain                       8s/day      late 16 cen [4]     181
  Lieutenant                    4s/day        "          "       "
  Ensign                        2s/day        "          "       "
  Drummer or trumpeter          20d/day       "          "       "
  cavalryman                    18d/day       "          "       "
  infantry                      8d/day        "          "       "
Laborer                         L2/year max c1300       [3]     29
Crown revenues (at peace)       L30 000     c1300        "       "
Barons per year                 L200-500+   c1300        "       "
Earls  per year                 L400-L11000 c1300        "       "
Sergeant at Law (top lawyer)    L300/year   1455         "      47
Chief armorer                   26s 8d/month 1544       [5]     182
Other armorers in same shop     24s/month   1544         "       "
  except "Old Martyn" who made  38s 10d/month 1544       "       "
Apprentices in same shop        6d/day      1544         "       "
Master mason                    4d/day      1351        [2]     24
Master carpenter                3d/day       "           "       "
Carpenters' Guild stipend to 
  a sick member                 14d/week    1333        [2]     156
Weavers                         5d/day, no  1407        [2]     146
                                food
Chantry priest per year         L4 13s 4d   1379        [2]     24
Squires per annum               13s 4d-L1   14 cen      [1]     116-117
Carters, porters, falconers     5s-8s 8d    14 cen      [1]     116-117
  grooms, messengers            per year
Kitchen servants                2s-4s/year  14 cen      [1]     116-117
Boys and pages                  1s-6s/year  14 cen      [1]     116-117
Wardens of London Bridges       L10/year    1382        [2]     128

Note: sheriffs of London paid 300L per year, hoping to make a profit from the fines they collected.

Note: 30 adult sheep could produce about 20s of wool per year in 1299 ([3], p. 114).

Note: To get a VERY ROUGH sense of money, I reproduce the following chart from Dyer ([3], p. 206).  These are averages of daily wages in pence.

Decade        Thatcher          Thatcher's mate
1261-70       2                 -
1271-80       2.5               1
1281-90       2.25              1
1291-1300     2.5               1
1301-10       2.5               1
1311-20       3                 1.25
1321-30       3                 1
1331-40       3                 1.25
1341-50       3                 1.25
1351-60       3.5               2
1361-70       3.5               2
1371-80       4.25              2.5
1381-90       4                 2.25
1391-1400     4.25              2.75
1401-10       4.5               3
1411-20       4.75              3
1421-30       4.5               3
1431-40       4.5               3.25
1441-50       5.25              4
1451-60       5.5               3.25
1461-70       4.75              3.75
1471-80       5.25              3.75
1481-90       6                 3.75
1491-1500     5.5               3.5
1501-10       5.75              4
1511-20       5.25              4

Sources

[1] English Wayfaring Life in the XIVth Century, J. J. Jusserand, trans Lucy Smith, Putnam's Sons, New York,1931 (Orig. 1889).

[2] London in the Age of Chaucer, A. R. Myers, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1972

[3] Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages, Christopher Dyer, Cambridge University Press, 1989

[4] English Weapons & Warfare, 449-1660, A. V. B. Norman and Don Pottinger, Barnes & Noble, 1992 (orig. 1966)

[5] The Armourer and his Craft from the XIth to the XVIth Century, Charles ffoulkes, Dover, 1988 (orig. 1912)

[6] "The Cost of Castle Building: The Case of the Tower at Langeais," Bernard Bachrach, in The Medieval Castle: Romance and Reality, ed. Kathryn Reyerson and Faye Powe, Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque, Iowa, 1984

[7] The Knight in History, Frances Gies, Harper & Row, New York, 1984

[8] Methods and Practice of Elizabethan Swordplay, Craig Turner and Tony Soper, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, 1990

[9] Life in a Medieval City, Joseph and Frances Gies, Harper & Row, New York, 1969


Source.

The former location of this files was
http://www.fit.qut.edu.au/~mcarthur/medieval.html

It was mounted at the Medieval Sourcebook after it was removed from the form location.


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Paul Halsall, February 2000
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