Viking Era

Guesses on how much loot the Vikings hauled out of Europe – #3

People on shore and the nearby village are about to have a really bad day. Typical armament for a Viking warrior. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are a few more guesses on the volume of precious metals flowing into the Viking lands.

Overall impact on economy from having all those coins available

In The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings , on page 211 Lars Brownworth says the massive flow of silver coins helped the Scandinavian areas move into a coin based economy from a barter economy. Just have a large supply of coins would have made trading easier and thus would have boosted the economy just by having those coins available.

More guesses on the loot flowing into Viking lands

On page 33 of The Vikings, from the British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, the text provides one data point on the total tribute paid to Viking raiders from all Frankish sources. The published comments report 685 pounds of gold and 43,042 pounds of silver in total.

Let’s work with that quantity.

I will assume, based on a guess, those are troy measurements.

If the value of gold is worth 16 times silver, then here is an aggregation:

  • 685 pounds gold
  • x 16 – ratio of gold to silver
  • =10,960 pounds of silver equivalent to cited amount of gold
  • +43,042 pounds silver
  • =54,002 pounds silver
  • x 12 ounces in a troy pound
  • 648,024 troy ounces, point estimate
  • 650,000 troy ounces of silver equivalent, rounded, subject to unknown overstatement, of tribute paid to Vikings from Frankish victims

That does not include the raids on England and elsewhere.

In The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings , Lars Brownworth speculates the payouts from the Franks to the Vikings totaled 120,000 pound of silver.

His estimate is that about  a third of all the coins minted in France made their way to Viking hoards in Scandinavia.

These estimates are rough, and they are all phrased differently.

Elsewhere in the book The Sea Wolves, the author says in the 9th century the Vikings were paid around 45,000 pounds of silver, according to various official accounts.

Author guesses that is about one-third of the total that was looted from Frank territory. Presumably the difference would have been what they took from various churches, monasteries, and village chief’s homes.

Author says the 10th century raids in England produced 180,000 pounds of silver from King Athelred the Unready.

In addition, the 10th century saw additional silver and other wealth looted from Ireland and Frankish areas.

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