One of the items on my list of topics for this blog is medieval demographics and the feudal system. Today I ran across "The Medieval Kingdom
" over at The Fascinating World of Charles Ryan
. Charles hasn't been posting much lately, which I guess is how I missed it before now. I might get around to delving more deeply into demographics at some point (I find the subject fascinating, but most people appear bored to tears by it; can't for the life of me see why). In the meantime, you should read Charles's essay. He knows more about the subject than I ever will.
"It is complicated and non-standard" just about sums things up. :DReplyDelete
I would hesitate to say that it was really feudal; the power of infeudation and lordship descending from the king etc. has been greatly exaggerated (See Elizabeth A.R. Brown).ReplyDelete
Matthew is right in that there was never really any actual solid notion of what feudal tenury required, and personal land-owning was fairly common.
Additionally, "no land without a lord" is a phrase that has been taken to mean that all pieces of land were eventually controlled by an overlord (ie, the king) therefore if you didn't know who owned it, it was the king's.
There was plenty of wilderness (as evinced by the wasteland assartage that is always taking place) and the wild places were often filled with outlaws beyond the justice of any king or count.
Thanks for the clarifications. I don't think Charles made any claims that contradict your statements.Delete
Fair point, just wanted to clarify about feudal obligations which were at one point thought to be a pretty standard set of rules and regulations; that view (again, Elizabeth A.R. Brown et al.) has been challenged for the past ten or twenty years pretty successfully!Delete
As a medievalist I'm always hoping to keep D&D's emulation of the middle ages close to the cutting edge of what is generally accepted medieval theory. Just one of my little projects.
To be honest, I do not really agree with what Ryan says about the recruitment of medieval armies, at a glance it looks like the normal casual pseudo history that gets regurgitated on the internet ad nauseum. Luckily, it is not my job to wander the web critiquing every medieval history website going! I will take this moment to recommend deremilitari.org, though. A great resource!Delete
This is an excellent resource; I had forgotten that I even heard about it at Kalamazoo!Delete
Check out their journal if you get the chance! The volumes are not very easy to come by, but if you have a well stocked library, like Senate House in London, they can be found!Delete