It bothers me in games when the price of something is seemingly arbitrarily set.
Shop owner: How much gold do you have?
Player: Er, 10,000?
Shop owner: Then that meat pie is 1,500 gold, please!
Pig Farmer in line faints
I have been working for the past few weeks developing a framework for calculating output for a medieval city/region. I want the number of cows, chickens, men, women, rich, poor etc to actually make sense. The ratios to one another should be as close as possible to actual medieval ratios.
This means I have been pouring over publicly available peer reviewed papers on this subject. I will include a list of the ones I found most valuable at the end.
I will lay out my framework and thought process so you can understand my question.
Assumptions as they come out in the comments (Thank you in advance!)
- There is enough precious metals available to have an all cash economy
I used this article to get the size of my town. I choose 10,000 people.
Another article helped me get an average number of calories consumed from vegetables/grains and animal products.
Another article showed me how to calculate land usage and output per farm acre.
All of this allowed me to calculate the following:
- Land use (arable, meadow, pasture, common) in acres
- Output from farmland (wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes, pulses, clover)
- % of each consumed, brewed or used as feed
- Ale/beer output from brewed grain in gallons
- Count of animals (milk cattle, beef, calves, sheep, swine, chicken, horse, ox)
- Output from animals (milk, cheese, butter, beef, mutton, pork, wool, eggs)
- Many numbers came from here
So I know a peasant might spend his income like so:
- Food & Drink: 59.7%
- Fuel & Light: 6.29%
- Clothing: 15.92%
I found tables like this for people of different socioeconomic classes, so I have a set of consumer spending by class as a percent of yearly income.
I have a table showing a days wages for a farm laborer in bushels of wheat that seems promising. But I don't known what my wheat should be priced at.
I also have tables and tables of price information. Again, I didn't want to arbitrarily choose a price, so these are used as reference. I have also tried using an index derived from a known, easily calculated price.
Ok, so with all that out of the way, I feel like I am close. I feel like I have the right pieces but I am not looking at them exactly right.
Just last night, I saw that I have the number of kilograms of cheese a peasant ate in a year as well as what percent of their income was spent on cheese. Choosing a random wage, I nailed a price to that. I then went to the prices table and created an index which opened up some prices, but not enough. Often times a basket of goods just says 'Bread and flour' or 'meat' without giving me granular detail like 'beef' vs 'pork'.
I need to set a realistic wage for a day's work for a common laborer, and then I can derive the rest from there.
How do I set a wage I can be confident in to then extrapolate the rest of the wages and prices?
Many are linked in the text above already
- The Price History of English Agriculture, 1209-1914
- Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages: the Case of Harvest Workers
- The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices - from the Middle Ages to the First World War
- International Institute of Social History - List of datafiles
- Benchmarking medieval economic development: England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, circa 1290
- THE LONG MARCH OF HISTORY: FARM LABORERS’ WAGES IN ENGLAND 1208-1850
- Wages, prices, and living standards in China, 1738–1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India
- ‘Grain output and population: a conundrum’, Chapter 8 (pp. 386-410) in, English seigniorial agriculture 1250-1450
- Precocious Albion: a new interpretation of the British industrial revolution
- And much much more