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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
Joined: 06 Jan 2008

Posts: 486

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jun, 2009 6:41 pm    Post subject: A medieval CPI         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I was recently looking at Hurstic.org (the viking website that was recently advocated over on the tread about the viking ax. It it he discusses the cost of a specific sword (according to a saga) and gives a section were you can look up money and its value at the time. http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/dail.../Towns.htm

About half way down the page he gives costs for cows, slaves, goats, and cloth. You do the math and this particular sword (given as a gift by a king, so probably very high quality) was worth16 milk cows, 96 sheep, or 280 meters of wool cloth by 1m wide. Additionally it would be worth 2 male and 1 femae slaves (at avg value).

Though I knew swords were expensive, this seems almost ridiculously expensive. I have heard that by the 15th century (the era of my most particular interest) steel had become cheaper and swords had become more common-place. Does anyone have a shopping list (as it were) of costs for that time (or any other time in the middle ages actually). Like a this much armour cost this much, a sword, cow, cloth, etc.

thanx.

E Pluribus Unum
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Reinier van Noort





Joined: 13 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 23 Jun, 2009 10:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't remember exactly unfortunately, but at the HEMAC event in Dijon, Matt Easton gave a lecture on the costs of swords in medieval england (I don't remember the exact period) indicating that swords could be very expansive (with gem-studded hilts etc. as gifts for kings) down to very cheap (affordable by a peasant; likely second-hand and/or of lesser quality). You might want to ask him for a bit more information.
School voor Historische Schermkunsten

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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael-

That sounds like a very richly decorated sword.

I know in the Hundred Year's War era a typical sword cost about 6p or a day's wages for craftsmen.
I'm also under the impression that most Viking warriors had swords, so their cost relative to income can't be that high.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Sean Belair
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one of my books lists the price of items stolen from a knights chest in the 14th century and the worth of his sword was half that of his longbow. i cant recall the price exactly but i remember being surprised by the cost of his sword compared to other items.
i should also point out that there are cheap and expensive swords[/code]
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's an extremely helpful list of 1622:

http://www.learner.org/workshops/primarysourc...plies.html

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
Joined: 06 Jan 2008

Posts: 486

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Michael-

That sounds like a very richly decorated sword.

I know in the Hundred Year's War era a typical sword cost about 6p or a day's wages for craftsmen.
I'm also under the impression that most Viking warriors had swords, so their cost relative to income can't be that high.

Cheers,
Steven


According to the site only rich men could afford swords or mail. Must would have just had shields,spears, and axes.

Also, I am looking at the list, my english currency is bad, how much is a shilling to a pence, and what does the d stand for?

E Pluribus Unum
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Generally, 12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. "d" stands for pence.

M.

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William R. Short




Location: New England
Joined: 14 May 2007

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 1:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
I'm also under the impression that most Viking warriors had swords


I beg your pardon, but the evidence doesn't support your conjecture. The sagas say (FˇstbrŠ­ra saga ch.3) that in the saga age, very few men were armed with swords. Of the 150+ Viking-age weapons found in Iceland, only 10% are swords.

I don't have good data for other Viking lands readily at hand, but my guess is that the situation wasn't much different.

Any competent smith could make a spear or axe, and the sagas occasionally mention men making these weapons for their personal use. I believe fabricating a sword required a much higher level of skill, and the sagas never mention the fabrication of swords.

Taken all together, I just don't think that swords were all that common in the Viking age.

Best regards,
Bill
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Steven H




Location: Boston
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William R. Short wrote:
Steven H wrote:
I'm also under the impression that most Viking warriors had swords


I beg your pardon, but the evidence doesn't support your conjecture. The sagas say (FˇstbrŠ­ra saga ch.3) that in the saga age, very few men were armed with swords. Of the 150+ Viking-age weapons found in Iceland, only 10% are swords.


Then I stand corrected.

Thanks,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Jun, 2009 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind that the mentioned data is from iceland. In Norway, a single region would easily have more the 150 finds.
Most finds are grave finds, but not all graves have weapons in them. Generally, areas with more weapon graves have more axes. Some areas, like ěstfold, have only 80 graves. Others, like Rogaland, have over 1000 graves, with 500 of these containing weapons. Of these 500, about 25% contain a full set of spear, shield and hand weapon. 15 % have spear, shield, sword AND axe.
This is a rich agricultural region on the western coast of Norway, and prime Viking territory.

Also keep in mind that owning a sword does not automatically mean that you get with you when you die. It might as well pass on to your son. The burrial customs would vary with time and location.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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