SA30. The Turning Tide: The Beginning of Monetary Trade in Anglo-Saxon England by Raymond Makewell

Sep 20, 2014

The Turning Tide: The Beginning of Monetary Trade in Anglo-Saxon England

Raymond Makewell

Sydney, Australia

Picture clipping 2


Today the market is seen as the pivotal point around which our economic system moves, and the starting point for the study of economics. The laws of the market – the laws of supply and demand – are said to direct economic activity, and, so it is said, if the market is allowed to operate in an open, free and self-regulating manner, the prosperity of all will increase.

Today the market includes not just what is produced, but also the factors of production and the producers. There are markets for claims on production, markets for future production, and markets for ideas. There is almost nothing that cannot be bought and sold.[1] It is almost impossible to imagine a world without markets.

But this was not always the case. Our Anglo-Saxon forebears, after settling in England, were self sufficient, without markets, money or specialisation. This is the story of the genesis of trade, specialisation and the use of money in Anglo-Saxon England.

Anglo-Saxon Custom

The migration of the pagan Anglo-Saxon peoples to England, from the middle of the fifth century, was closely followed by their gradual adoption of a Christian way of viewing the world and of determining behaviour. Although pagan values began to be replaced by Christian ones, the change was by no means comprehensive. Some of the customs of our pagan ancestors still operate in society today, such as resolving community issues by vote or election, and a love of ale.[2]

Fundamental to Anglo-Saxon society in England were free peasant farmers, ceorls, who were subject to no lord below the king. They were heads of families, entitled to compensation if their household peace was breached, as were their families if they were unlawfully hurt or killed. [3] A ceorl held property in his house, in members of the household[4] and moveable possessions, but no property in the land on which the household lived and worked.

Each ceorl was also a soldier. As a soldier he was expected to demonstrate extreme courage and loyalty to his leader, who in turn ‘was bound in honour not to let himself be surpassed in valour’.[5] It was considered shameful for a soldier to return from battle without his chief,[6] a value still glorified in the poetic description of the Battle of Maldon at the end of the 10th century.[7] It was a violent society. According to Tacitus, although not much value was given to gold and silver, victory in battle was strongly associated with spoils for the leader and, consequently, gifts for his followers.[8] Tacitus observed that: ‘They regarded it as a dull and stupid thing to painfully accumulate by the sweat of the brow what might be won by a little blood.’. For the loser though there was death, slavery or destitution. The general propensity for drunkenness and idleness when not engaged in fighting, observed by Tacitus in the first century, was of concern to the church in England five hundred years later and remains a familiar problem.

After courage, hospitality and liberality both to friends and strangers were to the Anglo-Saxons the most important virtues.[9] Tacitus said a man could enter uninvited into the house of another and expect cordial hospitality. On departing, he said, it was customary to present the guest with anything he might ask for, and there was the same absence of embarrassment in asking a boon in return. ‘They like gifts, but the giver does not consider them as scored to his credit, or the receiver feel that he is being laid under an obligation.’[10]

Much of the wealth of the free Anglo-Saxon farmers (iron tools, weapons, livestock and slaves) almost certainly originated as gifts from the king, the spoils of the warfare as the country was occupied. Even the earliest taxes can be traced back to gift and hospitality; for example, the earliest form of the feormi, or food rent, paid by a village to the king was originally hospitality given to the king and his entourage as they travelled around the country. The king gave his favourites gifts of weapons, armour and horses so they could fulfil their military duties, as well as special gifts to show his appreciation. These would have included fine weapons, coins and jewellery that the king had acquired from merchants. A dialogue in a tenth century grammar text illustrates one way in which this relationship worked:

Teacher: What do you get from your hunting?
Hunter: Whatever I capture I give to the King, since I am his huntsman.
Teacher: What does he give you?
Hunter: He feeds me and clothes me, and gives me a horse and armour, so that I can perform my duties as a hunter freely.

The quotation makes no reference to wages, nor is there any is suggestion of one person owing another, simply two unequal and unrelated gifts.

Nor was gift giving limited to the king and his realm. An Anglo-Saxon bride, for instance, was a gift from her father to the bridegroom. Reciprocal gifts were customary but there is no sense of valuing one side of the exchange against the other, or any relationship between them except the occasion of the wedding.

No doubt householders with excess apples, cheese or any other product would make these available to their neighbours. Ale surplus to household requirements would be cheerfully shared, but no return would be required.

The earliest Anglo-Saxon documents are records of gifts of land (known as charters), whereby kings made gifts of land to persons responsible for the establishment of monasteries[11] – sometimes conditional on prayers being said for the soul of the king (or in the case of a nunnery, the queen) on a regular basis forever.[12]

Within the early English church the practice of gift giving was also very widespread, though it may well have had an entirely different provenance. There are records of lead, mined and refined by monasteries in the north of England, being shipped to monasteries in France without any suggestion of exchange. Around the year 720 a nun by the name of Bugga wrote to St Boniface requesting certain books and said, ‘By the same messenger I send to you fifty shillings and the altar cloth, because it is the best I can possibly do.’. She was requesting a gift and offering in exchange a token of gratitude: there is neither bargain nor contract.[13]

Did this mean that trade and specialisation did not exist? Certainly existing patterns of trade in England were abruptly ended by the Anglo-Saxon immigration, and large- scale agriculture, manufacture and mining required for international trade ceased. It appears that shipbuilding skills were entirely lost until the time of King Alfred, and tradition has it that St Wilfrid[14] had to teach the English how to fish again at the end of the seventh century. This coincided with a period of contraction of trade in Europe.

As the Anglo-Saxons settled the demands of trade led to the development of an annual fair or market – a wic – in each of their kingdoms.[15] With the king’s support traders and their wares at the wic were protected, and qualified witnesses were provided to attest to agreements reached. The merchants buying and selling at these markets were a small group who made a living travelling around various established international circuits.

What was bought and sold at the wic?

First of all, the king sold wholesale quantities of agricultural produce taken from the food rents (feormi) he received each year, and was the only person who had the ability to accumulate these quantities. Others could offer or purchase slaves, livestock and hides, ploughs, iron tools and weapons. Itinerant blacksmiths were also known to be operating, and probably travelled from wic to wic repairing tools, armour and weapons.

The king had the prerogative to purchase anything a merchant might bring to the market, and always needed more treasure both for his own glory and as presents for his followers. A prudent merchant would always offer gifts to the king. These gifts, freely given, gradually became expectations and then demands – fixed taxes imposed by the king.

A few gold and silver coins were exchanged at these markets: to the king they were attractive mainly as objects to have and hold; for the merchant coins were a conveniently portable means of exchange. But because of their high value coins could not be used to buy everyday goods. As at any fair, quantities of food and drink must have been sold.[16] How these were paid for is not known.[17]

The Spread of Trade

By the time of the Viking invasions the wics had grown into towns with permanent populations. Craftsmen of many skills gathered in the towns: potters, bone workers, leather workers, tanners and many others. Ipswich became renowned for the manufacture of pottery, as well as one of the earliest centres for the export of wool. Prosperous Hamwic, now Southampton, was already large enough to be the first town to attract the attention of the marauding Vikings. The concept of a regular fair or market also spread to smaller places, often monasteries. By this time there was a sufficient number of travelling traders to warrant laws governing their behaviour, and to ensure they were not mistaken for outlaws. We know that they brought iron tools and pottery to small communities, and in turn collected broken iron tools and jewellery for re-use.

After the wics the largest communities were the monasteries. These were attractive to traders because they could buy and sell collectively, and on a relatively large scale. However this only lasted until Viking raiders looted and destroyed the monasteries. Although some towns were destroyed – Hamwic for instance was abandoned in favour of Winchester – King Alfred established systems of governance and military defence which strengthened their commercial attractiveness.

Anglo-Saxon Coinage

The first Anglo-Saxon coins appeared in England around the 620’s. They were made of gold, imitations of Roman designs and lettering, by obviously illiterate craftsmen.[18]

By the end of the seventh century the gold currency had disappeared, to be replaced by a coinage of pure silver. In the 760’s this in turn was replaced by a new ‘penny’ coinage with twelve pence to a shilling. A penny was quite unsuitable for local transactions and later it became the practice to make halfpennies and farthings by cutting these coins.

Coins were struck by ‘moneyers’, established in what had become the principal commercial centres, the wics. The moneyers were almost entirely craftsmen operating independently[19] and the coins were stamped with the makers’ own designs and names.[20] At one stage at least 70 moneyers were operating simultaneously in England, and as many as 5 in any particular centre.[21] Standardisation of weight occurred rapidly, and the standard weight adopted for the penny was that of equivalent coins from Europe and the Arab world. Some early English pennies were re-stamped coins from as far away as the Middle East. Clearly the credibility of the coins depended to some extent on the reputation of the moneyer, which in turn would have been strongest in the towns where he lived and worked.

By the end of the ninth century the king began to license moneyers, and for a fee, provided the dies they were obliged to use on the obverse of the coin. Towards the end of the Anglo-Saxon period a century later, laws required all foreign coins to be melted down, and all coins to be re-struck periodically (initially every 5 years, but later every 3 years).[22] Whether the king’s head appearing on the coin added to the credibility of the coin, or associating the king with the currency added to the credibility of the king is much debated, but clearly the king was able to profit from this participation.

The Growth of Specialisation and Exchange

Anglo-Saxon society was based on families of free, self-sufficient peasant farmers, who lived mostly in small village communities. As individuals they had dues to the king, paid by service; collectively the community had dues to the king, paid by food rent. The basis for determining the food rent is not known, but it clearly varied based on the resources available to the village and the size of the village. As within a household, some distribution of responsibilities must have naturally taken place within the village. Thus, responsibility for looking after the bees may have been allocated to an individual, specific duties to children, and different duties to men and women; but everyone helped with the harvest, and all men took part in ploughing, including both slaves and their owners. The bulk of any individual’s time would have been occupied in directly providing the necessities of life for his family. Universal self-sufficiency provided neither markets for the produce of specialist craftsmen and farmers, nor their necessities of life. What caused the change?

Beginning in the reign of King Æthelberht (died 616), grants of land were made to prominent figures in the church for the establishment of monasteries. Land that was the subject of such grants become known as bokland. Each grant of bokland was described in a document called a ‘charter’ together with the rights due to and from the holder of the charter to the extent that they diverged from custom. Invariably the land granted was already ‘occupied’. The charter did not alter the rights and duties of the existing occupants, except that from then on they paid their feormi – food rents – to the holder of the charter instead of to the king. Further, provided that the traditional rights of existing occupants were not interfered with, the holder of the charter might build on and work the land as he saw fit. Before long the practice spread to include individuals in the king’s court.

Monasteries followed the Benedictine rule with monks performing physical work. Some monasteries developed specialized occupations for the monks conducive to the efficient operation of a large household, such as bakers, brewers and cooks. The larger monasteries had scope to invite from the continent craftsmen with skills that were not available in Anglo-Saxon society: masons, sculptors, silversmiths. A few monasteries also engaged in specialist production, such as mining and smelting lead which took place in the north of England, supplying the product to other monastic communities, inside England and on the continent,[23] generally motivated by the greater good of the church and its mission, though some later church leaders clearly sought a benefit from engaging in profitable activity.

The Beginning of the Manor

The first organized communities outside the king’s court were the monasteries. Becoming a monk was a voluntary matter. The second organized community was the manor. Living and working on a manor, working for another man, was nominally voluntary but would only be done by an Anglo-Saxon ceorl who had fallen on hard times. The assistance and protection of either the abbot of a monastery or a secular landholder – such as providing housing, livestock, seed and tools, as well as access to a few acres on the manor that could be farmed – required the man to swear to serve and obey his benefactor, now his lord. Service typically involved labouring in the lord’s fields for a pre-determined number of days each week, increasing during the harvest time, and always putting the service to the lord ahead of his own needs and those of his family. This was the beginning of feudalism in England and the origin of a class of English peasantry tied to the manor on which they worked, either by quasi-legal understanding, or by the fact that their homes, furnishings, tools, livestock and every other requirement for their life were the property of someone else. If they left the manor they were immediately destitute.

But this larger economic unit, the manor, did facilitate specialisation. Landholders, whether ecclesiastical or secular, usually appointed a reeve – a manager – for the manor. The reeve’s job was to settle any dues owed by the landholder, to provide for him and his dependents, and to produce a tradeable surplus.[24] To achieve this he would naturally organize the occupations of the peasants on the manor to achieve the most productive result. By the late tenth century manuals were being written on how manors should be managed and on the specialist occupations that existed. One such document[25] describes the reeve, geneat (equivalent to a messenger), beekeeper, swineherd, sower, oxherd, shepherd, cowherd, goatherd, cheese-maker, barley-keeper, woodward and hayward.

These specialized occupations generally received no payment for their work. In some cases the labourer was allowed to keep part of what his particular work produced after the lord of the manor had been given his due; a cowherd, for instance, was allowed to keep any milk remaining after supplying a certain amount to the manor house and feeding the calves. We must presume that the manor supplemented his diet in some way, but the product was not traded between the specialist occupations and there was thus no requirement for a means of exchange.

Collectively though the residents of the manor were able to produce in quantities large enough to trade, the two most significant products being corn and wool. By the end of the eighth century both were in demand in continental Europe. They would be taken to a nearby wic and exchanged either for money or other goods, or merchants would visit the larger estates to buy and sell.[26]

The use of money also developed in other areas. By the ninth century some landholders (especially ecclesiastical landholders) found it preferable to lease their land and to collect a rent.   This new form of land tenure was called ‘leasehold’. Leases expressed the rent in monetary terms although it is probable payment was either in money or in kind. The sale and acquisition of land, however, invariably required the use of money, that is, coin. The word farming was used at this time to describe the use of land to collect rents settled in money.


Gift clearly played a fundamental role in Anglo-Saxon society. It is a much-repeated theme throughout Anglo-Saxon literature where the king is called the ‘treasure giver’, the king’s hall the ‘gift-hall’ and his throne the ‘gift-throne’.[27] Undoubtedly ‘gift-giving’ was held as the ideal behaviour for the whole society and played a large role in the distribution of wealth.

It should not be imagined that ‘gift’ was the only means by which goods were exchanged, or that this was a time of universal harmony and generosity. King Offa and the Emperor Charlemagne negotiated over the marriage of their children for quite a long time – sometimes acrimoniously.[28]

As land gradually fell into private hands the culture of gift began to change. A holder of a manor no longer depended on the king for his splendour, but on his own resources; he needed to extract as much as possible from rents and from the labour of his dependents. Hospitality was now no longer given to those in need. Instead, under the guise of protection, destitute peasants became bound to provide service to a lord in exchange for access to the means to support themselves. This fate was to continue for their descendants.

In the extensive community of the manor specialist occupations evolved and no doubt productivity increased.[29] Goods surplus to the whole manor were traded by the landholder. But the manor was a managed economic unit, and individuals did not specialise for their own advantage.

The use of coined money grew in parallel with the changes in land use. The role money played needs to be considered in relation to its primary functions.

Considered as a unit of account or measure of value money had little relevance where the worth of goods was not generally compared. But before most people had seen a coin, money had already provided a means to compare and value goods. For example, in the Laws of King Ine (c 688 – 695) money is used to indicate the amount payable if a man is killed,[30] although it is improbable that coins were available to pay these fines. The provision of a scale against which the value of goods could be measured seems to have been the first and most pervasive use of money by the Anglo-Saxons. The increasing quality and consistency of the coinage played an important role in establishing this standard.[31]

Coins were not used originally as a store of value, but rather held by the Anglo-Saxons as an attractive display of wealth. The seventh century coin hoard found at Sutton Hoo, for example, was a careful collection, each from a different foreign mint. As landholders accumulated wealth, coins clearly became a means both of holding and hiding wealth.

As a means of exchange even the earliest Anglo-Saxon coins were accepted by merchants across Europe and the Middle East. Perhaps they were also used by free peasant farmers to buy and sell livestock and slaves, but they were too valuable to use for smaller or more common transactions.[32] The rapid growth in the volume of coins in circulation ran parallel to the growth of secondary claims on production: rents for leasehold land, food rents commuted to monetary payments, tolls and taxes collected by the king as well as legal penalties and fines.

As the pattern of land tenure shifted from free peasant farming to privately owned manorial estates, many no longer had access to land to support themselves but were bound to work for the manor. The number of specialised occupations, trade and the use of money developed to support the manorial system. Though gains in productivity resulting from these innovations enriched landholders, they bypassed the remaining free peasant farmers and were not shared at all by peasants labouring on the manors.


Appendix 1 – Food Rents

A food rent quoted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year AD852, payable to the abbey at Medehamstede from an estate (of unspecified size) at Sempringham, suggests that the estate in question also had a narrow range of production. It consisted of an annual payment of:

            Sixty wagon loads of wood, twelve wagon loads of brushwood, six wagon loads of faggots, two casks full of clear ale, two cattle for slaughter, six hundred loaves, ten measures of welsh ale, and each year a horse and thirty shillings and a day’s supply of food.[33]

A food rent quoted from the Laws of Ine:-

            Ten vats of honey, 300 loaves, 42 ambers of ale, two oxen or ten wethers, ten geese, twenty hens, five salmon, twenty pounds of fodder, and an amber of butter, ten cheeses and one hundred eels.[34] From 10 hides of land.

An annual food rent paid to the king by presumably sixty families living on the sixty hides of land at Westerbury on Trym:-[35]

Two tuns full of clear ale, one cumb full of mild ale, one cumb[36] of full British ale, seven oxen, six wethers,[37] forty cheeses, thirty ‘ambers’ of rye corn, and four ‘ambers’ of meal.

Note: Every reference to feormi speaks of a fixed amount due each year, not a proportion of the crops.


Appendix 2 – Prices

The following is derived from the web site The web site does not identify the sources, but the fines and wergilds can be found in the early English legal codes.[38] Prices are shown in the traditional format of pounds (l), shillings (s) or pence (d), where a pound is made up of 20 shillings and a shilling of 12 pence.

The list below includes prices from England [B], Western Europe [W], Central Europe [C], Northern Europe [N] and Eastern Europe [E]. Prices were convertible to the extent that the silver coins were comparable. It should not be assumed for instance that the price of a cow in Eastern Europe was the same as a cow in England, many other factors may have been at play.




Item Price
Ewe and Lamb [B] 1s
Fledged Peregrine Falcon [B] 1l
Fledged Sparrow Hawk [B] 24d
Foreigner’s Lap Dog [B] 4d
Freeholder’s Buck Hound [B] 120d
Freeman’s Lap Dog [B] 120d
Hawk’s nest (Peregrine) [B] 1l
Sparrow Hawk Nest [B] 24d
Unfledged Peregrine Falcon [B] 120d
Unfledged Sparrow Hawk [B] 12d
Virgin Swarm of Bees [B] 16d
Swarm of bees from a second swarm [B] 8d
Swarm of bees from virgin swarm [B] 12d
Hive of Bees [B] 24d
Hive swarm after August [B] 4d
Old Swarm of Bees [B] 24d
Second Swarm of Bees [B] 12d
Horse [E] 193.5d
Horse [N] 197.5d
Horse [C] 308.5d
King’s Greyhound [B] 120d
King’s Hunting Dog, trained [B] 1l
King’s Hunting Dog, untrained [B] 120d
King’s Hunting Dog, 1 yr old [B] 60d
King’s Hunting Dog, young [B] 30d
King’s Hunting Dog, Dog, pup with unopened eyes [B] 15d
King’s Lap Dog [B] 1l
Common House Dog [B] 4d
Stranger’s or Dunghill Dog [B] 4d
Male Slave [N] 197.5d
Female Slave [E] 131.5d


Arms and Armour

Item Price
Helmet [C] 53s
Mailshirt [C] 529d
Shield and Spear [C] 88.5d
Spear [W] 33d
Sword [W] 81.25d
Sword [B] 240s
Sword and Scabbard [C] 308.5d

Anglo-Saxon Fines, etc.

Item Price
Accepting service of another’s ceorl 120s
Ceorl seeking new lord 60s
Binding an innocent ceorl 10s
Binding an innocent ceorl and shaving him like a priest 60s
Fighting (not in war) 120s
Ceorl entering into illicit union 50s
Thegn entering into illicit union 100s
Ceorl neglecting fyrd duty 30s
Failure to perform fyrd duty 40-50s
Landless thegn neglecting fyrd duty 60s
Thegn neglecting fyrd duty 120s
Freeman working on Sunday 60s
Ordering a slave to work on Sunday 30s
Priest working on Sunday 120s
Raping a female slave 65s
Holding a woman’s breast 5s
Seducing a free woman 60s
Throw a woman down but not lie with her 10s
Not baptising child within 30 days of birth 30s
Removing a nun from a nunnery without permission 120s
Reward for catching thief 10s
Violation of an arch-bishop’s protection 3l
Violation of bishop/eolderman’s protection 2l
Violation of ceorl’s protection 6s
Violation of church’s protection 50s
Violation of the king’s protection 5l



Item Price
Slave [B] 60s
Ceorl [B] 200s
Landless Thegn [B] 600s
Thegn [B] 1200s
Landless Welsh [B] 50s
Landed Welsh with 1/2 Hide [B] 80s
Welsh tribute payer (1 hide) [B] 120s
Welsh tribute payer’s son [B] 80s
King’s Welsh Horseman [B] 200s
Welsh with 5 hides [B] 600s


Item Price
Cloak [N] 7.75d
Cow eye [B] 1d
Cow horn [B] 2d
Cow Tail [B] 5d
Ox Eye [B] 5d
Ox Horn [B] 10d
Ox Tail [B] 1s
Fleece [B] 2d
Beaver Skin [B] 120d
Fox skin [B] 8d
Marten Skin [B] 24d
Otter skin [B] 8d
Wolf skin [B] 8d
Hide of land (approx. 120 acres) [B] 1l
Land tax/hide [B] 2s
Silk (1oz) [E] 37d


Appendix 3 – Coins



A thrymsa, or shilling, in this instance of King Eadbald of Kent (616-640) struck at Canterbury.






King Canute (1017-1035) minted circa 1020.  Surrounded by his name and title CNVTREXANGLO starting at six o’clock. The engraver has the letters V and A inverted, this is quite commonplace on Norwich coins.  The reverse reads EFICONNORÐÞ translates as moneyer Efic of, rendered in Anglo-Saxon as ‘on’, Norwich.  Shortened versions of town names were used with the letter D with a line through to representing ‘th’ and P representing W.  The reading is thus NORTHW for Northwich the Anglo-Saxon rendering of the town name.

Anglo-Saxon gold coin depicting Coenwulf King of Mercia (796-821)

Aethelred II crux type penny, minted by VCEDE ONN EOFER in York.

Aethelred II. 978-1016. Penny. Dover mint; Leofhyse, moneyer. Struck circa 997-1003.





Aelfric, Aelfric’s Colloquy, translated by Ann E. Watkins, Kent Archaeological Society,

Anonymous, The Battle of Maldon, translated by D. B. Killings;

Anonymous, Beowulf, translated by Leslie Hall, D. C. Heath & Co, Boston, 1892

Anonymous, Brihaspati Smriti; translated Julius Jolly, in Economic Wisdom, edited Raymond Makewell, New Frontier, Sydney, 2001

Anonymous, Havamal, The Sayings of the High One, translation W. H. Auden & P. B Taylor.

Anonymous, Narada Smriti, translated Julius Jolly; in Economic Wisdom, edited Raymond Makewell, New Frontier, Sydney; 2001

Anonymous, The Rectitudines Singularum Personarum, translation from a thesis for Master of Arts by S Jay Lemanski Graduate Faculty of the University of Akron, August, 2005

Bede, A History of the English Church and People, translated by Leo Sherley-Price, Penguin Books, 1982

Blinkhorn, P. W; Of Cabbages and Kings: production, trade and consumption in Middle Saxon England, ………..2013

Duby, George, The Early Growth of the European Economy, Cornell University Press, 1974

Lipson E, An Introduction to the Economic History of England; A & C Black, Ltd, London, 1920

Mauss, Marcel, The Gift, Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, translated by Ian Cunnison, Cohen and West Ltd, London, 1966.

Naismith, Rory; Money and Power in Anglo-Saxon England, Cambridge University Press, 2014

Sandel, Michael, What Money Can’t Buy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010

Stenton, Frank, Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1971

Tacitus, Cornelius, Germania, translated by A. J. Church & W. J. Brodribb, Random House, N. Y, 1942

Vinogradoff, Paul, The Growth of the Manor, George Allen & Company, 1911.


[1] See for instance Michael Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy.

[2] Drunkenness was described by Tacitus, was a feature of many Anglo-Saxon and Norse stories. How to deal with drunkenness was discussed at the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical councils. Church laws were passed imposing fines for drunkenness, with particularly heavy fines for monks caught being drunk.

[3] His Wergeld, see Appendix 2.

[4] Property in the members of the household, especially refers to slaves, however slaves were able to purchase their freedom. Family members had rights at law unlike Roman Law.

[5] Tacitus: Germanicus 5.

[6] Ibid 14.

[7] Battle of Maldon occurred in 991 and was the subject of an Anglo-Saxon poem. See translation by Douglas B. Killings.

[8] Tacitus notes that silver utensils were treated no differently than pottery, but a completely different value is set on similar utensils that were gifts, and different again for those used for trade. Tacitus, Germanicus 5.

[9] Ibid 21.

[10] Ibid. My italics.

[11] The gift of land was always to an individual person, not to an institution, or a position (such as an abbot). Land granted can be disposed of at the will of the recipient, although usually it would go to a successor, it may go to another church figure or even to the family of the landholder.

[12] Charters granting land to temporal figures are almost always for service previously rendered.

[13] As quoted by Naismith ‘et per eundem portitorem tibi transmitto nunc quinquaginta solidos et pallium altaris; quia maiora munuscula minime potui adipiscere. Sed tamen haec sunt cum maxima carutate directa, licet sint parva in speciae.’ My translation.

[14] As described by Bede regarding the South Saxons.

[15] From which we get place names such as Sandwich and Norwich. London (Lundenwic) may have been sufficiently well established to survive as a trading town through the entire period. Wics were established where there was the ability to ship goods or, in one or two cases, simply at the borders of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, such as Cambridge. For further descriptions in a European context see Duby, The Early Growth of the European Economy.

[16] This is consistent with archaeological evidence.

[17] My personal experience of trade in parts of the Middle East suggests though that a merchant may have provided hospitality (food and drink) for customers and prospective customers, so that no exchange was required for small items.

[18] ‘They like money that is old and familiar’ wrote Tacitus: Germanicus 5. See Appendix 3 for pictures.

[19] Although in some instances bishops were involved.

[20] See Appendix 3.

[21] A curious by-product of this is that we know the names of all the moneyers, as these appear on the coins.

[22] The old coins presumably were collected at a discounted rate

[23] A charter for a nunnery in Kent specifically includes the iron mines. On the other hand there are examples of lead from monasteries in northern England specifically being provided to monasteries on the continent. The implication is that this work was being done by either monks or men bound to the monastery.

[24] He also had civil duties such as looking after law and order on the manor, and villages of free men included in the charter. In many cases this became a profitable sideline.

[25] See Jay Lemanski translation of ‘The Rectitudines Singularum Personarum.’

[26] An Italian document written a little after this period itemizes the locations of English monasteries where a merchant could buy large quantities of wool.

[27] See for instance both Beowulf and the poem The Wanderer. The Norse poem Havamal extols gift..

[28] The event is recorded in their correspondence in the 790s. The acrimony was manifest in a ban on trade between the two countries for a period.

[29] This is of course a presumption. It is clear there was a surplus that does not seem to be present among communities of self-sufficient free men. But whether the surplus is the result of increased efficiency, or because the producers’ share was diminished, or some combination of these is not clear.

[30] See laws of King Ine.

[31] So much so that the image on later coins was not changed when a new king assumed the throne, only the name, which most could not read.

[32] A lamb and ewe, for instance, cost twelve pence. See Appendix 2 – Prices.

[33] As cited by Blinkhorn.

[34] Ibid. Attributed to Laws of Ine.

[35] Near Bristol.

[36] A tun is a large beer or wine cask, now 252 gallons. A cumb is probably the same as an amber, i.e., four bushels, or 32 gallons.

[37] A castrated ram.

[38] See for instanceÆthelberht. Note, this is not a complete collection.

[39] Weregild is the amount of compensation payable by the person responsible for the death of the mentioned class of person.


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