Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Most Popular Superheroes in the Middle Ages?

Everywhere you go these days, there are superheroes. In movies, on t-shirts, around theme park rides. They're and fill a sort of vacuum in American culture for mythology. It's very tempting take all sorts of stuff from American pop-culture and medievalize it, but I think superheroes would have a distinct advantage. First is that after a collapse of civilization, comic books would be the most accessible. Television and motion pictures would simply not be consumed as much, as no device to play them. People would still be able to use books, in theory. However, after a generation or so, the literacy rates would drop. Comics, at least those that would physically withstand the stresses of the time, are low-tech but visual enough. While most folklore takes decades, even centuries to codify, having reached millions of people at one point kind of evens that out.

I rated comic book superheroes by four factors: Recognition, (How broad an audience did they reach?) Seniority, (How long have they been around?) Iconography, (How easy would a character be recognized using the most basic of artwork?),  and of course, Non-Modern Elements. The conceit I'm using is that the more a character uses elements that are explicitly tied to modern elements, then more you have to kind of "plug in", and the more of a chance that character has to have stuff "plugged in". So someone with a lot of technology and operating by a modern civic code might not translate as well. I've basically just referenced characters with live action movies and TV Shows. For the record, I haven't included Thor. He would obviously have a place in the new Medieval world--certainly in Germanic Europe and likely in America as well. (And many Marvel characters probably get a boost by being connected with him)


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Native Americans in Medieval America

Despite being the original denizens of the continent, the latter half of the millennium has not been good to the aboriginal peoples of the Americas, particularly in the United States. War, disease, and marginalization has seen a horrific decrease in their numbers. Are things better for them in the medieval world?

Well, it's still not that great. The federal government did not treat them well, but a white population that didn't even have those nominal rules holding them back probably made things worse before they got better. Ironically, however, the isolation of these reservations (and their lack of urbanization) meant Native Americans were probably not hit as hard as other minorities in the U.S.

In the eastern half of the continent, it's likely Native American ethnicities and cultures have been pretty much absorbed, except for perhaps a few pockets in New York, Florida, Michigan, and especially Wisconsin. The overlay of a map of American reservations and the populations shows northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are isolated from most of the frontier communities. The populations aren't going to be sizable, but most of them are the size of regular villages in the present day anyways.

It's possible the most concentrated area of Native American society is Northwestern Arizona. Today is the location of the Navajo nation, and it may be isolated and yet robust enough to have a thriving native culture in the world of Medieval America. Around 100,000 people live around this area--a third of the population today, a little less than a third in that region today, which is pretty good for the continent and the region in particular. If one were to take the five million or so who identify as natives, that's one and a half million. A third of that would be 500,000, which I think would be the minimum for distinctly and definitively indigenous people. However, their contribution and influence, from both a biological and social influence, would be much, much wider.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Medieval Latin America Populations




The first answer that comes to mind would be to reduce the population by eighty percent, which would result a combined populaton of 117 million. (Or 104 million if you were to draw from 2003 populations, when the blog was original written.) But a question I asked myself--much of this are was settled and colonized for centuries before Anglo-America, but it tended to be less populated until the 1950's, that is, heavy industrialization. Considering Florida, one of the most populated states in Industrial America and the most tropical region in the continental U.S., took a major population crash, would that apply to Mexico, Central and South America?

I decided to take a two-prong approach. The first was de-urbanization. I multiplied the population by the percentage of people who did not live in big cities. It's a pretty handy trick--the U.S. is about 80% urbanized, which is also the number by which Medieval America is reduced. (It even tends to work for individual states, for the most part) However, it's not a perfect system. De-urbanizing France gives you numbers it would be at in the Middle Ages, but applying  that to Great Britain gives you 12 million--more than the island can actually contain. So part two involved looking at the populations for these countries from about 1885-1890, as that would be the period the U.S. had a population comparable to this. (Which granted, is a pretty imperfect way to look at it, but I figured concentrated industrialization amongst swaths of wilderness balances itself out) For the most part, the difference between the two stats is not that significant, so I averaged the two and come up with the numbers for Medieval Latin America.

The total number is around 66 or 67 million,  About a third of them border of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea, and a third lives in a fifth of the total area--from Mexico to Colombia. This makes sense as Mexico was theorized to have as many twenty million people when Spain first arrived (I don't have it as high, but that number is conceivable), and since trade works in the dynamics of North/South as opposed to the east/west dynamics of the old world. Mexico and Central America are very much a good stopping point. Brazil takes the biggest hit--making up well over a third of Latin America's population in the Industrial era, it makes up less than a third in the medieval era. I actually ratcheted up the population a bit up to 20 million due to the vast space, and that the Parana River is pretty fertile agriculturally, but it's important not to mess with it too much