Medieval History

Selected Sources Full Text Sources Saints' Lives Law Texts Maps Medieval Films Search Help

Selected Sources Sections Studying History End of Rome Byzantium Islam Roman Church Early Germans Anglo-Saxons Celtic World Carolingians 10 C Collapse Economic Life Crusades Empire & Papacy France England Celtic States Nordic Europe Iberia Italy Eastern Europe Intellectual Life Medieval Church Jewish Life Social History Sex & Gender States & Society Renaissance Reformation Exploration
IHSP Credits

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
[email protected]

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 28 August 2023 [CV]