How much for Fencing Lessons in the 1400’s?

To start with, consider Dardi’s approval for teaching fencing. Dardi wants to charge 7 lire to teach the sword and buckler while the city thought 3 lire was more appropriate. They settled on 4.

So how much is 4 lire? Well one lire is one troy pound or 12 oz of silver. Silver has been reasonably stable in buying power over the centuries, so we can directly translate that into US currently. The spot price of silver is 15.73, making one lire approximately 188.76 USD.

According to the same letter, it takes 1 month and half of theory to learn the sword and buckler, followed by a month and a half of practice. Classes are 2 hours per day, and lets assume 5 days a week to allow for church and leisure. All told, that is 130 hours of instruction.

A four lire or 755 USD, we’re looking at 5/hour or 58/week for classes. This isn’t unreasonably for modern instruction on the martial arts or even a typical college course. (And much better than the 102/week that Dardi wanted.)




Cost Lire

Cost USD

Per Week

Per 2 hour Lesson

2-Handed Swords
5 10 1887.60 87.12 17.42
Sword and Buckler  3 4 755.04 58.08 11.62
Dagger  2 6 1132.56 130.68 26.14
Arms (polearms?)  2 5 943.80 108.90 21.78
Shield  2 4 755.04 87.12 17.42
Stick  2 4 755.04 87.12 17.42
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