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List of price of medieval items

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, 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/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 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).

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: 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, 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


[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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