Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Tudor money

Had a bit of a tussle yesterday with money. Not mine, but theoretical money in the sixteenth century. I read letters from Sir Ralph Sadler in which he reported details of his time at the Scottish court to his master Henry VIII. He reported that the French had sent 30,000 crowns to the Queen Dowager of Scotland and while the question of who got the money and where it eventually went is fascinating, my problem was - how much was 30,000 crowns?
Mannlichen  slopes

If they were English crowns, then they were worth five shillings each. If they were Scottish crowns, then they were worth twenty-three shillings each. Quite a substantial difference - £7,500 or £34,500. Until 1707, the two countries had different monetary systems and they changed with each king. I can see now why lots of novelists ignore the question of money except in the roundest of round terms!

I decided that the French King would hardly bother to send three ships and an ambassador for a paltry £7,500 - and then remembered that when a groat (6d) was worth the equivalent of £10 today, even £7,500 was a considerable sum. I tried working out today's equivalent values for both sums, and gave up. I didn't believe what my calculator was telling me, and anyway, I've never been good at maths.

Perhaps I'll stick to round figures.

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