1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Medieval facts

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Aginor, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. pendrake
    Skar-Veteran

    pendrake Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    3,404
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Everything in this paragraph sounds wrong.

    Except maybe the first sentence. (It is saying A Serf had a sad lot in life? I hope?)

    Being a Serf was rough. Being a Slave/Thrall was worse. Life expectancy was short.

    Only some folk lived well, the rest worked hard to make it happen.

    Yes, Medieval Books of Days listing all the Saints, and Feasts, and Holy Days. Slaves, peasants, & serfs toiled long and hard to make those possible for the Clergy and Nobility.

    :rolleyes::wideyed:
    This last sentence could only have been typed by someone who has never farmed. It isn’t even true today. On a farm there is always a task needing doing. ALWAYS.
     
    LizardWizard and Scalenex like this.
  2. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    4,537
    Trophy Points:
    113
    On average, a 21st century person in a Western country works far more hours per week than most medeival serfs, but on the whole I would not trade places with them. Did you know that not one person in the medieval era had access to Lustria-Online?

    Also, medieval peasants ate better than most people believe.

    There is not a whole lot of difference between serfdom and slavery. Serfs have to work or they are beaten. Slaves have to work or they are beaten. The main difference is legally a serf's master cannot kill or rape them, and serfs can usually marry who they please (among other serfs at least), but if their master doesn't follow this, a serf has little recourse.

    It depends on the master. In some places treating slaves well was a mark of status and slaves often got better housing and food than serfs. In many respects, the American antebellum slavery was far more brutal and cruel than the medieval slavery which preceded it.

    That is pretty much true in any era.

    They still worked fewer hours than most 21st Westerners but the real kicker is how difficult it is to do things we take for granted. If you want hot water to do your dishes, you have to haul it from a well, throw it in a pot, build a fire and heat the water yourself but my personal favorite modern convenience is toliet paper paired with soap and running water.

    @ChapterAquila92 quoting one of your sources.

    Medieval people weren't super-tolerant in the modern sense, but neither were they exactly racist in the modern sense. Part of that is if you were a typical Medieval French, Swiss or Castilian person, you would simply not have enough exposure to other "races" to form preconceived hatreds. But you sure as shit would have something negative to say about those dirty Albigensians, Lombards or Moors living next door.

    This is a huge thing forgotten by fantasy writers and people writing period fiction.
     
  3. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Life expectancy was short due to the amount of child deaths. Once you grew past childhood going on into your 60's wasn't uncommon and 70's or 80's wasn't unheared of either (with a handfull going even beyond that)

    I'm not saying they didn't work hard, but there was a considerable amount of rest both in terms of holidays as well as just throughout the day (e.g. lunch often being 1-2 hours in several cultures). Working people to death as it is often represented in fiction would just be pointless as you'd just run out of workers, even with slaves it'd be a massive waste. Not to mention that working your population to death would have the nasty side effect of them revolting costing even more money and risking your own head...

    There's Always a task needing doing, but there's a significant difference between working 12+ hours a day taking in the harvest and taking your time having to say mend a hole in a fence while you wait for the crops to grow. Similarly there's a massive difference between the amount of work during calving season and the rest of the year. And during those relative calm periods there would be a decent chunk of free time, or at least of relative rest even by today's standards. Hell there's even some tasks that would just be outright pleasant and would allow for relaxation like witthling a new flute while herding your flocks or gossipping while patching up some clothes.

    Modern farming is arguably busier in a way as a lot of the relative lulls in it have dissappeared. We're no longer as dependent on natural cropcycles thanks to better farming techniques and things like greenhouses as well as acces to more crops with different harvesting seasons, allowing for more harvests per year (and thus more busy periods and less lulls). It probably also doesn't help that the modern farmer tends to do it all on his own instead of with 10 farmhands. He might be more productive, but he also carries far more responsibility on his own.
     
  4. ChapterAquila92
    Terradon

    ChapterAquila92 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    1,275
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Indeed. I distinctly remember this being a topic that Lindybeige covered at one point as well:
     
    Scalenex and Canas like this.
  5. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,703
    Likes Received:
    13,585
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Another point about working long:
    Throughout medieval history it was pretty common to only work during daylight.
    That sucks for someone living in the latitude of, say, Atlanta (33°N or so). But sometimes I have to remind my American friends to keep in mind that most of Europe is well north of that latitude. Frankfurt (middle of Germany) is at 50°N and London is at 51.5°N.
    The northern parts of Germany have the latitude (and thus daylight hours) of Cold Lake, Alberta.
    In fact the most southern part of Europe is still at 35°N or so.

    There are considerably less daylight hours available for work or traveling, and as a medieval workday often consisted of several miles of walking to get to your work place and back, those are times you cannot work.
    So in winter we are talking about five to six hours of actual work, while in summer it would be thirteen or so.

    The really tough work, when people worked themselves to death, started with the industrial age.
     
  6. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,703
    Likes Received:
    13,585
    Trophy Points:
    113
    LizardWizard and Canas like this.
  7. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    It's Always made me wonder how the hell so many people were convinced to work like that. Pre-Industrial society seems almost idylic in comparison.


    And yeah, this is a particularly good example of how surprisingly little people actually worked. Especially the difference in holidays is staggering. We seem to have traded in having a less spikey workload in favour of a more continous, but overal larger, workload
     
  8. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,703
    Likes Received:
    13,585
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That's what they were saying as well, back then.
    The industrial age brought several problems with it, and people did notice that things were getting worse. They did complain.

    But basically it came down to this:
    - a lot of jobs disappeared because of machines
    - people had no job so they were desperate, they wanted to eat and live and stuff
    - out of desperation people accepted hard jobs with bad conditions and bad pay.
    - a single person couldn't put big pressure on a company, as there were enough other desperate people around

    That's where labour unions and also some uprisings came from. Some people also emigrated because of that. That's one main reason for the second emigration wave to the USA in 1820-1860.
     
  9. ChapterAquila92
    Terradon

    ChapterAquila92 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    1,275
    Trophy Points:
    93
    A great deal of human progress is built atop a series of ever more pressing catch-22s. Agriculture alone allowed us to feed a lot more people than we did as hunter-gatherers, but at the expense of the farmer's health and well-being, especially when being able to feed that many people resulted in a feedback loop of food surplus contributing to population growth and thus an increased demand for food. All that the Industrial Revolution did was exacerbate it by making some jobs obsolete and introducing new demands in exchange for greater efficiency through automation.
     
  10. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Still, seems odd to move to the city when you already are fairly selfsufficient as a small farming village. And it seems unlikely that supplylines where good enough that the increased productivity allowed factories to just swamp the various markets outside of the big cities they were located in, or the ones they were well connected to. This chance in particular is a rather odd one. At least the other revolutions tended to have immeadiate and Obvious effects regardless of where you'd live in the kingdom.
     
    LizardWizard likes this.
  11. ChapterAquila92
    Terradon

    ChapterAquila92 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    1,275
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Unfortunately, it's not enough to be self-sufficient as a farming village when the nearby city has hungry mouths to feed. The subconscious push for urbanization put a lot of strain on rural communities to provide what cities could not produce on their own, and for all the increased demand for food and other resources, and the improvements to farming and resource gathering, the stresses involved didn't provide much of an incentive for everyone to work the farms, lumber camps and mines.
     
  12. LizardWizard
    Skink Chief

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    2,387
    Trophy Points:
    113
    People moved to cities in antiquity and the middle ages for the same reason people do it now. Where there are more people there are more opportunities.
     
  13. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I meant specificly to go work in a factory during the Industrial revolution. Doesnt'exactly seem like the oppertunity of a lifetime :p
     
    LizardWizard and ChapterAquila92 like this.
  14. LizardWizard
    Skink Chief

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    2,387
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I get the impression most people who worked in factories did so out of desperation and not in pursuit of opportunity.
     
  15. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Hence my wonderment what drove them to be so desperate. Technological progress might have made some old jobs obsolete, forcing a part of the population to have no choice but to work in such conditions, But it's not like suddenly 50% of the population was unemployed overnight and people would've to fight over the few jobs available in factories immeadiatly. And unless there was a sudden massive surplus of unemployed I don't see why they'd accept such awefull working conditions when compared to the relative pleasant enviroments of even something as basic as a farmhand. And without a significant amount of people accepting the horrid working conditions the factories just flat out wouldn't work. So I'm curious how they tumbled into that situation since to the best of my knowledge there was not a massive unemployement spike, it was a much more gradual thing until eventually a poor uneducated person would've no other choice but to work in a factory.

    It just seems like somewhere in between the renaissance & Industrial age there's a fairly sudden and considerable drop in the quality of work (and more general life) of the poorest working class. Where initially being worked to death was a rare occurance unless you were a criminal (or particularly unlucky slave..) being send to something like the salt mines, with the rise of factories it became completly normal somewhere along the way.
     
    LizardWizard likes this.
  16. LizardWizard
    Skink Chief

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    2,387
    Trophy Points:
    113
    This is when the first population boom of the modern era occurs.
     
  17. Canas
    Skink Priest

    Canas Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,252
    Likes Received:
    3,884
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Didn't that boom pretty much coincided with the Industrial revolution though, making it unfit an explenation as to why people put up with the work conditions at the start of the revolution seeing as the boom consisted just of new borns and it'd be a generation or two before it'd create issues with respect to unemployement (not like the next generation was immeadiatly twice as large)?
     
  18. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,703
    Likes Received:
    13,585
    Trophy Points:
    113
    One aspect is: Industrialization also influenced agriculture. It was back then that the developments started that led us to the present situation.

    The other thing is a bit of a hen egg problem. Industrialization didn't happen simultaneously in all areas, so sometimes there was overpopulation in one place and then a lot of people went elsewhere, and created the problem there.
    In some areas, like rural Poland people emigrated (to Germany in that case, working in the Ruhr area as coal miners) and there were hardly any people left to work on the farms. So the farmers gave up and also went to work in the industrial centers.
    When railroads were built suddenly the farmers without railroads near couldn't survive anymore because their goods were harder to transport, and also moved away.

    The other thing is for example that when the industry started needing more and more coal they offered well paid jobs, but coal cannot be mined everywhere so people moved into the coal mining areas. When they were there they only had the opportunity to work as coal miners, so when the jobs got less pay and worse working conditions they still couldn't just move somewhere else.

    So those are all factors that contributed to the urbanization to a certain degree.
     
  19. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    4,537
    Trophy Points:
    113
    To segue back to medieval stuff do you know what was really good for bettering the human condition...the Black Plague.

    I've seen a lot of writings and videos that say the Black Plague opened the way for the Reformation and the Reninsance. Why?

    So after the Plague, there were a lot fewer people. The upper class was hit less hard than the lower classes, so there were proportionally more nobles. Suddenly, there wasn't a seeminlgy endless supply of poor people to work the fields anymore. If the peasants didn't like the way they were treated, they could leave and go work for the next nearest lord who would pay them more and treat them better.

    This sort of trickled up. The gist of the Magna Carter is that a king cannot overly abuse his vassals. There were church reforms along similar lines (though this was spearheaded by the printing press as much as other factors). All this stuff led to reformation thinkers that laid the philosophical ground work for various isms, not all of them were successful, but all of them at least trying to empower the disinfranchised. Egalitarianism, Feminism, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Socialism, Secularism and more. Stuff that is built in the bedrock of modern

    Malthusian economics (which was basically 100% accurate at predicting human behavior before the industrial revolution) states that if more goods are produced, the population will increase to consume those goods so people will not really get richer. It didn't take very long for the population to recover from the Black Plague, but the seeds of human rights were planted by a generation of poor people who realized there were limits to how they could be pushed around.


    [​IMG]

    Wrong forum. This guy covers using bread as a plate. The best way to summarize his medieval food prepration and daily life videos is that nothing is wasted and that medieval people were pretty good at turning waste products into tools or resources.

    Barely edible bread plates were collected at the end of meals as alms for the poor.

    Ash was saved for washing.

    The green unburnable twigs from trees were used for toothbrushes.

    The least edible lard was made into candles.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  20. NIGHTBRINGER
    Slann

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

    Messages:
    23,734
    Likes Received:
    49,805
    Trophy Points:
    113

Share This Page