Obviously, swords vary in quality. Ideally, I would like to know what a standard army issue sword would have cost, if I bought it privately. But I realised we may only be able to assert what this sword cost the army. Failing that, I would be interested in any recorded sword prices.

I have access to PART of „The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century“. Therein I found no answer.

Another paper that will help to put your answers into perspective is this one. by B. Milanovic. It asserts that:

The average “modest” salary (including benefits in kind) for an unskilled worker was estimated by Morrisson and Cheynet (2002, p. 869) at about 1 nomisma (N) per month or between 10 and 12 N per year.

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    What I know is that an axe for wood cutting, in midieval Russia around 1400s costed slightly more than 1 year income of an average peasant.
    – Zmur
    Apr 10, 2021 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


This is next to an impossible task unless there are some remaining archives with military expenses at the time that could bring us closer to the answer. It's good that you have mentioned a relatively specific type of sword but even so the quality of materials would have varied and prices the same. If we take into consideration the wages at that time I would estimate between half a year to a year's pay depending on the quality and/or any other craftsmanship requested by the buyer at the time. However, please consider that the price limit on any weapon can be limitless, depending on the one making the purchase, same as today. If we also consider the period, during Basil II and all the campaigns during his reign, the price of a sword may be lower as production would have been high even before his reign started due to civil strife.

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    It seems to me that a reasonable estimate can be given in terms of the number of days of skilled craftsmen's time even if not in currency. How many swords could a Byzantine production worker of the time produce in a year? Was materials cost a significant fraction of the total cost?
    – Mark Olson
    Apr 3, 2021 at 0:22
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    @MarkOlson - I can answer part of that, a Spathion had 12-15 blacksmith work hours per sword, a Paramerion had 10-12 hours per sword, from "Logistical considerations for the arms production industry in the Middle Byzantine Empire" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Vol 44 issue 2.
    – ed.hank
    Aug 3, 2021 at 21:04

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