Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Spidey

 Whenever people talk about Medieval America or post-apocalyptic fare one of the first things we jump to is talking about pop culture of today becoming "legends of old", and in some cases, the basis for religion. The latter is something I try to avoid, and even the former I believe in tempering it a little bit. It stands to reason that over a thousand years, a lot of movies and television are lost to time. I've mentioned comic book heroes potentially having a leg up, because of the relatively low tech but highly visual nature of their storytelling. But even among then, I sort of imagine Spider-Man having a particular status. I've mentioned him in toys, theater, even heraldry. I just have this inkling of him being enduring, where if any other heroes are remembered, he will be. It's a hill I will die on. Why?

Well, first I just think he has a look that is both relatively simple but distinctive. As I've mentioned, puppeteers don't have to work too hard on carving a face, just drawing a very simple body and painting it with webs. He's always been a very easy character to make plush toys and ornaments and the like without losing something in the translation. I think he also deftly embodies classic and chivalric heroes seen in the west, but also the animist and abstract beings from Eastern or indigenous folklore. A true melding that we would see be common in Medieval America.

Something that struck me as interesting was that in the first half the 2000's (when White first created his page!) there was a large trend towards movies with historical or mythological themes, which I would say officially petered out around 2007. Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, 300, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even some lower level performers like say, Troy. And yet, during this time, the most popular franchise was the Spider-Man one. This really seems to indicate that even in a culture where stories are about swords and arrows and armor, (because that would be people's sole frame of reference) Spider-Man would still have a place in it.

I've also mentioned before how Thor would benefit from a strange "foot in both worlds" energy. He is a character from the actual middle ages, who features heavily in books about mythology. (He even gets name-dropped in the Michael Berenstein trolls book.) People have been talking Thor for a thousand years and it stands to reason they would talk about him for a thousand. But because he has seen relative popularity as a Marvel comic, this also means you can't talk about him these days without talking about Marvel comics. So the Marvel Universe would sort of get brought along for the ride (a case for his fellow Avengers as well) and as Spider-Man is Marvel's most prominent character...

An interesting stat is that  in 2018, Spider-Man had appeared in separate movies--both Infinity War and the Into the Spider-Verse. Both were produced by different studios, which, granted, one was a cartoon and it was largely done with an accord between both parties, effectively still meant that Spidey had a rarefied status usually only found with public domain characters like Dracula and Snow White, or real life historical figures like Wyatt Earp. 

Also, his main bad guy is goblin. A medieval style goblin.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Another Med-America

Enthusiasts of the site/concept have no doubt seen this video from Youtuber WhatIfAltHist. He himself namedrops White's site, even citing it as the inspiration what what he has done since. There are a few differences between what this video claims and White's world, which comes down to a few factors.

1) The video makes no clear delineation on how far back or ahead this Medieval America is. The one White presented makes very clear this is approaching a millennia after the clock was reversed for whatever reason, and I would say it's at a level of technology and sustainability to akin to early 1300's Europe. 

2) White has also been very specific about what religions or institutions may arise. This would have a snowball effect on how events would unfold, but it also means the Youtube video might not want to verge sheerly for the sake of not copying.

3) It's also possible political perspective has played a part. WhatIfAltHist is more libertarian--Whites' perspective on politics is a little more obscure.

The first major difference is that the world of the Youtube video is a lot more explicitly Tribal in its social structure--the feudal core is roughly half the site of White's Medieval America. Granted, it's possible the world of White also has mountain and swamp people effectively living in the way WhatIfAltHist does, it's just, population-wise, they are a drop in the water to the grand scheme of the more organized kingdoms. But the key difference may be in two additions that White came up with himself, putting his thumb on the narrative. The first is that the United States remains as a diminished but still extant political entity, that holds territory in the Northeast, and the larger skeleton of the Non-Denominational Church functions like the glue of the Medieval Catholic Church. As a result, there may be more infrastructure and unity. The frontiers have the rough edges sanded off, and New England is less Viking Land, and more akin to a rusty but prestigious intellectual center like Greece. White's other invention, the Secretarial State, also provides a novel but effective system of government, which stabilizes the region, and thus South is not a place where things kind of peter out, but one complex culture tranistions to another.

Another major difference is the estimate of what the largest cities would be. WiAH believes it would be 1. New Orleans, 2.  Detroit 3. San Francisco, 4. Philadelphia 5. Buffalo, 6. Chicago 7. Seattle 8. New York 9. Columbus and 10. Pittsburgh. White's ranking is less definitive, but the twelve biggest cities include New Orleans, Cincinnati, Portland, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City (we know those are the seven biggest), Louisville, Augusta, Seattle, Albuquerque and Shreveport. They're both fairly close in agreement on New Orleans, Philadelphia and Buffalo, however,  WiAH is much more on the coastal urban settlement train, while White subscribes to the theory a city is better off being several miles up river. Also, White has much more equilibrium for major urban centers between East and West. Western America is much more top-heavy--it quickly gets outnumbered once we go further down the list, but this might come to their general historical outlooks. WiAH largely believes that autocratic fiefdoms result in stagnation, while White believes irrigated societies, while not great to be at the bottom, encourage more infrastructure, and thus can result in denser, if not sprawling, societies. 

Interestingly, while both seem to believe in the idea of Ohio becoming the nucleus of Medieval America (Though each think it would expand in different directions), White has Cincinnati being its largest city (And a rival for biggest city on the continent), while WiAH has its capital, Columbus, as the largest, which is interesting as it's very much landlocked. This is one of the rare instances where White comes down more Frontier American precedent than modern day continuity. The Youtube video also presumes that Atlanta, as the capital of Georgia, would still be very large because it is the seat of power for a large kingdom, so it follows that Columbus would benefit from being the state capital for the even bigger state of Ohio. However, White does something very different with state capitols in his Medieval America, making them headquarters of the Non-Denominatinal Church, which is a political entity unto itself, and which the cities, when not something of an ecclesiastical city state themselves, might be autonomous from the greater kingdom. A governor might not want to put his throne there, unless the convenience or prestige proved undeniable. That expanded Ohio includes four former state capitals also has a profound effect on that dynamic. In short, both scenarios are internally consistent but are dependent on a specific chain of events.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Desparado

 The 20th Century American considered the cowboy one of its signature archetypes. The image is one evocative of Americana, and a conservatives one of that, associated with figures like Ronald Reagan and John Wayne. For many, the cowboy IS America.

The 30th Century American considers the cowboy a murderous barbarian who brings down kingdoms and practices heathenry. 

That said, most Medieval Americans do find something very romantic inherent in the idea of the Desperado, the Lone Ranger. Much like the Knight Errant or the wandering Ronin. The idea of lone cowboys are from 20th century ideas of of itinerant farmhands, and the stars of television shows having new adventures every week. In reality, a nomadic herdsman is not usually a loner, but is part of a large, collectivist tribe--when they travel, their family travels with them. They are often defined by blood ties. A cowboy out on their own would be a pretty sad figure--the loner survivor of a brutal raid or an exile. But those outside the Plains find them pretty compelling figures. Stories of adventures and redemption and overcoming overwhelming odds.

Largely this ties into the contradiction medieval Americans have--the medieval part is tribal and hierarchical, but the American part is very individualistic. The stories of lone, wandering Barbarians is able to serve as something of a visceral outlet. Of course, the figures are a lot more admirable when not part of an all-encompassing horde.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Religious Statistics

It's agreed there are largely three main sects of Christianty--Catholcism, Orthodox, and Proteststant, with a few harder to peg demoninations, which I'll get to in a bit.

The Orthodox Church will probably see gains, maybe even doubled, but virtue of Russia's vast size, though it would likely peter out as the steppes become reclaimed by Islam and more Eastern and folk religions.

In the world of Medieval America, well, White's vision of neo-Medieval Europe, the Roman Church has made something of a comeback. Its population in Europe is probably comparable to that of the old Europe. It may have even reclaimed a great deal of territory of Northern Europe, as the relative irreligiosity and lack of centralization would make it not unlike the conversion of Germanic Pagans in the old Middle Ages. The biggest question mark would perhaps be England, but keep in mind its brand of Protestantism is not quite same as other denominations, and the Anglican Church would theoretically be easer to reunite. Probably something like 45 million if it matches its original Middle Ages figures. But it could also plausibly double, if not more, in the New World. I've estimated the population of Medieval Latin America at somewhere in the territory of 65 million or so. I think Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela and Ecuador are almost certainly to remain mainline Catholic. Once we start getting into more remote areas we can see its influence peter out, but I would definitely put money on 100 million Catholics worldwide--a significant boost, although arguably a decline in a worldwide market share.

It's interesting to consider where Protestantism would be. It's quite possible to consider it being all but wiped out, perhaps an interesting coda to the birth of the modern world being very much tied to Martin Luther's proclamation. Its lack of centralization and ties to ethnic groups would make it very hard to survive. Evangelical orders outside the West would slowly dissolves as local indigenous beliefs soaked back in. It's most likely to endure in Africa, where Christianity is mostly Protestant in nature, and where the lack of centralization could allow it to endure, in a way, with the more tribal structure. (Though it's also possible any organized Christian denominations would follow the lead of the Ethiopian Church). Perhaps the closest thing to true Protestantism in the New World (Barring any new movements in South America, is certainly possible) would be the six million or so adherents of New Israelite, which can be considered a part of, or close relative of Fundamentalism. Overall, the addition of Protestantism would be quite large considering the population in the Middle Ages was nothing, it could possibly lose its status as a "big three" 

American Non-Denominationalism is not Protestant. One could even call it anti-Protestant, as it was engineered as a specific move to consolidate and centralize all Faiths, with it defaulting to Christianity more than anything. That said, it has an impressive forty million or so in the fold, largely based in a single geographic area, and one that strongly defines America culturally and politically. It would be the distant but clear second largest sect of Christianity (though skeptics might claim it, like Mormonism, is not actually Christian) and quite possibly the fifth biggest sect any religion overall in the new Medieval world. That it is dominant but confined to one corner of the world makes it perhaps quite a parallel to the popularity of American Football in modern times.

Judaism would be larger than it was in the old Middle Ages, but would still likely be very spread out and hard to form into a cohesive political unit.

As for Islam, it's very unlikely it would leave a footprint in the Americas, as most of the practitioners in the Industrial era were based in cities, and urban populations which be much smaller and less self-sustaining in the medieval world. That said, the expansion into southern Africa and Asia that began in the old Middle Ages would have solidified by now, and one can see the overall Muslim population having doubled, perhaps even tripled, and Sunni Muslim becoming the single largest denomination in the world. However, it's also possible that Oceania's distance would have a strong effect on their practice (For instance, making to Mecca, and existing on the other side of the Equator) and leadership, and much like Non-Denom, National Identity and absorption of local pluralities would make Indonesian Islam quite distinct from Sunni and Sh'ia

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Snow Belt

 Much of the population can be compared to the National Hockey League's "Origial six"

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Islands

 When asked what the population of Medieval Canada was, I answered "Somewhere between four and five million". From what I can tell, "central" Canada (Ontario/Quebec) has about three million people, and western Canada about a million between them. What we don't know for sure is how many people live in what's know as Atlantic Canada, or the Maritimes. 

In fact, the Medieval America project overwhelmingly explores what we would call the Continental United States, and it's closest borders. Occasional maps will give us a glimpses of the most adjacent surroundings--we know that British Columbia is part of the Northwest culture, Cuba and the Bahamas are part of an overall Gulf culture (Secretarial States and whatnot), and that Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are very much assimilated into the American Church (and the latter officially absorbed into the United States). We know a little less about Quebec, but we do know it remains as a political fiefdom and remains Roman Catholic (Likely leaning into it, resembling its Colonial days). 

White does not cover areas that are much further out, even if those areas are currently part of the U.S., some states, some not. This is probably to be expected, as the maps would have to be extensive, and covering a lot of "dead space" like ocean, or unpopulated wilderness. Alaska, already not filled with a lot of people, and most living in cities propped up by modern infrastructure, would most likely simply revert to the indigenous tribes that lived there for thousands of years, and shake off the past 200 years of developments like a thin coat of paint. Hawaii would probably be a little less isolated, as an important pit stop in the Pacific Basin. However, as the cities crumbled into nothingness, it's very likely the Native population, which has never fully accepted the coup orchestrated by the American mainland, would almost immediately divorce itself from the United States from a political or cultural standpoint. It would ultimately not be part of "Medieval America", except in any abstraction. Puerto Rico, which has been talked about for Statehood, would probably be more outside the American sphere than say,  Cuba, but it's pretty easy to imagine it's culturally very much like southern Florida.

And then there's New Foundland. One of the quirkier parts of Canada, with its own accents and culture.You could say it's not part of Medieval America. You could say it's not even a part of Medieval Canada. It did not even join Canada until the middle of the 20th century (After World War 2). It has its own time zone. While it's not too far off the coast geologically, the shortest boat ride is off the absolute most northern part of the coast. Most of the people, most of the culture, most of the activity is on the Eastern half of the Island. In Medieval America it's possible they only barely interact with Americans more than Europeans. (Most of the interaction would be the fairly limited pilgrimages and trade between the two continents.) It's probably unlikely they're able to be the source of Neo-Vikings, because the Northeast of America actually has the best centralized navy (It's quite possible they tried out Viking style raiding, and the U.S. nipped it in the bud. It's also possible the U.S. was the aggressor from the start, keeping New Foundland from growing its own barbarian troops.) The population is probably not very high--right now it's about half a million, but like Maine, it's probably not going to experience too bad of a crash, either. But however many people live there, when White talks about the population of U.S. and Canada having 61 million people, New Foundland is not part of those stats either way. It is its own separate thing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Holiday Season

North America has a far more diverse climate than Europe, and this has resulted in some quirky habits. The best time for many to hold tournaments is right after the Harvest season. People have free time, the dys are getting shorter, and armies are ready to lie low. (But are still pretty restless) In today's Canada, they celebrate Thanksgiving around the time Americans celebrate Columbus Day, which generally makes sense as seasons are shorter and they wrap up the harvest much quicker. Thanksgiving is now across the Non-Denominational World, a late November holiday, and the residents of Ontario have largely adopted the custom, although Quebec retains its traditional early October Thanksgiving. Still, Canadians start their tournament/Holiday season rotation right around October--it's generally a good start for preliminary rounds.

Once we get to the Midwest, we see the transition from the more Autumnal festivals to the Yuletide ones, and the d├ęcor switches from pumpkins and haystacks to holly and evergreens. It's right around the December solstice that the majority of tournaments happen below the Mason Dixon line, with knights and nobles using it as an excuse to be snowbirds and holiday in the warmer climes.

The heart of the Deep South--the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi is where they have the Christmas Bowl tournament, and a week later, the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day itself. There's a little bit of tension from the religous folks, but it's better than slaughtering each other.

Once we head into January, we have the less "official" but still very prestigious Super Bowl tournament in January, and a few weeks later, around the Gulf Coast, there's the downturn in tournaments for "Mardi Gras", as that is not an official Non-Denom holiday. After that, the tournaments largely stop for the rest of the year while people cleanse their souls and sow their crops.