Ransom profitable for medieval rank-and-file

History has recorded that the ransom of kings and nobles was a popular way for armies to raise money during the Middle Ages, but new research shows that the practice may have also been popular among common soldiers.

Research by University of Southampton historian Rémy Ambühl on a number of 15th century documents shows that there was money to be had in the practice of capturing enemies alive and trading them for gold. "Patriotism was not the driving force to encourage enrolment and ordinary men would have been reluctant to join armies willingly if they faced death upon capture. However, under the terms of ransom, prisoners were less likely to be harmed and additionally the practice provided them with an opportunity to make money – another incentive to enlist," said Ambühl.