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Monetarisation

The question is how much cash the peasants needed to pay feudal rent (external factor) and how much to potentially pay siblings or buy a farmstead, livestock, and non-farmstead plots (internal factor). The first part of the question is answered by the analysis of the above-mentioned land tax

Table 9.1 Indicative price of grain and livestock in the Eger city state in 1438 and I486

Commodity

Draught horse

Cow

Calf

Sheep

/ 'Kar' of grain (ca 3 hectolitres)

Price

120-140 gr.

50-55 gr.

8gr.

7gr.

IS gr

Note: gr. - Prague groschen.

Source: Kiir 2018, pp. l9l-3;cf.Vanis l98l;Mika 1959.

and land rents in the register of the land tax from 1469 (Klosteuerbuch, 1469). The second part of the question is answered by an analysis of monetary value of the properties in the tax register from 1438 and taxation book from 1456 (Kiir et al. 2016; Kiir 2018, pp. 188-98). An essential prerequisite for the interpretation is naturally knowledge of the prices of grain and cattle (Table 9.1).

As far as the cash necessary to pay the feudal rents, the situation of individual families varied enormously. Considering that our aim is a comparison with the early modern situation, we can simplify reality to the average values (Table 9.2). The land tax had an exclusively monetary form, representing for the ‘Hof’ farmstead on average an annual burden of 28.5 Prague groschen and for‘Herberge’ farmstead 11.5 Prague groschen. Land rent was mostly in kind and, therefore, did not force most peasants to raise cash. Only one-fifth of the peasant farmsteads had to pay the land rent in cash, on average each was required to pay 29.5 Prague groschen annually. If the land tax met with a cash land rent, the average financial burden was 68 groschen. We can summarise that in the monitored period the average peasant household in the late medieval Eger city state needed to acquire at least 30-60 Prague groschen of cash each year. That corresponded to the price of one and a half cows, or 8-16 hectolitres of rye. At the same time, low prices mean that the annual reproduction of the peasant farmstead was not extremely expensive.

The average monetary value of the tenure right to a ‘subject’ farmstead, the livestock and non-farmstead plots is shown in Table 9.2. The relatively low price of the tenure right for the farmsteads is striking. It was true for the ‘subject’ farmsteads that the value of the tenure right was about half the value of all property, the other half was the value of livestock. If the peasant households also owned non-farmstead plots, then the value of the tenure right was on average one-third of the overall value, the second third was the livestock, and the third was the non-farmstead plots (1:1:1). Or, the average ‘subject’ farmstead in and of itself could be acquired for the price of 10-12 cows, or 3 draught horses.

The contrast to the early modern price relations is clear. Although the early modern situation has not yet been analysed for the Eger city state,

Table 9.2 Overview of average monetary values of peasant property (1438, 1456) and cash and in-kind burdens on Eger‘subject’ farmsteads of the year (1469)

'Subject' farmstead

Number of cases

‘Hof farmstead

‘Herberge’ farmstead

Average price

Purchase right

1438

11 ss 45 gr.

5 ss 18 gr.

609 / 86

1456

13 ss 42 gr.

632

Horses and

1438

11 ss 38 gr.

3 ss 28 gr.

820

cattle

1456

12 ss. 1 1 gr.

655

1 ploughed ‘Morgen’ (ca 0.57 ha)*

2 ss 12 gr.

81 (1438)/ 75 (1456)

1 meadow'Morgen' (ca 0.57 ha)*

4 ss 30 gr.

86 (1438)/ III (1456)

Average annual land tax (1438)

28 gr.

1 1 -5 gr-

763

Average annual land rent only in cash (22.5% of farmsteads)

29.5 gr.

132

Average annual land rent only in grain (71 % of farmsteads)

6.8 grain ‘Kar’ (ca 20 hectolitres)

416

Church tithe

10%-30%

of the amount of the land rent

31

Notes: gr. - Prague groschen;ss - threescore Prague groschen * - only a minority of peasant families owned this Source: Klfr et al. 2016; Kiir 2018, pp. 190-6; Kiir, in print.

we can help by comparison with other well-known regions. For example, for the area of the Saxon town of Grimma near Leipzig, it was established on the basis of data from the Turkish tax registers of 1542 that the livestock value was only about 10% of the total value of the peasant property (Schirmer 1996, p. 62). Similar relations are also supported by data from the oldest land registers for Bohemia or Moravia (Mika 1960, pp. 213-18, 352-405; Chocholac 1999, pp. 72-97). Horses and cattle were less than one-tenth of the estimated price of rich farmsteads in the grain areas. The ratio of the monetary value of horses and cattle to the estimated value of the courtyard with land fluctuated around 1:8 (Hanzal 1963, pp. 42-4).

Thus, although the norms of property disposition and inheritance law in the late medieval Eger city state did not in principle differ from those we know in early modern Bohemia, their economic and social consequences for the functioning of peasant communities were fundamentally different -due to different price relations and demographic regime. Thanks to the relatively low value of the tenure right to the ‘subject’ farmstead, the position of the primary heir apparent in the Eger city state was not in any way economically burdensome because the obligations to the other heirs could be relatively easily and immediately settled in natural commodities, nonfarmstead plots, or relatively attainable cash. Model considerations as well as specific examples show that neither a loan nor repayment of shares was necessary in most cases.

We can formulate the hypothesis that the late medieval peasantry of Eger was not forced to be in intensive interaction with the market. We speak of course on the level of the average because the Eger city state was not homogeneous and it is necessary to count with differences between the agriculturally advantageous and foothill zones, or the small and large farmsteads. The hypothesis of generally low level of the monetarization and commercialization of the peasantry will be tested in the next chapter using a credit market analysis.

 
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