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Medieval Sourcebook:
List of Tolls Exacted at Billingsgate, c. 978-1016

This well-known toll list for Billingsgate represents one of the earliest of such lists in England. Toll was exacted on ships according to size, and on the cargo. The nature of foreign trade in the tenth century, and the kinds of goods exchanged, are indicated in the document.

C.2. If a small ship arrives at Billingsgate it will give one obole as thelony; if a larger ship, and if it has a sail, one denarius. If it is a long ship, or a barge, and if it stays there, one denarius as thelony.

From a ship full of timber, one log as thelony. A freight ship gives thelony on three days a week, namely, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. If any one comes to the bridge with a boat full of fish, he will give one obole as thelony in order to sell the fish; from a larger ship he will pay one denarius. The men of Rouen who come with wine or deep-sea fish will pay six solidi for a large ship as toll, and will give one twentieth of their large fish. The men of Flanders, Ponthieu, Normandy, and France showed their merchandise and were exempt from toll. Those of Houck, Liège, and Nivelles who went through our territories paid a toll for right to display their goods, and thelony. The men of the Emperor who came in their own ships were held, like ourselves, worthy of good laws. Moreover, they were permitted to buy and take on their ships uncarded wool, cut off pieces of fat, and three live hogs; but they were not permitted to make any imposition on the burgesses. And....they must give thelony; and on Christmas Day two grey garments, and one brown, ten pounds of pepper, gloves for five men, two leathern tuns of vinegar, and as much at Easter; from a basket of fowls, one hen as toll; from a basket of eggs, five eggs as toll if they come to sell them. Dealers in fat, who sell cheese and butter, will pay one denarius fourteen days before Christmas and another denarius seven days after Christmas.


From: Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1840), p. 300, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 403-404.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

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.

© Paul Halsall, September 1998