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Middle Ages
The Law of “Almotaçaria”
Lei da Almotaçaria
Law of "Almotaçaria"

In the Law of “Almotaçaria” of 1253, issued under King Afonso III, the “almotacé” was responsible for supervising compliance with municipal ordinances.

“(…) The law of 26 December 1253 already mentioned the mark (“marcha”), the ounce (“uncia”), the “quintal” (“quintale”), the “arroba” (“arroua”), the “arrátel” (“arratal”), the stone (“petra de lana”) and how this appears in the commitment of King Afonso III, in the courts of Coimbra of 1261, regarding the currency, already the mark of Cologne of eight ounces adopted as a standard of weight in Portugal (…)”

in “Anuário dos Pesos e Medidas”, N.º 3, Repartição de Pesos e Medidas, 1942.

Besides standardizing some measures, namely in the region of Entre Douro and Minho, this law indicates other measures used, namely, for length, such as the côvado, for imported cloth and the vara for domestic cloth. One vara of coarse cloth would cost one “soldo”, but a côvado of the best English scarlet would fetch a price of 70 “soldos”.

Further information​

António Neves: aneves@ipq.pt
Museum of Metrology: museu.metrologia@ipq.pt