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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 4:27 am 
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KazianG wrote:
I'm fairly familiar with the Peace of God movement - at least in it's broadest strokes. More or less the Church's attempts to curb some of the violence (at the very least) and in the best case scenarios they gave the knights and such a new image (protectors of the faith and whatnot). How well that worked in general is debatable.


Wow, I've just read the Wikipaedia article on the subject and -- I am reluctant to say this -- I think it is the worst article I've read on Wikipaedia.



Compare it, for example, to the article on Brittanica.



While it is kind of obvious as to what it was, the why is a far more interesting question and is one that clearly devolves from a cultural imperative (to tie this back to the idea that "what is happening" is always an extension of culture).

Still, by the 14th century the world is very different to the one that gave rise to the movement so... *shrugs*

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:31 pm 
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Sorry for my absence, that pesky "real life" thing keeps getting in the way of good gaming talk. I did some reading on the Peace of God. I've always been quite fascinated with the saint cults as well.

Now two branching topics:

The first is another question of power structure and hierarchy. Most simply put: what would happen if a King could not be established? There was no legitimate successor to put forward and/or no successor could get support of enough of the major nobles to support such a claim? Would the region simply then consist of a handful of sovereign Dukes/Counts/Barons until someone managed to politically maneuver enough support to conquer the hold-outs?

Second question is more complicated:
I am vaguely aware of the ideas of "guilds" and such, but how do middle-age economics work, exactly? I don't imagine it's quite the capitalist system we have in the west today.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 1:25 pm 
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KazianG wrote:
The first is another question of power structure and hierarchy. Most simply put: what would happen if a King could not be established? There was no legitimate successor to put forward and/or no successor could get support of enough of the major nobles to support such a claim? Would the region simply then consist of a handful of sovereign Dukes/Counts/Barons until someone managed to politically maneuver enough support to conquer the hold-outs?


Well the 100 Years War is all about this very question...

Firstly, it isn't the nobles who decide who will be King. By the 14th century it is the law that determines the rightful claimant to the throne.

From the perspective of the law there is always a rightful claimant. A problem arises when there are two or more equally valid claims to the throne...

Under Salic Law (the laws of the Salian Franks, first codified at the start of the 6th century under Clovis I) females are excluded from inheriting a throne or fief (agnastic succession). If agnastic succession is followed, then Philip VI is the rightful king of France as his father was brother to the King and therefore he is the grandson of a king. However, if agnastic succession is ignored then Isabella, sister to the King, inherits and through her, her son -- Edward III of England has the superior claim.

And a hundred years of warfare followed...

KazianG wrote:
I am vaguely aware of the ideas of "guilds" and such, but how do middle-age economics work, exactly? I don't imagine it's quite the capitalist system we have in the west today.


Correct. Most importantly, the idea that some individuals hold vast reserves of coin is non-existent. This is why revenue streams are so important, and the buying and selling of these is important to the nobility. There are mints but not banks in the sense we understand them. It is a very different economic world. I'll tackle this one tomorrow...

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 10:29 am 
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In 1350s Lyon:

KazianG wrote:
I am vaguely aware of the ideas of "guilds" and such, but how do middle-age economics work, exactly? I don't imagine it's quite the capitalist system we have in the west today.


Guilds serve various functions. Primarily, they control product quality. In order to be a member of a guild you have to be able to produce whatever it is that the guild controls at the required level of quality.

A guild though is responsible for more than that. Looking after the widows and orphans of past members. Supplying men for the guet (or city-watch), whose responsibilities may include manning a gate. In a sense they fill some of the functions of a confraternity (another important function in medieval society).

What aspect of economics are you looking for? The daily life of an ordinary person, how they get paid for what they do and how they pay for big ticket items -- like a horse or a home? Or how domain economics work? How the estates of the nobles are run?

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 11:37 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
What aspect of economics are you looking for? The daily life of an ordinary person, how they get paid for what they do and how they pay for big ticket items -- like a horse or a home? Or how domain economics work? How the estates of the nobles are run?


Yes. ha. basically all of that.

I suppose this is going to be a ground-up discussion. Without the sort of capitalistic social movement we have as a society, and without the intricacies of banking of the modern world we're dealing with a totally different picture.

The bottom end of the spectrum would be the lives of farmers, craftsmen, etc.. all the way through retainers and lesser nobles to estate management.

Like my line of political questions, my aim is to understand a system thoroughly enough to fictionalize it. Just as I wanted the social system to make sense in a fashion, I'd prefer to be able to have a game in which economics aren't based on adventurers finding treasure.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:00 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
What aspect of economics are you looking for? The daily life of an ordinary person, how they get paid for what they do and how they pay for big ticket items -- like a horse or a home? Or how domain economics work? How the estates of the nobles are run?


KazianG wrote:
Yes. ha. basically all of that.


Unfortunately I don't know enough to satisfy your thirst for knowledge...!

I can give you some snippets though.

In 1350s Lyon...

Most people living in the city do not own their own home. They rent.

The city is divided between the old city, on the west bank of the Saone river nestled between the river and the rather steep slope of the Fourviere hill. There's no water up there so, unlike the Romans who built three aqueducts to provide water to the city on the hill, they're forced down the slope. Not much land available, what is there has been inhabited for a long time.

The new city is on the east bank of the city, nestled between the Saone and the Rhone rivers which meet at the southern end of the city (sort of). This area is the Pre'squile or 'almost island'. The land is flat and floods regularly. This land has long been in the hands of various church organizations and they sometimes sell the land but usually build on it and rent out. This is the part of the city that is expanding as wealth enters the city through trade expansion.

There is no income tax. That is a 20th century invention. Periodically there is a hearth tax, levied throughout the city. This acts as a kind of census as well as a revenue-raising exercise. However, we suspect that the process wasn't particularly free of corruption. A famous prostitute operated out of a building in the old town a block from the Catrhedral -- premium real estate -- yet her hearth records indicate she was virtually on the poverty line. Unlike her neighbours...

Crop specialization is centuries away. All farmers know how to grow all the crops of the area and raise the herd animals of the area, and have orchards and keep chickens and keep bees if they are fortunate. This helps to ensure that the family has food all year round.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:12 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
KazianG wrote:
I'm fairly familiar with the Peace of God movement - at least in it's broadest strokes. More or less the Church's attempts to curb some of the violence (at the very least) and in the best case scenarios they gave the knights and such a new image (protectors of the faith and whatnot). How well that worked in general is debatable.


Wow, I've just read the Wikipaedia article on the subject and -- I am reluctant to say this -- I think it is the worst article I've read on Wikipaedia.



You know what they say - if Wikipedia is wrong, it's your fault!


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:55 am 
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Certic wrote:
You know what they say - if Wikipedia is wrong, it's your fault!


Who says that? The people that write the articles?

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Certic wrote:
You know what they say - if Wikipedia is wrong, it's your fault!


Who says that? The people that write the articles?

Regards,

It just means that since anyone can contribute, if you know something's wrong you should set about correcting it. I did that myself a couple of times.


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:12 am 
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Certic wrote:
It just means that since anyone can contribute, if you know something's wrong you should set about correcting it. I did that myself a couple of times.

You know, there were a few times when I felt very, very tempted to do so. But if there is a topic where one is really qualified to edit Wikipedia, once one heads down that route, just where does one stop? So I myself decided not to be drawn into this, no matter what glaring and sometimes physically discomforting nonsense I happened upon.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Hijacking the discussion in another way, how are issues between nobles handled?

Two rival houses, etc. Does the rivalry between Duke Atreides and Baron Harkonnen extend solely to attempting to subtly make the other look bad in the eyes of the sovereign and the other peers of the realm, or is more underhanded methodology employed? Duels? Assassination? military action? What is the outlet for such a thing?

How does a King handle such circumstance? How does such a feud affect a kingdom as a whole? Do the peasants feel any kind of loyalty to their individual Nobles, or only to the King (if that)?

------

I've been back and forth kicking things around lately and my current project revolves around the idea of modeling a feudal society with heavy Norse roots and themes. It's a sort of "what if" concerning how a such a society might have developed if it had not become Christianized, but evolved further on its own. One of the ideas I am kicking around involves the idea that Norse paganism might begin to grow into deeper esoteric movements in the same fashion that Greece had mystery cults of some power and that Rome would later embrace more philosophical pagan practice.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:25 am 
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In 1350s Lyon...

KazianG wrote:
Hijacking the discussion in another way, how are issues between nobles handled?


Most commonly, through the law courts. Things always start out this way -- someone impinging on someone else's rights, leads to a dispute, leads to a court case and ruling. Of course enforcement can be problematic...

KazianG wrote:
Two rival houses, etc. Does the rivalry between Duke Atreides and Baron Harkonnen extend solely to attempting to subtly make the other look bad in the eyes of the sovereign and the other peers of the realm, or is more underhanded methodology employed? Duels? Assassination? military action? What is the outlet for such a thing?


Well, at this time such disputes seem quite minor compared to the rampaging English and the resulting scourge of the routiers...

I haven't seen any evidence of dueling in Lyon or the Lyonais. At a guess I would say that such things are more likely to be resolved on the field of a tournament than in an alleyway beside a townhouse. A tournament melee could always, by agreement, be fought 'a la guerre' ('as in war') so death was a possibility. Either way, capturing and ransoming your opponent (most usually taking all of their equipment used in the melee, including horse) was definitely a way of displaying superiority.

KazianG wrote:
How does a King handle such circumstance? How does such a feud affect a kingdom as a whole? Do the peasants feel any kind of loyalty to their individual Nobles, or only to the King (if that)?


Peasants feel loyalty towards their Lord -- but little for any greater entity besides church. The urban middle-class often feel that their Lords restrict their access to opportunity, to wealth -- while the King offers a way out of 'repression'. The nobility are loyal to their family and little else (particularly not king).

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:56 am 
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If this thread is increasingly conveying the impression that 14th century Europe, especially a region as well-ordered as 14th century France, was outside of the brief spells of breakdown of civic order in areas becoming theatres of war, a very dull place, the impression is a correct one.

The “Dark Middle Ages” are (largely) a myth. At no times, with the remotely possible exception of the paleaolithicum, was the existence of humanity one of woe and hellish, unbearable hardship and arbitrariness visited upon its majority. This belief is merely a laughable vanity of modern man who likes to think himself as existing at the very pinnacle of human history.

But I digress. What I really want to say is that if a referee wanted to set a historically-inspired game before a backdrop that was sufficiently unlawful to make outbreaks of violence anything else but scandalous and eminently rare occurrences, he would have to llok at the Early Middle Ages, certainly no later than Hastings.

Of course, that would also mean dissing plate armour, face guards for helmets, crossbows, two-handed swords, towns and burghers, the inquisition, guilds, tournaments, “castles” more elaborate than a single tower protected by a wall of timber, recognition of the Pope as anything but a bishop among others, all siege engines,…

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:39 am 
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Grettir wrote:
If this thread is increasingly conveying the impression that 14th century Europe, especially a region as well-ordered as 14th century France, was outside of the brief spells of breakdown of civic order in areas becoming theatres of war, a very dull place, the impression is a correct one.


Spot on.

Most people are naturally conservative. They like things to stay the way they are and manage to find happiness in circumstances we might consider to be quite difficult. Exceptional individuals seek to elevate themselves in some way. It isn't the achievement in their lives that makes them exceptional; rather, it is the desire.

Lyon is a lawful place in the 1300s (post 1320s, when Lyon becomes part of France). There are two exceptions.

The main one is 1348/49, when the sheer scale of death in the city caused a degree of breakdown in the social order. In a city owned and run by the church, when the people felt that God had abandoned them -- or that those above them had done something to cause God to withdraw His protection from the city -- there was a strong driver for change.

The other is the period between 1362 and 1365. Seguin de Badefol, second son of a minor noble from Perigord, fought for France at Poitiers. With the capture of the French king payment was halted to the troop. Seguin found himself Captain of a Free Company of around 2,000 troops called the Margot that operated in eastern France. The Margot joined forces with other companies to form the Tard-Venus. In 1362 they fought a major battle at Brignais against a royal army, which they defeated. After this point they were the largest military presence in the region. In 1364 the Margot captured Anse, not far from Lyon, and Lyon itself became 'militarized' in preparation for an attack by the routiers (who, in reality, had neither the equipment nor the manpower to ever truly threaten the city). Things changed within the city though; people's attitudes changed.

Grettir wrote:
The “Dark Middle Ages” are (largely) a myth. At no times, with the remotely possible exception of the paleaolithicum, was the existence of humanity one of woe and hellish, unbearable hardship and arbitrariness visited upon its majority. This belief is merely a laughable vanity of modern man who likes to think himself as existing at the very pinnacle of human history.


Yes indeed. Relatively intelligent people today seem quite content to accept that nobody was intelligent after the Greeks/Romans and before the Renaissance. All was intellectual darkness -- superstition was rife, there was no science, etc. It is almost embarrassing in its desire to simplify the lives of our forebears. And very irritating, at a personal level.

Grettir wrote:
But I digress. What I really want to say is that if a referee wanted to set a historically-inspired game before a backdrop that was sufficiently unlawful to make outbreaks of violence anything else but scandalous and eminently rare occurrences, he would have to llok at the Early Middle Ages, certainly no later than Hastings.

Of course, that would also mean dissing plate armour, face guards for helmets, crossbows, two-handed swords, towns and burghers, the inquisition, guilds, tournaments, “castles” more elaborate than a single tower protected by a wall of timber, recognition of the Pope as anything but a bishop among others, all siege engines,…


The harsh reality of historical realism.

We picked Lyon in an effort to break down many medieval stereotypes. For example, per capita there was less crime in the city in the 1350s than there is today. Execution as a punishment for a crime was rare (I mean really rare, only a couple for witchcraft that I've seen mentioned). Serious crime -- murder, rape -- was very rare. Petty crime, on the other hand, was relatively common and resulted in a modest fine (not an amount that was beyond the means of all but the wealthy, as in the Georgian era). Noble women were not the chattels of noble men, to be swapped and traded as men sore fit. Rather, noble women were proud and relatively independent, quite content to pursue noble men in court if their rights were impinged upon.

The interest, for us, is in stripping the fantasy away from the history -- leaving behind a strange, difficult to understand world wherein people had very different views of things. Not because they were ignorant, not because they were stupid, but because an individual's view is largely shaped by their culture and medieval life was very different to modern life. Not better, not worse, but very different.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:56 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Relatively intelligent people today seem quite content to accept that nobody was intelligent after the Greeks/Romans and before the Renaissance. All was intellectual darkness -- superstition was rife, there was no science, etc. It is almost embarrassing in its desire to simplify the lives of our forebears. And very irritating, at a personal level.

Ian, while I was quite certain that you held the view expressed in the above lines, I still can't tell you how good it is to actually hear them clearly expressed by a person who's not a professional full-time historian. Thank you very much indeed! :)

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