Barbarian Army sizes and how they compare to Medieval times

Barbarian Army sizes and how they compare to Medieval times

There're many questions about why armies of antiquity were bigger than those of medieval times, but most of the answers revolve around empires like Roman or Parthian where the explanation is pretty obvious: different government structure and logistical capabilities.

But what about "Barbarian" cultures? Celtic and Germanic people in specific that had clan structured soceity. I was always under the impression that they managed to match and outdo Romans in terms of numbers most of the time.

Is my statement true or false? If yes, how comes they were able to field such big armies and medieval nations could not. Population wise I'd expect a fiefdom to be equal to the clan.


I was always under the impression that they managed to match and outdo Romans in terms of numbers most of the time.

They did to some degree, though it was in large part because of how they approached war. The Roman armies were professionals, men of a certain age that could enter the army for pay and glory.

The 'Barbarians' were not a professional army in this manner, they were not raising armies to march outwards, they were fighting for their very right to exist as people. As such, their armies were composed of the women and youth that would not be a part of the Roman army which saw their numbers rise significantly higher than the Romans numbers were. Many Roman conquests acknowledged such:

138 BC - The Roman, Sextus Junius Brutus found that in Lusitania the women were "fighting and perishing in company with the men with such bravery that they uttered no cry even in the midst of slaughter". He also noted that the Bracari women were "bearing arms with the men, who fought never turning, never showing their backs, or uttering a cry."[126]

102 BC - A battle between Romans and the Teutonic Ambrones at Aquae Sextiae took place during this time. Plutarch described that "the fight had been no less fierce with the women than with the men themselves… the women charged with swords and axes and fell upon their opponents uttering a hideous outcry."

102/101 BC[129] - General Marius of the Romans fought the Teutonic Cimbrians. Cimbrian women accompanied their men into war, created a line in battle with their wagons and fought with poles and lances,[130] as well as staves, stones, and swords.[131] When the Cimbrian women saw that defeat was imminent, they killed their children and committed suicide rather than be taken as captives.[132]

(wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_ancient_warfare)

There are quite a few more examples out there, especially if you get out into the Scythian peoples that gave rise to the legendary Amazon warriors (their women were actively buried alongside their weapons of choice). It should be noted that these Barbarians 'pantheons' frequently included warrior women and gave status to women as equals to men on the battlefield. Germanic women were frequently on the battlefield (either as active combatants or cheerleaders), which the Romans found extremely distasteful.

It's likely the Romans did play up the number game stating their warriors were victorious despite the numbers/odds. That being said, when it's your professional army (men of a certain age) vs the entire population they are slaughtering, then yes… that alone implies they were heavily outnumbered at times.

Edit:

Boudica is an interesting story… thought to be leading over 100k men and women (including accounts of women in her army outnumbering men), and possibly as high as 230k soldiers (though thats from a source known to exaggerate). Roman victory was in good part due to their professional nature… chain of command and discipline allowed them to effectively field a large army while their opponents lacked that structure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica


The differences between medieval building types depending on their usage

As with modern buildings, medieval buildings serve different functions. Each of those functions in many ways define the architecture of the building, the materials used, the maintenance required and of course the time that it takes for them to be built.

Generally medieval buildings are separated into

  • Private Buildings
  • Public Buildings
  • Business Buildings
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Buildings
  • Military Buildings
  • Religious Buildings
  • Infrastructure Buildings

What is Medieval Art?

The Medieval period of art existed between 476 and 1600 AD during which the medieval period in history existed. The medieval period of art was looked upon as an age of beliefs and religious faiths. It was laden with work that depicted fears and superstitions. This was due to the fact that the people during the medieval period believed more in superstitions. As a result, they were filled with fear. Even the part of the medieval times that were known as Dark Ages had some dark effect on art.

When we look at the works of the artists of the medieval period, we can see that the colors are dull or darker. This is simply because of the atmosphere in the world during that time with the church spreading fear of God and people not being able to think for themselves. Donatello, Giotto, Filippo Brunelleschi are some names of famous medieval painters.


Main Article

Byzantine Empire

Late in its history, the Roman Empire was divided into east and west. While the western half crumbled away, the eastern half survived as a unified state this state is known as the Eastern Roman Empire during antiquity, and as the Byzantine Empire during the medieval period. Historians have applied this "name change" because of the dramatic cultural transformation the state experienced. This transformation began during the late Roman Empire, such that the birth of the Byzantine Empire is often pushed back as far as ca. 300.

The Byzantine Empire had a difficult history, distinguished primarily by long periods of conflict (both external and civil) and decline. In addition to Slavic and Steppe tribe incursions, the Byzantines struggled with the mighty civilizations of Southwest Asia: first the Second Persian Empire (ca. 200-650), then the Caliphate (ca. 650-900), then finally the Ottoman Empire (ca. 1300-WWI), which conquered the Byzantines in 1453. Nonetheless, Byzantine civilization lives on today, as the cultural foundation of modern Eastern Europe. 5,42,99

The Byzantine Empire did experience two golden ages of expansion and stability, each lasting roughly a century. The architect of the first golden age, which spanned the sixth century, was Justinian, greatest of Byzantine emperors. The Empire reached its maximum size during this century, and Constantinople (the Byzantine capital) flourished as the world's largest city. The second golden age, which spanned the tenth century, is sometimes known as the "Macedonian Renaissance" (since it was effected by the "Macedonian dynasty" of emperors). 5,7

Italy

Upon the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was briefly united (for several decades) by the Ostrogothic kingdom. From the fall of this kingdom to the nineteenth century, Italy was fractured into small states. Throughout this long period, Italy was dominated by both native powers (especially city-states) and various invaders (e.g. Lombards, Byzantines, Vikings, Arabs). 31,32,95

The Church came to govern a modest territory around Rome known as the Papal States . Yet the true power of the Church lay not in lands, but rather in authority that could be applied to all Western states, including taxation, involvement of clergy in civil administrations, and declaration of sanctions (including war). Thus did the Church, though not a "state" in the traditional sense, thrive as a major political force in medieval and Early Modern Europe.

France and Germany

Summary of Medieval France and Germany
Early Middle Ages
ca. 500-1000
High Middle Ages
ca. 1000-1300
Late Middle Ages
ca. 1300-1500
France Frankish kingdom > France/Germany rise of France Hundred Years' War > French unification
Germany Holy Roman Empire

The Early Middle Ages (ca. 500-1000) were an impoverished, non-urban phase of Western European history. 4 With the fall of Roman rule, agriculture and trade networks languished, population declined, and literacy nearly disappeared outside the Church. Politically speaking, the unity of empire was supplanted by a patchwork of Germanic kingdoms. A228,3

These kingdoms emerged as the hitherto migratory Germanic tribes settled down and accumulated territory thus did barbarian chiefs become land-owning lords (albeit lords of small, fragile states). As the waves of Germanic migration subsided, the political environment of Western Europe slowly stabilized, allowing kingdoms to expand. The Frankish kingdom emerged as the largest of these, spanning what is now France, western Germany, and northern Italy thus did the Frankish kingdom become the first political and cultural leader of medieval Western Europe. A153,K208-09

The Frankish kingdom (ca. 500-900) featured two dynasties: the Merovingians (ca. 500-750) and Carolingians (ca. 750-900). Under the Merovingian dynasty, the Frankish kingdom experienced steady growth. Under the Carolingian dynasty, the size and power of the Frankish kingdom culminated (peaking under Charlemagne), then experienced fracture and decline, ultimately disintegrating in the late ninth century. 6

Timeline of the Frankish Kingdom
Early Middle Ages
ca. 500-1000
Merovingian dynasty
(kingdom growth)
Carolingian dynasty
(kingdom culmination and decline)
Charlemagne

From the beginning, the politically acute Franks maintained a strong relationship with the Church. The Church-state separation of Western Europe was formalized when Charlemagne affirmed the pope's supreme spiritual position, while the pope recognized Charlemagne as the chief temporal ruler of the West. Specifically, Charlemagne was recognized as emperor , since the Frankish kingdom was now considered (in Western eyes) the continuation of the Roman Empire. A216,1,40

The Frankish kingdom gave rise to the Carolingian Renaissance , the most brilliant scholarly and artistic flowering of the Early Medieval period, which spanned roughly the same period as the Carolingian dynasty (ca. 750-900). With the ascent of Charlemagne, this early "renaissance" came to centred at Aachen (Germany), selected by Charlemagne as the Frankish capital. 1

Charlemagne's control of the Frankish kingdom was realized via feudalism, a hierarchical system of land distribution among nobles, in which lands were granted in exchange for military and political service (see Feudalism and Serfdom). Though the roots of feudalism reach back centuries earlier, the system matured under the Carolingians. 29,81

After Charlemagne, the Frankish kingdom fell into decline and fracture, coming to a decisive end ca. 900. Thereafter, the western and eastern parts of the former kingdom embarked on distinct political destinies. In other words, ca. 900 marks the beginning of the history of France and Germany.

In the western portion of the former Frankish kingdom, the rise of France occurred slowly, as its various regions were gradually unified throughout the remainder of the medieval period. Germany, on the other hand, achieved rapid unification in the tenth century, only to splinter into small states as the medieval period drew to a close. While France proceeded to flourish as a united state up to the present day, Germany only achieved reunification in the nineteenth century. 39

In the meantime, Germany ascended as one of the primary powers of Western Europe. This position was cemented by Otto I , who was granted (ca. 950) the title of "Holy Roman Emperor". Thus did his kingdom become the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted ca. 950-1800.

The core territory of the Holy Roman Empire was Germany/Austria/Bohemia. (Bohemia, the kingdom of the Czechs, corresponds roughly with the modern Czech Republic.) Ironically, this "holy" empire spent centuries warring with the papacy for control of Italy. 21

Rise of Modern Western Languages

Following the Roman conquest, Vulgar Latin served as the common language of France. ("Vulgar Latin" denotes any version of Latin that has evolved away from standard, "classical" Latin.) Though the Franks conquered France, they were greatly outnumbered by the native population, and consequently absorbed the native language (rather than imposing their own). Over time, the Vulgar Latin of France evolved into Old French thus did the West Franks become the French. A212,102

Likewise, Vulgar Latin evolved into early forms of modern Western languages in Iberia (Spanish and Portuguese) and Italy (Italian). Meanwhile, the modern Germanic languages of Western Europe emerged in those regions where Germanic populations predominated. For instance, the Middle Ages witnessed the development of Old German, Old English, and Old Norse. A212,102

Normandy

Early in the Viking age (ca. 800-1100), Vikings settled a large region on the north coast of France. By this time, a distinct French culture had emerged throughout the region corresponding to modern France this settlement thus represented a pocket of Norse culture within the French culture area. The pocket gradually disappeared, however, as the colonists embraced the French language and culture (which largely replaced their original Norse culture): a phenomenon known as assimilation. Upon becoming a French population, the people of this colonized region are known as Normans , and the region itself is known as Normandy . 36,81

Unable to drive away the Vikings, France granted them Normandy as a duchy. Normandy's ruler, the Duke of Normandy, was therefore nominally subject to the French king. In reality, however, Normandy would not come under genuine French control until the end of the Middle Ages. 109

Iberia and England

Summary of Medieval Iberia and England
Early Middle Ages
ca. 500-1000
High Middle Ages
ca. 1000-1300
Late Middle Ages
ca. 1300-1500
England Anglo-Saxon kingdoms Anglo-Norman age Hundred Years' War > War of the Roses
Iberia Visigothic rule > Islamic rule Reconquista rise of Portugal and Spain

For the first two centuries of the medieval period, Iberia was governed by the Visigothic kingdom . Following the invasion of the Moors (Muslims of northwest Africa), the remainder of the Early Medieval period featured Islamic rule over Iberia. Ethnically speaking, the Moors comprised varying blends of Arab, Berber, and Sub-Saharan peoples. 23

From the Caliphate (ca. 650-900) onward, Islamic states have governed most of Southwest/Central Asia and North Africa. Medieval Western Europe consequently endured waves of Islamic invasions from North Africa (most notably of Iberia and southern Italy), though the region was shielded to the east by the Byzantine Empire. Without this shield, the young kingdoms of medieval Western Europe might have been conquered by the Islamic world, and Western civilization might have been extinguished. A169

In the High Middle Ages, Iberia was re-conquered by Christian kingdoms: a development known as the Reconquista. Thus began the histories of Spain and Portugal. 84

Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxons of England spent most of the Early Medieval period divided into small, warring kingdoms. With the onset of the Viking age, however, the English were forced to cooperate against Danish raiders national union was finally achieved under Alfred the Great, king of Wessex. Though England was later briefly added to a Danish empire (for a few decades at the beginning of the High Middle Ages), a united English nation and culture had formed, which would survive both the Danes and the Normans. A225,1,70


Contents

11th century Edit

Ludlow Castle was probably founded by Walter de Lacy around 1075. [1] Walter had arrived in England in 1066 as part of William fitzOsbern's household during the Norman conquest of England. [2] FitzOsbern was made the Earl of Hereford and tasked with settling the area at the same time, several castles were founded in the west of the county, securing its border with Wales. [2] Walter de Lacy was the earl's second in command, and was rewarded with 163 manors spread across seven counties, with 91 in Herefordshire alone. [2]

Walter began building a castle within the manor of Stanton Lacy the fortification was originally called Dinham Castle, before it acquired its later name of Ludlow. [3] Ludlow was the most important of Walter's castles: as well as being at the heart of his new estates, the site also lay at a strategic crossroads over the Teme River, on a strong defensive promontory. [4] Walter died in a construction accident at Hereford in 1085 and was succeeded by his son, Roger de Lacy. [5]

The castle's Norman stone fortifications were added possibly as early as the 1080s onwards, and were finished before 1115, based around what is now the inner bailey of the castle, forming a stone version of a ringwork. [6] It had four towers and a gatehouse tower along the walls, with a ditch dug out of the rock along two sides, the excavated stone being reused for the building works, and would have been one of the first masonry castles in England. [7] With its circular design and grand entrance tower, it has been likened to the earlier Anglo-Saxon burgheat designs. [8] In 1096, Roger was stripped of his lands after rebelling against William II and they were reassigned to Roger's brother, Hugh. [9]

12th century Edit

Hugh de Lacy died childless around 1115, and Henry I gave Ludlow Castle and most of the surrounding estates to Hugh's niece, Sybil, marrying her to Pain fitzJohn, one of his household staff. [9] Pain used Ludlow as his caput, the main castle in his estates, using the surrounding estates and knight's fees to support the castle and its defences. [10] Pain died in 1137 fighting the Welsh, triggering a struggle for the inheritance of the castle. [10] Robert fitzMiles, who had been planning to marry Pain's daughter, laid claim to it, as did Gilbert de Lacy, Roger de Lacy's son. [11] By now, King Stephen had seized the English throne, but his position was insecure and he therefore gave Ludlow to fitzMiles in 1137, in exchange for promises of future political support. [12]

A civil war between Stephen and the Empress Matilda soon broke out and Gilbert took his chance to rise up against Stephen, seizing Ludlow Castle. [13] Stephen responded by taking an army into the Welsh Marches, where he attempted to garner local support by marrying one of his knights, Joce de Dinan, to Sybil and granting the future ownership of the castle to them. [14] Stephen took the castle after several attempts in 1139, famously rescuing his ally Prince Henry of Scotland when the latter was caught on a hook thrown over the walls by the garrison. [15] Gilbert still maintained that he was the rightful owner of Ludlow, however, and a private war ensued between Joce and himself. [16] Gilbert was ultimately successful and retook the castle around a few years before the end of the civil war in 1153. [17] He ultimately left for the Levant, leaving Ludlow in the hands of firstly, his eldest son, Robert, and then, after Robert's death, his younger son, Hugh de Lacy. [18]

During this period, the Great Tower, a form of keep, was constructed by converting the entrance tower, probably either around the time of the siege of 1139, or during the war between Gilbert and Joce. [19] The old Norman castle had also begun to become too small for a growing household and, probably between 1140 and 1177, an outer bailey was built to the south and east of the original castle, creating a large open space. [20] In the process, the entrance to the castle shifted from the south to the east, to face the growing town of Ludlow. [21] Gilbert probably built the circular chapel in the inner bailey, resembling the churches of the Templar order which he later joined. [22]

Hugh took part in the Norman invasion of Ireland and in 1172 was made Lord of Meath he spent much time away from Ludlow, and Henry II confiscated the castle in his absence, probably to ensure that Hugh stayed loyal while in Ireland. [23] Hugh died in Ireland in 1186 and the castle passed to his son, Walter, who was a minor and did not take charge of the property until 1194. [23] During Prince John's rebellion against Richard I in 1194, Walter joined in the attacks against the prince Richard did not approve of this and confiscated Ludlow and Walter's other properties. [23] Walter de Lacy offered to buy back his land for 1,000 marks, but the offer was rejected until in 1198 the vast sum of 3,100 marks was finally agreed. [24] [a]

13th century Edit

Walter de Lacy travelled to Ireland in 1201 and the following year his properties, including Ludlow Castle, were once again confiscated to ensure his loyalty and placed under the control of William de Braose, his father-in-law. [26] Walter's lands were returned to him, subject to the payment of a fine of 400 marks, but in 1207 his disagreements with royal officials in Ireland led to King John seizing the castle and putting it under the control of William again. [27] [a] Walter reconciled himself with John the following year, but meanwhile William himself had fallen out with the King violence broke out and both Walter and William took refuge in Ireland, with John taking control of Ludlow yet again. [27] It was not until 1215 that their relationship recovered and John agreed to give Ludlow back to Walter. [28] At some point during the early 13th century, the innermost bailey was constructed in the castle, creating an additional private space within the inner bailey. [29]

In 1223, King Henry III met with the Welsh prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth at Ludlow Castle for peace talks, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. [28] The same year Henry became suspicious of Walter's activities in Ireland and, among other measures to secure his loyalty, Ludlow Castle was taken over by the Crown for a period of two years. [30] This was cut short in May 1225 when Walter carried out a campaign against Henry's enemies in Ireland and paid the King 3,000 marks for the return of his castles and lands. [31] During the 1230s, however, Walter had accumulated a thousand pounds of debt to Henry and private moneylenders which he was unable to repay. [32] As a result, in 1238 he gave Ludlow Castle as collateral to the King, although the fortification was returned to him sometime before his death in 1241. [32]

Walter's granddaughters Maud and Margaret were due to inherit Walter's remaining estates on his death, but they were still unmarried, making it hard for them to hold property in their own right. [32] Henry informally divided the lands up between them, giving Ludlow to Maud and marrying her to one of his royal favourites, Peter de Geneva, cancelling many of the debts they had inherited from Walter at the same time. [33] Peter died in 1249 and Maud married a second time, this time to Geoffrey de Geneville, a friend of the Prince Edward, the future king. [34] In 1260, Henry officially split up Walter's estate, allowing Geoffrey to retain the castle. [35]

Henry lost control of power in the 1260s, resulting in the Second Barons' War across England. [36] Following the Royalist defeat in 1264, the rebel leader Simon de Montfort seized Ludlow Castle, but it was recaptured shortly afterwards by Henry's supporters, probably led by Geoffrey de Geneville. [36] Prince Edward escaped from captivity in 1265 and met up with his supporters at the castle, before commencing his campaign to retake the throne, culminating in de Montfort's defeat at Evesham later that year. [36] Geoffrey continued to occupy the castle for the rest of the century under Edward I's rule, prospering until his death in 1314. [37] Geoffrey built the Great Hall and the Solar block during his tenure of the castle, either between 1250 and 1280, or later, in the 1280s and 1290s. [38] [b] The town walls of Ludlow also began to be constructed in the 13th century, probably from 1260 onwards, and these were linked to the castle to form a continuous ring of defences around the town. [40]

14th century Edit

Geoffrey and Maud's oldest granddaughter, Joan, married Roger Mortimer in 1301, giving Mortimer control of Ludlow Castle. [41] Around 1320, Roger built the Great Chamber block alongside the existing Great Hall and Solar complex, copying what was becoming a popular tripartite design for domestic castle buildings in the 14th century an additional building was also constructed by Roger on the location of the later Tudor Lodgings, and the Guardrobe Tower was added to the curtain wall. [42] Between 1321 and 1322 Mortimer found himself on the losing side of the Despenser War and, after being imprisoned by Edward II, he escaped from the Tower of London in 1323 into exile. [43]

While in France, Mortimer formed an alliance with Queen Isabella, Edward's estranged wife, and together in 1327 they seized power in England. [43] Mortimer was made the Earl of March and became extremely wealthy, possibly entertaining Edward III at the castle in 1329. [44] The earl built a new chapel in the Outer Bailey, named after Saint Peter, honouring the saint's day on which he had escaped from the Tower. [45] Mortimer's work at Ludlow was probably intended to produce what the historian David Whitehead has termed a "show castle" with chivalric and Arthurian overtones, echoing the now archaic Norman styles of building. [46] Mortimer fell from power the following year but his widow Joan was permitted to retain Ludlow. [47]

Ludlow Castle gradually became the Mortimer family's most important property, but for much of the rest of the century its owners were too young to control the castle personally. [48] The castle was first briefly inherited by Mortimer's son, Edmund, and then in 1331 Mortimer's young grandson, Roger, who eventually became a prominent soldier in the Hundred Years War. [49] Roger's young son, Edmund, inherited the castle in 1358, and also grew up to become involved in the war with France. [50] Both Roger and Edmund used a legal device called "the use", effectively giving Ludlow Castle to trustees during their lifetimes in exchange for annual payments this reduced their tax liabilities and gave them more control over the distribution of the estates on their deaths. [50] Edmund's son, another Roger, inherited the castle in 1381, but King Richard II took the opportunity of Roger's minority to exploit the Mortimer estates until they were put into the control of a committee of major nobles. [51] When Roger died in 1398, Richard again took wardship of the castle on behalf of the young heir, Edmund, until he was deposed from power in 1399. [52]

15th century Edit

Ludlow Castle was in the wardship of King Henry IV, when the Owain Glyndŵr revolt broke out across Wales. [54] Military captains were appointed to the castle to protect it from the rebel threat, in the first instance John Lovel and then Henry's half-brother, Sir Thomas Beaufort. [55] Roger Mortimer's younger brother, Edmund, set out from the castle with an army against the rebels in 1402, but was captured at the Battle of Bryn Glas. [55] Henry refused to ransom him, and he eventually married one of Glyndŵr's daughters, before dying during the siege of Harlech Castle in 1409. [55]

Henry placed the young heir to Ludlow, another Edmund Mortimer, under house arrest in the south of England, and kept a firm grip on Ludlow Castle himself. [56] This persisted until Henry V finally granted Edmund his estates in 1413, with Edmund going on to serve the Crown overseas. [56] As a result, the Mortimers rarely visited the castle during the first part of the century, despite the surrounding town having become prosperous in the wool and cloth trades. [57] Edmund fell heavily into debt and having sold his rights to his Welsh estates to a consortium of nobles, before dying childless in 1425. [58]

The castle was inherited by Edmund's sister's young son, Richard the Duke of York, who took possession in 1432. [59] Richard took a keen interest in the castle, which formed the administrative base for his estates around the region, possibly living there in the late 1440s and definitely residing there for much of the 1450s. [60] Richard also established his sons, including the future Edward IV, and their household at the castle in the 1450s, and was possibly responsible for rebuilding the northern part of the Great Tower during this period. [61]

The Wars of the Roses broke out between the Lancastrian and Richard's Yorkist factions in the 1450s. Ludlow Castle did not find itself in the front-line of most of the conflict, instead acting as a safe retreat away from the main fighting. [62] An exception to this was the Battle of Ludford Bridge which took place just outside the town of Ludlow in 1459, resulting in a largely bloodless victory for the Lancastrian Henry VI. [63] After the battle, in a bid to break Richard's power over the region, Edmund de la Mare was placed in charge of the castle as constable, with John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, being given the wider lordship. [63] Richard was killed in battle in 1460, and his son Edward seized the throne the following year, retaking control of Ludlow Castle and merging it with the property of the Crown. [64]

The new Edward IV visited the castle regularly and established a council there to govern his estates in Wales. [65] He probably conducted only modest work on the property, although he may could have been responsible for the remodelling of the Great Tower. [65] In 1473, possibly influenced by his own childhood experiences at Ludlow, Edward sent his eldest son, the future Edward V, and his brother Prince Richard to live at the castle, which was also made the seat of the newly created Council in the Marches of Wales. [66] By now Ludlow had become primarily residential, rather than military, but was still rich in chivalric connotations and a valuable symbol of the Yorkist authority and their claim to the throne. [67] Edward died in 1483, but after Henry VII took the throne in 1485 he continued to use Ludlow Castle as a regional base, granting it to his son, Prince Arthur, in 1493, and reestablishing the dormant Council in the Marches at the property. [68]

16th century Edit

In 1501, Prince Arthur arrived in Ludlow for his honeymoon with his bride Catherine of Aragon, before dying the following year. [69] The Council in the Marches of Wales continued to operate, however, under the guidance of its president, Bishop William Smyth. [70] The council evolved into a combination of a governmental body and a court of law, settling a range of disputes across Wales and charged with maintaining general order, and Ludlow Castle became effectively the capital of Wales. [71]

Mary Tudor, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, spent 19 months at Ludlow overseeing the Council of the Marches between 1525 and 1528, along with her entourage of servants, advisors, and guardians. [72] The relatively small sum of £5 was spent restoring the castle before her arrival. [69] [c] The council's wide-ranging role was reinforced in legislation in 1534, and its purpose was further elaborated in the Act of Union of 1543 some presidents, such as Bishop Rowland Lee, used its harsher powers extensively to execute local criminals, but later presidents typically preferred to punish with the pillory, whipping or imprisonment in the castle. [74] The Great Chamber itself was used as the council's meeting room. [75]

The establishment of the Council in Ludlow Castle gave it a new lease of life, during a period in which many similar fortifications were falling into decay. [76] By the 1530s, the castle needed considerable renovation Lee began work in 1534, borrowing money to do so, but Sir Thomas Engleford complained the following year that the castle was still unfit for habitation. [77] Lee repaired the castle roofs, probably using lead from the Carmelite friary in the town, and using the fines imposed and the goods confiscated by the court. [78] He later claimed that the work on the castle would have cost around £500, had the Crown had to pay for it all directly. [79] The porter's lodge and prison were built in the outer bailey around 1552. [80] The woods around the castle were gradually cut down during the 16th century. [81]

Elizabeth I, influenced by her royal favourite Robert Dudley, appointed Sir Henry Sidney as President of the Council in 1560, and he took up residence at Ludlow Castle. [82] Henry was a keen antiquarian with an interest in chivalry, and used his post to restore much of the castle in a late-perpendicular style. [83] He extended the castle by building family apartments between the Great Hall and Mortimer's Tower, and used the former royal apartments as a guest wing, starting a tradition of decorating the Great Hall with the coats of arms of council officers. [83] The larger windows in the castle were glazed, a clock installed and water piped into the castle. [84] The judicial facilities were improved with a new courthouse converted out of the 14th-century chapel, facilities for prisoners and storage facilities for the court records, Mortimer's Tower in the outer bailey being turned into a record depository. [85] The restoration was generally sympathetic and, although it included a fountain, a real tennis court, walks and viewing platform, it was less ephemeral a make-over than seen in other castle restorations of the period. [86]

17th century Edit

The castle was luxuriously appointed by the 17th century, with an expensive, but grand, household based around the Council of the Marches. [87] The future Charles I was declared Prince of Wales in the castle by James I in 1616, and Ludlow was made his principal castle in Wales. [88] A company called the "Queen's Players" entertained the Council in the 1610s, and in 1634 John Milton's masque Comus was performed in the Great Hall for John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater. [89] The Council faced increased criticism over its legal practices, however, and in 1641 an Act of Parliament stripped it of its judicial powers. [90]

When the English Civil War broke out in 1642 between the supporters of King Charles and those of Parliament, Ludlow and the surrounding region supported the Royalists. [91] A Royalist garrison was put in place in the town, under the command of Sir Michael Woodhouse, and the defences were strengthened, with artillery being brought from nearby Bringwood Forge for the castle. [92] As the war turned against the King in 1644, the garrison was drawn down to provide reinforcements for the field army. [93] The military situation deteriorated and in 1645 the remaining outlying garrisons were drawn in to protect Ludlow itself. [93] In April 1646 Sir William Brereton and Colonel John Birch led a Parliamentary army from Hereford to take Ludlow after a short siege, Woodhouse surrendered the castle and town on good terms on 26 May. [94]

During the years of the interregnum, Ludlow Castle continued to be run by Parliamentarian governors, the first being the military commander Samuel More. [95] There was a Royalist plot to retake the castle in 1648, but no other military activity took place. [96] The most valuable items in the castle were removed shortly after the siege, and the remainder of the luxurious furnishings were sold off in the town in 1650. [97] The castle was initially kept garrisoned, but in 1653, most of the weapons in the castle were removed on the grounds of security and sent to Hereford, then in 1655 the garrison was disbanded altogether. [95] In 1659, the political instability in the Commonwealth government led to the castle being regarrisoned by 100 men under the command of William Botterell. [95]

Charles II returned to the throne in 1660 and reinstated the Council of the Marches in 1661, but the castle never recovered from the war. [98] Richard Vaughan, the Earl of Carbery, was appointed president and given £2,000 to renovate the castle, and between 1663 and 1665, a company of infantry soldiers was garrisoned there, overseen by the earl, with the task of safeguarding the money and contents of the castle as well as the ammunition for the local Welsh militia. [99] [d] The Council of the Marches failed to reestablish itself and was finally disbanded in 1689, bringing an end to Ludlow Castle's role in government. [100] Uncared for, the condition of the castle rapidly deteriorated. [101]

18th century Edit

The castle remained in disrepair, and in 1704 its governor, William Gower, proposed dismantling the castle and building a residential square on the site instead, in a more contemporary style. [102] His proposal was not adopted but, by 1708, only three rooms were still in use in the hall range, many of the other buildings in the inner bailey had fallen into disuse, and much of the remaining furniture was rotten or broken. [101] Shortly after 1714, the roofs were stripped of their lead and the wooden floors began to collapse the writer Daniel Defoe visited in 1722, and noted that the castle "is in the very Perfection of Decay". [103] Nonetheless, some rooms remained usable for many years afterwards, possibly as late as the 1760s and 1770s, when drawings show the entrance block to the inner bailey to still be intact, and visitors remarked on the good condition of the round chapel. [104] The stonework became overgrown with ivy, trees and shrubs, and by 1800 the chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene had finally degenerated into ruin. [105]

Alexander Stuart, an Army captain who served as the last governor of the castle, stripped down what remained of the fortification in the mid-1700s. [106] Some of the stone was reused to build the Bowling Green House – later renamed the Castle Inn – on the north end of the tennis courts, while the north side of the outer bailey was used to make the bowling green itself. [107] Stuart lived in a house in Ludlow itself, but decorated the Great Hall with the remains of the castle armoury, and may have charged visitors for admittance. [108]

It became fashionable to restore castles as private homes, and the future George II may have considered making Ludlow habitable again, but was deterred by the estimated costs of £30,000. [109] [e] Henry Herbert, the Earl of Powis, later became interested in acquiring the castle and in 1771 approached the Crown about leasing it. [110] It is uncertain if he intended to further strip the castle of its materials or, more likely, if he intended to turn it into a private home, but the castle was, according to Powis' surveyor's report later that year, already "extremely ruinous", the walls "mostly rubble and the battlements greatly decayed". [111] The Crown offered a 31-year lease at £20 a year, which Powis accepted in 1772, only to die shortly afterwards. [112]

Henry's son, George Herbert, maintained the lease and his wife, Henrietta, constructed gravel-laid public walks around the castle, dug into the surrounding cliffs, and planted trees around the grounds to improve the castle's appearance. [113] The castle walls and towers were given superficial repairs and tidied up, usually when parts threatened to collapse, and the interior of the inner bailey levelled, costing considerable sums of money. [114] The landscape also required expensive maintenance and repairs. [115]

The town of Ludlow was increasingly fashionable and frequented by tourists, with the castle forming a particularly popular attraction. [116] Thomas Warton published an edition of Milton's poems in 1785, describing Ludlow Castle and popularising the links to Comus, reinforcing the castle's reputation as a picturesque and sublime location. [117] The castle became a topic for painters interested in these themes: J. M. W. Turner, Francis Towne, Thomas Hearne, Julius Ibbetson, Peter de Wint and William Marlowe all produced depictions of the castle during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, usually taking some artistic licence with the details in order to produce atmospheric works. [118]

19th century Edit

Lord Clive, George's brother-in-law and heir, attempted to acquire the lease after 1803, citing the efforts that the family had put into restoring the castle. [119] He faced competition for the lease from the government's Barrack Office, who were considering using the castle as a French prisoner-of-war camp for up to 4,000 inmates from the Napoleonic wars. [119] After some extensive discussions the prisoner-of-war plan was finally dropped, and Lord Clive, by now declared the Earl of Powis, was offered the chance to buy the castle outright for £1,560, which he accepted in 1811. [120] [f]

Between 1820 and 1828 the earl had converted the abandoned tennis court and the Castle Inn – which he closed in 1812 after buying the castle – into a new, grand building, called Castle House, overlooking the north side of the outer bailey. [121] By the 1840s the house had been leased out, first to George Hodges and his family, and then to William Urwick and to Robert Marston, all important members of the local landowning classes. [122] The mansion included a drawing room, dining room, study, servants' quarters, a conservatory and grapevines, and in 1887 was worth £50 a year in rent. [123]

During the 19th century, vegetation continued to grow over the castle's stonework, although after a survey by Arthur Blomfield in 1883, which highlighted the damage being caused by the ivy, attempts were made to control the plants, cleaning them off many of the walls. [124] Ludlow Castle was held in high esteem by Victorian antiquarians, George Clark referring to it as "the glory of the middle marches of Wales" and as being "probably without rival in Britain" for its woodland setting. [125] When Ludlow became connected to the growing railway network in 1852, the numbers of tourists to the castle increased, with admission costing six pence in 1887. [102] The castle was put to a wide range of uses. The grassy areas of the bailey were kept cropped by grazing sheep and goats, and used for fox hunting meetings, sporting events and agricultural shows parts of the outer bailey was used as a timber yard, and, by the turn of the century, the old prison was used as an ammunition store by the local volunteer militia. [126]

20th century Edit

W. H. St John Hope and Harold Brakspear began a sequence of archaeological investigations at Ludlow Castle in 1903, publishing their conclusions in 1909 in an account which continues to be held in regard by modern academics. [127] Christian Herbert, the Earl of Powis, cleared away much of the ivy and vegetation from the castle stonework. [128] In 1915 the castle was declared an ancient monument by the state, but it continued to be owned and maintained by the earl and trustees of the Powis estate. [129]

The castle was increasingly rigorously maintained, and during the 1910s and 1920s the larger trees around the castle were cut down, and the animals were cleared from the inner and outer baileys on the basis that they posed a health and safety risk to visitors. [130] The 1930s saw a major effort to clear the remaining vegetation from the castle, the cellars were cleared of debris by the government's Office of Works and the stable block was converted into a museum. [130] Tourists continued to visit the castle, with the 1920s and 1930s seeing many day-trips by teams of workers in the region encouraged by the growth in motor transport. [131] The open spaces inside the castle were used by the local townsfolk for football matches and similar events, and in 1934 Milton's Comus was restaged in the castle to mark the 300th anniversary of the first such event. [132]

Castle House in the outer bailey was leased to the diplomat Sir Alexander Stephen in 1901, who carried out extensive work on the property in 1904, extending and modernising the north end of the house, including constructing a billiard room and a library he estimated the cost of the work to be around £800. [133] Castle House continued to be leased out by the Powis estate to wealthy individuals up until the Second World War. [134] One such lessee, Richard Henderson observed that he had spent around £4,000 maintaining and upgrading the property, and the rentable value of the property rose from £76 to £150 over the period. [134] [g]

During the Second World War the castle was used by the Allied military. [135] The Great Tower was used as a look-out post and United States' forces used the castle gardens for baseball games. [136] Castle House fell empty after the death of its final lessee, James Geenway the house was then briefly requisitioned in 1942 by the Royal Air Force and turned into flats for key war workers, causing extensive damage later estimated at £2,000. [137] In 1956, Castle House was de-requisitioned and sold by the Earl of Powis the following year to Ludlow Borough Council for £4,000, which rented out the flats. [138]

During the 1970s and early 1980s the Department of the Environment assisted the Powis estate by lending government staff to repair the castle. [139] Visitor numbers were falling, however, in part due to the dilapidated condition of the property, and the estate became increasingly unable to afford to maintain the castle. [139] After 1984, when the function of the department was taken over by English Heritage, a more systematic approach was put into place. [140] This based around a partnership in which the Powis Estate would retain ownership of the castle and develop visitor access, in exchange for a £500,000 contribution from English Heritage for a jointly-funded programme of repairs and maintenance, delivered through specialist contractors. [141] This included repairs to the parts of the curtain wall, which collapsed in 1990, and the redevelopment of the visitor's centre. [142] Limited archaeological excavation was carried out in the outer bailey between 1992 and 1993 by the City of Hereford Archaeology Unit. [143]

21st century Edit

In the 21st century, Ludlow Castle is owned by John Herbert, the current Earl of Powis, but is held and managed by the Trustees of the Powis Castle Estate as a tourist attraction. [144] The castle was receiving over 100,000 visitors a year by 2005, more than in previous decades. [145] The castle traditionally hosts a Shakespearean play as part of the annual cultural Ludlow Festival in the town, and is at the centre of the Ludlow Food and Drink Festival each September. [146]

English Heritage considers Ludlow to be "one of England's finest castle sites", with the ruins representing "a remarkably complete multi-phase complex". [147] It is protected under UK law as a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building. [148] By the 21st century, however, Castle House had become dilapidated and English Heritage placed it on its "at risk" register. [149] In 2002, the Powis Estate repurchased the property from the South Shropshire District Council for £500,000, renovating it and converting it for use as offices and rental apartments, reopening the building in 2005. [150]

Ludlow Castle sits on a rocky promontory, overlooking the modern town of Ludlow on lower ground to the east, while the ground slopes steeply from the castle to the rivers Corve and Teme to the south and west, about 100 feet (30 m) below. [151] The castle is broadly rectangular in shape, and approximately 500 by 435 feet (152 by 133 m) in size, covering almost 5 acres (2.0 ha) in total. [152] The interior is divided into two main parts: an inner bailey which occupies the north-west corner and a much larger outer bailey. [153] A third enclosure, known as the innermost bailey, was created in the early 13th century when walls were built to enclose the south-west corner of the inner ward. [154] The castle's walls are linked to Ludlow's medieval town wall circuit on the south and east sides. [152] The castle is built from a range of different types of stone the Norman stone work is constructed from greenish-grey siltstone rubble, with the ashlar and quoin features carved from red sandstone, with the later work primarily using local red sandstone. [155]

Outer bailey Edit

The outer bailey is entered through a gatehouse inside, the space within the curtain walls is divided into two. On the north side of the outer bailey is Castle House and its gardens the house is a two-storeyed property, based around the old walls of the tennis court and the Castle Inn, and the curtain wall. [156] The north end of Castle House butts onto Beacon Tower, overlooking the town. [157]

The other half of the outer bailey houses the 16th-century porter's lodge, prison and stable block which run along its eastern edge. [158] The porter's lodge and prison comprise two buildings, 40 feet (12 m) and 58 by 23 feet (17.7 by 7.0 m) across, both two-storeyed and well built in ashlar stone, with a stable block on the far end, more crudely built in stone and 66 by 21 feet (20.1 by 6.4 m) in size. [159] The exterior of the prison was originally decorated with the coats of arms of Henry, the Earl of Pembroke, and Queen Elizabeth I, but these have since been destroyed, as have the barred windows which once protected the property. [160]

Along the south of the bailey are the remains of St Peter's, a former 14th-century chapel, approximately 21 by 52 feet (6.4 by 15.8 m) in size, later converted to a courthouse by the addition of an extension reaching up to the western curtain wall. [161] The courtroom occupied the whole of the combined first floor with records kept in the rooms underneath. [161] The south-west corner of the outer bailey is cut off by a modern wall from the rest of the bailey. [162]

The western curtain wall is approximately 6-foot-5-inch (1.96 m) thick, and guarded by the 13th-century Mortimer's Tower, 18 feet (5.5 m) across externally, with a ground floor vaulted chamber inside, 12-foot-9.5-inch (3.899 m) large. [163] When first built, Mortimer's Tower was a three-storey gateway with an unusual D-shaped design, possibly similar to those at Trim Castle in Ireland, but in the 15th century the entrance way was blocked up to turn it into a conventional mural tower, and in the 16th century an additional internal floor was inserted. [164] The tower is now roofless, although it was roofed as late as the end of the 19th century. [165]

Inner bailey Edit

The inner bailey represents the extent of the original Norman castle and is protected by a curtain wall between 5-foot (1.5 m) and 6-foot (1.8 m) thick. [166] On the south and west sides the wall is protected by a ditch, originally up to 80-foot (24 m) deep, cut out of the rock and navigated by a bridge which still contains part of the ashlar stone of its 16th century predecessor. [167] Within the inner bailey, a separate area, called the innermost bailey, was created by the addition of a 5-foot (1.5 m) thick stone wall around the south-west corner in the early 13th century. [168]

The gatehouse to the inner bailey has the coats of arms of Sir Henry Sidney and Queen Elizabeth I displayed over it, dating to 1581, and was originally a three-storeyed building with transomed windows and fireplaces, probably used as the lodgings for the judges. [169] There were probably additional heraldic supporters displayed alongside the arms, since lost. [170] A porter's lodge would have been on the right hand side of the entrance to control access, with the rooms accessed by a spiral staircase in a protruding tower, with prominent triple chimneys, since lost. [171] Alongside the gatehouse was originally a half-timbered building, possibly a laundry, approximately 48 by 15 feet (14.6 by 4.6 m), which has since been lost. [172]

On the east side of the bailey is the 12th-century chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene. The circular, Romanesque design of the chapel is unusual, with only three similar examples existing in England, at Castle Rising, Hereford and Pevensey. [173] Built from sandstone, the circular design imitates the shrine at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. [174] Originally the chapel had a nave, a square presbytery, 3.8 by 3.8 metres (12 by 12 ft) in size, and a chancel, but this design was heavily altered in the 16th century and only the nave survives. [175] Although roofless, the nave survives to its full height and is 26 feet 3 inches (8.00 m) in diameter, visibly divided into two sections by different bands of stonework, and with some plaster surviving on the lower level. [176] Around the inside of the nave are 14 arcaded bays in the walls. [177]

The north end of the bailey is occupied by a range of buildings, the Solar block, the Great Hall and the Great Chamber block, with the Tudor Lodgings in the north-east corner. The Tudor Lodgings take the form of two rhomboids to fit into the space provided by the curtain wall, divided by a cross-wall, the west side being approximately 33 by 15 feet (10.1 by 4.6 m), and the east side 33 by 21 feet (10.1 by 6.4 m). [178] They were entered by a shared spiral staircase, a design used in various episcopal palaces in the 16th century, and originally provided sets of individual offices and personal rooms for the court officials, later being converted into two distinct apartments. [179]

The Great Chamber block adjoining the Tudor Lodgings dates from around 1320. [180] Another rhomboid design, approximately 53 by 34 feet (16 by 10 m) across, this originally had its main chamber on the first floor, but has been much altered over the subsequent years. [181] The carved corbel heads that survive on the first floor may represent Edward II and Queen Isabella. [182] Behind the Great Chamber block is the Guardrobe Tower, a four storeyed construction, providing a combination of bed chambers and guardrobes. [183]

In the 13th-century Great Hall, the hall itself was also positioned on the first floor, originally fitted with a wooden floor supported by stone pillars in the basement, and a massive wooden roof. [184] It was 60 by 30 feet (18.3 by 9.1 m) across: this 2:1 ratio between length and width was typical for castle halls of this period. [184] The hall was reached by a flight of stone steps at the west end, and lit by three tall, trefoiled windows, each originally with its own window seat and south-facing to receive the sunlight. [185] Originally the hall had an open fire in the centre, which was normal for the 13th century, but the middle window was turned into a more modern fireplace around 1580. [186]

To the west of the Great Hall is the three-storeyed Solar block, an irregular oblong measuring up to 26 by 39 feet (7.9 by 11.9 m) in size. [187] The first floor chamber would probably have been used as a solar, with the cellar being used as a service area. [188] The Great Hall and Solar block were built at the same time in the 13th century, the builders carving out the inside of the old Norman tower behind them in the process. [189] They were probably built in two phases and were originally intended to be smaller, less grand buildings, only for the design to be changed about halfway through construction they were finished in a rushed manner, the traces of which can still be seen, along with other changes made in the 16th and 17th centuries. [190]

The North-West and North-East towers behind the northern range are Norman in origin, from the 11th and early 12th century. When first built, they were created by pushing or folding the line of the curtain wall outwards to create the desired external shape, and then adding timber floors and a timber wall at the back, rather than being designed as individual buildings. [191] The timber parts of the towers were later replaced in stone, and incorporated into the later range of buildings. The North-East Tower, also known as the Pendover Tower, was originally two-storeys high, with a third floor added on in the 14th century, followed by an extensive remodelling of the inside in the 16th century. [192] It has chamfered angles on the external corners to make it harder to attack the stonework, although this has weakened the structural strength of the tower as a whole. [193] The North-West Tower had similar chamfered corners, but the Closet Tower was built alongside it in the 13th century, altering the external appearance. [194] Two more Norman towers survive in the innermost bailey, the West Tower, also known as the Postern Tower, because it contained a postern gate, and the South-West tower, also called the Oven Tower, on account of its cooking facilities. [195] The Norman towers looked out towards Wales, probably to make a symbolic statement. [196]

A range, now lost, once stretched from the innermost bailey towards the Great Hall, including a large stone house running along the curtain wall, 54 by 20 feet (16.5 by 6.1 m) in size, and on the other side of the innermost bailey, the Great Kitchen, 31 by 23 feet (9.4 by 7.0 m) in size, built around the same time as the Great Hall, and an oven building, since lost, 21 by 27 feet (6.4 by 8.2 m). [197]

The Great Tower, or keep, is on the south side of the innermost bailey. A roughly square building, four storeys tall, most of its walls are 8-foot-6-inch (2.59 m) thick, with the exception of its newer northern facing wall, only 7-foot-6-inch (2.29 m) thick. [198] The Great Tower was constructed in several stages. Originally it was a relatively large gatehouse in the original Norman castle, probably with accommodation over the gateway, before being extended to form the Great Tower in the mid-12th century, although still being used as a gatehouse for the inner bailey. [199] When the innermost bailey was created in the early 13th century, the gateway was then filled in and a new gateway cut into the inner bailey wall just to the east of the Great Tower. [200] Finally, the north side of the tower was rebuilt in the mid-15th century to produce the Great Tower that appears today. [201] The keep has a vaulted basement, 20-foot (6.1 m) high, with Norman wall arcading, and a row of windows along the first floor, since mostly blocked. [202] The arcading echoes that in the chapel, and probably dates from around 1080. [203] The windows and large entrance-way would have looked impressive, but would also have been very hard to defend this form of tower probably reflected earlier Anglo-Saxon high-status towers and was intended to display lordship. [204] The first floor originally formed a tall hall, 29 by 17 feet (8.8 by 5.2 m) across, which was subsequently subdivided into two separate floors. [205]

Early 12th century chapel Edit

The chapel of St Mary Magdalene, showing the two levels of stonework and surviving plasterwork.


Medieval cities: Europe vs. the Arabic world

Cities in the Arab world were on average much larger than those in
Europe, and the size of the “primate” city – the megapolis such as
Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo or Istanbul – was much bigger a fact that is
indicative of a predatory state and low trade openness.
Europe, on the other hand, developed a very dense urban system, with
relatively small principle cities. Big cities in Europe were quite
often located near the sea, being able to optimally profit from
long-distance trade, whereas the largest cities in the Arab world were
almost all inland.

The sociologist Max Weber introduced a distinction between ‘consumer
cities’ and ‘producer cities’. Using this classification, Arab cities
were – much more than their European counterparts – consumer cities.

The classical consumer city is a centre of government and military
protection or occupation, which supplies services – administration,
protection – in return for taxes, land rent and non-market
transactions. Such cities are intimately linked to the state in which
they are embedded. The flowering of the state and the expansion of its
territory and population tend to produce urban growth, in particular
that of the capital city.

In Europe cities are instead much closer to being producer cities.
The primary basis of the producer city is the production and exchange
of goods and commercial services with the city’s hinterland and other
cities. The links that such cities have with the state are typically
much weaker since the cities have their own economic bases. It is this
aspect that accounts for the fact that Arab cities suffered heavily
with the breakdown of the Abbasid Empire, while European cities
continued to flourish despite political turmoil.

Between 1000 and 1300 Europe acquired an urban system dominated by
typical producer cities, which prospered in spite of Europe’s political
fragmentation. In fact, this fragmentation was strongly enhanced by the
rise of independent communes – city-states, or cities with a large
degree of local authority – which form the core of the political system
of Europe’s urban belt stretching from Northern Italy to the Low
Countries. Indeed, we still find this pattern in the so-called ‘Hot
Banana’ – the industrial agglomeration that stretches from the southern
UK to the Netherlands, through Germany and down to northern Italy.


The hospital experience in medieval England

Caring for the sick and injured largely free of charge, today hospitals treat a wide array of patients during what is hoped will be a short-term stay. But, as Sheila Sweetinburgh reveals, this was not always the case in the medieval period

This competition is now closed

Published: March 22, 2016 at 4:47 pm

In the Middle Ages there were very broadly four types of hospital: for lepers for poor (and sick) pilgrims for the poor and infirm and almshouses or bedehouses. This last form of hospital often included the explicit instruction that the brothers and sisters (those who resided there as long-term inmates), should pray daily for the souls of the house’s founders and benefactors – the term ‘bede’ meaning prayer.

Poor pilgrims often just stayed overnight at a hospital, and while some medieval hospitals took in the sick, others seem to have cared only for the old and infirm. Indeed, professional medical care by physicians or doctors seems to have been rare. There are a few references relating to such provision at London hospitals in the late Middles Ages and in 1524, for example, Henry VII’s Savoy Hospital (founded by the king in 1505) was expected to have a doctor and surgeon.

We probably know more about the founders of the 850-plus medieval hospitals and almshouses in England than we do about those who resided there long-term (the brothers and sisters), and we know almost nothing about the people who were cared for in hospitals. These shadowy figures can only be glimpsed indirectly, through for example the provision at St Thomas’s Hospital in Canterbury where sick pilgrims could stay for more than the typical one night and if they died rather than recovered they would be buried in Canterbury Cathedral’s lay cemetery. Not far away, at St John’s Hospital, Sandwich, the sick-poor and women in labour could stay in the three rooms at the back of the hospital that included a room called the “chamber for strange women” – that is, women who were strangers in Sandwich.

Hospitals were not spread evenly across England and the medieval equivalent of today’s ‘postcode lottery’ meant, for example, that provision was sparse in Worcestershire but much better in Gloucestershire. Some leper hospitals, which housed those believed to have leprosy, also took in those suffering from general infirmity, and by the later Middles Ages many of these leper hospitals no longer housed any lepers at all, instead taking in the old and infirm. Additionally, most hospitals accommodated no more than 20 brothers and sisters, 12 being the most common along with a priest. St Leonard’s Hospital in York was truly exceptional, having around 225 beds.

The decision as to who entered the hospital generally rested with the patron, and some prospective entrants sought help from influential backers who might also provide the entrance fee. But having a financial backer was not always enough: the patron of Christchurch Priory, Canterbury, turned down Queen Philippa’s request in the mid-14th century for her maidservant to join St James’s Hospital near the city. Queen Philippa’s request was for a corrody (a provision for maintenance) at the hospital, which means she was prepared to pay, but perhaps not enough!

Many hospitals frowned upon this practice, yet it seems to have been remarkably common. The going rate varied over time, between and within hospitals, but at St John’s Hospital in Sandwich most new brothers and sisters paid 6s 8d. (A Margery Warner paid with 1,000 tiles, perhaps floor tiles), whereas at neighbouring St Bartholomew’s the fee to remain at the hospital for the remainder of the inmate’s life might be as high as £19 (the equivalent of around £8,500 today). Although this sounds expensive the new brother or sister might pay in installments and live for several decades at the hospital, expecting in return to receive board and lodging, clothing, shoes, fuel and other necessities, without further payment.

Early hospitals (of which the first to be founded after the Norman Conquest was St John’s Hospital, Canterbury) often provided separate dormitories for men and women with an adjoining chapel that also segregated the sexes. This meant the brothers and sisters could easily attend divine service, where they would recite specific prayers – each inmate at St Andrew’s Hospital at Hythe, Kent, daily provided 300 Pater Nosters, Ave Marias and Credos for their benefactors.

But brothers and sisters hardly spent all day on their knees – we know that at some hospitals the brothers in particular worked on the home farm, while the sisters worked in the brew house and bake house, and presumably also tended the kitchen garden and any sick people at the hospital.

This communal lifestyle extended to the kitchen. At St Bartholomew’s, Sandwich, it was stipulated that each person should daily put their piece of meat (or fish on Fridays, during Advent and Lent) into the common cauldron of pottage and then receive a share once it was cooked. The daily allowance of bread (a half-penny loaf, about 10 ounces) and ale (about 1.75 pints single ale) was supplemented by cheese and fruit, including apples. This was a much better diet than at some hospitals, which largely depended on sub-standard produce that had been rejected by market officials.

Whether hospitals such as St Bartholomew’s were always able to deliver this level of provision is impossible to know for sure. Certainly in the early 14th century, in particular, numerous hospitals were pleading poverty and some were completely wiped out by the Black Death.

Corrupt hospital officials could also prove problematic – hospitals whose patrons were located nearby generally appear to have experienced fewer problems. Yet disputes did occur and discipline might involve corporal punishment, fines or expulsion. For example, Petronella Boys joined St John’s, Sandwich, following the death of her husband, who had been a brother there. Initially all was well but a decade later Petronella refused to do what the authorities required and was expelled.

Nevertheless, compared to life outside, a hospital place would have been seen by many as commodious if not luxurious, offering a degree of security in a generally uncertain world.

Sheila Sweetinburgh is the author of The Role of the Hospital in Medieval England: Gift-giving and the Spiritual Economy (Dublin, 2004) and editor of Later Medieval Kent, 1220–1540 (Woodbridge, 2010) and Early Medieval Kent, 800–1220 (Woodbridge, 2016).

This article was first published on History Extra in March 2016


Medieval Knight Armor Functional

/> /> /> />

Medieval Knight Armor completely portable and functional. Medieval Knight Armor includes all parts of the armature, which are shown in the image. Medieval Armour consists of the following parts:

1 - Bascinet Helmet, helmet closed manually made ​​of carbon steel pieneamente wearable, used the heavy cavalry in the Late Middle Ages (thickness to choose from: 1 - 1.2 mm). We propose a series knight helmets, helmets are a bascinet with visor. These particular models bascinet have a double visor and a bevor hinged on both sides via cinchie leather and buckles, and then disassembled. When the helmet is worn, face shields cover the entire face, the first visor has slits for the eyes, while the second peak of this ventilation holes. This design is ideal for combat but also for parades of medieval re-enactment.

2 - Bevor included in the helmet to protect the chin and throat.

3 - Cuirass, part of medieval armor to protect the chested and back, formed by the Breastplate and back armor. The armor is made on your measurements, specify when ordering (chest circumference at the level of the breast, total height and weight.

4 - Pauldron, Shoulder, to protect the shoulders, This piece of armor covers the shoulders, the shoulder straps are anchored to the cuirass by means of interlocking and leather straps.

5 - Medieval Full Arm Armor Consists of three parts: Vambrace (protection of the forearm), Couter with side wing (elbow protector), the Rerebrace (articulated more plates). Are articulated together by hinged plates, arched and fixed by rivets sliding. Possibility to choose among four models, Art: B001- B002 - B003 - B004.

6 - Articulated Gauntlets, medieval protective gloves to protect the hand and wrist. Possibility to choose between six models of gloves gauntlets Art: B100 - B101 - B102 - B103 - B104 - B105.

7 - Cuisses, Poleyn, Greaves, Knee Cops, elements of armor to protect the leg, articulated so as to give maximum mobility to combatant

8 - Medieval Combat Armor Sabatons, shoes steel articulated. the shoes are made of cold rolled steel. Possibility to choose between six models of gloves of sabatons, Art: G130 - G131 - G132 - G133 - G134 - G135.

9- with sword as exposed to the product: Wearable Medieval Armor (Code 733)

Entirely made of steel and hand-crafted by artisans in Italy, with coietti leather to be worn.

Made of steel and fully wearable handmade comes with support and wooden base.

This exceptional reproduction of Medieval Knight Armor is crafted in the tradition of master craftsmen the Milanese who created the originals for knights fighters. This wearable articulated Medieval Knight Armor has a brushed steel finish, reproduction the model of the medieval armour originals that can be seen today in museum collections around the world.

All of our reproductions of medieval armor and then also this Medieval Knight Armorr are faithful reproductions of historical medieval armor for combat, can be worn for special events, historical re-enactment to compose your armor ideal. Armor handcrafted, and fit various sizes, using leather straps with buckles external adjustable, can be custom made. They are armor forged by hand by steel plates with processes not modern, such as the fold and polishing, the thickness can be selected from the following measures: 19 ga -18 ga (1 - 1,2 mm).

Size: 6-1/2 foot (185 x 85 x 43 cm) - weighs 77 lbs (35 kg).

In the Middle Ages there was in Italy a major center for the production of armor, where skilled craftsmen created armor for knights in combat, and they used in ceremonies and parades. The first to make a knight armor were Italian craftsmen gunsmiths in the Milanese, over the centuries, followed by German craftsmen and French who added decorations in relief. Observe the difference in detail between this armor produced in Italy and other developed elsewhere, there is no comparison.


Medieval money

The “Fishpool Hoard” of 1,237 coins, buried around 1464 and rediscovered in 1966

The records of the medieval and early modern periods are littered with references to money, whether referring to the value of lands, payments to staff or the costs of constructing and maintaining castles. This article describes what English medieval coins were like, how money functioned in the economy, and how much castles and other items cost.

What was the money like?

Medieval money came in different denominations and value

English money in the medieval period took several forms. Firstly, there were coins, the most widespread of which was the silver penny, first introduced by Offa, the King of Mercia, in the 8th century. The penny formed the main currency throughout the period.

Silver pennies were thin coins, about 1.5 cm (0.59 in) across – 240 pennies weighed the same as 349 grams (12.3 oz) of silver, also known as a “tower pound”. Since they were too valuable for many day-to-day purchases, pennies were sometimes cut into halves or quarters to create smaller change, until halfpennies and farthings began to be introduced in 1279 as alternatives. The groat, a larger silver coin worth 4 pence, was introduced in 1279, followed by the half-groat, worth 2 pence.

Gold coins were first introduced in 1257, when a gold penny, designed for alms-giving, was issued by the English mints. Gold coins only became used more generally after 1344, when the leopard coin was issued. The leopard was officially valued the same as 72 silver pence, and also had half and quarter equivalents. The noble followed, worth 80 pence, again with half and quarter versions. In 1465, the rose noble was created, worth 120 pence, and the angel, worth 80 pence. Gold coins were always much more valuable than the silver coins used in normal life.

But not all money existed in the form of coins. Financial records, such as deposit, debts or contracts, were usually written down in terms of silver pennies, but larger sums were recorded in shillings (one shilling equating to 12 pence) and pounds (240 pence). Financial sums could also be recorded in marks (160 pence) and ora (originally 16 pence, later 20 pence). Shillings, pounds, marks and ora had no physical coinage associated with them: they were simply “units of account”.

TitleDescriptionValue
PennySilver coin1 pence
Half-pennySilver coin½ pence
FarthingSilver coin¼ pence
GroatSilver coin4 pence
Half-groatSilver coin2 pence
LeopardGold coin72 pence
NobleGold coin80 pence
Rose nobleGold coin120 pence
AngelGold coin80 pence
ShillingUnit of account12 pence
PoundUnit of account240 pence
MarkUnit of account160 pence
OraUnit of account16 pence, later 20 pence

How was the money made?

An Edward IV gold angel coin, displaying the Archangel Gabriel slaying a dragon

Medieval coins were minted by hand, by placing a square piece of blank metal between the two halves of a die, called a pile and trussel. These were then struck with a hammer to imprint the design, after which the coin was trimmed by hand to make it circular.

After the Norman conquest, this process was controlled centrally by the Crown, which determined the designs, weight and metal content of the coins. Detailed instructions and orders were sent out to the regional mints, where local moneyers would carry out the work. There were around 70 local mints in the 11th century, but the work was increasingly centralised and by the 14th century there were only a handful left.

From time to time the Crown would recall, melt down and reissue all the English coinage, but there in between there remained a need to regularly recycle existing coins. Silver coins were relatively soft and wore away with regular use, so their owners would routinely take them into a local mint to be restruck. The scale of this work was impressive there were huge numbers of coins in circulation, all of which had to manufactured and regularly remade by hand by the mints.

When making the coins, moneyers would add a small quantity of non-precious metals to the silver to produce a harder alloy, which was essential if the coins were to be sufficiently durable to be used in trade. This process also allowed moneyers to create at least two and a half percent more coins than would otherwise have been the case, which they were then allowed to keep as, effectively, their profits for carrying out the minting. The Crown made its own profits out of the process, by charging the moneyers or their local communities a fixed fee for the right to carry out the work. This system was slowly dismantled over the medieval period, however, as the number of mints was reduced.

A King John silver penny, cut into halves to create smaller change

There was often a tension between the value of a medieval coin as a unit of currency, and its value as a precious metal. If the silver or gold in a coin was worth more than the coin would buy in a market, for example, the owners would be tempted to melt them down and sell the raw precious metal. This was particularly important when both gold and silver coins were in circulation later in the period, as the differences in the value of gold and silver could easily be exploited.

As an example, in theory the value of a gold leopard was fixed at 72 silver pennies. But, if the market value of raw gold increased by relative to silver, by, say, around 10 percent, then it would beneficial to melt down any gold leopards and sell that raw gold on. Someone doing this would be realizing a profit of 8 pence on each of the gold coins they destroyed. This process quickly tended to drive gold coins out of circulation as they were melted down by their owners. If the value of gold fell relative to silver, one could profit by carrying out the process in reverse.

Clipping, where traders would trim small amounts off the edge of coins before passing them on as underweight currency, was also a problem. Edward I’s long cross penny, issued in 1279, was in part an attempt to combat this – its design reached out to the edge of the coin, making any clipping easier to detect.

The usury laws in England forbade Christians from lending money at interest, a role which instead became associated with the Jewish community. The first Jews arrived in England in the aftermath of the Norman invasion, and expanded out across the country, providing essential money-lending and banking services. Towards the end of Henry II’s reign, however, the Crown ceased to borrow from the Jewish community and instead turned to extracting money from them through arbitrary taxation and fines. The Jewish community became increasingly impoverished and abused, until it was finally expelled from England in 1290 by Edward I, being replaced by foreign merchants.

How much money was there? How was it used?

An Edward I long cross penny, designed to make illegal clipping easier to detect

Historians are uncertain exactly how many coins were in circulation in medieval England and Wales. Their estimates depend on a combination of surviving records and physical evidence from the royal mints, and the size and content of the various coin hoards discovered from the period.

After the Norman invasion, there may have been anywhere between £10,000 and £25,000 in circulation in England, or perhaps as many as 9 million silver pennies. The currency in circulation expanded hugely during the late-12th century, and may have reached may have reached £250,000 by 1205. Estimates suggest that between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000 was in circulation by 1313, or up to 290 million coins. Taking into account the growing population over the period, this meant that while in 1066 there was only one or two silver pennies for each person in the country, by 1331 there at least eighty coins in circulation per person.

Alongside the quantity of coins, however, we also need to consider what economists call the “velocity of circulation”, or the speed with which coins passed around the medieval economy. Imagine if a peasant farmer who acquired a silver penny at market typically waited a year before spending it again the physical money in the economy would be moving relatively slowly around the system. Contrast that with a situation in which that farmer, on average, used the coin immediately again the next day to buy something: exactly the same amount of coinage, spent more quickly, could fuel a much more dynamic economic system.

A set of coins, probably buried in 1340, including Edward I, II and III silver pennies, and a penny from Flanders

Royal taxation made a major difference to the velocity of circulation. When the Crown imposed a tax, coins were collected in from across the kingdom as payment and stored in barrels until they were needed. Other major barons also stored large quantities of money, in case of contingencies. This could severely restrict the availability of money, with an impact on the medieval economy. During some periods of the medieval era, more bullion was leaving England and Wales than was returning in trade, producing periods of shortage.

Many debts, even if they were recorded as a monetary sum, might often be paid off, in part or in total, with other goods – particularly when physical coins were in limited supply. Meals, animals, wool and other items were used to settle debts – although arguments over their actual value often ended up in court.

How much money did you need to be rich?

A Edward IV rose noble, displaying a complex, symbolic rose design

Shortly after the Norman conquest, around 170 baronies had been established across England the average baron had an income of a little over £200 a year, with the wealthiest bringing in over £750, and the poorest less than £100. By 1200, the top 160 barons were still enjoying incomes of around £200 a year, with the wealthiest handful possessing lands worth as much as £750 a year.

Over the next century, however, the wealthiest nobles saw their incomes grow considerably, as they created huge estates – Richard of Cornwall possessed lands bringing him almost £4,000 a year, for example. These huge levels of income could not be sustained, but inflation steadily increased the incomes of all the barons over the next century, until by 1436 over half of them enjoyed incomes of over £500 a year.

We also know how much the constables of the royal castles were paid by the Crown. In 1287, for example, the fees paid to the protectors of the largest castles like the Tower of London or Chester for their work were £50 and £40 respectively a much smaller property like Cambridge Castle was only worth a fee of £5.

A King Stephen silver penny, struck during the civil war of the Anarchy at an emergency mint in Swansea

Although the very earliest records of payments to castle garrisons have typically been lost, more documents have survived from the 13th century onwards. A porter would have been paid 4 pence a day, and a watchman, 2 pence. Military personnel received considerably more: a knight cost 2 shillings a day to employ, a sergeant, 7 and a half pence, and a crossbowman, 3 and a half pence. A noble wishing to endow his castle chapel with an income to support the chaplain and their staff might have needed to provide land worth anywhere between £2 and £25, depending on the location, size of the establishment and the degree of comfort they expected the clergy to enjoy.

At the other end of the social spectrum, many of the rural poor would not have earned a wage in the modern sense of the word, instead relying on farming their land, selling some of their produce, and in some cases providing non-free services to their manorial lord, working on their lands, providing goods or other services. By the 14th century, perhaps only a third of the population earned a wage in the way we would recognise it today.

We have some records of this employment. Before the Black Death, an unskilled labourer would have earned one and half pence a day after the epidemic and the consequent reduction in the workforce, this rose to around 3 pence by the 1390s. Craftsmen saw a similar increase over this time, from 3 pence a day to 5 pence.

How much did it cost to build a castle?

Late 15th-century weight, used for assessing the value of a rose noble coin

Historians do not have many records to show how much it cost – either in terms of money or resources – to build the early castles. Probably only the wealthiest top-third of the barons could have afforded to construct castles, along with some of the major landowning knights under the great barons – and, of course, the King himself.

The earliest castles in England, made from earth and timber, required relatively little skilled labour to build. The huge amounts of earth-moving that was required – up to 24,000 days of effort for the more substantial castles – could have used forced effort from the local population.

Later stone castles were a different matter, and required barons to employ skilled craftsmen. In the late 12th century, a simple stone castle would cost at least around £400 to build – around twice the yearly income of a typical baron. Around this time, the Crown was spending very large amounts on a handful of key castles. Henry II spent £1,413 on constructing Orford Castle between 1165 and 1173, for example, while £8,248 and £4,019 was spent by Henry and his heirs on developing Dover Castle and the Tower of London.

A century later, and King Edward I’s construction work in the newly conquered North Wales proved particularly expensive. Between 1282 and 1304, the total cost of his castle building came to at least £80,000, almost six times Edward’s annual income. Caernarfon’s and Conwy’s castles and town walls, for example, each came to around £15,500 to construct, while Harlech Castle cost £8,190 to erect. Such works would have been well beyond the income of any but the wealthiest baron.

Castles also cost money to maintain in good condition: stonework needed to be repaired, lead roofs renewed, and timbers replaced. Smaller castles, with the support of a surrounding estate, might be maintained for a few pounds a year, but larger fortifications required much more. The constable of Conwy Castle had been initially provided with £190 a year for such works, for example. This was a reasonable sum but as the funding soon fell away to £40 a year, so did the condition of the castle, which began to crumble.

How much would medieval money be worth today?

Gold nobles. buried during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381

So, how much would medieval money have been worth in modern terms? This sounds simple, but is actually a very challenging question.

The heart of the problem is that we can’t really move money between historical periods we don’t have time machines! As a result, we’re trying to get at the sense of what money was “worth” in a particular period, and what might “feel like” to us today. Was a castle costing £200 in 1270 expensive or cheap? Was someone earning £2 a year in 1400 wealthy or poor?

One method used in the modern period is to make a comparison using an index that allows us to inflate older sums of money to reflect their comparatively greater value today. Typically, the further back in the medieval period we go, the more we need to inflate the value of money to make it equivalent to our own period. There are different methods of doing this, three of which are described below, each trying to answer the question “what would £1 in 1270 be worth today?”

Price Index

A Henry VII silver half-groat

One method is to make a comparison using the price of common goods, trying to work out how prices have risen over the years. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Retail Price Index (RPI), for example, create bundles or “baskets” of goods and service bought by households in particular years, and weighted according to their importance in household budgets of the period. A change in the index shows a change in the value of money over time. An RPI price index comparison would suggest that £1 in 1270 would be worth £940 today in 2018.

There are problems with such an approach. We know that many medieval workers would have provided their labour as part of a feudal relationship, and were often compensated in kind. Barter would have been much more common today, and tracking market prices tells us only a small part of the economic picture. Money was used much more extensively by the rich in medieval society, distorting any price index comparison.

In addition, centuries of economic growth mean that the “baskets” of goods in 1270 and 2018 are not truly comparable: we would be comparing medieval bread with take-away pizzas, internet games and automobiles. Almost all of us are vastly richer today than our medieval forebears.

Average Wages

An alternative is to use an Average Wage Index. Rather than comparing prices over time, these indexes compare how much of an average person’s income is needed to purchase something. Wage indexes can help us to take into account the growth of the economy over time. Using a wage index, £1 in 1270 would be worth around £16,290 in 2018 terms.

Even this isn’t perfect though. Many of the considerations above about the medieval economy apply to average wages too: many medieval workers would never have received regular financial payment for their labour. Relatively small amounts of money are also worth somewhat less to the extremely wealthy, but a great deal to the disadvantaged. This certainly applies during the medieval period, when the difference in wealth was often extreme.

Economic Share

A Henry VII silver groat

A third approach is to take a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) approach. This involves working out what percentage of the overall UK economy a particular sum reflected at the time, and then working out what an equivalent percentage would be today. Using a GDP per capita measure, £1 in 1270 would be worth around £33,540.

Needless to say, however, determining the GDP of medieval England is not straightforward. You will have seen the wide difference in opinion even about how many coins there were in circulation, let alone any attempt to estimate the volume of feudal services rendered. Any estimate of a medieval GDP is likely to be uncertain at best.

Conclusions

Unsurprisingly, then, there are no simple ways to compare medieval and modern financial figures. That sum of £1 in 1270 in the reign of Edward I might equate to anywhere between £940 and £33, 540 in 2018 terms – a very wide difference.

If we want to really understand what a castle cost, or whether a particular baron was wealthy or poor, it is usually best to seek answers by looking comparatively at other medieval events, rather than relying on historical financial statistics: How much did other fortifications cost to build? What did their peers enjoy in terms of income? Did their contemporaries think their projects were expensive or modest? One thing you can be sure of, though: the medieval poor would have been very poor indeed by modern standards, and their lives very hard indeed.

Bibliography

  • Bolton, J. L. (2012). Money in the Medieval English Economy: 973-1489. University of Manchester Press: Manchester, UK.
  • Dyer, Christopher. (2000). Everyday Life in Medieval England. Hambledon: London, UK.
  • Dyer, Christopher. (2009). Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850-1520. Yale University Press: New Haven, US and London, UK.
  • MacFarlane, Helen and Paul Mortimer-Lee. (1994) Inflation over 300 Years. Bank of England: London, UK
  • Pounds, N. J. G. (1990). The Medieval Castle in England and Wales: A Social and Political History. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.

The Measuring Worth website was also used as a key source.

Attribution

The text of this page is licensed under under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Photographs on this page are drawn from the Wikimedia and Flickr websites, as of 18 April 2019, and attributed and licensed as follows: “Medieval money“, author ash crow, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 “Fishpool gold coins“, author Lawrence OP, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 � Silver penny of John (FindID 278253)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 “Medieval coin“, author Portable Antiquities Scheme, released under CC BY 2.0 � Silver penny of Edward I (FindID 218128)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 �T303 obverse (FindID 499191)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 “Medieval coins from a hoard found at Epping“, author Ben Sutherland, released under CC BY 2.0 adapted from “Medieval coin, Rose noble of Edward IV (FindID 890209)“, author Oxfordshire County Council, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 adapted from “Medieval coin weight (rose noble) (FindID 385637)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 adapted from “Medieval silver coin of Stephen (FindID 496877)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 adapted from”English half-groat (1488-89)“, author Jerry “Woody”, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 adapted from “Medieval silver groat (FindID 398725)“, author The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, released under CC BY-SA 2.0.


III. B aseline R esults

In this section we present our main results. As described in Section II , the Black Death was a common shock that lowered the overall threshold for violence against Jews. In some cities, citizens responded with pogroms, but Jews were unharmed in other cities. We therefore argue that pogroms during the Black Death in 1348–50 at least partly reflect medieval anti-Semitism. Similarly, the general upsurge in anti-Semitic sentiment in Germany after World War I made the expression of anti-Semitic attitudes and violent acts against Jews more likely. We demonstrate that across a range of indicators, towns and cities with a medieval history of violence against Jews also engaged in more persecution in the 1920s and 1930s.

III.A. Comparison of Two Cities

To fix ideas, let us compare two cities: Würzburg, with a population of 101,000 in 1933, and Aachen, with a population of 162,000. Würzburg had a Jewish community since 1100 ( Alicke 2008 ) and Aachen since 1242 ( Avneri 1968 ). The former was the site of a pogrom during the Black Death the latter was not.

Würzburg’s Jews suffered persecution early. A pogrom in 1147 destroyed the community. During the Rintfleisch pogroms in 1298, some 800 Jews died. There were also pogroms in the 1920s, and the Stürmer published 23 letters from readers in this city (a frequency 10 times higher than average). In Würzburg the Nazi Party garnered 6.3% of the vote in May 1928, when the mean district recorded 3.6%. We know that 943 Jews were deported after 1933 (out of a community of 2,145, which is equivalent to 44%). 36

Aachen provides a stark contrast with Würzburg. Jews were first recorded in 1242, paying taxes. The town had a Judengasse (street for Jews) in 1330. For Aachen, the GJ explicitly states that there is no record of anti-Semitic violence, either before or during the Black Death—even though, in 1349, the citizens of Brussels wrote to the Aachen authorities urging them “to take care that the Jews don’t poison the wells” ( Avneri 1968 ). Aachen also saw no pogroms in the 1920s. The Stürmer published only 10 letters from Aachen (or less than half the number from Würzburg, despite a population that was 60% larger). Only 1% of voters in Aachen backed the NSDAP in 1928. Of the 1,345 Jews living there, 502 (37%) are known to have been deported. We now investigate how general these differences are.

III.B. Empirical Strategy and Overview of Results

In addition, we match towns by geographic location, based on longitude and latitude. As argued in the rich literature in labor economics (see Card and Krueger 1997 ), comparing places close to each other can help overcome the problems associated with omitted variables. Hence, we directly compare towns that are no more than a few miles apart and for which one saw a pogrom in 1349 while the other(s) did not. 38

Before turning to the regression results, we examine differences in various twentieth-century outcome variables between cities that did and did not experience Black Death pogroms. As Table IV shows, pogroms in the 1920s were substantially more frequent in towns with a history of medieval anti-Semitism. Similarly, vote shares for the Nazi party (NSDAP) in 1928 and for the anti-Semitic DVFP in 1924 (when the Nazi Party was banned) were more than a percentage point higher—which is substantial, given that the average vote shares were (respectively) 3.6% and 8%. Our three proxies for anti-Semitism in the 1930s also show marked differences for towns with Black Death pogroms: the proportion of Jewish population deported is more than 10% higher, 39 letters to the editor of Der Stürmer were about 30% more frequent, and the probability that local synagogues were damaged or destroyed during the Reichskristallnacht of 1938 is more than 10% higher. In the next section, we show that these differences are significant both statistically and in terms of quantitative importance.

Conditional Average of Twentieth-Century Outcome Variables

. Pogrom in 1349 . All towns . Obs. .
. No . Yes . . .
Pogrom in 1920s (% of towns) 1.1 8.2 6.3 320
NSDAP May 1928 (% of valid votes) 2.7 4.0 3.6 325
DVFP May 1924 (% of valid votes) 7.2 8.4 8.0 325
Deportations (per 100 Jews in 1933) 24.2 35.6 34.0 278
Stürmer letters (per 10,000 inhabitants) 0.59 0.86 0.82 325
Synagogue attack (% of towns) 79.1 93.8 90.3 278
. Pogrom in 1349 . All towns . Obs. .
. No . Yes . . .
Pogrom in 1920s (% of towns) 1.1 8.2 6.3 320
NSDAP May 1928 (% of valid votes) 2.7 4.0 3.6 325
DVFP May 1924 (% of valid votes) 7.2 8.4 8.0 325
Deportations (per 100 Jews in 1933) 24.2 35.6 34.0 278
Stürmer letters (per 10,000 inhabitants) 0.59 0.86 0.82 325
Synagogue attack (% of towns) 79.1 93.8 90.3 278

Notes: All statistics based on the main sample, including only towns with documented medieval Jewish settlement. Of the 325 towns and cities, 235 (72%) had pogroms in 1348–50. The mean of deportations per 100 Jews and Stürmer letters is weighted by city population in 1933. The mean of synagogue attacks is calculated only for towns with synagogues or prayer rooms in 1933.

Conditional Average of Twentieth-Century Outcome Variables

. Pogrom in 1349 . All towns . Obs. .
. No . Yes . . .
Pogrom in 1920s (% of towns) 1.1 8.2 6.3 320
NSDAP May 1928 (% of valid votes) 2.7 4.0 3.6 325
DVFP May 1924 (% of valid votes) 7.2 8.4 8.0 325
Deportations (per 100 Jews in 1933) 24.2 35.6 34.0 278
Stürmer letters (per 10,000 inhabitants) 0.59 0.86 0.82 325
Synagogue attack (% of towns) 79.1 93.8 90.3 278
. Pogrom in 1349 . All towns . Obs. .
. No . Yes . . .
Pogrom in 1920s (% of towns) 1.1 8.2 6.3 320
NSDAP May 1928 (% of valid votes) 2.7 4.0 3.6 325
DVFP May 1924 (% of valid votes) 7.2 8.4 8.0 325
Deportations (per 100 Jews in 1933) 24.2 35.6 34.0 278
Stürmer letters (per 10,000 inhabitants) 0.59 0.86 0.82 325
Synagogue attack (% of towns) 79.1 93.8 90.3 278

Notes: All statistics based on the main sample, including only towns with documented medieval Jewish settlement. Of the 325 towns and cities, 235 (72%) had pogroms in 1348–50. The mean of deportations per 100 Jews and Stürmer letters is weighted by city population in 1933. The mean of synagogue attacks is calculated only for towns with synagogues or prayer rooms in 1933.

III.C. 1920s Pogroms

Pogroms in the 1920s were infrequent and highly localized affairs. Although they were embedded in a broader context of anti-Semitic agitation and acts, such as attacks on shops, we only count recorded acts of physical violence. Cities with Black Death pogroms had, on average, significantly more pogroms in the 1920s than cities without pogroms in 1349. As shown in Panel A of Table V our main sample comprises 320 cities with observations on pogroms in both 1349 and the 1920s. In 232 localities, the Black Death coincided with pogroms. The 1920s saw 20 pogroms in Weimar Germany. The frequency of attack was 8.2% in the 232 cities with pogroms in 1349 versus 1.1% in the remaining 88 cities. A town having experienced a medieval pogrom thus raises the probability of witnessing another pogrom in the 1920s by a factor of approximately 6.

Black Death Pogroms, Pogroms in the 1920s, and Synagogue Attacks

. Pogrom in 1349 . Total .
. No . Yes . .
Panel A: Pogrom in 1920s
No 87 213 300
98.9%91.8%93.8%
Yes 1 19 20
1.1%8.2%6.3%
Total 88 232 320
Panel B: Synagogue attacks
No 14 13 27
20.9%6.2%9.7%
Yes 53 198 251
79.1%93.8%90.3%
Total 67 211 269
. Pogrom in 1349 . Total .
. No . Yes . .
Panel A: Pogrom in 1920s
No 87 213 300
98.9%91.8%93.8%
Yes 1 19 20
1.1%8.2%6.3%
Total 88 232 320
Panel B: Synagogue attacks
No 14 13 27
20.9%6.2%9.7%
Yes 53 198 251
79.1%93.8%90.3%
Total 67 211 269

Black Death Pogroms, Pogroms in the 1920s, and Synagogue Attacks

. Pogrom in 1349 . Total .
. No . Yes . .
Panel A: Pogrom in 1920s
No 87 213 300
98.9%91.8%93.8%
Yes 1 19 20
1.1%8.2%6.3%
Total 88 232 320
Panel B: Synagogue attacks
No 14 13 27
20.9%6.2%9.7%
Yes 53 198 251
79.1%93.8%90.3%
Total 67 211 269
. Pogrom in 1349 . Total .
. No . Yes . .
Panel A: Pogrom in 1920s
No 87 213 300
98.9%91.8%93.8%
Yes 1 19 20
1.1%8.2%6.3%
Total 88 232 320
Panel B: Synagogue attacks
No 14 13 27
20.9%6.2%9.7%
Yes 53 198 251
79.1%93.8%90.3%
Total 67 211 269

Table VI , column (1) reports the ordinary least squares (OLS) regression of pogroms in the 1920s on Black Death pogroms. There is a positive and significant association even after controlling for population size, the percentage of the population that is Jewish, and the percentage that is Protestant. The effect is quantitatively important, as Black Death pogroms are associated with a probability of 1920s pogroms that is more than 6 percentage points higher. This result is confirmed by propensity matching while using the same covariates (Panel B of Table VI ). 40

Dep. variable: . (1) . (2) . (3) . (4) . (5) . (6) .
. 1920s pogroms . NSDAP 1928 . DVFP 1924 . Deportations . Stürmer letters . Synagogue attacks .
. OLS . OLS . OLS . ML . ML . OLS .
Panel A: Baseline regressions
POG 13490.0607*** 0.0142** 0.0147 0.142** 0.369** 0.124**
(0.0226) (0.00567) (0.0110) (0.0706) (0.144) (0.0522)
ln(Pop) 0.0390** −0.00254 −0.00123 0.241*** 0.848*** 0.0498***
(0.0152) (0.00219) (0.00418) (0.0841) (0.0419) (0.0117)
%Jewish 0.0135 0.00174 0.00701 0.0743** 0.218*** 0.0262**
(0.0114) (0.00190) (0.00442) (0.0348) (0.0383) (0.0132)
%Protestant 0.00034 0.00029*** 0.00083*** −0.0039*** −0.0053** 0.00036
(0.00042) (0.000088) (.00018) (0.0012) (0.0023) (0.00060)
ln(# Jews 1933) 0.815***
(0.0822)
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278
Adjusted R 2 0.054 0.043 0.080 0.098
Panel B: Matching estimation a
POG 13490.0744*** 0.0133*** 0.0203** 161.7*** 2.386*** 0.103*
(0.0182) (0.00486) (0.0102) (41.33) (0.570) (0.0553)
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278
Panel C: Geographic matching b
POG 13490.0819*** 0.0116** 0.0238*** 195.8*** 2.864*** 0.152**
(0.0162) (0.00456) (0.00746) (33.55) (0.579) (0.0677)
Median distance 20.4 20.0 20.0 21.9 22.2 23.7
Mean distance 23.4 23.1 23.1 28.3 32.6 27.6
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278
Dep. variable: . (1) . (2) . (3) . (4) . (5) . (6) .
. 1920s pogroms . NSDAP 1928 . DVFP 1924 . Deportations . Stürmer letters . Synagogue attacks .
. OLS . OLS . OLS . ML . ML . OLS .
Panel A: Baseline regressions
POG 13490.0607*** 0.0142** 0.0147 0.142** 0.369** 0.124**
(0.0226) (0.00567) (0.0110) (0.0706) (0.144) (0.0522)
ln(Pop) 0.0390** −0.00254 −0.00123 0.241*** 0.848*** 0.0498***
(0.0152) (0.00219) (0.00418) (0.0841) (0.0419) (0.0117)
%Jewish 0.0135 0.00174 0.00701 0.0743** 0.218*** 0.0262**
(0.0114) (0.00190) (0.00442) (0.0348) (0.0383) (0.0132)
%Protestant 0.00034 0.00029*** 0.00083*** −0.0039*** −0.0053** 0.00036
(0.00042) (0.000088) (.00018) (0.0012) (0.0023) (0.00060)
ln(# Jews 1933) 0.815***
(0.0822)
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278
Adjusted R 2 0.054 0.043 0.080 0.098
Panel B: Matching estimation a
POG 13490.0744*** 0.0133*** 0.0203** 161.7*** 2.386*** 0.103*
(0.0182) (0.00486) (0.0102) (41.33) (0.570) (0.0553)
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278
Panel C: Geographic matching b
POG 13490.0819*** 0.0116** 0.0238*** 195.8*** 2.864*** 0.152**
(0.0162) (0.00456) (0.00746) (33.55) (0.579) (0.0677)
Median distance 20.4 20.0 20.0 21.9 22.2 23.7
Mean distance 23.4 23.1 23.1 28.3 32.6 27.6
Observations 320 325 325 278 325 278

Notes: All regressions run at the city level. Standard errors in parentheses, clustered at the county (Kreis) level. POG 1349 takes the value 1 if a pogrom occurred in the years 1348–50, and 0 otherwise. City population is taken from the 1925 census in column (1) and from the election data for the respective year in columns (2) and (3) in columns (4)–(6), city population is from the 1933 census. %Jews is from the 1925 census for columns (1)–(3), and from 1933 census in columns (4)–(6). %Protestants is from the 1925 census. OLS = ordinary least squares estimation ML = Poisson maximum likelihood estimation.

a Matching estimation based on the same set of control variables as used in Panel A. Treatment variable is POG 1349 . The average treatment effect for the treated (ATT) is reported, using robust nearest neighbor estimation with the four closest matches.

b Matching estimation based on geography the matching characteristics are longitude and latitude. Column (4) uses the city’s Jewish population in 1933 as additional matching variable, and column (5) uses city population in 1933. Treatment variable is POG 1349 . ATT is reported, using robust nearest neighbor estimation with the two closest matches. Distance (in miles) between each city and its two closest matches is reported.


Watch the video: Έβρος: Πυρά ελληνικού στρατού