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Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 17 May 2012 16:12
by admin
The other thing worth mentioning is that, as these wills indicate, many people inherited swords, armour and other equipment. In many wills you see a person leaving various bits of equipment to various friends and relatives, so in a lifetime I suppose it is conceivable that you may be given various things which you could either then keep or sell. There were probably a not inconsiderable number of middle class men who owned a number of swords and various bits of armour. To serve as a man-at-arms in England you needed a complete harness, and from the muster rolls it is evident that a lot of men of various trades and background could put together enough equipment to qualify. I know that in some cases men who served as archers are later recorded as serving as men-at-arms, presumably when they had accumulated enough equipment or become wealthy enough to apply.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 17 May 2012 19:49
by Motley
admin wrote:... There were probably a not inconsiderable number of middle class men who owned a number of swords and various bits of armour...


Do we see people like this listed in the will rolls? Off the top of my head all I recall is mostly seeing one sword bequeathed.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 17 May 2012 20:26
by Payson
Yeah, you're right about guns being the weapon of the day and swords being toys and interestingly the relative prices are in the same ball park. But I suspect trying to convince a wife in Euro land (sorry in this case England is included) to buy a gun would be much harder even than the sword! :D

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 17 May 2012 20:27
by Payson
*Disclaimer* of course we buy our swords now only for 'playing' not for self defense

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 07 Jun 2012 17:01
by admin
Term: Michaelmas 1403
County: London
Writ type: Detinue
Damages claimed: £10
Case type: Detention of goods

Pleading: Robert Brayton claims that, with a certain 'John Wauterservant Whitby', he delivered to Geoffrey Aghton chattels to the value of 40s, namely one basinet, together with a vumbard and an aventail. However, GA will not now return these, to his damage of £10.
Pleading: GA says that he does not detain these chattels and offers his law, to be made at the octave of Hilary 1404. Pledges of law named.


From: 'CP40/571: Michaelmas term 1403', Court of common pleas: The National Archives, CP40: 1399-1500 (2010).

No certain what a 'vumbard' is, but probably the visor or some form of bevor.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2012 14:56
by bigdummy
Ten pounds seems like a hell of a lot for that though, I suspect a lot of that price is punitive damages

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2012 16:15
by admin
1535. Pay 14s. 8d. the expences of bringing an heretic from London, and for one and an half load of wood to burn him 2s. for gunpowder 1d. a stake and staple 8d. Receive 11s. 8d. from sale of John Barley's harness, viz, a breast, a back, a gorget of mail, and another of steel, a salet, and a two hand sword.


From: 'Addenda to volume 12: Minutes of the Records and Accounts of the Chamber', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 12 (1801), pp. 612-662.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2012 16:31
by admin
Court of Common Pleas, CP 40/873, rot. 422

Term: Trinity 1480
County: London
Writ type: Detinue
Damages claimed: 40s
Case type: Detention of goods; Safe keeping

Pleading: Edward E. claims that John A. unjustly detains his goods and chattels to the value of 40s. EE says that at London on 20/03/1471, by the hands of John E. and Thomas G., he delivered to EE for safe keeping: 3¼ yards of black woollen cloth; 2 candelabra of latten; 40 yards of green say; one kitchen pot (cacabum); and three swords, one called a two hand sword, one called a bastard sword, and one called a buckler sword. EE says that JA now refuses to return these goods, and thus the present suit. Damages are claimed at 40s.

Pleading: JA defends and seeks licence to imparl as far as Michaelmas term 1480.

Postea text: postea 1 - further licence to imparl as far as Hilary term 1481. There is a marginal note next to this postea which says 'Discontinued and recorded by the court'.


From: 'CP40/873: Trinity term 1480', Court of common pleas: The National Archives, CP40: 1399-1500 (2010).

I've posted this here because it has a value attached, but actually the most interesting thing about this source is that it is quite early (1480) and refers to a 'two hand sword', a 'bastard sword' and a 'buckler sword'! I have never heard the latter term before, but given the order these three are listed in I suppose we may be looking at a two-hander, a hand-and-a-half and a one-hander.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2012 17:03
by Motley
yeah I wondered about that term too and assumed the same as you. Cool, thanks for posting these.

Re: Value of medieval English swords, bucklers etc

PostPosted: 18 Jun 2012 13:06
by admin
These goods were valued in the Sheriffs' Court by John Cosham and Thomas Merton, mercer, as follows:
82 lbs. of brasile [red dye] at 3s. the lb.; 9 pieces of red bukeram [leather] at 3s the piece; 20 groos of gold of Lucca , 10s; 33,000 chestnuts (castons) at 16d the thousand; 7000 small white plates [for armour?] at 8s the thousand; 211 lbs. of coperwire at 4d the lb.; one long sword, 6s 8d; one cappe of bevere [cape/cap of beaver?], 2s 6d; one box of cipres, 8d; an old basynett with visere, 4s; 4 pieces of bokasyns of barbarie [bocasin – fine material] at 18s the piece.


From: 'Roll A 34: 1394-95', Calendar of the plea and memoranda rolls of the city of London: volume 3: 1381-1412 (1932), pp. 228-232.