Rodney Edvinsson, Photo: Therese Nordlund Edvinsson/Stockholm University
Rodney Edvinsson, Photo: Therese Nordlund Edvinsson/Stockholm University


There are several different ways to approach the problem of converting the value of money in Game of Thrones into real life prices. Rodney Edvinsson looks at annual incomes to obtain a benchmark to relate to.

“There are slightly different ways to do this and I feel that the best way is not to use the consumer price index as a basis but instead to base it on how much people earn, in other words, annual income.”

Thankfully there are numerous fans worldwide who compile details and information from the books, which meant that Rodney didn’t need to do that part of the work himself.

The book A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, featuring tales that take place almost one hundred years before the events in Game of Thrones, mentions that you could live well on 3 gold dragons. At the same time, prices fell by roughly two thirds up to the events in Game of Thrones - which can be seen, among other things, by comparing the price of a horse over time. Consequently, you can draw the conclusion that an annual income for someone who is earning fairly well is 1 gold dragon.

By looking at other price details from the books, such as the fact that a loaf of bread costs 3 copper pennies, it was possible to draw certain conclusions and make comparisons. For example, Rodney looked at what a worker earned in England in the Middle Ages and how many loaves of bread a worker could afford in total at that time, and then compared this with an equivalent worker today.


Tournament prize worth billions

Rodney also feels that the economy of Westeros is reasonably coherent, although there are certain things that stand out.

“Certain sums are really extravagant. The prize sum at the Tourney of the Hand at the beginning of the series was 100,000 gold dragons. This would correspond, in today’s values, to USD 8 billion. So winning this tournament would make you extremely rich.”

“Another example is during Joffrey’s wedding feast, when Tyrion asks Podrick Payne to pay 20 gold dragons in compensation to each of the dwarves who were humiliated by Joffrey. That would equate to USD 1.5 million - a highly substantial compensation. But then the Lannister family are extremely rich, so one can view it in relation to that.”

One of the things that Rodney spotted when looking more closely at the prices in Westeros is that meat is much more expensive relative to grain than it actually was in the Middle Ages. He also looked at total annual production in Westeros and estimates that it would amount to 27 million gold dragons. At the same time the kingdom was 6 million gold dragons in debt at the start of the series. A ratio like that between annual production and national debt was not uncommon in mediaeval Europe.


Swedish money model as basis for Westeros

The economy in Westeros also has an unexpected link to Sweden. Game of Thrones uses gold, silver and copper coins, a so-called trimetallic system. This was not used in England, for example, which serves as the primary inspiration for the books, but was developed and used chiefly in Sweden.

“The fact that Sweden used three different types of metal in its coins, however, created a rather confused monetary system because the price of copper, silver and gold was constantly fluctuating, so it was difficult to maintain a fixed exchange rate. In reality there was a fluid rate of exchange between these coins.”

The gold dragons in Game of Thrones have a high value, 1 gold dragon is equivalent to 11,760 copper pennies; if you compare with Sweden, 1 gold ducat was worth 300 copper pennies.

This currency converter has partially been developed for entertainment value, but first and foremost because Rodney hopes that more people will take an interest in these types of historical price comparisons.

“I previously created a currency converter for Sweden that goes back to the Middle Ages, with which you can work out, for example, what 3 daler copper coins would equal today. I have also produced an international currency converter. You can learn a lot about the future by looking back at history. We now have crypto currencies; the Riksbank is talking about introducing an e-krona. How we use money has changed.”

“I hope that people who are interested in Game of Thrones will find it interesting to try out the currency converter and that it may get more people interested in how money was used in the past.”

You can try out the currency converter for yourself by clicking here.