During the Dark Ages did people carry swords frequently?

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#41
The prices may depend on to whom they were available. I recall reading some contracts in Williams' The Knight and the Blast Furnace in which 14-15th c. English kings were ordering quantities of armour and weapons in the five-digit range. Presumably this wasn't the best stuff, but they likely were getting a bulk discount.
The argument was that saying a "cheap sword" was like saying a "cheap Rolex", and this is most certainly not true. 6d (pence) was relatively cheap, even if the middle age.


The prices vatied a lot. A suit of ready made Milanese arnor might cost 8 pounds (see price list), while the armor for a prince was 340 pounds. So price depended on the quality.
 
Oct 2013
6,206
Planet Nine, Oregon
#42
Statute of Winchester. 1285:
FORASMUCH as from Day to Day

"AND Further, It is commanded, That every Man have in his house Harness for to keep the Peace after the ancient Assise; that is to say, Every Man between fifteen years of age, and sixty years, shall be assessed and sworn to Armor according to the quantity of their Lands and Goods ; that is to wit, from Fifteen Pounds Lands, and Goods Forty Marks, an Hauberke, capel de fer, a Sword, a Knife, and an Horse from Ten Pounds of Lands, and Twenty Marks Goods, an Hauberke, a Capel, a Sword, and a Knife ; and from Five Pound Lands, a Gambison, a Capel de Fer, a Sword, and a Knife ; and from Forty Shillings Land and more, unto One hundred Shillings of Land, a Sword, a Bow and Arrows, and a Knife ; and he that hath less than Forty Shillings yearly, shall be sworn to keep Gis-armes; Knives, and other less Weapons ; and he that hath less than Twenty Marks in Goods, shall have Swords, Knives, and other less Weapons ; and all other that may, shall have Bows and Arrows out of the Forest, and in the Forest Bows and Boults. And that View of Armor be made every Year Two Times. And in every Hundred and Franchise Two Constables shall be chosen to make the View of Armor ; and the Constables aforesaid shall present before Justices assigned such Defaults as they do see in the Country about Armor, and of the Suits of Towns, and of Highways ; and also shall present all such as do lodge Strangers in uplandish Towns: for whom they will not answer. And the Justices assigned shall present at every Parliament unto the King such Defaults as they shall find and the King shall provide Remedy therein. And from henceforth let Sheriffs take good Heed, and Bailiffs within their Franchises and without, be they higher or lower, that have any Bailiwick or Forestry in Fee, or otherwise, that they shall follow the Cry with the Country ; and after, as they are bounden, to keep Horses and Armor, or so to do ; and if there be any that do not, the Defaults shall be presented by the Constables to the Justices assigned, and after, by them to the King, and the King will provide Remedy as afore is said. And the King commandeth and forbiddeth, that from henceforth neither Fairs nor Markets be kept in Church-Yards for the Honour of the Church. Given at Winchester, the Eighth of October, in the Thirteenth Year of the Reign of the King."

"From Fifteen Pounds Lands, and Goods Forty Marks, an Hauberke, capel de fer, a Sword, a Knife, and an Horse
From Ten Pounds of Lands, and Twenty Marks Goods, an Hauberke, a Capel, a Sword, and a Knife ;'
From Five Pound Lands , a Gambison, a Capel de Fer, a Sword, and a Knife
From Forty Shillings Land and more, unto One hundred Shillings of Land, a Sword, a Bow and Arrows, and a Knife
And he that hath less than Forty Shillings yearly, shall be sworn to keep Gis-armes; Knives, and other less Weapons
And he that hath less than Twenty Marks in Goods, shall have Swords, Knives, and other less Weapons ;
And all other that may, shall have Bows and Arrows out of the Forest, and in the Forest Bows and Boults.

Many cities in Flanders, Germany and Italy to name a few places could field large and well armed urban militias thanks to similar laws.

Swords came in wide variety of qualities and prices and were by no means too expensive for many of the "common men". These would be bought at markets or from a maker/merchant towns/cities were those were active. A list of the swords produced by Master Markus Dieffstädter in a single year included 150 'peasant's swords' next to the military swords, rapiers and daggers made in his workshop"

From: Myarmoury:
https://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17682
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#43
Statute of Winchester. 1285:
FORASMUCH as from Day to Day

"AND Further, It is commanded, That every Man have in his house Harness for to keep the Peace after the ancient Assise; that is to say, Every Man between fifteen years of age, and sixty years, shall be assessed and sworn to Armor according to the quantity of their Lands and Goods ; that is to wit, from Fifteen Pounds Lands, and Goods Forty Marks, an Hauberke, capel de fer, a Sword, a Knife, and an Horse from Ten Pounds of Lands, and Twenty Marks Goods, an Hauberke, a Capel, a Sword, and a Knife ; and from Five Pound Lands, a Gambison, a Capel de Fer, a Sword, and a Knife ; and from Forty Shillings Land and more, unto One hundred Shillings of Land, a Sword, a Bow and Arrows, and a Knife ; and he that hath less than Forty Shillings yearly, shall be sworn to keep Gis-armes; Knives, and other less Weapons ; and he that hath less than Twenty Marks in Goods, shall have Swords, Knives, and other less Weapons ; and all other that may, shall have Bows and Arrows out of the Forest, and in the Forest Bows and Boults. And that View of Armor be made every Year Two Times. And in every Hundred and Franchise Two Constables shall be chosen to make the View of Armor ; and the Constables aforesaid shall present before Justices assigned such Defaults as they do see in the Country about Armor, and of the Suits of Towns, and of Highways ; and also shall present all such as do lodge Strangers in uplandish Towns: for whom they will not answer. And the Justices assigned shall present at every Parliament unto the King such Defaults as they shall find and the King shall provide Remedy therein. And from henceforth let Sheriffs take good Heed, and Bailiffs within their Franchises and without, be they higher or lower, that have any Bailiwick or Forestry in Fee, or otherwise, that they shall follow the Cry with the Country ; and after, as they are bounden, to keep Horses and Armor, or so to do ; and if there be any that do not, the Defaults shall be presented by the Constables to the Justices assigned, and after, by them to the King, and the King will provide Remedy as afore is said. And the King commandeth and forbiddeth, that from henceforth neither Fairs nor Markets be kept in Church-Yards for the Honour of the Church. Given at Winchester, the Eighth of October, in the Thirteenth Year of the Reign of the King."

"From Fifteen Pounds Lands, and Goods Forty Marks, an Hauberke, capel de fer, a Sword, a Knife, and an Horse
From Ten Pounds of Lands, and Twenty Marks Goods, an Hauberke, a Capel, a Sword, and a Knife ;'
From Five Pound Lands , a Gambison, a Capel de Fer, a Sword, and a Knife
From Forty Shillings Land and more, unto One hundred Shillings of Land, a Sword, a Bow and Arrows, and a Knife
And he that hath less than Forty Shillings yearly, shall be sworn to keep Gis-armes; Knives, and other less Weapons
And he that hath less than Twenty Marks in Goods, shall have Swords, Knives, and other less Weapons ;
And all other that may, shall have Bows and Arrows out of the Forest, and in the Forest Bows and Boults.

Many cities in Flanders, Germany and Italy to name a few places could field large and well armed urban militias thanks to similar laws.

Swords came in wide variety of qualities and prices and were by no means too expensive for many of the "common men". These would be bought at markets or from a maker/merchant towns/cities were those were active. A list of the swords produced by Master Markus Dieffstädter in a single year included 150 'peasant's swords' next to the military swords, rapiers and daggers made in his workshop"

From: Myarmoury:
https://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17682
For those of you who don't know the old English values of coins:

12 pence (d) to a shilling (s)

20 shillings to a pound

a mark was 2/3 of a pound, 160 d, or 13 s 4 d.

A thatcher might make 2 - 4d a day and a common laborer might make a max of 2 pounds a year based on the medieval price listed posted
 
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Jan 2015
2,878
MD, USA
#44
In Britain, most peasants barely had enough to clothe themselces and their family and put some food on the table. It wasn't unknown in times of hardship for many to starve to death because they couldn't afford to buy food. You may afford to buy a knife or a working implement, but it would not be bought for war or self protection but for practical purposes.

Anyway, most people did not travel very far; and if they did it was usually on pilgrimage. Safety came from travelling in a group (hence situations such as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It didn't make you invulnerable to attack, but it did mean that bandits would look for an easier target.

But the simple fact is that if you were a peasant, you simply couldn't afford a weapon solely used for conflict. And if you somehow acquired one whilst fighting for your lord, you would sell it and that would ensure food on the table and a fire in the hearth.

Military duty, and the equipment you were required to have in order to fight, was assigned *according to how much money you had*. If the minimum equipment was a shield and spear, and you could not afford those, YOU HAD NO MILITARY DUTY. No money, no fighting.



Alternatively, several families would pool their resources to outfit a warrior, such as the Saxon fyrd.



These systems operated for hundreds of years. It's hard to believe they only existed to feed valuable farmers helplessly into a slaughterhouse. Rather, the professionals and armored elite were backed by commoners with basic weapons and training, all working together to protect the non-fighting masses. It must have worked, in general.


Matthew
 
Jan 2015
2,878
MD, USA
#45
The argument was that saying a "cheap sword" was like saying a "cheap Rolex", and this is most certainly not true. 6d (pence) was relatively cheap, even if the middle age.

From WHAT YEAR do you find a sword priced at 6d? 500 AD? 900? Or much later?


The prices vatied a lot. A suit of ready made Milanese arnor might cost 8 pounds (see price list), while the armor for a prince was 340 pounds. So price depended on the quality.

Sure, but that's not the EARLY middle ages, it's quite late.


Matthew
 
Jan 2015
2,878
MD, USA
#46
Swords came in wide variety of qualities and prices and were by no means too expensive for many of the "common men". These would be bought at markets or from a maker/merchant towns/cities were those were active. A list of the swords produced by Master Markus Dieffstädter in a single year included 150 'peasant's swords' next to the military swords, rapiers and daggers made in his workshop"

From: Myarmoury:
https://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17682

Again, what year? Before 1000? Sounds like 15th or 16th century, to me.


EVERYthing is different in the later middle ages.


Matthew


PS: Thanks for quoting the Statute of Winchester! It's the perfect illustration of a typical militia system, though again it's later than the point of discussion.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,702
Blachernai
#47
The argument was that saying a "cheap sword" was like saying a "cheap Rolex", and this is most certainly not true. 6d (pence) was relatively cheap, even if the middle age.


The prices vatied a lot. A suit of ready made Milanese arnor might cost 8 pounds (see price list), while the armor for a prince was 340 pounds. So price depended on the quality.

I'm not attempting to dispute the point.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,049
Las Vegas, NV USA
#48
Did they carry swords? Maybe some that could afford one, but everyone needed to carry candles 24/7.
 
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