Medieval English people used to pay their rent in eels

I’m probably missing a joke, but eels don’t whistle, do they? I know there’s some shrieking ones off the coast of Florin, but that’s miles away.

13 Likes

Indeed

21 Likes

I bet that monastery had one heck of an eel cookbook.

9 Likes

This is truly bizarre. Really out there.

So’s this.

25 Likes

In a world without much cash, this sort of thing made life easier for the landlord and the tenant.

7 Likes

When the eels pay your rent,
As a currency spent,
It’s a moray.

57 Likes

Fun fact - the lead singer of the Eel’s father was Hugh Everett III, originator of the many worlds interpolation of quantum theory.

This really should have been the first post.

15 Likes

The eel payments used common volume measurements: hogshead, tun, barrel, and hovercraft.

14 Likes

Came, saw, left satisfied after the shrieking eels video. But one last thing…

You know how I know they’re using some “English” system? Because otherwise you’d have a 25 eels instead of a “stick”, and you’d have 250 eels instead of a “bind”.

10 Likes

In Boston (Lincolnshire, UK) musicians were banned in the 1200s. If they wanted to live in the town they had to pay more than they could realistically afford - in fact it was more than an eeling

6 Likes

11 Likes

Yeah. It plays off of the all too human weakness for analogies, We’re supposed to think that just because rents in England were paid in goods like grain (or favours like a military service) that this somehow extends to something like the eel. What’s next? Are we supposed to enter into the mind of a medieval peasant, and imagine an alternative to the centuries old federal reserve note? It’s a plot, I tell you. He’s trying to educate us!

7 Likes

My orchardist grandfather said he paid his Farm Bureau membership with walnuts but I’m not sure I believe him.

2 Likes

A surfeit of eels.

9 Likes

Eel-aborate

6 Likes

From Rebecca Reynolds. (2016) The Social Complexities of Early Marine Fish Consumption: New Evidence from Southeast England, in Cod and Herring: The Archaeology and History of Medieval Sea Fishing. Oxbow Books

The presence of fish on monastic sites, such as Lyminge, has often been explained by the Rule of St Benedict, which forbids the consumption of the flesh of quadrupeds except by the sick or elderly. Monastic settlements of later periods in Flanders do show higher amounts of fish and avian remains (Ervynck 1997), and in England such settlements are also characterised by a preference for flatfish (Dobney et al. 2007, 231–3). The Rule was written in the sixth century, but assessing its influence on fish consumption in Anglo- Saxon England is problematic (Frantzen 2014, 232–45). Most scholars agree that the period after the conversion of England (following the arrival of St Augustine in ad 597) was characterised by what is known as a regula mixta, where practices were guided by the abbot or by the secular rulers who had established the religious house (Blair 2005; Foot 2006; Mayr-Harting 1976). However, after the religious reforms of the later tenth century (Gem 1997, 12), fish remains do increase in numbers on such monastic sites as Westminster Abbey (Locker 1997).

So if the monastery followed the rule of Saint Benedict , these rents would feed the monks and their guests. (Though its likely that many outside the abbey followed the same rule out of economic necessity).

5 Likes

My hovercraft is full of eels

10 Likes

Wait, they’re… edible?

4 Likes

you’ve never had unagi sushi? damn fine eel right there!

14 Likes

given that “no sustainable source is yet available”, perhaps it is best to think of them as inedible, despite the surfeit of recipes.

4 Likes