Spanish Armada sailors' rations

The Spanish Armada has been the subject of many books, including one that had a list of the sailors' rations for both sides of the campaign. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what the average weekly cost of those rations were.


Spanish sailors:

Every day, they receive 2 pounds of bread, 1 and 1/3 pints of wine, and 3 pints of water. On Sunday and Thursday, they also receive 6 ounces of bacon and 2 ounces of rice. On Monday and Wednesday, they receive 6 ounces of cheese and 3 ounces of beans. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, they get 6 ounces of fish, 3 ounces of beans, 1.5 ounces of oil, and 1/4 pint of vinegar.

There are a few issues that come up with this analysis - while bacon can be calculated as a meat, rice, fish, beans, and vinegar don't have costs. For the sake of simplicity, I counted rice as having the same cost as coarse bread, fish counts as a meat, beans have half the cost of meat, and vinegar has half the cost of cheap wine. Water was not included as having a cost. The weekly ration for a Spanish sailor is 7 silver pieces, so their food and drink costs roughly a silver a day.


English sailors had a different ration. Each day, they received 4 ounces of cheese, 2 ounces of butter, and a gallon of beer. Every day except Monday, they received a pound of biscuit (treated as wheat bread for cost). On Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, they received 2 pounds of beef, while Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday they received 1/4 of a stockfish. On Monday, they got a pound of bacon and a pound of peas. The peas were calculated as half a meat, the fish as a pound of meat each, and the butter as cheese. The English sailors' ration works out to 1 gold and 3 silver per week, nearly double what the Spanish sailor received, with the beef and fish alone being worth 9 silver.


While the numbers may be off slightly due to the pricing decisions I made on items not on the standard price list, this still shows that English sailors were far better fed than Spanish sailors, and that the rations for theoretically equivalent positions could be wildly different for different employers.

Again, thank you for sharing!