Medieval Price List | elves are STILL humps about paying 80 gp for a longbow


Tools | Horses | Food and Livestock | Books and Education | Buildings | Cloth and Clothing | Armor | Weapons | Marriage | Funerals | Travel | Miscellaneous | Wages | Sources


By 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, I believe, which is where the weird English abbreviations come from).

For ease, I've divided this list into the following sections: tools, horses, food and livestock, books and education, buildings, cloth and clothing, armor, weapons, marriage, funerals, travel, miscellaneous goods,
and wages.

Of course, a price list is a misleading guide to a feudal 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/gallon
Cheapest 3d-4d/gal Late 13 cen  [3] 62
Best  8d-10d/gal
Ale 
Good 1.5d/gal 14 cen  [2] 201
Medium  1d/gal
Poor  .75d/gal
First-rate 1-1.25d/gal 1320-1420 [3]  58
Second-rate .75-1d/gal
Best, in Somerset  .75d 1338  [3] 210
Best, in London 1.25d
Beer, good 1d/quart late 16 cen [8]  xx
Dried Fruit (eg raisins, dates, 
figs, prunes, almonds, rice)
1-4d/lb, up 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 mid 14 cen [1]  99
Pig: Somerset 2s 1338 [3] 210
Pig: London 3s 1338 [3] 210
Fowl  1d 1338 [3] 210
2 Chickens 1d 14 cen [4] 78
2 Dozen Eggs 1d 14 cen [4] 78
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  [3]  210
Oats: London  2s 2d per quarter 1338   [3]  210
Cost of feeding a knight's or merchants household per year  L30-L60, up to L100 15 cen [3] 199

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 per year L2 (approx)  1392-1393 [3]  75
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 pecia** .5d-1d per mid 13 cen [9] 172

* 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 for 13 years L450/annum 1434-1446 81
Transept of Gloucester Abbey L781 1368-1373 [3]  79-80
Stonework of church (125' no tower) (contract) L113  13 cen(?) 

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 2600000 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, up to L50 late 14 cen [2]  53
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 per yard 8d-1s 3d  early 14 cen
Best Wool 5s/yard 1380 [3]  78
"Tawny and russet" 6s/yard 1479-1482
Silk per yard 10s-12s 15 cen(?)
Furs added to garment +L2-L3 to garment 15 cen(?) 79
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
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
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

Note: mail is chainmail; 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).

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: Sorry, folks, that's all I found. 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, 35s 11d,
57s, 63s 4d
14 cen(?) [3] 179
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 13s 4d 15 cen 84
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; fuel, 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 [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
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
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
Metal ewer 6d 1349-1352
Brass pot 2s
Basin and ewer 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] 
Crown revenues (at peace)  L30 000 c1300 29
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
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 food 1407  [2]  146
Chantry priest per year L4 13s 4d 1379 [2] 24
Squires per annum 13s 4d-L1 14 cen [1]  116-117
Carters, porters, falconers, grooms, messengers per year 5s-8s 8d 14 cen [1]  116-117
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


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built by unclefester | sternzwischen | updated 14-05-29 23:15:25