World Building Discussion: Medieval Times

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Archeia, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Rick

    Rick Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    First Language:
    English
    the Romans had the first organized sewage/water systems in place as a design element in the planning stages of whatever town they were going to build. Problem was, they lined their drinking water pipes with lead because it was easily malleable. The "myths" about Romans going insane are true; many died due to lead poisoning. They didn't know lead was bad for ingestion lol.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2012
    #21
    Archeia likes this.
  2. Luminous Warrior

    Luminous Warrior Knight in Battle Scarred Armour Veteran

    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    70
    Location:
    Magnolia
    First Language:
    English
    Umm... is it just me or does the section about religion seem very biased against the church. I know that the church was easily corrupted due to the power involved, but it was a completely necessary part of medieval culture. Although, there are some good points about the bad parts of the church. The medieval church was very greedy and corrupt. But it seems to focus more on the bad part of the church than the good.
     
    #22
  3. Archeia

    Archeia Level 99 Demi-fiend Staff Member Developer

    Messages:
    14,538
    Likes Received:
    14,199
    Location:
    Game Dev Salt Mines
    First Language:
    Filipino
    Primarily Uses:
    VNM
    Rather than the "evil" deed of religion it was said there what their benefits are instead. And if you read the fun fact, we did note that hospitals started on the church. That and my perception of Churches from Medieval times is pretty skewed that way too since in our entire Filipino History Classes, that's really the only thing you will see. We didn't see the good sides of the church except for spiritual relief. (At that timeline at least)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2013
    #23
  4. lorelee

    lorelee Villager Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    First Language:
    English
    Just a note: the messengers used by kings and other assorted nobility were often pages. Boys who were going to train as a knight were sent to be fostered in the household of a different family, and the time was moreorless training in how to obey other people before they turned 14 and started being squires.

    Edit: Forgot to add that squires were generally knighted at around 21 years of age.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2013
    #24
  5. Aceri

    Aceri Author Veteran

    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Bullhead City, Arizona
    First Language:
    English
    Also don't forget that it the era was very poverty stricken as well as disease ridden.

    Also, you think of medieval times as all knights saving lovely ladies, gallantry, ect., but usually the focus is around England. Don't forget, Rome was still ruled by a Cesar during those times. Rome really didn't fall off until it's citizens were destroyed by the plague, at which Rome never recovered fully, letting the new powers such as England, what is now modern day Russia, Germany ect., to come to power and claim their respective boarders.
     
    #25
  6. NearlyNoon

    NearlyNoon Pixel Artist / Animator Member

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    USA ~ Oregon
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    I'm just a newbie, but I hope you won't mind I I expand on this a little then. I'm an amateur historian, especially of Christian history, so I can maybe fill in a few of the gaps your original post left out.

    I will assume here that we are talking about the high Middle Ages, after AD 1000 or so. Before that, although the "Middle Ages" usually are said to have started at the end of the Roman period (AD 450 or so), Christianity still was only a majority belief in Italy and Asia Minor, and it took on very diverse forms while it expanded into the rest of Europe. After around AD 1200, the indigenous religions of Europe had more or less been completely stamped out, and Christianity became a universal institution.

    At the time, there was no such thing as the separation of Church and State, although clergy were technically not supposed to hold secular office. Any and all governmental official (knights, nobles, kings, etc) had to be professed Christians, and since they led a life of major celebrity, people were constantly interested in their Christian-ness. Because of that, clergy, and especially bishops were treated as minor statesmen, and depose nobles who committed heresy. As you can imagine, religious and secular powers were constantly fighting with each other over who was more powerful, and there was a lot of corruption in both directions. 

    Although it may seem from a modern perspective that the medieval Church was a totalitarian group invested in leeching off the peasantry to fill their own pockets, it really wasn't so at the time. The above political issues really only occurred in cities where there was a lot of wealth to go around, which were rarer in the middle ages. The church was supposed to be the friend of the poor and the downtrodden, and since that is exactly what most smaller settlements were in the ages, rural Christianity was a very different animal from its urban self. Country priests received little or no compensation from the church, so they were just as rich or as poor as the community they served (usually poor. very poor). They provided the town with spiritual aid in difficult times (most of the time), and the church was a place for communities to come together and organize themselves, even in places so small that there was no real local government. The people, especially farmers and merchants, were very attached to their local church building, since it was their tithes that built it.

    Priests were, at least ideally, centers of their local communities. A priest was almost certainly the most educated person in a small village, and usually had some medical, historical, and political knowledge that came in handy from time to time. Monasteries were even better, as they could be converted into makeshift hospitals on the fly, and the monks would care for the sick or wounded in times of plague or war. Even if they didn't do that stuff, they still sold the community good wine for cheap. It's how monks supported themselves.

    One thing that WAS kind of terrifying about religion at the time was the fear of heresy. The church held a very strict and vengeful image of God at the time, and since they saw themselves as God's institution on earth, they were constantly trying to root out incorrect belief. They saw wrong thinking, especially about religion, to be infectious and would root it out violently where they found it. Given the political corruption I mentioned above, it's easy to see how less scrupulous leaders could use this against their enemies, turning public fear in their favor. The Dominican Order was particularly well known in its infancy as merciless torturers, earning them the nickname "Hounds of God" (It's a pun in latin: "Dominican" - "Domini Canes", God's Dogs).

    Anyhow, a few specific corrections:

    As a whole, maybe. The only people who really saw any of it were bishops and cardinals.

    Actually, until the Renaissance, churches were always falling down because of the constant desire to build them bigger and higher, without the necessary engineering knowledge to make it happen safely. Lots of medieval priests were killed by parts of their churches falling on them (parishioners too I suppose. It still happens in Germany, in my family's hometown). 

    I have never heard of this. From what I know, tithes usually went to keeping the priest fed and the church in good repair, as they do now. If anything was left over, it went to support the poorest in the community. Again, things were different in the city, but I think they would have just sold off anything that came in that wasn't cash, and put it back towards making their own lives better.

    Anyways, I really hope we can keep this thread going with some more infodump posts again! I think the idea of a world-building thread is neat, considering how many games are made with a medieval theme. 
     
    #26
    Archeia and The Stranger like this.
  7. pawsplay

    pawsplay Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    5
    First Language:
    English
    Just a note on sword  eras. The Greeks and Celts had long knives that were basically ancestral to the sword. The Romans took the leaf-shaped Greek sword and turned it into the symmetrical, curved gladius, which eventually became straighter (because of cost, actually) under the late Republic. The Romans also wielded a longer, cleaving blade, the spatha, which the Northern Europeans perfected into the Nordic type blade, which was then re-imported to the south in the years following the collapse of the Empire and became the standard for sword design for the next 1000 years. In the late medieval period, civilians shifted away from knives, maces and shortswords (gladii, really) and started using straighter blades more useful for stabbing. The term "rapier" comes from a German word for sword, ultimately coming from the Italian, meaning a dress sword, that is, something you carried on your person rather than in armor. By the 15th century, a combination of crossbows, guns, pikes, and pointy stabby swords started to change armor radically, which became both heavier and less obligatory. The armor became so heavy that swords became little-used for slashing, as a mace or ax was better against heavy mails and plate armor; the longsword was a versatile weapon that could be used for stabbing, bashing, and body-to-body combat. In the very late era, just before its disappearance, the longsword gave way to the greatsword, and such weapons as the espandon, zwiehander (two-hander) and other very heavy swords, which were contemporous with early fencing blades, in shall we say the 17th and 18th centuries. 

    The falchion came over the East as soon as the Romans gave ground to the Huns. This curved blade is also a relative of the scimitar. As it moved West, the scimitar gave birth to saber-type weapons in the high Middle Ages. The same weapon moving East gave birth to the tachi, which is basically just a scimitar with a chisel-style type for stabs.  Tachi styles shifted so that as it became the more wieldy katana, a somewhat straighter blade was preferred. The katana as we know it appeared in 17th and 18th centuries, making it a classmate with the the rapier and the cavalry saber. 

    Note that the most commonly used for a sword inevitably becomes the name for swords in general, and the most common name for sword tends to become the name for the most common type of sword. In fact, the terms gladius, spatha, sword, and rapier have all, at one time or another, meant "sword." The same weapon that was a "sword" in the 16th century was a "broadsword" in the 18th century because the most common type of sword at that type was thinner and lighter (precursor to fencing weapons).

    This is a gross simplification, but you can consider three basic era:

    Early (5th century on): gladius, spatha, Greek long knife (xiphos), Chinese heavy straight sword, early "Viking sword"

    Middle (10th century on): mature form of medieval sword, scimitar, falchion, early longswords, jian ("Tai Chi sword")

    Late (15th century on): greatsword, zweihander, early rapier, tachi/katana

    A quick note on trade:

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, and during the periods of great unrest in the East, there was a catastrophic effect on the ship trade, simultaneously with disuse (and disrepair) of public roads. The so-called Dark Ages were not all that dark, but it was a time of tremendous infrastructure collapse, isolation, and paranoid. Prior to this, during the days of the Roman Empire, even late, and immediately after, beginning with the establishment of early Feudalism, Europe, Asia, and Africa were all in continuous interchange. Romans could buy Asian textiles and envied Ethiopean wealth. Scandanavian warriors regularly traded with Mediterranean cultures, buying Mongolian, Turkish and Syrian weapons and armor. So unless you are specifically going for a Frankish, pig farm, Black Plague, semi-literate priest type of era in the century or two following the collapse of the Empire, it is not accurate to think of Europe, Asia, and Africa as being separated by anything other than travel time and language. 
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2013
    #27
  8. jonyfries

    jonyfries Villager Member

    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    First Language:
    English
    As NearlyNoon pointed out the term Medieval can be used to describe the Mediterranean world any where from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (around 500 AD) until the renaissance (around 1500 AD). The culture, technology, and power structures changed significantly during that time period. Most of the discussion above seems to about England between 1200-1400 AD. To broaden the topic a bit I'll go over Western Francia(France) and touch on Eastern Francia(Germany) following the Viking raids.

    The King was very weak in Western Francia following the Viking raids. The King wasn't able to protect the lands ruled by his vassals. As such the vassals relied and listened less and less to the King. The King of France only directly owned and thereby ruled a small bit of land called Ilse de France (its a province in modern France, you can look it up, its not very big). As such he wasn't able to command a large army without the support of his vassals. This lead to incredibly weak ineffectual kings. Politics in France were all about how much people liked you. If the King was well liked he was powerful, if he wasn't... well no one would support him. Most of southern France completely ignored the existance of a King that claimed to rule their lands following the Viking raids until the Albigensian Crusade in the 1200s. Until then they were very closely allied with the nobles in Iberia (modern day Spain and Portugal). Which makes sense when you consider that it was the sons of the nobles in southern france that were the ones fighting for land in Iberia. In fact when the Pope declared a crusade against the Albigensians the King of Aragon (a kingdom in north eastern Iberia) fought against the the Crusaders lead by the French King.

    Politics were very ugly and completely revolved around the ability of nobles to gather followers. Titles didn't matter much... as long as you were a noble. And speaking of titles...

    All nobles in France (basically) were Counts. There were not tiers of nobles. You had the King, in theory on top, who was also the Count of the Ilse de France. The Carolingian kings (the most famous of which is Charlemange) had gifted land to the warriors that had helped them conquor the land. To be clear the land was the nobles who ruled it. They didn't run it on behalf of the king. The only tie that bound the counts to the King was an oath of fealty. Which many of them never gave as the crown weakened. It was more of an alliance of equals and the King was the first among equals (as the Pope originally was). The only other title that you'll really see for nobles is Marquis. A Marquis was the ruler of a March (the Spainish March being the most famous). A March was territory of land that was recently conquored and was still being fought over. So as the frankish warriors conquored parts of Iberia it was basically a back and forth war that happened every year (basically from before 1000 AD until the fall of Granada in 1492... yes the same year that Columbus sailed) which is what made it a March.

    Western Francia (Germany) was a very different world. The Dukes (as nobles were called there) were more stable and powerful in their holdings. Also the Dukes elected the Emperor which helped maintain a more common vision for the Empire as a whole (The Holy Roman Empire as it came to called). I haven't studied Germany with any depth so I can't talk about it as much but I just wanted to illistrate that not only is the medieval period very diverse across time it is also very diverse across geographic location. The English Kings were much more powerful than the French Kings until the French Monarchy was able to consolidate power where after the French became an absolute Monarchy with total control by the end of the 16th Century. And in germany the Emperor wasn't hereditary.

    The idea of a Knight didn't exist until the 12th or 13th century and it actually started with the Emperor of Germany becoming a Knight. Basically in being Knighted a warrior pledged his sword to defend the land. At first it was only the most powerful nobles that were Knighted. As centuries passed it worked its way down to where we think of it today as kind of the lowest step in the nobility. Although many translations of earlier works contain the translation of a concept as 'Knight' it really just refers to a person in armor on a horse. The actual Knight as a status is what came into existance some where between the 12th and 13th century.

    Regarding the power of the Church this varied greatly depending on the area you look at. I only took one class on Church during the middle ages so I'm not super familiar with it. I do know that there was a constant argument over the autonomy of the church with some areas/times the local nobility would appoint the local bishops and in other areas/times the pope would appointment. This lead to a number of wars between the church and various nobles/kingdoms. The best way to think of the church is a Kingdom in its own right (it controled an area in Italy known as the Papal States that grew and shrank over the years and didn't end until Mussolini signed an agreement with the Papacy limiting the Papal States to their current size). It had its own interests and frequently clashed with the lands around it. The only thing that the Papal States had over the other rules was the power of excommunication. If a King or noble was excommunicated it would lead the pious among his allies to leave them. This remained fairly powerful as long as it wasn't over used. For the nobles near the Papal states they didn't worry about it too much. The Fourth Crusade for instance got off to a rocky start by attacking a city protected by the Papacy (under Innocent the III ... I think) as the Venetians had recently lost it to a revolution in the city. This lead to the first of two Excommunications of the Fourth Crusade. Which were completely ignored by the leaders of the Crusade who knew about it and the people under them in the crusade were never told.

    What I want to leave you with is the idea that the Middle Ages is an incredibly interesting and diverse time period. Every Kingdom/City state had a unique power structure and culture. From the English Kings limited by the Magna Carta to the Doge of Venice who was chosen by the most powerful merchants in the city every area and time was very different. The modern idea of what the Middle Ages were like comes mostly from the late Medieval period into the early Modern period in France and England. If you're looking for a truely unique setting do some research on a particular area in a particular time and you will find that reality really is far more interesting than fiction.

    As a fun fact fitted clothing was invented around that same time period and many noble ladies started wearing very tight fitted clothing. This is also the same time that silk started to be used widely in the noble circles. Which lead to very tight fitted silk clothing for the ladies. And they weren't really keen on under garments at the time. ... There are many Church writings condemning this particular style choice.
     
    #28
    Archeia likes this.
  9. sorcerersapprentice

    sorcerersapprentice Villager Member

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    First Language:
    English
    Hi this is a very clever very informative topic and highly beneficial to graphic designers like myself looking to make tiles. The sheer comprehensiveness of this thread will enable me to cover pretty much everything, so thank you.  I've already created numerous old medieval shop fronts using the names you've given above such as falconer, chamberlain, bottler and 180 more besides. And since moved onto giant war machines like catapults - but I will be able to realistically flesh out an entire world with the information above. 
     
    #29
  10. jaypee

    jaypee hobbyist Veteran

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    NA
    First Language:
    english
    Middle Ages has been split into two category which are the “Early Middle Ages” 5th-10th century A.D. and the “High Medieval Ages” from 11th-15th century A.D. or before the renaissance period. The situation of countries from the mystic orient like China, Japan to the continent of romantic Europe are in constant turmoil and violent wars.

    The main economy in the middle ages is the Feudal system where landlords who either serves only himself or kings owns vast amount of lands and their less fortunate peasants. Gold, silvers, food commodities and slaves where the main currency also knives, swords and relic body parts of some sorts would do just fine too.

    Education was very scarce among the majority of the young people and it was only those of privilege class and with money can go to schools. Some young people who are lucky was either forced into apprentices work because of necessity or drafted into military service where they could attain fighting skills, education and fortune.
     
    #30
  11. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    4,579
    Likes Received:
    7,876
    First Language:
    French-Canadian
    Food for thoughts this tread. There are many medieval eras on earth as per cultures even if we think mostly of Europeans. Imagine by planets and game maker's world's imagination.
     
    #31
  12. CaptainRadish

    CaptainRadish Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    61
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    Love this thread. I'm not looking to achieve complete authenticity with my fantasy, but this is a fine primer to make it at least feel more authentic. I actually have the beginning of a backstory to my first castle lord (a king, not surprisingly :smile:), and I'm happy to see that's important. Not all of them need to be strictly kind or malicious, as most people tend to be good or bad by degrees.
     
    #32
    Marquise* likes this.
  13. Jellicoe

    Jellicoe Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    32
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Sometimes castles would become functionally obsolete just because there was no real threat of war anymore and the vigilance of making a defense sunk low in priority. So castle walls should have clear fields of fire next to them and no structures where an enemy could shelter. But as castle towns grew bigger and threats of imminent war receded houses would be built right up to the castle walls and a town grow around it. Maybe even another set of walls would need to be built after that.
     
    #33
    Archeia likes this.
  14. CrowStorm

    CrowStorm Check my résumé, your residence is residue Member

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Wouldn't you like to know?
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    This is an AWESOME resource to make available to the public. Not going to lie, I already knew virtually all of this because I am a GIANT NERD who has played way too much D&D, but yeah, I was just skimming through looking for anything missing from the list that should be there, and I really didn't find anything, at least not at a glance.
     
    #34
    Finnuval likes this.

Share This Page