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Old 09-06-2013, 11:32 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Default The Middle Ages - Luxury & Poverty then vs now

I have a question for anyone who considers themselves very knowledgeable about the Middle Ages (I myself am no history buff).

I've heard it quoted in many places that about 20% of the world lives in relative luxury, holding most of the world's wealth, while the rest are in poverty. It seems this refers mostly to different nations rather than within a country (ie. developed countries makes up the 20% along with the rich elite in other nations).

What were the proportions of wealthy to poor in the middle ages? Obviously, the poor were always more numerous, but what were the percentages (approximate even)?

Even though there were less people, the world was not as "small" as it is now, so I am aware a global number is unrealistic. Focusing on Europe is fine.

I'm interested in how this played out across time in general, but I'm picking one time period for a start.

Thanks!
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Old 09-07-2013, 02:15 AM
 
Location: Glasgow Scotland
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Although I love history IM not all that up on this time , but found this..

World population - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-07-2013, 01:14 PM
 
Location: rural USA
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The book "Farewell to Alms" gives a lot of interesting info about standard of living in the Middle Ages Europe compared to different parts of the world today. There are many parts of the world today that are poorer than Middle Ages England, according to the author.
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:46 PM
 
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Google, "income, inequality, middle, ages" there appear to be quite a few scholarly articles on the topic.

https://www.google.com/search?q=inco...hrome&ie=UTF-8
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:28 PM
 
Location: Your computer screen.
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Prior to the industrial revolution, wealth was measured in amount of land owned since the economy was agriculturally based. Most land was owned by a few wealthy landowners or lords (kings, dukes, earls, bishops, etc.). The rest of the people lived as serfs.

I don't know the percentage, but probably around 0.01% relatively wealthy and 99.99% relatively poor.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
Google, "income, inequality, middle, ages" there appear to be quite a few scholarly articles on the topic.

https://www.google.com/search?q=inco...hrome&ie=UTF-8
I did some google searches, but apparently did not use the right terms (which makes all the difference).
Thanks.
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:54 PM
 
Location: rural USA
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random article about Medieval vacation time: Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you | The Great Debate

Wikipedia quotes this year 1086 source in their serf article:
Quote:
The Domesday Book showed that England comprised 12% freeholders, 35% serfs or villeins, 30% cotters and bordars, and 9% slaves.[13]
separate section:

Quote:
Freemen, or free tenants held their land by one of a variety of contracts of feudal land tenure and were essentially rent-paying tenant farmers who owed little or no service to the lord, and had a good degree of security of tenure and independence. In parts of 11th century England freemen made up only 10% of the peasant population, and in the rest of Europe their numbers were small.
Serfdom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque
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Perhaps a good way to measure the relative wealth of people in societies that are so widely disparate in terms of living standards would be by food security.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
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Well, considering even the King of England had worms ( http://news.yahoo.com/hunchback-king...011520753.html ) I'd have to say the average American lives pretty well.

The BBC has some great documentaries on the subject...


Terry Jones' Medieval Lives - S1 Ep 1 - The Peasant - YouTube
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Albuquerque
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
Well, considering even the King of England had worms ( Yahoo! ) I'd have to say the average American lives pretty well.
I'm not sure what getting worms has to do with luxury vs. poverty.

One could make the likely specious, but logical argument that impoverished Americans mainly have access to highly processed 'dead' foods available from convenience stores while wealthy Americans have the opportunity to travel the world thus exposing them to a more potential parasites, by which one could conclude that having worms is a sign of a luxurious lifestyle.

In medieval England, peasants lived on grain gruel which is devoid of parasites while the King ate sumptuous meals of nutritious meat, but was exposed to parasites due to that.
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