Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Was Medieval England more Merrie than thought?

Medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world's poorest nations today, according to new research.

Living standards in medieval England were far above the "bare bones subsistence" experience of people in many of today's poor countries, a study says.

"The majority of the British population in medieval times could afford to consume what we call a 'respectability basket' of consumer goods that allowed for occasional luxuries," said University of Warwick economist Professor Stephen Broadberry, who led the research.

"By the late Middle Ages, the English people were in a position to afford a varied diet including meat, dairy produce and ale, as well as the less highly processed grain products that comprised the bulk of the bare bones subsistence diet," he added.

Read more at Le Fleur de Lys Too. In the meantime, some Old English music in honour of Our Lady on the feast of her Immaculate Conception:


  1. When you consider that serfs had to hand over one third of their crops to the local liege lord and in return received protection, it doesn't seem so bad, considering that now we hand over one half of what we earn and get no protection.

  2. Even after they handed that produce over to their lord and give a tithe to the priest, consider what they needed to spend the remainder on. Rent? No, so long as they tilled the land it was theirs. Food? No, they grew and raised what they needed, and their animals had free pasture. Fuel? No, forests were often included in "the commons." There go modern man's largest expenses. So that's two-thirds to a half of the net fruits of production that are almost completely disposable to our mediaeval peasant. Is there really any comparison to nowadays?