Cost of salt in the middle ages

I'm trying to figure out how much is salt worth in the middle ages: a Covenant is trying to make a business out of it, and I'd like to have an idea of the volumes involved to have a Lesser Source of Income (40 Mythic pounds/year). I do understand that it depends a lot on where the salt is sold, as well as on the taxes (often quite high); I'm trying to get an idea of the price ranges.

A really, really wild guess is that the average person may consume about 2 pounds of salt /year; thus a thousand people consume about a ton, from which I'm guessing about 1 Mythic pound can be "extracted" if sold in bulk to local merchants.

Salt s a lot more valuable during the medieval periode that one would expect: it's one of the very few ways to preserve food (the one ones I can think of are smoking and vinegar, and as I recall, both of those use salt at well, just not as the principal ingredient).

This ties into the wealth of the Hansa-union, which was originally build on the export of fish* (herring) for southern europe - fish preserved in salt.

  • Yes, they became rich on trade, but the initial wealth for investments etc were build on the export of herring, appearantly.

Right. Meaning... how much money can a merchant make selling a ton of salt?

City & Guild, p. 142 (explenations on p. 140)
120 mythic pounds per tun or ton (presumably not metric standard).

[size=85]Google gives me these links, I'm not really in a position to vouch for any of them: ... edir_esc=y

and: ... ce&f=false ... ce&f=false ... ce&f=false

it's not exactly what you're asking for, but hopefully contains sourcereferences you can use?[/size]

Alas, I had completely forgotten about the Price list at the end of C&G. Thanks for pointing it out! And thanks for the other references too.

I would add that you might have some royal concession offering tax exemption on a certain volume of salt, in exchange of providing the royal house for free. That would help profit without requiring high volume.

From I what I'm reading, it appears that salt tax was several times the "untaxed" salt cost. So it would make little sense for a nobleman to give tax exemption in exchange for salt for his household -- he'd be getting something of relatively little value in exchange for a huge drop in revenue.

City & Guild quotes a price of 120 mythic pounds per ton. (Coincidentally, a base unit of aquam that is sea water contains roughly half a ton of salt)

Attempting to google for medieval prices gives me interesting results for common commodities like wheat and barley, but no good thirteenth century prices for salt in western Europe.

Remind me to look at when I have more time, it has links to medieval wool trade databases and english medieval wealth distribution that may help with research for a thrilling saga of selling wool....wait, come back, was it something I said?

Well if it doesn't fit your story that's okay.

There are political advantages to paying lots of tax.

And from a hermetic politics point of view there might not be an advantage to paying lots of taxes to mundane lords.

Or saying it another way, there might be consequences to hermetic politics by paying lots of taxes to YOUR mundane lord, who then goes off and fights another covenant's mundane lord.... Or something.

Edit: added some clarity to what I was thinking about consquences.

Depends - there could be interfering issues from paying ("minions of a mundane lord!") or not paying ("you attract his attention and wrath unto us all!") funnily enough.