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Price Fixing of Beer in the Middle of a Famine

The weather is easing up in England and they brought in some harvest over the summer but it's not going to be enough. King Edward II is buying corn from southern Italy at exorbitant prices to feed his troops. It is unusual to transport food so far but if you are willing to pay, it can be done, and England is willing. The price fixing laws have failed but the King persists in fixing the price for ale. It was 3 farthings for a gallon of poor ale. Now it will be 1 farthing for good ale. This will devastate the brewers who bought the grain at high prices and now must sell at a loss. The government has learned nothing. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Oddly enough it is not absurd to make beer in the middle of a famine. It is one of the ways that the Middle Ages farmer could convert grains into something preservable that he could sell. And given the intolerable conditions in England (and they were doing better than most) a good drink was welcome. I have no proof but one can guess that if no one was obeying the old price fixing laws, they sure weren't going to obey this new law either. May God bless and keep the King... far away from us!

Have It Your Way, King Birger

Birger is the King of Sweden and not the kind of guy you'd like to cross at the family picnic. A few years ago, his brothers had taken him prisoner at the Håtuna games held at Nyköping Castle. After negotiations the King was released but now, as Christmas time approaches, he has invited his family to celebrate in the festivities. The same two brothers arrive and through contrivance, the King takes his brothers captive in the dungeon of the same castle. The King shouts, "Remember ye aught of the Håtuna games? I remember them clearly" and throws the key into the river. The key will be found several centuries later. His brothers will starve to death by then. [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This was a big mistake. The reason the brothers showed up at all is because they felt they were safe. They must have reasoned that the King would never take the chance of messing with them. The backlash would be too great. Well... the King wasn't thinking straight. The brothers died and the King will suffer the backlash next year and go into exile.

See Also


  1. Lucas,Henry S.. The Great European Famine of 1315, 1316, and 1317. Speculum, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Oct., 1930). Medieval Academy of America. pp. 370-373. (JOURNAL)
  2. Jordan, William Chester, The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century, Princeton University Press, December 15, 1997. p. 14. (BOOK)
  3. Great Famine of 1315-17 - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Birger, King of Sweden - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Nyköping Banquet - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Håtuna Games - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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