In the text of "A narrative of the expedition of Hernando de Soto into Florida published at Evora in 1557" the anonymous author states that de Soto "... gathered a hundred and four score thousand ducats together..." from his adventures in Peru with Pizarro.

I've been doing a bit of google research, but I can't find anything that approximates that value of a Spanish ducat at that time. Also, the text makes reference to Rials, so I would also be interested in that valuation as well.

I understand there is no way to provide an exact number. I'm looking for an approximate number: Is there any historical evidence that a Spanish ducat of that era must contain X weight of gold (or silver)?


1 Answer 1


Lifting the contents of the very helpful link provided by @gvk into an answer:

Source: Fiat Money in 17th Century Castile, by François R. Velde, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Warren E. Weber, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and University of Minnesota.

Footnote 1 states:

The ducat disappeared as a coin in 1537 but remained as a unit of account, representing 375 maravedis.

Table 2 Castilian monetary system, ca. 1590 (before the onset of vellón inflation) lists the following in the column "Purchasing Power":

  • 4 maravedis -- 1/2 lb bread
  • 15 maravedis -- 1 bottle wine
  • 50 maravedis -- 1 spring chicken
  • 80 maravedis -- 1 day skilled labor
  • 200 maravedis -- 1 ga. olive oil
  • 350 maravedis -- 1 bushel wheat
  • 1450 maravedis -- minimum weekly middle class income

So 1 ducat was the rough equivalent of 1/4 the minimum weekly middle class income. It would have bought you four and a half days of skilled labor. Or 7 (live!) chickens, a bottle of wine and a pound of bread. ¡Buen provecho!

  • 3
    So the "a hundred and four score thousand ducats" equates to 67,500,000 maravedis or just over 895 years of minimum middle class income.
    – Steve Bird
    Sep 27, 2018 at 8:54
  • @SteveBird: Quite a treasure. (I was not 100% sure about what number "a hundred and four score thousand" was supposed to be, and decided not to add that total to the answer in case I got it wrong. ;-) )
    – DevSolar
    Sep 27, 2018 at 8:56
  • 1
    Downvoted "not useful" without even leaving a comment? Seriously?
    – DevSolar
    Sep 27, 2018 at 9:56
  • +1, but if you had value for any of the nobles' income or state expenditure those would be quite nice to see as well as a 'better' (obviously debatable) point of comparison.
    – gktscrk
    Sep 27, 2018 at 10:27
  • 1
    Thanks for expanding my quick comment into a helpful answer. Much appreciated :-)
    – gvk
    Sep 27, 2018 at 16:03

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