Blacktalon Blinders - Argent Dawn

A guide on wealth.

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A guide on wealth.

Post by Anna on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:07 am

DISCLAIMER

I do in no shape or form own anything of this post, and all the credits goes to Melnerag from Defiasrp.com

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Last edited by Anna on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Anna
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Re: A guide on wealth.

Post by Anna on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:41 am

Disclaimer: this thread is speculation, and educated guess at most. All things presented there are not absolute, reliable facts. You are however welcome to use them in your role-play, as long as you realize that others around you might have different ideas

With thanks to Zinkle for spurring me on and reminding I am supposed to one day finish this instead of endlessly pondering, and to Gahalla for discussing most detail with me and providing most valuable suggestion.

Introduction

I've been witness to people smiting 1000 golden coins on a charity auction, or paying 100.000 thousand for some piece of property. Some pay a golden coin for a glass of wine, others rage if it costs 1 silver coin. This thread is made to discuss the value of money and wealth of people. I have limited myself to the Kingdom of Stormwind, otherwise a daunting task would simply become impossible.

Who lives here?

Let us begin with examining Stormwind's population and how they come by their livelihood. First of all, most medieval societies had up to 90% of the population living in rural areas instead of cities. Even today, averaged over entire planet earth, only 50% of people live in urban areas. In my opinion, between 80 and 90 percent of Stormwinders live in rural areas and off the land.

Rural Dwellers

Rural Dwellers are farmers and village artisans. Farmers grow a great variety of sustenance crops, to provide their family with food. Staple died seems to consist of cereals (mostly wheat) and vegetables (mostly pumpkins). Diet can be enriched by fishing or hunting. Village arisans provide farmer households with specialist goods they cannot produce themselves, and are paid for their services in nature - that is, farmers feed these village artisans. Both groups rely mostly on local economy, exchanging goods and services inside a village or conglomeration of villages without use of money. At times, farmers&artisans will sell their wares in large markets and fares throughout the towns and cities of the land, getting some money they can use to purchase city-crafted or imported goods. Although these rural dwellers can have a good, well-fed life they are unlikely to own a lot of hard 'cash'. Men would tend to do hard physical labor in the fields, with assistance of boys. Women would tend to small cattle, herbs, milking, raising of children, weaving, cooking and maintaining the household with assistance of girls.

Artisans

Artisans live in towns, cities and sometimes castles where they process raw materials into manufactured goods which are then sold to other city-dwellers, and sometimes to rural-dwellers on markets and fares. Sometimes they may receive their pay in nature, but mostly artisans request hard cash for their services. Skilled artisans can be sometimes employed full-time by the King or some other nobles; in this case they receive salary instead of living from selling their goods directly. Most conceivably, spouse of an artisan will either assist with pre-manufacture (sorting, fetching, preparing) or the actual process of selling the crafted goods. Children will be employed in pre-manufacture, or sent to study under other masters of the same crafts-guild.

Servants and Officials

Some parts of population are in direct service of other citizens, nobles or the King himself. Rural magistrates or tax inspectors in village areas are likely to receive their sustenance from land in nature, servants working for nobles in distance castles are also likely to receive food&shelter for their work. In cities, servants and officials tend to get paid. Precise work to be done depends greatly on class - a poor girl may be employed as a kitchen help in manor of a rich citizen, while a citizen's daughter may act as gouvernant. Today it is easy to underestimate the ammount of servants, but even lower 'middle class' burghers used to have at least one servant to help with cleaning, cooking and waiting. Not all servants are uneducated either, it is likely that households with many servants employ masters to organize the labor of other servants, book-keepers and personal librarians and even baillifs supervising estates and fields. Same applies to officials, commers may become clarks or lower-ranked bureaucrats, while members of nobility may be appointed to higher ranks.

Merchants

Merchants make their living from buying goods and reselling them for a higher price. Some may undertake journeys in person in wagons, river-boats, sea-going vessels or even caravans. Others sit in their offices and orchestrate a small trading empire, letting others do the workd. It is not unlikely for a rich and influential merchant to rent out space on his ships for smaller merchants to make use of. More than any other class, merchants receive their pay in cash.

Nobility

Members of nobility are alotted land, which is worked by the peasants from nearby villages. Depending on the lord, and laws of the realm, peasants may be asked to work anywhere between 1/4th to 5/6th of their time on lord's lands. Other incomes include taxation in nature (requiring peasants to turn in 3 eggs and one chicken every week for instance), tolls on roads and bridges, tax for using the forest for lumber or hunting. Nobles of higher hierarchy would receive part of the goods and wealth accamulated on the lands of their vassals, and so up the ladder towards the King himself. Nobles and their children may be employed as officials at King's court, or courts of their vassal lords, and are likely to receive officership positions in the military based on their rank. A minor baron is likely to be not that much richer than the peasants who work for him, living in a small, cold tight castle and wearing simple clothes. A great lord is rich enough to waste money on balls and dinners, well-bred horses and ceremonial armor.

Clergy

Clergy lives from goods produced on the few lands held by the church, for instance Northshire Abbey, and donations of the faithful. There might be a small church-tax as well, but its existance is highly tentative. The Church may also enjoy royal and noble patronage, as well as patronage of craft-guilds.

Soldiers

Stormwind seems to have standing army. Those soldiers are likely to live from army-supplies, foraging and even plunder while receiving a small salary to be spent on goods not directly provided. City guards would receive virtually no goods, but more money. It is unknown whether the Kingdom cares for the families soldiers leave behind, or has any program for support of veterans and invalids.

The State

The State is personified in the King, incomes coming from vassals as well as royal estates in direct ownership of the King. Other sources of income are royal taxes, for instance import tarrifs or any other creative taxes the King may come up with, ranging from boat-ownership to beard-tax. These arbitrary taxes are likely to form the bulk of the so-called 'War Tax'.

What they get

We have decided to keep the familiar ratio of 100 copper to 1 silver, 100 silver to 1 gold. This can only be achieved if silver and golden coins are not pure metal. (otherwise that golden coin would be more of a golden disk). Stormwind might use nominal value system, where a unit of currency is worth something because the Mint/King says it does. That however can never work with coins made of precious metals. If a golden coin is worth less than gold it is made of, everybody would smelt them down and sell the gold. if it is worth more, this would lead to rampant counterfeiting.

Copper coins are small, light-weight coins made of copper and easy to carry around and handle.

Silver coins, one silver coin would roughly correspond to the price of sufficient copper to mint 100 copper coins. Purity of silver, weight and scale of the coin, as well as weight and scale of copper coins is chosen such that 100 silver coins correspond roughly to 1 golden coin.

Golden coin is smaller and lighter than a silver coin, is worth its weight in gold, and corresponds to 100 silver coins.

What they pay for

An artisan, a servant, a street-merchant or minor official may earn anything between 1 and 3 silver coins a day. This money is sufficient to maintain a family of five. An average homecooked meal would thus be worth 7 to 15 coppers a person. Dinner eaten in a tavern would be a bit more expensive. Light ale, cider and other every-day drinks would not exceed 1 or 2 coppers. Clothes, furniture, tools, jewelry and utensils are considerably more expensive, justifying their continous use and even passing as dowry or inheritance. A shirt may as well cost 20 silver coins ( ~600 euro by our standards) More succesful citizens would earn marginally more, perhaps up to 6 silver a day, and would be able to afford more luxiourious food and items. These individuals might begin to consider hiring servants for at least a few hours a day. Richer layers of citizenry, such as skilled officials or wealthy merchants may earn considerably more, putting them on par with lower&middle nobility.

Minor nobles probably own a village of approximately 20-30 households. If they work 1/3 for the noble on average, that would mean a minor nobles income (although most of it is in nature) is worth approximately 15 silver a day.  This sum is further increased by tolls and taxes. Part of this sum of approximately 20 silver is handed over to the vassal-lords and consumed by the servants and retainers. A minor noble is actually not that wealthy, considering they are expected to have their men-at-arms and provide for their own warhorse and equipment to serve the King. Purchasing a full set of plate armor would put this noble in a spectacular debt.

Middle nobles might be absentee landlords, spending their time working as officials while leaving the management of their personal estates and collection of taxes from their vassals to baillifs. Gap compared to minor nobility is spectacular. Such nobles may earn anything between 1 and 3 golden coins a day from their lands only - most of that going to upkeep of their men-at-arms and purchases of battle equipment. Their positions as officials may provide a steady income on the side, between 10 and 50 silver coins, with bribes on top of that.

Major nobles tend to be employed at the court, receiving spectacular sums from their lands, positions and bribes. It is hard to put a maximum on their incomes, but they do earn 5 golden coins a day at the very least.

Royal household has enormous expenses as well as enormous incomes, it would all depend on the ammount of nobles in the Kingdom and taxes imposed. But it is safe to assume, that when all expenses are paid, the King himself is not significantly more wealthy than his great lords. It is a rarity of the King is the richest man in his kingdom.

Luxury goods are significantly more expensive, resulting in gap between the poor and the truly rich. This also means that luxury artisans such as goldsmiths and master armorers would earn significantly more than their poorer counterparts focusing on lower-tier goods.

Here is a small 'table' listing a few occupations, their ranking (small farmer would earn less than a big one), and what I think is their daily income. Please note that farmer-income is 'equivalent', that means that they actually have much less cash and 'earn' most in raw goods. Some prices are also included in the list.

The TL:DR version is:
Lower classes earn between 1-2 silver a day
'Middle' class earn between 2 and 6 silver a day
'Upper' class earns between 6 and 50 silver a day
Solid Nobility and 'the Rich' earns anywhere above 1 gold a day

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Anna
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