I’m joining the 0.1%

A week from Saturday, I’ll say a revised version of the Oath of the Freemen of York and henceforth be Mistress Eulalia, Piebakere. 

I’ve written quite a bit on women in York craft guilds, and it occurred to me that I could calculate just how long the odds were for Eulalia to become Mistress. I know what percentage of guild members were women, but what percentage of women became guild members?

Unfortunately, hard demographic data don’t appear to be available for Edward I’s reign. But accepting that this is all a hand-waving estimate, I did find enough to do a napkin calculation. 

I found some census data on Wikipedia (their citation is Hoskens 1984) from which I got a rough population estimate of about 6,700. Medieval cities seem to have had more women than men. Schaus gives an estimate of a sex ratio of 90-95 (~110 women to 100 men) in medieval towns. This would give us about 3,500 women living in York at the same time as Eulalia. 
There are 4 female names recorded in the Register of Freemen at this time. So, just over 0.1% of York’s women were guild members. 

That’s a really tiny bullseye to hit. 


Author: eulalia

I'm a foodie, medievalist, crafter, and gardener living in beautiful Portland, Oregon.

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