Some help about getting better insight in medieval prices

Hi all

I played long time ago ... very long time ... and I m restarting an ArM5 campaign.
However I m struggling in getting some guidance about prices, as the player would like this to be a real challenge to manage.
I found references to the Giant price list but the link (in Finland) is dead.
Would any of you have by chance a copy of this document or an alternative ?
Thanks a lot

There is some stuff in the back of C&G. This site has an assortment, too:

Great. Many thxs

Any other source with maybe raw material (metal, gems, wood) prices is welcome :slight_smile:

have a look at C&G 141-142 for them

The UC Davis link is solid. If you can find some old Harn supplements, their use a compatible system of coinage and are roughly 11-14th century English. Avoid any Pendragon suppliments as they are dark ages based.

For role-playing have the magi present various coins and have the merchant and/or money changer give them a short lecture the like of:
"English coin? Good n'solid. 1d for 1. Those bezants from Arles? Pah! I'll give you 5d for 9 - they're almost black, ain't they? Ya should call them copper pennies or silver-dipped denairs since they hardly got silver in 'em. Now what's this? That ain't a brass farthing - it's a ducat from Florence! That's gold. I can't exchange gold. Ya gotta go to a jeweler for that. Try the Jew at the end of Groupcunt lane - he's fair for a Jew. Oh, and these Rhinelander pennies? They're so clipped I'll give you 5d for 10. If they was clipped any more they'd be farthings!" After that have him throw each coin on a small metal anvil and make comments on how they ring - true coins ring (a medieval superstition). It also stops fae coins. If possible, have a handful of coins become dried leaves. Or melt into black tarry ooze with the sounds of screaming hellspawn.

Do that once or twice and they won't play "paper's & paychecks" with their cash.

Thanks to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, the Giant Pricelist can still be acquired.

One thing to keep in mind is that often, when someone asks for "insight on prices", one means "insight on the relative value of things". How many buckets of honey is a cow worth? How many days or months of wages from a master mason is a chain mail shirt worth? Etc.

In this sense big lists of prices assembled from different sources, particularly if spanning decades or centuries and/or faraway places, are unreliable except to provide a very rough order of magnitude. Price lists built from English sources between the 12th and the 14th century are particularly grievous offenders, because of the inflation peak at the end of the 12th/beginning of the 13th century; and so are prices during wars, or immediately after (as governments debase coinage). Instead, it's best to find prices (or "exchange rates") for pairs of objects from the same original source, and from there build a sense of the value of something compared to other stuff at the same time and place.

The English inflation of the 12th through 14th does throw off the rates. The general debasing of coinage and silver supply also throw off the rates. The Florentine Ducat for the middle ages maintains its value and is a good benchmark. For earlier ages the Byzantane Solidus, a gold coin, is a good benchmark. The English inflation is espeically troubling becauase the silver content of their coins was solid - mostly a case of growing silver supply in England, then from the Hartz Mountains.

This is why there is a Mythic Pound.

A good rule of thumb: a day of hard unskilled labor is 1d. Skilled labor is more, soldiers are more, priests are more, etc.

The theory of a peak in inflation in end of the 12th/beginning of the 13th century England is mainly due to P. D. A. Harvey. We had a discussion on it from here on the forum. TMK the theory is no longer sustained by historians.

But in general, instances of medieval prices depend on many variables - like transport costs, numerous reasons for local abundance or shortage of an item, even local customs and fads, and then quality, availability and exchange rates of coins. Even roughly understanding the factors that go into a specific conveyed instance of a monetary price or wage in the middle ages is a lot of work.
Making up general lists of them for use in a game is necessarily arbitrary: you can invent them yourself or use the Giant Pricelist, as long as you do not claim they mirror any historical economy.
Covenants p.56ff Chapter V: Wealth & Poverty abstractly handles the most important money issues of an ArM5 saga: those involved with running a covenant. AFAICS it tries to circumvent actual medieval pricing issues whereever possible.


Its not just that the prices of centuries are mixed together but also that in opposite to the easy trade and delivery systems we have today distance had a very big impact during the middle ages. For a while I had access to a book that have listed some prices during the medieval in my region that where so drastic different from what C&G say (10x and more in both direction) that you can't use both in the same game with how easy mages could get around the known world.