In medieval Europe, knights were typically paid for their military services with land grants, also known as fiefs, which were typically given to them by their lords or monarchs.
“The mercenary was the ultimate free agent of the Middle Ages, owing loyalty to no one save his own pocketbook and his own martial skill.”Kelly DeVries, historian of medieval warfare and author of “Medieval Military Technology”.
These land grants allowed knights to generate income by collecting rents, taxes, and other fees from the peasants who lived on the land. In addition to land grants, knights were sometimes paid with money, weapons, or other forms of valuable goods.
However, it’s worth noting that not all knights were paid for their services – some were members of the nobility who fought as a matter of duty, while others were mercenaries who fought for whoever would pay them.
Some mercenary knights were paid a lump sum at the beginning of their contract, while others were paid periodically throughout the duration of the contract. Some were paid in gold or silver, while others were paid in kind, receiving items such as weapons, armor, or horses.
In some cases, mercenary knights were also allowed to keep the spoils of war, such as valuable items or prisoners of war, as part of their compensation. However, it’s important to note that mercenary knights were often viewed with suspicion and even contempt by the nobility, who saw them as little more than hired thugs, and their reputation suffered as a result.
The amount that mercenary knights earned varied greatly depending on a number of factors, including their level of experience and skill, the location and duration of the campaign, and the bargaining power of the knight in negotiating his terms.
“Mercenaries were often used as shock troops, sent in to do the most dangerous and violent work on the battlefield.”Stephen Turnbull, historian of medieval Japan and author of “Samurai: The World of the Warrior”.
During the medieval period, it is difficult to determine specific rates of pay for mercenary knights, as there was no standardized system of payment. However, in general, mercenary knights were typically paid more than feudal knights, as they were free to negotiate their pay and had the leverage to demand higher rates due to their specialized skills.
Some sources suggest that a mercenary knight could earn anywhere from one to three florins a day, although this varied widely depending on the time period and location. To put this into perspective, a skilled laborer during the same period might earn only a few pennies per day.
It’s also worth noting that the cost of living during the medieval period was generally lower than it is today, so even a modest wage could go a long way in terms of purchasing power.
The value of one or three florins from the medieval period is difficult to estimate with precision, as the value of money has fluctuated over time due to factors such as inflation and changes in economic systems. Additionally, there have been different types of florins used in various countries throughout history, each with their own value.
However, as a rough estimate, we can use a currency converter that takes into account the purchasing power of different currencies over time.
According to one such converter, one florin from the 14th century, which was a common coin in Europe, could be worth roughly between 30 and 100 USD in today’s money, depending on the year and location. Therefore, one florin could be roughly equivalent to a day’s wage for a skilled laborer or tradesman in modern times.
“Mercenary knights were often viewed with suspicion and disdain by the nobility, who saw them as lacking in honor and loyalty.”David Nicolle, military historian and author of numerous books on medieval warfare.
Three florins would, of course, be worth three times that amount, or between 90 and 300 USD in today’s money, depending on the specific circumstances.
It’s important to note, however, that this is a very rough estimate, and the true value of a florin in modern terms would depend on a number of factors, including the time period, location, and economic conditions.
Yes, there were several mercenary knights who became quite wealthy and famous during the medieval period.
One example is Sir John Hawkwood, an English mercenary who fought for various Italian city-states in the late 14th century. Hawkwood was a skilled military commander and was known for his tactical expertise on the battlefield.
He was also known for his flamboyant lifestyle, and was said to have amassed a large fortune during his time in Italy. After his death, he was honored with a lavish tomb in Florence, where he had spent much of his career.
Another famous mercenary knight was William Tell, a legendary figure who lived in Switzerland during the early 14th century. Tell was a skilled marksman who was hired by the people of Uri to fight against the ruling Habsburg dynasty.
“Mercenaries were a necessary evil in medieval warfare, as kings and lords often lacked the resources to field a standing army of their own.”Peter Konieczny, editor of “Medieval Warfare Magazine” and co-author of “The Mongol Art of War”.
According to legend, Tell shot an apple off his son’s head with his crossbow, earning him a reputation as a brave and skilled warrior. While the true story of William Tell is difficult to separate from legend, he has become an iconic figure in Swiss history and culture.
Other famous mercenary knights include the Scottish adventurer Sir William Wallace, who fought for Scottish independence in the late 13th century, and the Frenchman Bertrand du Guesclin, who fought for both the French and Spanish crowns during the Hundred Years’ War. All of these figures became famous and wealthy due to their military skills and exploits as mercenary knights
In conclusion, knights in medieval Europe were typically paid with land grants, also known as fiefs, which allowed them to generate income from the peasants who lived on the land. However, not all knights were paid in this way – some were members of the nobility who fought as a matter of duty, while others were mercenaries who fought for pay.
Mercenary knights were paid in various ways, depending on the situation and the agreement made between the knight and the employer. They could be paid a lump sum at the beginning of their contract or periodically throughout the duration of the contract. They could also be paid in gold or silver, or in kind, receiving items such as weapons, armor, or horses. Some mercenary knights were also allowed to keep the spoils of war as part of their compensation.
The amount that mercenary knights earned varied greatly depending on factors such as their level of experience and skill, the location and duration of the campaign, and the bargaining power of the knight in negotiating his terms. While it’s difficult to estimate the exact value of a florin in today’s money, some sources suggest that a mercenary knight could earn anywhere from one to three florins a day.
Overall, the role of mercenaries in medieval Europe was significant, and many famous and wealthy mercenary knights emerged during this time period due to their military skills and exploits.