Medieval Statistics

Medieval Statistics

Date: Friday 05 November 2021, 10.00AM
Location: Online
Section Group Meeting

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The RSS History Section, in collaboration with the Centre for Economic Institutions and Business History (CEIBH), University of Reading, is holding a one-day conference on Medieval Statistics.


Many people believe that statistical record-keeping in England and Wales was invented by the Victorians, or by early political economists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But statistics have been compiled by English kings since the tenth century. The Norman and Plantagenet kings established a sophisticated system of royal accounts, and their records survive today in the National Archives. Religious institutions also compiled accounts of their income and expenditure. These institutions managed large agricultural estates and the accounts of some of their stewards and bailiffs have survived, giving valuable information about commodity prices and agricultural productivity. Contracts recorded in surviving medieval legal records show the purchase prices and rents paid on property, both for agricultural land and for urban housing. Coin finds, treasure hoards and the records of the royal mints provide information on the medieval money supply. Records of disputes over unpaid debts provide information on the medieval credit market. When all of this information is synthesised, it is feasible for modern researchers to define and measure annual gross domestic product, the consumer price index, the money supply and other important performance measures for medieval England and Wales.


A series of economic historians from across a number of English universities will paint the picture of the wide range of statistics available from medieval records.


Programme and Speakers

10.00-10.05 Introduction by the organisers, Mark Casson and Mike Hughes

10.05-10.35 Abbey accounts, Alastair Dobie, Edge Hill University

10.35-11.05 Domesday book, James Walker, University of Reading

Coffee break

11.20-11.50 Urban rents and the property market, Catherine Casson, University of Manchester

11.50-12.20 Agriculture and commodity prices, Jordan Claridge, LSE

12.20-12.50 Population, John Lee, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York

Lunch break

13.30-14.00 Money supply, Martin Allen, Fitzwilliam Museum and University of Cambridge

14.00-14.30 Credit, Tony Moore, ICMA Centre, Henley Business School, University of Reading

14.30-15.00  Measuring GDP, Steve Broadberry, University of Oxford

15.00-15.25 General open discussion

15.25-15.30 Closing remarks

Each speaker will allow 5-10 minutes for Q&A / discussion within their presentation.


Alisdair Dobie is Professor of Accounting at Edge Hill University. He read History at Edinburgh University before working for a major Scottish investment trust. He completed his PhD at Durham University where he worked on one of the most significant collections of medieval accounting material to be found in Europe. He is the author of Accounting at Durham Cathedral Priory: Management and Control of a Major Ecclesiastical Corporation 1083-1540, Palgrave Macmillan

James T. Walker is Head of International and Business Strategy at the Henley Business School at the University of Reading. He is the author of National income in Domesday England, in Martin Allen and D’Maris Coffman (eds.) Money Prices and Wages: Essays in honour of Nicholas Mayhew, Palgrave Macmillan, 25-50

Catherine Casson is Lecturer at the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. Her recent publications include Business and Community in Medieval England, Bristol University Press, and Origins of Capitalism: Medieval urban property markets, in Georg Christ and Philipp R.Rossner (eds.) History and Economic Life, Routledge, 141-68

Jordan Claridge is Assistant Professor in Economic History at LSE. He has published on the medieval economy in Economic History Review and other leading journals. He is currently researching horsepower in medieval England.

John Lee is Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York. He has published widely on the medieval economy and is the author of the Medieval Clothier (Boydell Press) and of two books on the history of Cambridge and its region.

Martin Allen is Senior Assistant Keeper in the Department of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and author of two books on English coinage: the Durham Mint (British Numismatic Society ) and Mints and Money in Medieval England (Cambridge University Press)

Tony Moore is Lecturer in Finance at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School, University of Reading. He has published widely on state finance in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Italian banking, and the use of credit by medieval merchants.

Stephen Broadberry is Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford and Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College. He has published extensively on historical national income accounting and productivity growth; he is co-author of British Economic Growth, 1270-1970, Cambridge University Press, and the author of several other monographs on related topics.

Organising Groups: Royal Statistical Society and CEIBH, University of Reading
Organisers: Professor Mark Casson and Mike Hughes
RSS Concessionary Fellows: FREE
CEIBH members: FREE (discount code must be applied when registering)
RSS Professionally Qualified Fellows: £10
RSS Fellows: £12
RSS E-students: £15
None of the above: £20