I have a number of sources I use to get examples & documentation of costs in the medieval period of knightly implements such as armor, weapons, horses, supplies, etc. However, all of my usual sources are failing me on the question of how much a set of horse armor (barding) would cost at the time.

Granted that there are lots of different styles and components crafted over the years; practically any type from the High to Late middle ages or Renaissance would be a helpful starting point. I'm looking for a specific citation (perhaps in an account-book or ledger from the time, such as exist for other examples of armor and horses) and a specific enumerated price point (e.g., "about as much as a car today" or "only the wealthy could afford it" are not helpful).

As a comparative example, below is an excerpt on medieval Armor from the "Medieval Sourcebook: Medieval Prices", compiled by Kenneth Hodges/Paul Halsall circa 2000, drawing on about ten different sources (currently here).

Note that due to the scarcity of documentation, we must accept that the best we can do is a handful of sketchy data across several centuries, from maybe only a few specialized book sources. Yet even this has been found useful to many people (this list has been duplicated on a number of internet sites over the years). I'm hoping someone knows of even one or two pieces of documentation for horse armor at this same level of detail and epoch.

Medieval Sourcebook: Medieval Prices, excerpt from Armor section

Do similar documented examples exist for the price of horse armor in the same time range (12th to 17th centuries)?

  • 2
    This takes me back to the great debate about the price of horse armor in 2006
    – SPavel
    Jul 20, 2023 at 2:36
  • 1
    According to Bethesda it was 500 gold (per, entirely cosmetic, set).
    – Steve Bird
    Jul 20, 2023 at 9:08
  • 2
    The problem with questions like this is the medieval period was a long time. During parts of it, particularly in the early period, much of Europe didn't even have the kind of money/market economy where it would make sense to talk about the market price for goods like this question wants to do. Most people operated on barter (including labor barter).
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 20, 2023 at 14:14
  • 1
    Can I suggest we pick a specific time, and I'll suggest "Battle of Agincourt" (or somewhere near it). Jul 20, 2023 at 15:15
  • 1
    I was looking at your Medieval Sourcebook link to see what sources the numbers were referencing, and unfortunately the sources listed are secondary sources. One that caught my attention, however, [5] The Armourer and his Craft from the XIth to the XVIth Century, Charles ffoulkes, Dover, 1988 (orig. 1912). This has a lot of good information, including some primary source and museum records, concerning both regular and horse armour. You can find a copy on Project Guttenberg here
    – justCal
    Jul 25, 2023 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


I was able to find one single clear citation from this 1967 PhD thesis:

WIEDEMER JR, JACK EARL. Arms and Armor in England, 1450-1471, their Cost and Distribution. University of Pennsylvania, 1967 (p. 60).

At some time during the later 1460's, the earl of Oxford asked Sir John Paston to purchase three horse harnesses of the best quality for Oxford's use, adding that he was willing to pay up to £7. each for them, and that Lord Hastings had recently paid between £6. and £7. for one such harness. These figures prove that armor for a horse could cost as much as that for a man, which is probably another reason why horse armor seems to have been comparatively rare.

A footnote for this section cites The Paston Letters A.D. 1422-1509, ed. J. Gairdner. London: Chatto and Windus, 1904 (Vol. 4: 686).

One note: The currency symbols in the typed thesis are hand-written and look to my eye like a "Z" with a horizontal crossbar through the middle. Based on surrounding context I'm pretty sure this is meant to be the symbol for pounds sterling (shown in my transcription above).

  • 1
    Text of the Volume 4, #686
    – justCal
    Jul 26, 2023 at 18:07
  • @justCal: Thanks for that, I accidentally included a footnote from one sentence earlier. Removed in an edit. Jul 27, 2023 at 3:30
  • 1
    By the way, we like links here. If you have an online accessible source for the '67 thesis paper, please edit that into your answer.
    – justCal
    Jul 27, 2023 at 11:17
  • @justCal: It's not available publicly. My academic librarian had to bend some rules to get me a copy. Jul 27, 2023 at 15:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.