TH E average price of a quarter of wheat for the 280 years, 1261-1540, is 5s. 11½d. During this long period there were years of exceptional plenty and of exceptional scarcity, the range being from 2s. 10½d., the average of the year 1287, the lowest, and 16s. in 1316, the highest recorded. The latter year is, however, one of famine. In 1315, the average was about is. 2d. lower. In 1438, the price was 14J. 7½d. In 1527, it is nearly 13s. On two other occasions it nearly reaches I2j. On four occasions it is a little over IOS. Four shillings, according to Walter de Henley, was a price below remuneration, unless the crop was more than six bushels to the acre. In ordinary years, the price varies between 4s. 6d. and 6s. 6d. There are, of course, prices paid which are greatly above the highest average, and others which are a great deal below the lowest The highest price which I have found during the whole period is a sale on May 30th, 1316, at Leatherhead, where two quarters are sold at 26s. 8d. If there be any scarcity, the market is always at
216 The Famine and the Plague. its highest in May, because the stock of the past harvest is falling low, and the prospects of the next are uncertain. In this case, the harvest of 1315 was found after Christmas to have been exceedingly deficient. That of 1316 was as bad, so low that the scarcity was hardly lightened during any part of the period between harvest and harvest. The highest quotation of wheat in modern English history was in March 1801, when it was returned at 156s. 2d. This, however, is not much more than double the customary price of the time. In the two years 1315-16, the average was nearly three times, and on the occasion quoted above, five times, the ordinary price.