Thursday, 24 January 2013

Medieval warfare had a well-organised 'ransom market'

The capture of the French king John II at Poitiers in 1356 (Source: Wikipedia)
This interesting article appeared today on the BBC website. It seems that there was a system involved which governed what happened to prisoners of war in the Medieval period, and that it could be a lucrative source of income for those doing the capturing. Also of note is the fact that a captive could be taken back to their home in order for the ransom to be paid.

Treasure is always an good incentive for play in fantasy RPGs, and the idea behind this system shows that it could be possibly adapted as a set of rules. Aspiring adventurers could always develop it as an interesting sideline to their adventures and campaigns.


  1. I remember reading this thinking "I thought that was common knowledge?" I then remembered that not everybody studied medieval history at university.

    It is a damned fine little article, and the basic concept was a huge part of the chivalric code, that of treating noblemen you capture in a manner that you wold want to be treated yourself. If you weren't a noble man though, you could expect no quarter, and common soldiers - not a truly accurate term, but it'll do - were often just as merciless to the nobility as the upper class were to themselves.

  2. I'm just reading the thesis that the article is based on - interesting stuff! I think I may rustle up a basic guide to ransoms for D&D...