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commerce-msg - 12/25/09


Commerce and trade in period. Usury.


NOTE: See also the files: guilds-msg, coins-msg, measures-art, measures-msg, occupations-msg, p-prices-msg, p-lawyers-msg, salt-comm-art, p-insurance-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: DEGROFF at intellicorp.COM (Leslie DeGroff)

Date: 10 Apr 91 21:48:28 GMT


Betram of Bearington asks about paper money and letters of credit...


Frederik Braudel 's books discuss a lot of the evolution of

fairs, letters of credit and the evolution of "economic circulation.

Letters of credit were in use, considerable history behind

various successes and failures but in period these were primarily

Person to Person level transactions and a number of major

interesting events as others have mentioned as Nobility would

borrow to the hilt and then default, taking the entire "trust"

build and leverage (more bills in circulation than specie to back it)

systems down.  


  About paper money, in use in China perhaps else where in period,

not in Europe.... one "reference event" for this is "LAW's system

in France in early 1700's... this blew up around 1715 with

major damage to France's economy.  In period and continually

evolving were the notions that today have separated into

"money", "bonds", "stocks"... in  period and into the 1700's

these were not really conceptualized the way we are used to today...

paper money had roots in what today we would consider to be

stocks or bonds or "certificates of deposit :) where you

deposit gold and silver, and get a signed note that says's

yup we got it, but it belongs to undersigned" Realize that

the magic  (chains of trust??? :)) of specie as the only

"REAL" money was only discarded at the international level

after WWII... reading 14th to 18th century economic history

can be scary and educational for today's world on this front,

national bankruptcy, repudiation or other trust breaking

solutions to debt  are all common historical patterns.

  Additional comment on "checks"... the creation of banks

and such conveniences evolved with the expansions and elaborations

of trade from Medieval period on, things really exploded in

complexity and binding formality after the America's

were discoved, the around Africa routes of Far Eastern trade

was established ect.(Post period.... IMHO, may be Columbus

should be the end of period :))  The first attempts at Banks

that retain continuity with today's institutions date

from 16th century.  



Re paper money and the like. I think the closest it gets in period is

Persia, where there was an unsuccessful attempt, I believe under the

Ilkhans, to introduce it.





From: lawbkwn at BUACCA.BITNET (Yaakov HaMizrachi mka HJFeld)

Date: 12 Apr 91 14:07:48 GMT

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


Re Checking in period:

According to Goitien in his book about the Cairo Geniza

(*A Mediterranean Society*), the Jews had a complex

international checking system that allowed money

deposited in Bagdhad or India to be withdrawn in

Cairo or Andalus.  (The Geniza contained some cancelled

checks.)  This goes back to at least the tenth century.

Similarly, Jews in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries

developed a complex syndicate to handle loans and loan

difficulties that was very similar to modern methods of

keeping cash flow transferable and liquid.


In Service,

Yaakov HaMizrachi



From: djheydt at garnet.berkeley.edu

Date: 21 Apr 91 04:32:59 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


Chaz.Butler at f120.n109.z1.fidonet.org (Chaz Butler) writes:

> ... At Pennsic I have seen every kind of religious

>talisman and since I am a merchant I try to have them all available, within

>period pieces where at all possible.  


Which is perfectly period.  There's this soapstone mold, used by a

jeweler, that was found at Birka or some similar Viking site.  You

poured the molten gold (or whatever) into it to cast ornaments.

There's two crosses and a Thor's hammer in it.  The jeweler was

selling whatever the traffic would bear.


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin                Dorothy J. Heydt

Province of the Mists                   djheydt at garnet.berkeley.edu

Principality of the Mists               University of California,

Kingdom of the West                     Berkeley



Sophisticated Merchants?

Date: 11 May 92

From: tip at lead.aichem.arizona.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona


Unto Bertram of Bearington, and Unto the Rialto, doth Thomas Ignatius

Perigrinus, sometimes called Doctor by the gracious, send his most humble



My Lord Bertram,


        Thy suspicions that the good author hath do ring true with me as well.

If I may beg thy indulgance to address a point or two to which I have some

trifling knowledge.  I am afraid that my remarks shall have to somewhat

cursory, for I have none of the books that I shall reference to hand, and thus

I must speak from memory:


        Thy author doth state that the value of money was ill defined - I'faith

this is somewhat true during the so-called "Roman Denier Discontinuity", that

period of time from 500 until 800 when no single standard did hold forth in

Europe.  But even then,  money was always worth it's wieght by tare and

fineness.  Merchants did oft carry a scales and a touch stone.  Pictures of

merchants with scales do date from the early Dynasties of Egypt.  Scales

and weights have been found from such divers countries as Sumer, Phoenicea,

Rome, Greece, Celtic Britain and Gaul.   I'faith, even after Charlemagne

and Offa did cause to be minted the Denier and Penny of 1.3 Gr weight, did

merchants still take payment by Tare...  I have seen many portraits and

woodcuts of fine merchants of the Rennaisnace wherin scales do prominently



Thy author, being of a Germanic country, should be even less froward with his

assertion that money is of a poor and ill defined standard, for the two

greatest trading associations of the Middle Ages, to wit, the Hanseatic League

and the Augsburg League, are both German in nature, and did fix and value

money from 1000 onwards.


Next, thy author doth state that arangements for the settling of disputes which

do arise in the Market place had not yet been made...   By my arm, this man

be not a goodly scholar, for every market did have precisely such arrangements,

else it would not be a chartered market!  The manners of settling of

disputations were diverse, from the Mayors court, to the Bourse Court, to

Pied Powder Court, to the Justice of the Nobility who did grant the charter.

An, were it a Hanseatic or Augsburgian League town, then the Master of the

Kontor would settle the disputes.   Thus, unless thy scholiard doth protest

that there was no single universal manner of settling disputes, or unless thy

Scholiard doth speak of markets without charter, then I know not of what

he speaks.


Next I should like to address the questions of the mathematical skills of

the merchants...    my response must needs depend on what the good scholiard

doth mean by "limited"...    The use of the casting board was well developed

by the year of our Lord 1000, and did not decline from then on.   With the

counting board, one may perform all of those diverse operations which a

merchant is normall wont to do, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication,

division, interest, and ratios.   It would, of course, be safe to say that

not all merchants would be au fait with all such operations,  but a charter

assures that one would find a clerk or scholiard at any great and chartered

market who would perform these tasks, note and notarize the results, and

witness unto contracts and indentures.


Thus, good Bertram, I would say that although the conditions that thy Scholiard

hath described were somewhat valid for the time immediately after the great

Roman Empire had collapsed,  I think it is not a fiar description of

Europe after the time of Charlemagne and Offa.  An he would fain to say

such, then I must needs say that I fear me that thy Scholiard has erected

a man of straw, the easier to make his own points.


An thou wouldst to read a bit more...


Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe,  P. Spufford

The Early History of Banking in Mediterranean Europe, A. P. Usher

Coinage in Mediaeval Europe, P. Grierson

The Early Growth of the European Economy, 600 - 1100, G. Duby

Counters, Jettons and the Use of the Casting Table,  C. Barnard

The Hanseatic League, L. Sprague


I hope that these few notes will be of use to thee, and I remain, ever

thy humble and obedient servant,


Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus



Sophisticated Merchants?_

Date: 11 May 92

From: jtn at nutter.cs.vt.edu (Terry Nutter)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


Unto the good gentles of the RIalto does Lord Hossein Ali Qomi send greetings

and prayers for the blessings of Allah.


Master Bertram recently posted:


>I'm in the midst of reading an academic paper entitled "Organizational,

>Institutional, and Societal Evolution:  Medieval Craft Guilds and the

>Genesis of Formal Organizations" by Alfred Kieser at the Universitat

>Mannheim (which I'm assuming is in Germany).  The paper is basically

>a discussion of the evolution of craft guilds into modern-style

>companies, but as far as I can tell the author seems to be

>selling the capabilities of medieval merchants a bit short.


>In one paragraph he states:


>  As society evolved further, so did an institution that allowed the

>  individuals' activities to be coordinated in a remarkably efficient

>  manner -- the market.  The early local markets, however, were severely

>  hampered by many uncertainties: the value of money was ill-defined,

>  formal procedures to solve conflicts arising from trade at the market

>  had not yet developed, and the mathematical skills of the traders were

>  very limited.  Thus, only a few relatively simple goods were exchanged,

>  such as agricultural and craft goods.  Markets for the exchange of

>  capital goods, labor, and property rights did not develop until later.


>The author specifies no particular time period which matches the description

>above and, later on, takes us on a whirlwind tour from the 10th century to

>the 17th.  My questions, for those more learned on the subject than I,

>are related to the relative degree of sophistication of medieval and

>Renaissance merchants.  I have memories of reading that an elderly

>merchant connected with the Champaigne Fairs died and left his heirs

>a strongbox filled with papers -- all promises of payments of one

>sort or another -- a veritable fortune.  Likewise, I recall reading

>about the use of letters of credit and other instruments of a more

>advanced financial system.  Finally, while the merchants of that

>day may not have been using linear regression and econometric

>analyses as part of their calculations I believe that complex

>triangular trading pacts, "insurance" cooperatives, and detailed

>tracking of relative profits based on bribes or taxes required

>in various markets were more the rule than an exception.


>Would one or more of the kind folk of the Rialto please be kind enough

>to shed some light on these issues for me?  I expect that viewing our

>ancestor's economic lives as "simple" may well be inappropriate.


Without having Dr. Kieser's paper in front of me it is difficult to tell

just how short he is selling our economic ancestors.  If he is describing

the situation prior to the eleventh century, then there is some basis for

his remarks, excepting the brief resurgence of trade during the Carolingian

renaissance (late eighth-early ninth centuries).  He does not appear to

make the too-simplistic distinction between natural and money economies

which occasionally is made in general surveys -- certainly money was much

less central to the early medieval economy than to the later medieval economy,

but it never was entirely supplanted by the barter characteristic of

"natural" economies -- and he is right on the mark about lack of monetary

standardization being a serious impediment to trade.  The peasant producer

and local artisan marketplace never disappeared during the Dark Ages, but

regional and international trade was severely diminished by the destruction

of the Roman commercial infrastructure and the insecurity of life brought

by the barbarian invasions.


As to the question of the "sophistication" of merchants and markets in the

middle ages, the matter is extremely complex and what I am about to say

here is the barest of summaries and, at that, open to controversy and

counterexample.  While the peasant producer and local artisan market never

disappeared, it was not until the early tenth century (again, excepting the

brief Carolingian renaissance) that itinerant pedlars in any large numbers

are mentioned in the sources.  These were almost exclusively regional in

their purview.  By the late eleventh century regional trade in Italy,

France, Provence, Flanders, and the Rhineland began to be more systematically

organized as guild organizations emerged -- hanses, as they were called,

began to establish the necessary commercial infrastructure for extensive

regional trade.  Lombardy, Catalonia, Provence, the Paris-Normandy-Picardy

region, Flanders, and the Rhineland began also to engage in inter-regional

trade on a regular basis.  The two great fair-centers of France -- the

Ile de France and Champagne -- emerged from the organizational efforts of

these guilds.  By the early twelfth century terminological distinction

between retail and wholesale trade is observed in the documentary record,

i.e., between _regratores_ and _meliores_.  Between the mid-twelfth and

mid-thirteenth centuries the real rebirth of international trade, and with

it banking, began in northern Italy.  The Florentines, Lombards, Genovese,

Venetians, Lucchese, and Siennese played the major role in establishing

routes, organizing transport, and arranging finance.  By the mid-thirteenth

century these trading houses had become the major creditors of every

major monarch in Western Europe.


To answer your question as succinctly as possible, pre-tenth century regional

trade was extremely rare.  By the early twelfth century regional and

interregional trade began to flourish and, with it, limited credit

arrangements and relatively sophisticated record-keeping. By the late

twelfth century this regional and interregional trade network had been

interfaced with an extensive international trade, primarily with the East,

mediated by Italian merchants, and an extensive network of interlocking

credit arrangements associated with sophisticated banking had emerged.


There is an enormous literature on these subjects.  I would recommend the

bibliographies in the following works as a decent starting-place:


M.M. Postan and E.E. Rice, eds.  _The Cambridge Economic History, Vol. II:

        Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages_.  Cambridge, 1952.


M.M. Postan.  _The Medieval Economy and Society_.  London, 1972.


C. Cipolla.  _Before the Industrial Revolution.  European Society and

        and Economy, 1000-1700_.  London, 1976.


J. Gilchrist.  _The Church and Economic Activity in the Middle Ages_.

        Cambridge, 1977.


T.H. Lloyd.  _The English Wool Trade in the Middle Ages_. Cambridge, 1977.


P. Boissonnade.  _Life and Work in Medieval Europe_. New York, 1987.  This is

        a reprint, but Boissonnade's work is still useful and the

        bibliography is quite good for late nineteenth and early twentieth

        century sources.


I hope that this is helpful.  If you would like more, please email me.  I

have some research interests in this area.


In Service to the Society,


Hossein Ali Qomi



Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 21:57:52 -0400

From: Barbara Nostrand <bnostran at lynx.dac.neu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Usury


Noble Cousins!


Lady Morgan made a number of factual errors concerning prohibitions of

usery.  Unfortunately, my copies of Ha Chinuk, the Book of Mitzvot,

the Mishna, etc. are in storage so I will not be able to provide

citations at this time.  However, the prohibition of "usery" is actually

found in the OT not the NT.  There are a number of permitted loans which

can be made, but these are made by depositing collateral with the lender

who is responsible for returning it in good condition, but who can make a

number of legitimate uses out of it while it is in his keeping.  The

legal mechanism is actually one of a conditional sale. Under Jewish law,

a sale takes place when goods are placed in the hands or upon the property

of the buyer and not one monetary compensation is paid. Actually usery

(the lending of money at interest) is permitted to non-Jews.  To this day,

Jewish communities provide interest free loans to needy Jews.  Regardless,

permitted loans between Jews were and are interest-free. You can enter

into a business partnership where you may have a share in earnings, but that

is a different matter as well.  Finally, Torah law provides for a release

of debts every seven years and the return of land holdings every seventy years.

A direct implementation of this rule would result in nobody loaning anyone

anything immediately before the end of a cycle.  The Rabbis therfore

introduced a scheme which solved this particular problem. Regardless, this

provision in Torah law is the root for modern personal bankruptcy law.


Further, Lady Morgan appears to be misreading the NT story.  Jewish

sacrificial offerings had to be unblemished.  Further, certain monetary

transfers (including the head tax) had to be paid with the temple sheckle.

It was very difficult for people to bring animals, etc. with them for

great distances, so the scheme for selling animals suitable for offerings,

exchanging money, etc. was established in Jerusalem.  So far so good.  The

problem had to do with the merchants cheating their customers.  There is

a specific Torah law against cheating people in terms of weights and

measures.  Regardless, the "overturning of the tables of the money changers"

has nothing to do with usery, but with this business of selling ritually

pure sacrificial animals, etc.


>This is one reason Jews in period have a bad reputation; because they lack a

>religious bar to moneylending, almost all the financiers and bankers in

>period, and even into fairly modern times, are Jewish.


Actually, Jewish bankers offered lower interest rates and an international

commercial network with letters of credit, etc. to their customers.  This

is one of the reasons that princes invited Jews into their lands.


                                      Your Humble Servant

                                      Solveig Throndardottir

                                      Amateur Scholar


| Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D.             | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM         |

| de Moivre Institute                 | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est        |

| 676 Pullman Road 135                | 23 East Collings Avenue             |

| Moscow, Idaho  83843                | Collingswood, New Jersey 08108-8203 |

| mailto:bnostran at lynx.neu.edu       | (609) 854-8203                      |




Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 12:32:06 -0500

From: Tim Weitzel <wcrobert at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Usury


Actually,  an archaic use of the word usury is interest charged or paid on

a loan. The amount of interest was not a spedific concern becasue any

interest gained off of a loan was usury.  But, it was not just the Jewish

bankers who stood to gain profit in the handling of money. Christian

bankers also charged  interest in the middle ages, but used sanctioned

procedural rules to "disguise" it.  I don't know if it really was unknown

the clergy of the time, but the methods used gave at least a sense of

propriety and didn't overtly contradict canon law.


For an exaple, take the Bill of Exchange.  What the Italian bankers started

to do, and what others adopted, was to specify trade on paper in terms of

different governments' money systems.  A Bill of Exchange would be written

for a specified amount of money to buy a particular good, say a bolt of

wool cloth, on a given day, say at a fair.  At some stated point in the

future, payment would be made in a specified amount of a specified

governments currency.  The banker's prediction that the currency picked

would be more valuable at the specified payment time, could speculate on

the profit they would make from that cloth.  It might appear to be risky,

but the seaonal fluctuation of currency was fairly predictble from one

government to the next.  So in fact the bankers could make profit from

loaning money by taking in a greater amount than was loaned.  Even better

for the banker was the fact that the exhange took place without having to

pass money from hand to hand, only a document.




Spufford, Peter.  Money and its use in medieval Europe. Cambridge

<Cambridgeshire> ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Pounds, Norman John Greville.  An economic history of medieval Europe.

London ; New York : Longman, 1974.


Lane, Frederic Chapin.  Money and banking in medieval and Renaissance

Venice.  Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1985.


Tryffin ap Myrddin

Shadowdale, Calontir



Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 21:11:13 +0000

From: "James Pratt" <cathal at mindspring.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Usury


"Marisa Herzog" <marisa_herzog at macmail.ucsc.edu> said:

> The Templars also practiced usury.  I don't remember how they got around the

> laws, but it was one of the things that got them all lynched in the end.


        Well, have you ever heard the term "carrying charges"?  It seems

that while the charging of interest was anathema, the charging of

monies to facilitate and safeguard its transfer was not. Hence the

Lombard bankers, the Fuggers and others of their ilk added stiff

"fees" for the oversight and transfer of monies to third parties

from both their own funds and those on deposit in their care.  

Part of the money was retained for costs while the rest went

as a bonus to the principal.





Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 09:24:57 -0500

From: epinegar at juno.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Usury


On Tue, 17 Jun 1997 08:28:31 -0500 Tim Weitzel

<wcrobert at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> writes:


>I don't want to be necessarily contrary, but I think the idea of a

>check is



I'm sorry - i wasn't clear.  A bill of exchange is a negotiable demand

for payment, as is a check.  There are examples of these instrments prior

to period, actualy, which take the form of modern checks, although I'm

sticking my neck out here since my references are in storage (sounds like

":the dog ate my homework, doesn't it? 8)).   There are certainly

technical differences between checks and bills of exchange, but both

entitle the holder in due course to demand payment from the entity on

which it is drawn and obligate the drawee to make the payment provided

any prerequisite terms and conditions are met   Bills of exchange are

used today both as freestanding payment mechanisms for commercial

transactions or in conjunction with letters of credit.





Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 10:01:10 -0400

From: Barbara Nostrand <bnostran at lynx.dac.neu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Usury


Noble Cousins!


Lady Elina wrote:


>Thanks!  This should be required reading for all those people who believe

>that "coin of the realm" is THE period way to make payments in the SCA.

>The bill of exchange, still used today in international commercial

>transactions, is a negotiable demand instrument, same as a check.  Checks

>were period.


Not quite.  It is rather more complicated than that.  A lot of transactions

in period (including taxes) were "in kind". There was only a limitted monetary

economy until fairly recently.  The Talmud even views money as being a kind

of good rather than as a purely abstract entity.  The Talmud says that "silver

aquires copper and gold aquires silver".  That is, what is going on in changing

money was a sale of a good (which happened to look like money) for money.


Letters of credit and letters of transfer (or exchange) were developed by

about the High Middle Ages (if my memory serves me correctly), but you should

not presume that these were commonly seen.  Personal checques were really only

popularized in North America during the late 1950's and 1960's.  Prior to

that, people used Postal Money Orders or purchased goods C.O.D.  Technically,

the personal cheque is an I.O.U. instructed to be paid by a specific transfer

agent.  Prior to the Personal Cheque, people generally used currency (which

were generally either demand certificates or some sort of I.O.U.)  U.S.

Silver Certificates and Gold Certificates were each supposed to be backed by

specific pieces of Gold and Silver held by the U.S. Treasury.  The Federal

Reserve Note was an inflationary partial backing scheme. The United States

Note (Green Back) operated solely upon the "Faith and Credit of the United

States Government" and the legal requirement that these notes be accepted

as payment for debts.  Paper money of any type has a long and somewhat

uncertain history.  The Chinese were problably the first to circulate a

paper currency, but they eventually had to resort to perfuming the bills in

an attempt to compell people to take them.  More recently, Banque notes

appear to somewhat predate Government treasury notes.  For example, there

are two banques in Hong Kong which produce banque notes, two (if I recall

correctly) in England and one in Scotland.  (A Scotts friend of mine was

complaining that the Japanese banques were not exchanging his Scott's Pounds.)


Commercial banquing practices involving partial liquidity and clearing times

are inherently inflationary and lead to vulnerability of the settlement

currency as the banques create virtual money.  (This is where a lot of

those Eurodollars come from.  They are created by banquing activity in

Europe independent of any direct U.S. Federal action.)


Regardless, currency appears to be the successor for for the letter of exchange

while there are still letters of credit.  Letters of credit work a bit

differently in that they can be drawn upon.  Neither were financial instruments

in common use and acceptance outside of international trade during most places

and most times during period.


                                             Your Humble Servant

                                             Solveig THrondardottir

                                             Amateur Scholar


| Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D.             | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM         |

| de Moivre Institute                 | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est        |

| 676 Pullman Road 135                | 23 East Collings Avenue             |

| Moscow, Idaho  83843                | Collingswood, New Jersey 08108-8203 |

| mailto:bnostran at lynx.neu.edu       | (609) 854-8203                      |




Subject: Re: ANST - re: templer inovations

Date: Mon, 02 Feb 98 07:11:12 MST

From: Baronman at aol.com

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


In a message dated 98-02-01 20:53:38 EST, Wolf writes:

>and "checks " (personal promisary notes backed and honored by some

>central financial authority ... in europes case, the banks ... in

>chinese case, the government)


and Sir Cian writes


>The chinese may have been first, but it is easier to trace the lineage from

>european Orders to european banks.  Not the first, just the first (t)here.


Since my area of research only encompasses  the East and European scopes, I

may very well be mistaken about the FIRST to invent checks, but if Wolf is

right, it appears that the Chinese were first with checks through a

government agency.  However- the Templars not only dealt with Monarchs but

with individuals too- giving thr traveler the ability to deposit money in a

English or French depository maintained by the Temple and withdrawing it by

presenting the proper coded writing to the Templar depository - say,  in

Jerusalem.  This was the first time travelers could move freely through

troubled areas and not worry about being robbed of ALL their money.  This also

neccessitated the keeping of large sums of money in these depositories, which

is what got the attention of Phillip the Fair of France, who tried to suppress

the Templars with trumped up charges of heresy while in cahoots with his

puppet Pope, so that he could borrow the money in the French depository. This

attempted to liberate money from the Temple ( BTW- money the Temple refused to

loan to Phillip, because he was a bad risk) occured on a Friday the

thirteenth, and since that day, has been considered unlucky.  Just a little

side bar-- when Phillip's men finally broke into the Templar's depository, the

money was gone.  Must have been a leak somewhere- guess things have not

changed too much over the years.


Baron Bors of Lothian



Subject: [SCA-U] Medieval Economics

Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 11:26:44 -0800

From: Pat Reed <preed at SOS.NET>



You might also look at:

The Role of Precious Metals in European Economic Development by S.M.H.

Bozorgnia, Contributions in Economics and Economic History, Number 192,

Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1998.  ISBN 0-313-29445-3


It has a great deal of information about trade and industries in relation to

economic values.


Patricia of Leicester



Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 10:23:47 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - 16th Century recipes a few questions. . .


> >Parmesan cheese is definitely period and was very likely available to the

> >Welsers as they were one of the major German banking families in the

> >international trade.


> The following is said as a generalization from my readings,  not a specfic

> source.  When looking at German Cooking, remember the Emperiors lived in

> the south and in italy.  Also one had the Hanse league in the north moving

> goods from central europe, northern lands, british isle etc.   I would have

> to say that if it existed in a large city anywhere in the known world, it

> could have been traded for throughout Europe and especially the Germanic

> lands.


> Now I will sit back and listen and learn from the experts in these areas

> for specifics.


> Frederich


Sabina Welser's cookbook was written in Augsburg and is dated 1553 (IIRC).

The comments I made were specific to this cook book and not to German

cooking in general.  


As a small historical note, the Hanse was essentially defunct by the 15th

Century, although it formally disbanded in the 17th Century (1669).  The

English and the Dutch were taking over the Baltic and Russian trade.

Augsburg is a southern German city and was probably little affected by the

Baltic trade.  It originated as a Roman garrison and trade town dealing in

salt with the Salzkammergut.  Later it became a textile manufacturing town.

The wealth and connections from the textile trade were used to create an

international banking empire.


Trade requires that the the people receiving the goods be able to pay for

them.  As the Fuggers, Hochstetters and Welsers controlled much of Europes

mining, manufacture and trade, this is not a particular problem.  The

Welsers could afford the best goods and since Sabina calls for parmesan

cheese in some recipes, I'm fairly certain they had parmesan cheese

available.  How it was transported there is open to question, since it could

have been brought up the Danube, up the Main, or transported overland from



As for the Emperors, Augsburg didn't worry much about them, they bought

them.  The Emperor at this time was Carlos V (Carlos I of Spain).  A

financial coalition of the Fuggers, Hochstetters and Welsers put up the

money to bribe the electors to put Carlos on the throne. For their part in

this, the Welsers received a Venezuela and Colombia as a herditary fief in

1528, after Carlos captured Rome and the Pope.  The monopoly was revoked in

1546, a hard blow but not completely destructive.  


In 1550, the Fuggers missed monopolizing the tin mines in Bohemia and

Saxony, started a panic and went bankrupt.  This event marked the decline of

the Augsburg bankers and the rise of the Dutch and English banking and trade

empires fueled by loot from the Indies.





Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 22:15:10 -0400

From: grizly at mindspring.com

Subject: Re: SC - FW: Spices Used as a Form of Currency?


I got it!  You'll find many references in _Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean 13...." (dont have title right in fron tof me.  There are references to merchants paying port taxes using grains [of paradise], cinnamon, long pepper and a couple other tax spices.  I seem to recall the references for Naples in the 14th century showed persian traders coming in and paying with pound of spice.  It is an indispensable resource as it lists cargo manifests from and to different locations as well as commentary on some obscure substances.


niccolo difrnacesco


From: Beary, Karen [mailto:kbeary at usatoday.com]

>I've run out of ideas and am hoping someone from the list will be able to

>help me out.  Is there someone (anyone?) making up the list who may have

>run across documentation sources for spices used as currency by Arab



>In my research into spices and trade, I've seen evidence (several places)

>that Europeans used spices -- peppercorns, for example -- as a form of

>currency.  But nowhere have I found references to Muslim merchants using

>spices as "legal tender."


>The value placed on spices was often greater than that given to gold or

>jewels and I know that ancient cities were founded on the wealth of

>Muslim spice merchants.  Does anyone out there know how to find out if Arab

>merchants used spices as a form of currency as well as a tradable



>Izdihara al Hakima bint durr



Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 22:21:08 -0400

From: grizly at mindspring.com

Subject: Re: Re: SC - FW: Spices Used as a Form of Currency?


Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World

copyright 1955

Columbia University Press

New York, NY

author last name:Lopez

ISBN 0-231-01865-7

Libr of Congr #  HF395.M43 1990


I found the listing in my 'card catalog'.





Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 13:14:32 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC -


Good speculation.  The Augsburg bankers were involved with funding the spice

industry in the 16th Century.  The Fuggers, in particular, were deeply

involved in the Portuguese spice trade.


I haven't read them but you might try Victor Von Klarwill's Fugger

News-Letters (1924), The Fugger News-Letters: Second Series (1972) and

Unpublished Letters from the Correspondents of the House of Fugger During

the Years 1586-1605 (1977).


There are also some collections of Italian trade documents and

correspondence which may address the issue.






> I wonder if there exists, anywhere, records of trade in spice

> futures/options. We do have records of such ventures being

> insured, and





> Adamantius



Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 13:59:58 -0400

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC -




> I wonder if there exists, anywhere, records of trade in spice

> futures/options. We do have records of such ventures being insured, and

> I would not be at all surprised if people were trading stock in

> corporations created for such ventures, formally or otherwise. If, say,

> Cedric were able to buy "call" options on grains of paradise scheduled

> to arrive in Bristol by ship in July, he'd be guaranteed the right to

> purchase them from this ship at a previously agreed-upon quantity and

> discounted price. Such options were probably transferable. Wouldn't that

> amount to almost the same thing as trading in spices as a medium of exchange?


Venturing in spices was common.

This is how most of the Expeditions of the English East India company

were funded. Actually, not just with Spices and hte Eastern India trades,

BTW, but also the Muscovy Company, and a lot of the voyages of

expedition were funded by "venture capital"

A "company" or set of partners would pay to outfit a ship ( representatives

of the company would often go on the trip as well, to ensure the captian

and crew were not skimming) and they would get a predefined share in

the cargo upon return.  

(this was all "futures trading", since the ship was not even outbound

at this point.)

Persons in the exchange company would be allowed to speculate on the

venture by buying "shares" in the cargo.

It was not impossible that one could "opt out" of a shares contract on a

single voyage by transferring the shares to Cedric, but what was more

common was that the person would "cash out" of the company, selling

his shares back to the company.





Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 14:04:50 EDT

From: allilyn at juno.com

Subject: Re: SC -spice and economics


There's an oldie but goodie book,



Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York,.


It is old, but probably still reliable, since he is considered the

seminal historian of medieval economics.  


One note for the person doing the Carolingian feast, the spice trade was

not available.  "The Western peoples who, from the end of the Merovingian

era, had left off using spices, welcomed them with growing eagerness.

They soon recovered their place in the diet of the upper classes of

society, and the more commerce exported them noth of the Alps, the more

the demand for them increased." p. 144.


The section is on the re-establishment of trade after navigation was

re-established between the Tyrrhenian Sea, Africa, and the ports of the

Levant during the 11th C.  


However, in another portion of the book, he discusses coinage vs. barter

The establishment of a Fair, under Royal Charter, also granted the

freedom to coin money.  Money [coins] was used in the market places,

references to prices were given in monetary terms in documents, and

everything remaining shows clearly the expected giving and recieving of

actual money.  Which, of course, is not to say it never happened--just

wasn't the norm.  On the estate, 'in kind' was used rather than coin:

day's labor, so many baskets of apples, etc.  No reference was given to

using spice as money, but it's a small book.  Maybe the Arabic resources

would have something.


Allison,     allilyn at juno.com



Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 08:23:53 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC -spice and economics


This point is open to question.  In 716, Chilperic II the King of Neustria,

abated the taxes on one pound of cinnamon, two pounds of cloves and 30

pounds of pepper for the monastery of Corbie in Normandy. And in 745, the

archbishop of Mainz, Wynfrith Boniface, received a gift of pepper from the

Roman deacon Gemmulus.


There are a number of references which suggest the spice trade did not

disappear, but continued through Byzantium into Europe at a slower and more

costly pace.




> There's an oldie but goodie book,



> Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York,.


> One note for the person doing the Carolingian feast, the spice trade was

> not available.  "The Western peoples who, from the end of the Merovingian

> era, had left off using spices, welcomed them with growing eagerness.

> They soon recovered their place in the diet of the upper classes of

> society, and the more commerce exported them noth of the Alps, the more

> the demand for them increased." p. 144.


> Allison,     allilyn at juno.com



Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 18:28:13 -0400

From: Darice Moore <magistra at tampabay.rr.com>

Subject: Re: SC -spice and economics


"Decker, Terry D." wrote:

>> This point is open to question.  In 716, Chilperic II the King of Neustria,

>> abated the taxes on one pound of cinnamon, two pounds of cloves and 30

>> pounds of pepper for the monastery of Corbie in Normandy.  And in 745, the

>> archbishop of Mainz, Wynfrith Boniface, received a gift of pepper from the

>> Roman deacon Gemmulus.


>> There are a number of references which suggest the spice trade did not

>> disappear, but continued through Byzantium into Europe at a slower and more

>> costly pace.


I've been doing quite a bit of research on the Franks (my persona is

Frankish) and I recall from one book that throughout the Merovingian

era, there was quite a lot of squabbling among the Frankish kings as to

who would "get" Provence included in their holdings.  Provence was the

import/export center, and whoever controlled it received the extensive

importation duties on such items as silk, spices, et al. Importation

continued, though it may not have been practiced as frequently as



- - Clotild



Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 22:12:29 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy at silk.net>

Subject: Re: SC - FW: Spices Used as a Form of Currency?


Greetings from Francesco


I don't call to mind any reference to spices as currency among the

Mediterranean or Middle Eastern Arabs (which doesn't mean it doesn't

exist -- just that I haven't hit upon it -- but I don't read Arabic).

However, in the Islamized area of the medieval Sudan, the vast strip across

Africa from the Atlantic nearly to the Indian Ocean, south of the Sahara

desert, spices do seem often to have been used as a means of exchange (in

that area they did not use coined money, but there were certain goods, such

as cowrie shells, which were accepted as payments at fairly standardized

values in a way which rather set them above normal barter). Ibn Battuta, the

famous Muslim world-traveler of the 14th century (the Arab world's answer to

Marco Polo), found when he travelled in this area of black Africa that

spices were what he should carry to make purchases. On a trip eastward from

Timbuktu, for example, he says: "Every night we stayed in a village and

bought what we were in need of in the way of wheat and butter for salt,

spices and glass trinkets." [quoted in Ross E. Dunn, *The Adventures of Ibn

Battuta* (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 304-305.

There are more similar examples in the complete memoirs of Ibn Battuta, but

I have only this selection at hand]


Such a custom of payment continued for centuries in sub-Saharan Africa, and

will be found in the accounts of nineteenth century travelers. For example,

Gustave Nachtigal, a German who in 1869-74 was one of the first Europeans to

cross the African continent, found that from Bornu eastwards through to the

Nile spices of one sort or another were used for payments. For example:

"Strips of cotton cloth were the usual medium of exchange, along with

*kohol*, *kimba* pepper, glass beads and the like" [Gustav Nachtigal,

*Sahara and Sudan, Volume 4: Wadai and Darfur*, trans. by Allan G. B. Fisher

and Humphrey J. Fisher (London: C. Hurst and Co., 1971), p. 26] "In Bornu .

. . the favourite mediums of exchange were *kimba* pepper, cowrie shells and

*kohol* . . ." [vol. 4, p. 31] " As mediums of exchange in the Fitri region

paper, red Sudan pepper, *kimba*, salt, cowrie shells and beads are much in

demand, but onions and garlic are also used." [vol. 4, p. 37]


Kimba pepper is *Xylopia aethiopica*. It is a pod off a tree which grows

only in Africa south of the Sahara. The taste is like a very pungent black

pepper, even a little numbing on the taste buds. I've managed to get hold of

a supply, and will soon have it in the web-catalogue, once I've calculated a



Red Sudan pepper is the hot African variety of capsicum pepper (African bird



David Dendy / ddendy at silk.net



Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 18:55:06 -0500

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies


At 1:11 PM -0500 6/20/00, Decker, Terry D. wrote:

>  > Could be--but you don't need conquest for trade. Gold was coming up

>  > long before that.

>  >

>  > David Friedman


>Do you have any dates on the trade?  A lot of things came from the

>Trans-Sahara in Antiquity, when the Sahara was still a grassland and travel

>was relatively easy.  After it turned to desert, the trade route between

>Mali and the Mediterranean became one of the deadliest in the world and it

>was essentially abandoned.  IIRC, it became a major slave trading route only

>in the 17th and 18th Centuries as the supply of slaves from Europe was cut



E. W. Bovill, _The Golden Trade of the Moors_, provides a pretty

extensive history of trade between the Maghreb and subsaharan Africa.

He quotes Ibn Haukal in the 10th century as describing Sijilmasa, in

an Oasis just south of the Atlas mountains, and connecting it to the

gold trade. He does say that the way to the mines is "dangerous and

troublesome." The author comments that "Early writers are unanimous

in attributing the city's wealth to the gold trade with Ghana, ...

." He also describes salt as coming from Taghaza, twenty days' march

south towards Ghana.


The author writes:


"The gold trade with Ghana was probably well established before the

coming of the Arabas. ... Some time between A.D. 734 and 750 ... they

sent an expedition down the Sijilmasa-Taghaza road to attack Ghana.

...  it reached the Sudan and obtained a lot of gold, but it failed

in its purpose."


He mentions that Masudi, tenth century, describes the "silent trade"

in gold in the Sudan.


The general impression I get from him is that cross Saharan trade,

mostly under Tuareg control, continued pretty much from Roman times







Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 09:22:36 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>

Subject: Re: Meats/spices in MA (was Re: SC - I am So Ashamed! (long))


> > Well, I don't thein the tax spices were so much in special regard as of a

> > set, constant value, like salt. It's posisble that the use of peppercorns,

> > in particular, in rents meant that people of lower means had access to

> > that spice.

> You lost me on the 'rents' thing; don't know where that came in.  Using

> spices as tax payment and tribute suggest that they were a combination

> of valued, expensive, rare and desired by nobility. All of these suggest

> it could be intentionally limited for low classed peasant types. Do you

> have positive reference to purchase or use by working class farmer

> types?  I don't say it never happened, but my readings suggest very

> limited access to 'luxury spices' by any save nobility and later (post

> 1300) merchant classes in Italian regions, France and England.  Cannot

> speak for Germany et al.  That would be for the appropriate scholars to

> comment.  Lots of viable replacements spices and herbs were readily

> available, as in the aforementioned ubiquitous mustard.


There are certainly references to peppercorn rents. Remember that the

terms 'taxes' and 'rents' are messy. However, C. Ann Wilson says, "But

pepper had become common again" by the 11th c. "and was cheap enough to be

within reach of the small manorial landlord". She also mentions late

period peppercorn rents. The price given for later period: "Dame Alice de

Bryene in 1419 paid two shillings and a penny per pound for pepper in

london, but only one and eleven a pound when it was bought at Stourbridge

fair" and a pound of pepper goes quite a way. By contrast, mustard was

sold for "less than a farthing a pound for the household of Dame Alice de



One thing I find interesting in this discussion is that the idea of the

prosperous peasant seems to be being ignored. Over and over again, the

economic history texts mention the idea that, depending on the laws,

peasants worked hard to have enough grain, etc. to sell after paying their

rent, taxes or tithe. Such might not have a lot of spending cash, but the

assumption that the Grocer's guilds and the itinerant chapment catered

only to merchants and the aristocracy seems to be an illogical leap.

- --

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne at tulgey.browser.net



Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 18:51:39 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Meats/spices in MA

> I think we have a time as well as money division between our opinions.  My

> basic viewpoint is very early period, when there was much less of the

> in-between class. I agree that the later we go, the more people had spice,

> that is common knowlege. But we can't say that that medieval peasants had

> spices without making clearer WHEN and WHICH of them had spices.


C. Ann Wilson points out that in Britain between the 5th and 11th

centuries, spices in general were a rare commodity. (I'm summing up the

entirety of pg 279 and 280 which I'm too lazy to copy here.)


Now, about the state of spice selling in Late medieval England, without

reference to peasants...

"Outside London spices could be obtained periodically at the great

regional fairs; and the commoner and cheaper ones, such as pepper and

ginger, were sold by itinerant chapmen. Prices at the fairs were sometimes

keener than those of London. Dame Alice de Bryene in 1419 paid two

shillings an a penny per pound for pepper in London, but only one and

eleven a pound when it was bought at Stourbridge Fair.

But London could supply the rarer, more exotic varieties, and moreover

they were available there throughout the year. So when a member of a

household had to go to London on business, he was often commissioned to

send or bring back several different spices.

The Grocer's Company encouraged this state of affairs, and for a time in

the fifteenth century even tried to ban its members from selling spices at

the fairs, lest trade should thus be diverted from London. In country

towns the shopkeepers, who acted as agents for members of the Company,

charged prices even higher than the London ones.

A few Landowners had another source of spices in rents, which were

occasionally paid in agreed weights of pepper. A peppercorn rent was, of

course, insignificant in this context, but a fixed rent of a larger

quantity could supply a household for most of the year. The two priests

living at Munden's Changry in Bridport in the mid-fifteenth century

recieved half a pound of pepper among their rents." p 283.


Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne at tulgey.browser.net



From: Mark Mettler [mailto:mettler at bulloch.net]

Sent: Friday, November 03, 2000 4:51 AM

To: sca_moneyer at egroups.com

Subject: [sca_moneyer] Spur Money


And the trivia question of the day is: What is 'spur money'?


Clue 1:  17th Century


From _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_ (1898), by E. Cobham Brewer:

Spur Money: Money given to redeem a pair of spurs. Gifford says, in the time of Ben Jonson, in consequence of the interruptions to divine service occasioned by the ringing of the spurs worn, a small fine was imposed on those who entered church in spurs. The enforcement of this fine was committed to the beadles and chorister-boys.


If I recall, that is also where we get the phrase "to dog one's heels" - the

chorister boys would "dog the heels" of the spur-wearers until the spur

money was paid.





Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 16:03:27 -0500 (EST)

From: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] an article about food & market

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Just came across this:

F. J. Fisher, "The Development of the London Food Market, 1540-1640," in

E.M. Carus-Wilson, ed., Essays in Economic History, I (London, 1954), p.



Charts of how much was imported, market gardening info, etc.


-- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 15:45:31 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Partly OP: Brown vs. white rice?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


One might try the London Public Records Office (as the gentleman who wrote

this http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/munro5/SPICES1.htm did) or possibly

even try the Royal London Archives.  Shipping manifests (other than those in

the Archives of the Indies in Seville) might be a little hard to find. Port

records, on the otherhand, especially those in England, should be fairly



There are also some excellent sources in various economic history papers,

but most of those aren't webbed and have to be located and ordered from

academic publishers.  Johnna might prove more useful than I in finding

such sources.





Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 09:05:52 -0500 (EST)

From: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] shipping manifests and port records

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> A shipping manifest is the record of what items were shipped on one

> voyage of a ship, correct? How detailed are these? Do they actually

> detail what was shipped? Or just a general description or maybe only

> the shipper and the amount of cargo shipped?


Usually they are very detailed, in order to prove that the same stuff came

off the ship at the end of the journey as at the beginning.


> What do you mean by port records? And how do these differ from a

> shipping manifest? How far back do such records exist?


I'm not sure how far back records exist, but port records would indicate

how much of what came in on cargoes-- they were used to track tarriffs. So

they would be detailed, but government records.


-- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Coins and their Commonality?

From: skrossa-unn at nonsense.MedievalScotland.org (Sharon L. Krossa "No Nonsense")

Organization: MedievalScotland.org

Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 00:19:49 GMT


jk <klessig at cox.net> wrote:

> skrossa-unn at nonsense.MedievalScotland.org (Sharon L. Krossa "No

> Nonsense") wrote:

> >Yes, medieval and early modern people did. They lent plate, they lent

> >spoons, they lent belt buckles, they lent rings, etc. I think in

> >Aberdeen they may even have lent barrels of salmon...


> So they could have barrels of salmon during Lent?


No, as a valuable commodity that was in effect as good as currency, not

to eat.


Someone asked me in private email for more information, and I'll repeat

here what I replied to him:


I based the comment not on any specific recollection of a case of salmon

being lent but rather on the general observation by myself and, or more

relevance, other historians such as


Gemmill, Elizabeth, and Nicholas Mayhew. _Changing Values in Medieval

Scotland: A Study of Prices, Money, and Weights and Measures_.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.




that salmon appears to have sometimes been used almost like an alternate

form of currency. Or, rather, they were a thing of significant value

used like other things of value, such as items made of precious metal,

jewelry, etc. That is, they were given in wed (pledge/security for

future payment), they were used to pay off debts, etc. And so, like

other things of value used in these ways, they may even have been lent.


(Thus my "I think ... may even ..." really did mean "I think" and "may"



In fact, reading through Gemmill & Mayhew, they actually write (and

footnote with town record entries from Aberdeen and elsewhere):


-----begin quote p. 306-----

From the 1420s salmon assumes an importance in the record of the

commercial life of Aberdeen which it would be difficult to overestimate.

Unfailing demand for this fish in thte markets of northern Europe made

salmon as acceptable as ready money in trading and financial circles in

the north-east.

-----end quote----




-----begin quote p. 308-----

In just the same way, demand for salmon was such that ready sales on

profitable terms could confidently be predicted. So long as this was so,

salmon became so creditworthy as to be as good as money itself. Our

price series contains plentiful records of money owing for salmon, and

salmon owing for money, while in settlement of debts it seems to be

almost a matter of indifference whether final payment be made in coin or

fish or both.

-----end quote-----


and (even more clearly)


-----begin quote p. 309-----

Whether cash or salmon were originally advanced lenders might often

secure their loans demanding pledges of land, rents, or fishing tackle

as a guarantee of repayment.

-----end quote-----


So looks like I can amend my statement to: In Aberdeen they even lent

salmon :-)




Sharon L. Krossa "No Nonsense" skrossa-unn at nonsense.MedievalScotland.org

Medieval Scotland:  http://www.MedievalScotland.org/



Date: Sat, 6 May 2006 22:58:58 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] 14th Century Food Imports

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


In the early 14th Century, the following items were being bought and sold in

the markets of Constantinople.  The containers were usually considered tare

to be subtracted from the gross weight of the sale.  Bear



By the cantar (150 Genoese pounds) -

suet in jars

broken almonds in bags

honey in kegs or skins

rice by the bag

Dried figs of Majorca and Spain in hampers

Cummin in bag

Pistachios in bag





By the hunderdweight (100 Genoese pounds) -

round pepper



powdered sugar




By the pound -


clove stalks and cloves




long pepper



spike (spikenard?)



By other measures -




salted sturgeon tails


oil of Venice

oil of the March

oil of Apulia

oil of Gaeta, etc



wine of Greece

wine of Turpia in Calabria

wine of Patti in Sicily

wine of Patti in Apulia

wine of Cutrone in Calabria

wine of the March

wine of Crete

wine of Romania

country wine



Date: Mon, 8 May 2006 14:37:15 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 14th Century Food Imports

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


La practica della mercatura  by Francesco Balducci Pegolotti in the first

half of the 14th Century.  A partial text is available at

http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/texts/pegol.html .  A full version

of the manuscript text was published in 1936 under the titel La practica

dell mercatura edited by Allen Evans.


Pegolotti was a factor for the Florentine merchants Bardi. While he does

give instructions for a trip to Cathay, it is by the Steppes route to

Beijing rather than on the main silk road and it actually for the reign of

Kublia Khan rather than Kublia's successors, if I have all of the facts



The goods mentioned are for everything entering the region of Constantinople

from all sources and not just that from the China trade.




> Source(s)???


>  Terry Decker <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net> wrote:

> In the early 14th Century, the following items were being bought and sold in

> the markets of Constantinople. The containers were usually considered tare

> to be subtracted from the gross weight of the sale. Bear





Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 09:08:32 -0400

From: rmhowe <mmagnusm at bellsouth.net>

Subject: [SCA-AS] Enameling with Goldstone [glass]

To: - EKMetalsmiths <EKMetalsmiths at yahoogroups.com>,   - Dunstan

        <Dunstan at yahoogroups.com>,    - SCA-ARTS

        <artssciences at lists.gallowglass.org>,      - Metallum_Lochac

        <Metallum_Lochac at yahoogroups.com.au>


<snip - see enameling-msg file>


BTW:  About post period silver standards - something I picked up

earlier this year:

Badcock, William; John Reynolds and William O'Sullivan:  

A New Touch-Stone for Gold and Silver Wares [and] A Brief

and Easie Way By Tables to Cast Up Silver to the Standard of XI

Ounces ij Penyweight and Gold to the Standard of XXII Carracts;

William Badcock, John Reynolds and William O'Sullivan (introduction)

Hard Cover, First Edition, 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall; Praeger

Publishers, NY, 1971;

x, [20], 218 pages followed by about 120 pages of tables.

DESCRIPTION:  This is a photolithographic facsimile of the Second

Edition published in London in 1679.


        The first section of this book is a compendium of useful information

written primarily to advise persons engaged in buying and selling gold

and silver wares. It includes excerpts from early statutes regulating

manufacture and sale of metallic wares, a description of the method

of testing these wares with a touchstone, sketches of symbols    

used in the assay office, and an account of the legal redresses of

persons who found gold and silver wares deficient.


        The second section offers tables that show how gold and silver

could be brought up to the standard of purity then current by adding

and subtracting alloy.

        $30.50 1/2006





Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 13:51:03 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 100 Mile Feasts

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Either of these could help with giving a more period feel to events by

> helping the local resources use to more closely mirror the historic local

> resources.  I do realize that to some degree a 100 mile radius could be

> historically extravagant and that 10 miles might more closely represent a

> radius for an average historic market day.  And I could be off on the

> historic radius as I haven't researched it.  I am just thinking about

> descriptions of people walking/riding  in with a cart/wagon of produce,

> participating in the market and going back home that day or the next.


> What other kind of events or projects do you think would be fun to  

> do with this concept?


> Sharon


Ten miles is about the average days journey for an ox cart.  A trip to

market would likely be no more than a couple of miles because you want the

food to arrive in reasonable time to sell it and return home.  Distances and

times will vary depending on how perishable the food is and where the best

market is.


In England, bakers liked to purchase foreign wheat imported from regions

that used a larger bushel than the Winchester bushel. This allowed them to

squeeze out a little extra flour, which meant extra income under the  

Assize of Bread.


Salt cod travelled hundreds of miles to market, as did oil, olives, sugar

and spices.  Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were herded long distances to

slaughterhouses all over Europe.  If you want to get a feel for the

complexities of European trade and the distances involved, I would suggest

reading the works of Fernand Braudel.  Even the manor system, which comes

closest to the 100 mile radius idea, had a large number long distance






Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 12:00:25 -0800

From: Lilinah <lilinah at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Book opinion request

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Lucrezia wrote:

> Has anyone seen this book:


> The Spice Route: A History, by John Keay. Berkeley: University of

> California Press, 2006, [first published by John Murray Ltd., London]


   It's not a history of spices per se or of exotic land cultures. It's

about the spice route, which in reality was primarily by sea, and the

development of navigation and exploration, economic and political

competition, etc. It includes 32 color illustrations and three modern

maps. And it is footnoted and has an excellent and extensive

bibliography of both primary and secondary resources.


As one blurb on the jacket says:

"With the aid of ancient geographies, travelers' accounts, mariners'

handbooks, ships' logs, and other treatises, Keay reconstructs the

shifting spice routes."


I picked it up recently and enjoyed it immensely.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



From: "Anthony N. Emmel" <lord_kjeran at yahoo.com>

Date: March 29, 2008 12:38:34 PM CDT

To: ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Ansteorra] Amphorae


From: Stefan li Rous

<<< But it is a good point that

amphora were used some past Classical times for transporting wine.

That site seems to give 6th century as the latest, and even then only

in the eastern Mediterranean. Not sure why the use of amphora seems

to have dropped off in the beginning of medieval times, unless it has

to do with the general demise of civilization and trade. >>>


  Ward-Perkins in his book The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization uses the evidence in arachaelogical digs of pottery, inclusding amphorae, as a clue to the breakdown in trade and production after the fall of Rome.  Intersting study.




  Bernhard von Bruck



Anthony N. Emmel

Scholar & Catholic Gentleman


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org