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GM.Casper
2011-01-26, 11:45 AM
I am looking for numbers about medieval (15 century or so) farming. Here are some starting calculations for this:

Working adults need 2000 calories per day, dependants (children, old folk, etc) need 1500. For a family of 2 adults and 4 dependants thatís over 3 600 000 calories a year.

If 200 kg of grain can be harvested from an acre of farmland, and the seed-to-harvest ration is 1:5 then 40kg is set aside for next year, 160kg can used for food. If a miller converts grain to flour at 80% efficiency, that gets 128 kg of flour. One kg flour is 3000 calories. That means a acre can support 0.1 families. Thus a family needs 10 acres minimum to survive.

Iíd like your thoughts on both these calculations and the numbers used (which can be adjusted as the setting requires). Once I get the basics down I plan to develop this more fully, perhaps a basis for a full blown economic simulation.

Another_Poet
2011-01-26, 11:51 AM
I'd adjust what dependents' need down to 1000 calories. This is mostly to keep the math simpler, but it also reflects that you're averaging a wide range (2 month olds versus 13 year olds).

With that adjustment, I would still say 1 family needs 10 acres to survive, because they need to give part of their food away to the lord as taxes.

This is a destitute family however; they would want more than 10 acres so they are producing surplus that they can trade (or store for famine years).

Re'ozul
2011-01-26, 11:53 AM
They most likely need more if you consider income from sales for non-consumables as well as the standard 10% taxation. Though I don't know how fruit cycles work into the entire calculation.

LansXero
2011-01-26, 11:55 AM
What about protein intake? like keeping chicken for eggs and ocationally meat? wouldnt that reduce the amount of calory needed? or maybe other small animals that could live off straw?

Kansaschaser
2011-01-26, 12:17 PM
What about protein intake? like keeping chicken for eggs and ocationally meat? wouldnt that reduce the amount of calory needed? or maybe other small animals that could live off straw?

Yeah, some livestock need supplemental grain and feed. So some of the stuff the pesants farm is used to feed the animals.

If they have Horses or Ox that help with farming, then they need to worry about feeding them too.

Smart farmers would use all available space for farming. You can put dirt on the roof and grow herbs and small vegetables up there. Plus, it helps insulate their home. The basement can be used to grow mushrooms since most poor people have dirt basements with perfect mushroom growing conditions.

If planted in the right position, you can plant trees (apple and oranges) to give you more food than you would get if you were harvesting just wheat. Most farmers in Western Kansas(where I'm from) just plant a few apple or orange trees in their yard and around their house. They don't tend to eat the apples and oranges, but I'm sure pesants would.

Don't forget to have them switch what they are farming from year to year so it keeps the ground fertile. Dead animals such as fish and small game can be planted with the grain to make the plants produce more than normal.

ericgrau
2011-01-26, 12:19 PM
Farmers and other physical laborers need 4000 calories. Protein is pretty easy to get unless you're a bodybuilder. Meat/eggs is mainly necessary for B12 to prevent anemia (weakness from poor blood) after 5+ years and omega 3's for the brain and general health from cell membrane structure. A small amount prevents deficiency, as in ounces per week is plenty. A little oil or nuts provides omega 6 to work with omega 3, as in a handful a day is plenty. This can also be stored in the body for months/years. Fresh food prevents scurvy, and there you only get 2 months. About everything else may be had with variety, or at least enough to prevent serious problems.

LansXero
2011-01-26, 12:20 PM
Oh, what about something like corn and cabbages? corn grows tall and takes (iirc) nitrogen out of the ground, while cabbages need something to grab on, lots of shadow, and fix nitrogen back into the ground. So you get 2x the good and the sustainability from the same area of land.

Stegyre
2011-01-26, 12:25 PM
Here's (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=74351) a thread in which a very intelligent GURPS player (Agramer) has tried doing something similar. You may find it helpful, although he approaches the problem slightly differently from you.

As for your approach, I think the 2000 cal/day assumption is untenable for medieval peasantry. But on the other hand, this site (http://people.eku.edu/resorc/Medieval_peasant_diet.htm) seems to think it's too low, so what do I know about such things?

ericgrau
2011-01-26, 12:29 PM
Oh, what about something like corn and cabbages? corn grows tall and takes (iirc) nitrogen out of the ground, while cabbages need something to grab on, lots of shadow, and fix nitrogen back into the ground. So you get 2x the good and the sustainability from the same area of land.
Right or nitrogen can come from other nitrogen fixing plants and manure. There's also crop rotation and general organic material for all the other misc. nutrients. I think tracking nitrogen and lumping all misc. nutrients together would work. If you keep growing the same thing misc. goes down b/c actually a couple components of misc. go down. If you don't add random plant material or weeds from fallow years then misc. goes down because all components of misc go down. The soil never actually runs out of either the plants just consume less and less as the soil gets low and then the plants won't grow as much. A 2nd common medieval method rather than adding more nutrients is to move to other land for a while, slash and burn, enjoy the fertile soil created from the ashes until you use that up and repeat.

Water from rain is likely to be sufficient in many areas. Drier areas need irrigation. Wetter areas still benefit from irrigation because weather is inconsistent and the extra water gives about 30% more growth. And in D&D druids can also boost growth with a special version of the plant growth spell.

Then there's disease spreading unless the farmer carefully culls the infected leaves. Or lack of crop rotation could cause leaf or soil diseases or bugs to persist and get worse.

EDIT: Oh, uneven land unsuitable to farming often became grassland for cattle. In such areas meat may even be cheaper than bread, only because grain is so hard to grow and expensive. According to my history textbooks these were communal until the agricultural revolution.

EDIT #2: According to the USDA nutrient database a kilogram of flour contains 3400 calories. Hmm, and enough protein for 2 adults. Ya protein really isn't an issue unless you have an elven hippy community living only on fruit or something.

Fouredged Sword
2011-01-26, 12:35 PM
Farms didn't get owned by a single family, you had whole villages working together to farm the land around the village. There was to much to do for one family to do it all. The normal pattern for most of germany and europe was for a king to own the land, then it was rented out by a landlord, and the rent was paid by families who rented the land on leases measureing in decades, with a cost in produce paid every year. The landlord taxed the farmer, the king taxed the landlord.

Stegyre
2011-01-26, 01:57 PM
Farms didn't get owned by a single family, you had whole villages working together to farm the land around the village. There was to much to do for one family to do it all. The normal pattern for most of germany and europe was for a king to own the land, then it was rented out by a landlord, and the rent was paid by families who rented the land on leases measureing in decades, with a cost in produce paid every year. The landlord taxed the farmer, the king taxed the landlord.
Source?

My understanding is that, depending upon who you were, families did have individual plots. Serfs may not have, but peasants and freemen, certainly. For peasants working on the Lord's property, this was often the basis of their "tax": lease payments (typically in produce, labor, or both) in return for the peasant's own leasehold.

Even if they may not have "owned" the land ("in fee simple," like lawyers used to say), they certainly held possessory interests in particular plots. That's why the English language has terms like "leasehold" and "freehold."

That's not to say that some aspects of farming were not a communal effort. That's a practice that continued well into the 19th century. At certain stages, it is more efficient to have everyone working on one field at a time, instead of each farmer or family working only on their own, so everyone goes to Jack's field and brings in the hay on Monday; on Tuesday, they all go to Randy's field, etc. Everyone helps, because everyone will, in turn, be helped.

But they still owned their own produce.

randomhero00
2011-01-26, 02:09 PM
Simple question: why get so detailed?

flabort
2011-01-26, 03:38 PM
Simple question: why get so detailed?

Agreed. Explain why we need this?
Is it to find out how often you encounter farmers while traveling?

Stegyre
2011-01-26, 03:48 PM
Simple question: why get so detailed?

For some people, it floats there boat. IMO, it's part of avoiding absurdities by having an economy that has at least some first-level approximation credibility.

Mark Hall
2011-01-26, 03:54 PM
For some people, it floats there boat. IMO, it's part of avoiding absurdities by having an economy that has at least some first-level approximation credibility.

I'll agree; varying levels of detail make people happy. I like to have really good detail in background, and then worry less about it in play; knowing about how much land an average family is going to want is part of that background.

One thing to consider (it may have been mentioned) is the concept of a hide; the land that could be cultivated by a single plowman, and could support a single family. It varied, in England, from 60 to 180 acres, depending on the local conditions (with river bottomland being closer to the 60, and East Anglian fens being closer to 180). Fertility is going to play a big role, as is relatively available magic.

Stegyre
2011-01-26, 04:20 PM
. . . as is relatively available magic.

+1, although it seems like the only real 3.5 option is the 3rd level Plant Growth (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/plantGrowth.htm), which has a very wide area (half-mile radius), but fairly limited impact (+33% growth). (Sure, +33% is something most farmers would kill for, but I compare this to GURPS spells, generally much less powerful that d20 spells, which allow one to essentially grow an entire harvest in one day.)

Are there any other D&D "farming" spells? :smallconfused:

Coidzor
2011-01-26, 04:28 PM
Are there any other D&D "farming" spells? :smallconfused:

Well, the Gleaner (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/gk7uKJeF296jRcx1NJw.html) had a couple of minor ones created for it. WOTC stuff though, not really.

nightwyrm
2011-01-26, 04:28 PM
Are there any other D&D "farming" spells? :smallconfused:

All sorts of weather control spells or even a simple continual light would do wonders.

Asheram
2011-01-26, 04:51 PM
Just remember that a lot of the ways a farmer survived on are outside of the fields, like fishing, foraging, hunting wild game.

Mark Hall
2011-01-26, 05:16 PM
+1, although it seems like the only real 3.5 option is the 3rd level Plant Growth (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/plantGrowth.htm), which has a very wide area (half-mile radius), but fairly limited impact (+33% growth). (Sure, +33% is something most farmers would kill for, but I compare this to GURPS spells, generally much less powerful that d20 spells, which allow one to essentially grow an entire harvest in one day.)

Are there any other D&D "farming" spells? :smallconfused:

I'd have to go through the old Wizard and Priest spell compendiums to find any. However, Plant Growth itself is going to be major, and, using that as a baseline, there's a lot of options for a powerful druid.

LansXero
2011-01-26, 05:24 PM
wouldnt entangle work as well, at least with some types of plants? xD

Stegyre
2011-01-26, 05:45 PM
wouldnt entangle work as well, at least with some types of plants? xD
No growth: "Grasses, weeds, bushes, and even trees wrap, twist, and entwine about creatures in the area or those that enter the area, holding them fast and causing them to become entangled."

Even if it were otherwise: Duration 1 min/lvl -- Pretty much kills that.

LansXero
2011-01-26, 05:54 PM
No growth: "Grasses, weeds, bushes, and even trees wrap, twist, and entwine about creatures in the area or those that enter the area, holding them fast and causing them to become entangled."

Even if it were otherwise: Duration 1 min/lvl -- Pretty much kills that.

I guess entangling cows with grass and having them graze on the entangling plants wasnt such a bright idea after all :(

Ragitsu
2011-01-26, 06:09 PM
No forms of advanced pesticides?

Asheram
2011-01-26, 06:24 PM
I'd just love to see a murder of construct crows whose job it is to exterminate any animal or insect who assault the crops.

ericgrau
2011-01-26, 06:34 PM
No forms of advanced pesticides?

Pesticides didn't reach major importance until the advent of synthetic fertilizers. Magical fertilizers presumably wouldn't have that problem. Before synthetics bugs didn't bother the plants nearly as much, maybe b/c synthetics aren't alive (nor feed living non-plants) and many of the natural defenses live in the soil I dunno. There's still disease though it can be managed with rotation, pruning, etc. Hmmm "mass remove plant disease"?

kc0bbq
2011-01-26, 06:41 PM
I am looking for numbers about medieval (15 century or so) farming. Here are some starting calculations for this:15th century is really the start of the Early Modern period, definitely the Renaissance (time periods are a bit fuzzy) so the model is probably fairly conservative. The Roman guideline for subsistence farming (family of 6) was ~7.5 acres with no plow animals, ~12.5 acres for subsistence and feeding plow animals. So the 10 acre number is probably reasonable for a 9th/10th century subsistence farmer, but realistically 15 acres to account for duties to the local lord. Medieval farmers before the end of the late middle ages (technology advancements sped stuff up, so the 15th century really varies with region) were expected to be able to plow an acre a day, which fits in with the 15 acres. I imagine the window to ensure you have food for the next year isn't much bigger than a few weeks.

There seems to be a disconnect between the initial model (which is somewhat following what a Saxon churl would be doing in the 8th century or whatever) and the time period you selected.

It really all comes down to the type of plow as to how much land is actually usable by one family. (Father working fields, children almost exclusively spending their time gathering firewood, mother grinding barley into flour and making bread, tending children, etc.)

Wasn't until near the end of the medieval period that crop rotation came in, too, and you needed much more land per farmer, but had higher yields...

So if the local plow technology allows you to plow 15% more land, and specialists don't need oxen and other farm animals, 3 families can suddenly provide about enough of a surplus to provide for a specialist (smith or whatever) and his family. A 50% increase over a scratch plow and each family can support one extra non-farming family.

Crop rotation, better mutations of the crop also make a difference, and are also kind of dependent on location.

Benejeseret
2011-01-26, 08:12 PM
If your looking to model, here's a few thoughts.

First off, Rot. If you are assuming 1-2 crop cycles per year then that is a really long time to store that flour. I'm no expert, but I'd guess a bunch was/could be lost to rot, spoilage, or pests. Perhaps have a spoilage percentage per month per kg.

Second, I think your calories counts are estimated based on modern food guides. Again (totally a uneducated assumption) but I'm guessing the average dirt farmed would go a whole lot of days without the recomended amount. Perhaps find the minimum calories for survival and go with those.

Erom
2011-01-26, 08:22 PM
Second, I think your calories counts are estimated based on modern food guides. Again (totally a uneducated assumption) but I'm guessing the average dirt farmed would go a whole lot of days without the recomended amount. Perhaps find the minimum calories for survival and go with those.
Given that the average dirt farmer was doing farming, which can be pretty hard labor, 2000 calories is actually too low. A physical laborer burns more like 3k-4k a day.

2000 is probably a reasonable average, to account for the malnourished but less active winter months, and the hearty but exhausting summer months.

ericgrau
2011-01-26, 08:42 PM
First off, Rot. If you are assuming 1-2 crop cycles per year then that is a really long time to store that flour. I'm no expert, but I'd guess a bunch was/could be lost to rot, spoilage, or pests. Perhaps have a spoilage percentage per month per kg.

Flour only lasts 6 months but wheat & etc. can last for millenia in dry regions, as long as it is carefully sealed against insects. Using clay jars for example, stored in granaries. It takes moisture to rot. In less dry climates grain can't be stored as long, but such regions might import it from desert regions in times of famine. This is why tracking things like this is cool IMO; they add opportunities for plot hooks and give more meaning to the clichť caravan escorts.

Mark Hall
2011-01-26, 09:09 PM
Given that the average dirt farmer was doing farming, which can be pretty hard labor, 2000 calories is actually too low. A physical laborer burns more like 3k-4k a day.

The thing to keep in mind is that, while they'd probably be eating this many calories (probably at the low end), it wouldn't be a well-balanced meal, especially in winter. Sure, there will be some greens and meat (especially fish and fowl, plus small game like rabbits), but you're looking at a meal that is long on grains and root vegetables.

Ormur
2011-01-26, 09:11 PM
I am looking for numbers about medieval (15 century or so) farming. Here are some starting calculations for this:

Working adults need 2000 calories per day, dependants (children, old folk, etc) need 1500. For a family of 2 adults and 4 dependants thatís over 3 600 000 calories a year.

If 200 kg of grain can be harvested from an acre of farmland, and the seed-to-harvest ration is 1:5 then 40kg is set aside for next year, 160kg can used for food. If a miller converts grain to flour at 80% efficiency, that gets 128 kg of flour. One kg flour is 3000 calories. That means a acre can support 0.1 families. Thus a family needs 10 acres minimum to survive.

Iíd like your thoughts on both these calculations and the numbers used (which can be adjusted as the setting requires). Once I get the basics down I plan to develop this more fully, perhaps a basis for a full blown economic simulation.

I have some numbers from a chapter about European agriculture in the 14th and 15th century. They're from England and specify wheat and oats. The seed to harvest ratio improved a lot from the 14th to the 16th century, from 1:3,7 to 1:7. The ratio was 1:4,7 for the 15th century so if that's your aim 1:5 seems to fit.

According to those numbers 1000 square metres in 14th and early 15th century would have yielded 36-85 kg of wheat and 30-60 kg of oats. That's about 145-345 kg of wheat and 120-243 kg of oats per acre. Presumably you'd have to subtract the seed corn from this and it also applies to the least productive period of the late middle ages (pre-black death). According to the book the seed typically sown per hectare for wheat was 150 kg, or 60 kg per acre and per hectare for oats 160 kg, or 65 kg per acre.

It's important to be aware of the underlying causes however if you want to include magical help or to reduce or increase the density or level of development compared to late-medieval England. The greater yields are speculated to be the result of less need for sowing in marginal land because of the depopulation but also because less population gives a bit of wiggle room for techniques that give greater yields.

It's speculated that at the time of highest density before black death there was a shortage of draught animals since so much land had to feed people exclusively. However that means lesser yields, with greater land in fallow, because of a lack of fertilizer. That means people have to consume less protein, subsisting near exclusively on corn. But if the 15th century is your reference point with less crowding you can presume a greater number of draught animals, higher yields and greater variation in diet.

Fable Wright
2011-01-26, 09:17 PM
There's something wrong with your calculations. You're saying that the 10 acres can support a family of 2 adults+4 dependents on less calories than they actually need in a day. The math works out to the flour producing 384,000 calories for the year to support 3,600,000 calories (by your calculations, which are too low for daily needs) needed by the family. Please check your math/add more acres required.

Another_Poet
2011-01-26, 09:31 PM
Farmers and other physical laborers need 4000 calories.

I assume you mean in the 21st century. Medieval humans were far smaller in stature and consumed/used less calories.* Additionally, most medieval European humans were chronically malnourished. I doubt they got the 2000 per day the OP suggested, at least not serfs. Maybe free landowning commoners managed it.

*True in spite of Czin's post below. Edited to accord with the study Czin linked to.

@OP: I suggest using just the grain->calories system for the basic "do you have enough food" mechanic. Other things, such as orchards or hunting grounds, can be treated as special achievements - sort of like improvements to a city in Civilization III didn't directly produce more grain, but provided other benefits to the city. (I'm not as familiar with more recent Civs).

Czin
2011-01-26, 09:37 PM
I assume you mean in the 21st century. Medieval humans were far smaller in stature and consumed/used less calories. Additionally, most medieval European humans were chronically malnourished. I doubt they got the 2000 per day the OP suggested, at least not serfs. Maybe free landowning commoners managed it.

I'm sorry but as a aficionado of Medieval history I cannot abide by this blatantly incorrect post. You are quite incorrect, an average medieval peasant, who was malnourished and underfed, was just a little bit shorter than a modern day human, while a noble was probably a good deal taller. (http://www.medieval-castles.org/index.php/how_tall_were_people_during_the_middle_a) Suggesting that we are significantly taller than our medieval counterparts is farcical to the highest degree.

Gnoman
2011-01-26, 09:44 PM
Also, size matters little as far as calorie consumption goes. No matter what your size is, if you are going to be doing backbreaking physical labor for 16 hours a day, 2000 kilocalaries a day would kill you.


One thing that it is important to factor in is that many farmers got a significant amount of calories from alcohol.

Ormur
2011-01-26, 10:16 PM
Farmers however probably didn't perform backbreaking physical labour for 16 hours a day, at least not on average. I don't remember where I read it but there was speculation that medieval farmers didn't even work as much as modern wage earners, at least not nearly as much as early industrial revolution factory workers. It might have been because the plots they tended were too small to actually require constant work all year round. But there might have been spurts of very heavy labour and periods of relative inactivity.

We also have to be very clear about what period we're discussing since the link about medieval people being taller specifies the 11th century before Europe was as overpopulated as in the 13th and early 14th century and before the 14th century plagues. The OP specifies the very late medieval 15th century and I presume most of the discussion is based on that. It's been argued that there is a much greater distinction between the conditions of the early and late middle ages than between the late middle and early modern age.

Another_Poet
2011-01-27, 11:46 AM
I'm sorry but as a aficionado of Medieval history I cannot abide by this blatantly incorrect post.

Ummm.... Except, according to the link you provided:


Recent studies conducted to British skeletons have shown some very interesting results. First of all, peasants were on average shorter than nobles... A person was on average slightly shorter than today. During the XII century, taller people lived but this declined slowly in the following centuries until the XVIII century when the shortest people of the millennium existed.

So in the 1100s, the typical commoner was in fact shorter than the typical modern-day human. After the 1100s, for the rest of the medieval period, people were even shorter on average, so the disparity compared to modern people was even greater.

I've edited my post above to read "smaller" instead of "far smaller" so that I'm not exaggerating.

I should point out too that this article only addresses human size from the High Middle Ages and later; it does not address human size in the Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages, when people were yet shorter still.

If I'm wrong about that please tell me more - I like learning. But the article you shared above says I was basically right. Sure, nobles were taller, but we're talking about labourers here.

Erom
2011-01-27, 12:32 PM
Farmers however probably didn't perform backbreaking physical labour for 16 hours a day, at least not on average.
This is why I think 2k is a pretty good average. You have factors driving it higher (higher labor activity especially during spring and fall) and factors driving it lower (malnutrition, smaller people, lower labor during the winter) so on the balance I think the modern average is still approximately correct.

bokodasu
2011-01-27, 01:29 PM
So having a history teacher as a stepfather does occasionally come in handy! Vague recollections from his lectures: medieval peasants ate a lot, because they burned a lot of calories. And not just grains - go look at a bag of frozen peas and boggle at the protein contained within. Look at the recipes from the times - all suet and nuts and other calorie-dense things. In some areas (France, maybe others), peasants would semi-hibernate in the winter, sleeping as much as possible because there just wasn't enough food to keep them going all day. Food availability varied greatly with the seasons.

For a basic overview, this link (http://people.eku.edu/resorc/Medieval_peasant_diet.htm) might be helpful.

ericgrau
2011-01-27, 04:05 PM
I don't understand why people have a hard time believing that someone who plows or otherwise does hard work all day consumes twice as many calories as someone who sits around all day, or maybe exercises for half an hour. Calories = energy. It's not like they do nothing and are similar regardless of motion; that'd be patently false. I haven't found another source to confirm what I heard a long time ago, but I did find that even a hard laborer with modern power tools burns 3000, and those performing no activity burn 2000. So I can't imagine 2000 as anything but a minimum for off days, not an average.

Cieyrin
2011-01-27, 04:21 PM
I don't understand why people have a hard time believing that someone who plows or otherwise does hard work all day consumes twice as many calories as someone who sits around all day, or maybe exercises for half an hour. Calories = energy. It's not like they do nothing and are similar regardless of motion; that'd be patently false. I haven't found another source to confirm what I heard a long time ago, but I did find that even a hard laborer with modern power tools burns 3000, and those performing no activity burn 2000. So I can't imagine 2000 as anything but a minimum for off days, not an average.

It's not that hard, really. Consider Olympic athletes, like Michael Phelps. When practicing and performing, he consumed 10-12k calories a day. Now, he's using different muscles in different ways to what serfs of the time period in question but labor is labor and energy is required to get any work done.

In a similar vein, adventuring and soldiering is intensive activity, requiring high energy diets to keep you going so that you can survive one more day. Adventurers and soldiers certainly don't live on 2000 calories a day, not with the amount of weight and the amount of activity they have in any given day. I've been serving in the U.S. armed forces for a while now and when I'm on duty, I consume much more food to keep up than when I'm on down time, I'll can tell you.

Suedars
2011-01-27, 09:16 PM
I assume you mean in the 21st century. Medieval humans were far smaller in stature and consumed/used less calories.* Additionally, most medieval European humans were chronically malnourished. I doubt they got the 2000 per day the OP suggested, at least not serfs. Maybe free landowning commoners managed it.

Malnourished and eating large amounts are not mutually exclusive. If you're eating 4000 calories a day, but 3000 of those come from bread and 1000 come from beer, you're going to be malnourished. The same is true today. In many low-income communities you'll find people who are clinically obese and eat 1000+ calories above what they need, but are still malnourished because they're eating low-nutrient, high calorie food.

Worira
2011-01-28, 02:40 AM
Malnourished and eating large amounts are not mutually exclusive. If you're eating 4000 calories a day, but 3000 of those come from bread and 1000 come from beer, you're going to be malnourished.

You're also going to need a new liver pretty quick, what with downing a couple litres of beer a day.

Suedars
2011-01-28, 03:26 AM
You're also going to need a new liver pretty quick, what with downing a couple litres of beer a day.

Beer brewed back then was fairly low ABV. About 3%, so roughly half as alcoholic as average beers today. Plus a large portion of the liver damage from alcohol comes from overloading your liver (usually by binge drinking), which medieval farmers wouldn't be doing. It's certainly not good for your liver, but it's not like it was the only unhealthy activity practiced during the time.

Czin
2011-01-28, 06:11 AM
Ummm.... Except, according to the link you provided:



So in the 1100s, the typical commoner was in fact shorter than the typical modern-day human. After the 1100s, for the rest of the medieval period, people were even shorter on average, so the disparity compared to modern people was even greater.

I've edited my post above to read "smaller" instead of "far smaller" so that I'm not exaggerating.

I should point out too that this article only addresses human size from the High Middle Ages and later; it does not address human size in the Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages, when people were yet shorter still.

If I'm wrong about that please tell me more - I like learning. But the article you shared above says I was basically right. Sure, nobles were taller, but we're talking about labourers here.
You said far smaller when they were just a little bit shorter. As in the people who didn't exactly have a guaranteed meal every day were only a little bit shorter than our overfed modern day selves.

GM.Casper
2011-01-28, 09:51 AM
Thanks you all for your input. I think Ill go with 3000 calories as the average (more labor in the summer, especially dueing harvest, less in winter) for now.

Adults =3000 calories per day, dependants =1500. Family of 2 adults and 4 dependants needs 4 320 000 calories a year. (360 days for simplicity, I plan the economic simulation to work in monthly turns).
If 250 kg of wheat can be harvested from an acre of farmland, and the seed-to-harvest ration is 1:5 then 50kg is set aside for next year, 200kg can used for food. If a miller converts grain to flour at 80% efficiency, that gets 160 kg of flour. One kg flour is 3000 calories. That means an acre can support 0.11 families. Thus a family needs 9 acres minimum to survive.
Peasants also had a vegetable garden of an acre or so. I wonder what where the harvest sizes there?

Peasants could work more farmland of course. Accordingly to some sources there were 15-30 acres per family. But the lord could be expected to tax everything beyond basic sustenance.

Wheat is clearly more productive than oats. Their only advantage is that oats can grow in colder and wetter climates. But is there any point in growing oats if wheat is an alternative?

Ormur
2011-01-28, 12:39 PM
I think oats grown in more southerly latitudes, like in England, were mostly used for animal fodder. In the chapter I got my statistics from there was an account that suggested Scots ate the oats themselves but the English only fed them to draught animals.

Cieyrin
2011-01-28, 02:59 PM
Beer brewed back then was fairly low ABV. About 3%, so roughly half as alcoholic as average beers today. Plus a large portion of the liver damage from alcohol comes from overloading your liver (usually by binge drinking), which medieval farmers wouldn't be doing. It's certainly not good for your liver, but it's not like it was the only unhealthy activity practiced during the time.

That and drinking beer was a safer alternative than drinking the water if you didn't want to get sick, what with the way sanitation was like in those days.

ericgrau
2011-01-28, 03:06 PM
Oats are good for variety, feeding to animals and different climates mostly, yeah. Wheat is the highest calorie grain but also the least nutritious and most bland otherwise. Cheapest and most common option for peasants though.

As for high calorie malnutrition basically those with less fresh food to go with their bread would be in worse health. In terms of sickness, frailty, low con and so on. Whole wheat won't cause obesity though; obesity is a modern thing.

Yeah there'd be less work in the winter but they can still get wheat and roots in the winter plus some leafies in the late fall / early spring. Less fresh food though.

kc0bbq
2011-01-28, 03:22 PM
Wheat is clearly more productive than oats. Their only advantage is that oats can grow in colder and wetter climates. But is there any point in growing oats if wheat is an alternative?
Barley is the medieval crop of choice in most places. It's got decent protein content, while not complete it is decent. It's also one of the biggest reasons we have agriculture. Once they got the 6-row mutation (way before medieval period) it became a pretty important staple. And by this time they had found hops, and beer could be kept for long periods.

Beer was important as food. The nutrition in it is far more accessable than in flour. There's a reason Egypt used it to feed the workers building the pyramids and other monuments.

per wikipedia:

Beer also provided a considerable amount of the daily calories in the northern regions. In England and the Low Countries, the per capita consumption was 275-300 liters (60-66 gallons) a year by the Late Middle Ages, and beer was drunk with every meal.
275-300l per capita. That's a LOT of beer, considering the number of children for each adult. :) And children were drinking their fair share.

Mark Hall
2011-01-31, 07:10 PM
I have to say, I love this topic. Also, GM Casper, you may want to find an Ars Magica forum (last I knew, most activity was on a mailing list, but that was years ago). The people on those lists tend to be medievalists by inclination, if not by actual training... the line editor (last I checked), David Chart, was a player who decided, on his love for the game, to get a PhD in Medieval History.