My question is, how many people lived in a medium sized European village (like Germany) in the year 800. And how many people would have walked on the streets in a daily routine?

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    Quick websearch convinces me that this is not an question to research. I found large scale demographic summaries, but nothing that is specifically 800 nor Germany. Any advice from others? I wonder if there is more information on France? – MCW Mar 23 at 14:35
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    I can give you populations for cities around 1000ad (in thousands): Regensburg 40, Rome 35, Mainz 30, Speyer 25, Cologne 21, Trier 20, Paris 20, Tours 20, Worms 20. Source is Bairoch, "The population of European Cities 1050-1800" 1988. – ed.hank Mar 23 at 14:50
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    This question is kind of ironic. It picks a specific time, and a specific location, and in doing so makes it apparent how thresholds occur in history. In this case, at the time of the target date, the Saxons (Germans), were at war with the Franks (Charlemagne). The mostly pagan Saxons lost and were converted to Christianity. The very nature of the villages encountered would have changed between 800 and 804. In trying to meet our requirements of picking a specific time and place, the turmoil of the specific times still makes things difficult. – justCal Mar 24 at 4:13
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    Plus minus a decade does not matter for the q, I guess, since it originated on wb. So as exact number, just estimate will probably be fine, is it 1000's 100's 10's. Clearly we are in 100's to 10's territory, as i may judge from sizes of those in a more modern times, and 20k Paris number @justCal – MolbOrg Mar 24 at 5:03

The book The Medieval Village, by George Coulton, has some information which seems to provide a basis for calculating an answer to your question.

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According to the first column of information, in the year 800 there were an estimated 100 Villages in this region. These contained an estimated 20,000 individuals, so we can calculate your average village size of 200 people. Note the next column for the year 900 these numbers all more than double, and the average size has climbed slightly, to 240.

At a similar time villages were starting to make an appearance in England as well. (I know this question directly specified Germany, but the theory behind villages is connected.)

A series of lectures I have been watching on the history of English architecture, conveniently has a transcript so I can show you a related section from the lecture Making England: The Shadow of Rome, 410-1130, by Professor Simon Thurley CBE.

Before the tenth century almost everyone lived in scattered settlements of no more than a score of people. But between the tenth and twelfth centuries, in the central arable areas of England, peasant farmers abandoned their farmsteads and hamlets and moved to create villages. These places normally had a church, a main street and between twelve and sixty houses.

If we just toss an average number of 6 people per household (I know, needs sourced, but we are just shooting for an average here) we get 72 to 360, with a median of 216. these estimates seem to correlate fairly well with the above figure.

So average village size in the medieval time period from 800-1000AD seems to be falling in the range between 200 and 250 people. Information on both German and English villages seems to indicate similar sizes in both regions.


Rather than try to argue fuzzy things like the meaning of "Medium Sized", how about I give you some stats?

According to McEvedy's New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History, in AD 737 there were only 3 cities in Europe larger than 15,000: Toledo and Salonika (both in the 15-22k range), and Constantinople (in the 50-125K range). None of those cities were under the authority of the Pope in Rome. Toledo was part of the Umayyad Caliphate, and the other two were Byzantine. The entire population of Europe (as per McEvedy & Jones' Atlas of World Population History) had dwindled down to only about 29 million, from a height of about 36 million at 200 AD.

So that should give you at least a good ceiling for what should be considered really large in that era.

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