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Medieval Sourcebook:

Tables on Population in Medieval Europe


No complete population censuses were taken until the 18th century, thus estimates of population levels are notoriously unreliable. Estimated levels vary as a number of "multiplier" factor often have to be taken into account - estimated population density, ages of marriage, and perhaps most importantly the number of people denoted by a "hearth" in those medieval tax surveys that do provide hard numbers. Other expansions of the few hard figures we have are frequently done by using actuarial data from modern world societies with population structures like that of medieval Europe, for instance figures derived from Indian population surveys earlier in the 20th century. Josiah Russell is the historian who has stuck his neck out and made the estimates we have. The following tables are, then, quite speculative, but not insane.

Population Estimates (in millions) at specified times 500-1450


AREA                  500     650     1000    1340   1450   



Greece/Balkans        5       3       5       6      4.5    

Italy                 4       2.5     5       10     7.3    

Spain/Portugal        4       3.5     7       9      7      

Total - South         13      9       17      25     19     



France/Low countries  5       3       6       19     12     

British Isles         0.5     0.5     2       5      3      

Germany/Scandinavia   3.5     2       4       11.5   7.3    

Total - West/Central  9       5.5     12      35.5   22.5   



Slavia.               5       3                             

---Russia                             6       8      6      

---Poland/Lithuania                   2       3      2      

Hungary               0.5     0.5     1.5     2      1.5    

Total -East           5.5     3.5     9.5     13     9.3    



TOTAL EUROPE          27.5    18      38.5    73.5   50     

          

 

The information here is taken from Josiah C. Russell, "Population in Europe:, in Carlo M. Cipolla, ed., The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Vol. I: The Middle Ages, (Glasgow : Collins/Fontana, 1972), 25-71

 

 


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996
halsall@murray.fordham.edu