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Bill Thayer

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Book VII
Chapter 10

This webpage reproduces a section of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

published by the Clarendon Press

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book VII
Chapter 11

Vol. IV
Note D

Prices under the Lombard rule

Of course in order to estimate aright the deterrent effect of the money penalties which crowd the Lombard statute-book, we ought to know what was the purchasing power of the solidus aureus (twelve shillings) at this time. Our information on this point is necessarily vague. The fact that the average value of a slave (as denoted by his guidrigild) varied from 50 solidi down to 16, gives us some light on the question. In the year 725, we find the honourable woman Ermendruda selling for 12 golden solidi 'the boy Saorelanus, or whatever other name he may be known by in his own country Gaul' (Troya, IV.3.406). The documents copied in Troya's 'Codice Diplomatico Langobardo,' vol. IV, give us several transactions relating to the sale of land, but information as to the extent of the land thus sold is generally wanting, and where it is given I do not venture to estimate the quantity of the Lombard land measures.


A new oliveyard near Farfa is sold for


Twelve Olivae Talliae (?) are sold for

12 solidi

sala and half of a meadow, and a mill at Pistoia, are sold for

100 solidi

Half of a house in Pisa


A garden at Lucca

50 solidi

A portion of an 'areale' at Trevigi


Land in Pisan territory

15 solidi

Land in Pisan territory (Sextariorum quindecim)

15⅓ solidi

Land in Pisan territory

6⅓ solidi

Eleven Olivae Talliae near Farfa


A dwelling in the 'castellum' of Uffrum near Luna

20 solidi

Land in the valley of the Serchio

25 solidi

Land in Val d'Arno (tres scaffilii)


Vineyard in the valley of the Serchio (sold by Justus, a goldsmith, to Abbess Ursa)


House and vineyard in Toscanella (sold by Rodbert, magister comacinus or master mason)

30 solidi

Share of vineyard in Tuscany


 p414  Little piece of land ('aliquantula terrula mea'), a little less than one 'modilocus,' also in Tuscany, sold by Ermelinda, a nun

13 solidi

It will be observed that all these sales (which extend in time from the year 704 to 740) relate to property in Tuscany, and therefore they may probably be taken as representing the top‑prices of Italian land.

For movable property, which evidently commanded what is, according to our ideas, an enormous price relatively to the price of land, we have an exceedingly interesting document quoted by Troya (p658). In it the Abbess Ursa informs her nephew what is the property which he is entitled to under his mother's marriage settlement: —

'I, Ursa, make a memorandum (memoraturium) to you my nephew, as to your mother's morganicap. In the first place,

A bed

10 solidi

Three female slaves, Magnifredula, and Magnitrudu, and Musiula

300 solidi

A tunic

10 solidi

A mantle (mantu)

10 solidi

nuari (?)

300 solidi

A horse with trappings (caballus stratus)

100 solidi

A house at Valentio in Veturiana (and perhaps another house and the moiety of one, but this part of the memorandum is obscure)

100 solidi'

('Solidus tricenta,' twice repeated in the document, must apparently be taken as = trecenti, not triginta). Evidently personal property at this time was far more valuable, relatively, than real property. But even so, our study of the document in Troya leaves us with the impression that fines ranging, as did these of the Lombard code, from 300 to 900 solidi, would fall with crushing weight on all but the very wealthiest classes of the community.

As further illustrating the same subject, it may be mentioned that in the law passed to prevent the giving of extravagant marriage portions, the judex is forbidden to give his wife a meta of more than 400 solidi, and the ordinary noble is not allowed to give more than 300, while (apparently) all other classes of the community are limited to 200.

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Page updated: 4 May 20