In the historical context of medieval logistics, the efficient supply of food to armies was a remarkable feat. Soldiers required substantial sustenance, and this extended to both humans and their trusty steeds. An individual consumed up to four pounds of food daily, a considerable amount. However, horses, essential in warfare, posed an even greater challenge. They demanded 20 pounds of sustenance daily, and with thousands of them in an army, the quantities were staggering. The logistics of the day were measured by volume, often using a London quart, equivalent to a quarter-ton barrel. Wheat, oats, peas, beans, and barley were staples in a soldier’s diet. Pottage, a hearty vegetable stew, provided essential nourishment. Bread, though perishable, played a crucial role.
Supplying an army was an intricate process. The Crown organized the procurement of food through sheriffs and commissioners, ensuring fair compensation to farmers. Food gathered in villages was transported to coastal towns, then shipped to central supply points. From there, it embarked on the journey across the sea to sustain soldiers. This intricate supply chain ensured that even distant farmers could contribute to the war effort. Any delays or spoilage were met with reduced prices for locals. The logistics may seem complex, but they were vital, as a well-fed army could march and fight effectively.
Top image: Medieval soldier eating. Source: master1305 / Adobe Stock.