Might a medieval…

Might a medieval princess own a gown worth a few villages? Discuss.

I had this as a throwaway line in my YA novel, and I'm not attached to it at all, but a Wall Street trader friend objected in crit, saying that wasn't at all realistic, and I'm not so sure it isn't. And no, this has nothing to do really with Oprah recently trying to buy a $34,000 purse, but it did remind me.

3 thoughts on “Might a medieval…”

  1. It turns out there is a medieval price list on the web: http://whitebard.tripod.com/prices.htm

    If the dress requires three yards of silk, or a bit more than a tunic, that would come to some 35s. Weavers at 5d/day for 60 days come to 300d, or 25s. Total cost of dress: 60s.

    By contrast, a typical serf might pay 5s annually to the lord. So perhaps:

    Value of dress = Value of controlling a village of 12 serfs for 1 year.

  2. On rereading, 5s is the fee for a serf to get married. So each serf must pay substantially more than 5s annually to the lord. Then the value of the dress is substantially less than the control of 12 serfs.

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