I'm playing a game with a friend that made me curious about the population density of historical nations, and I found this excellent page on medieval demographics. I'm not sure how accurate the information is, but S. John Ross cites sources and I expect his numbers are roughly correct (which is all he claims). Some interesting tidbits:

The average population density for a medieval country is from 30 per square mile (for countries with lots of rocks, lots of rain, and lots of ice—or a slave-driving Mad King) to a limit of about 120 people per square mile, for countries with rich soil and favorable seasons. No land is wasted if it can be settled and farmed. There are many factors that determine the population density of a land, but none as important as arable land and climate. If food will grow, so will peasants. ...

From 1% to 8% of the population will be urban to some degree - living in cities and towns. The factors which influence this figure range all over the map. Pick a number you like, or roll 1d8 for the percentile.

The remainder of the population will be rural, living in villages and hamlets and huts and so on. Individual village populations should be determined randomly or by fiat (the average will range from 100 to 400 people or so). From 2-5% of the country's populus will live in settlements too small to be called villages—isolated dwellings, or collections of huts with a total population of under 20—or will be itinerant workers and wanderers. ...

At the medieval level of technology, a square mile of settled land (including requisite roads, villages and towns) will support 180 people. This takes into account normal blights, rats, drought, and theft, all of which are common in most worlds.

He also has a handy table for estimating the number of people it takes to support various types of businesses, such as inns, taverns, and blacksmiths. According to Ross, shoemakers were by far the most common trade in medieval towns -- who knew?



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