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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


A map I saw that shows how largely urbanized this country is in the industrial age, (Although to be fair, a quarter of Medieval America lives in a a space not much bigger than all the blue area combined) It really needs to be stressed how much de-urbanization can cut off a nation's population. In medieval times, one in ten people lived in cities. In modern America, it's more like four out of five.

If you look at White's two population maps, the biggest differences are Ohio/Indiana and Florida. Florida, not having the infrastructure of the industrial era, has dissipated greatly, while the Ohio Valley is much, more populated. Curiously enough, Cuyahogo and Summit County aren't part of the super dense region of Ohio, and Franklin may just barely be in there. Wisconsin has also seen more of its population concentrated on the lake coasts--the area around Madison isn't as populated as today. Though it makes sense a lot of the Midwestern capital districts aren't as dense--government is less of a presence (and source of jobs) in the medieval world, and so the former capitals aren't really bustling metropolises unless they're on strategic harbors or rivers like Boston or Montgomery.

The so-called Bos-Wash region if a good example of this at work. In the modern era it made up about a tenth of the U.S.'s population. But now, it makes up much less. It's not that the area is particularly unlivable--in fact the Delaware river is actually pretty fertile in some places. Likewise, it's an important center of trade. But there's only so much square mileage to go around.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cultural Clusters


If you'll notice, the eight biggest cities tend to have another smaller city reasonably close by. It was then I noticed on the Eastern map there quite a few locations where cities will be less than one hundred miles of the next one, until the pattern eventually dies out. Usually that restriction is set apart by natural barriers like mountains, but that's not always the case.

I decided to take a look at the larger maps and see which areas had at least three cities (in excess of 25,000) that were no more than 100 miles at a time. Actually, something that occurred to me was that cars were no longer a factor in this world, so driving miles wouldn't count. However, straight distance wouldn't quite tell the tale either. I basically averaged between the two to get an idea. For the most part, I didn't get any real conflict. An odd quirk though, is Grand Rapid, Michigan, which is a considerable land distance from both Chicago and Milwaukee, but much shorter when making most of the trip by water.

Perhaps the biggest chain is the found where it's found today--the Northeast Atlantic Seaboard, containing nine or so cities that so cities that are never more than 100 miles apart. Starting around Boston, it ends around either Washington DC, or depending on how you look at it, Richmond. (That is, if you count Providence and New Haven by straight distance. It would still be seven cities in the chain) The top four shortest distances between cities are found here, and even removing Providence/Boston, (the closest distance between two capitols/District Headquarters) you still find it in the top three. Of course, it's largely stretched out, as the route is some 400 miles long, but never far from the coast, with only the Delaware River cities being inland. As a result, there's definitely room for a wide racial and cultural spectrum between Boston and Washington. However, the trade network of the U.S. Mariners and close proximity of District Supervisors probably helps keep a continuity.

Next is the Mississippi basin, contains seven cities in the chain. It starts at New Orleans, and ends in Shreveport, which are both in present day Louisiana, but curiously, it requires Mississippi-based to keep the under-one hundred-streak going. The is actually rather impressive, considering how much of the area is not conductive to producing larger population densities. This is likely the result of the importance of New Orleans as a trading port and naval power, and it might be no coincidence the lower Mississippi was the base for some of the most advanced Pre-Columbian civilizations. The plurality of these cities are in Red River territory, and note that New Orleans largely practices Voodoo, so this may be the most mixed-faith culture cluster on the continent.

After that we have the Ohio River Valley, which has only four cities that are within a 100 mile chain, but two of them are some of the largest on the continent. These cities are found in present day Ohio and Kentucky, which today make up a single kingdom. There are three other cities in Ohio's borders, one Terre Haute, which is probably a frontier/defense town, (Like medieval York) and Toledo, who's closest city is rather close Detroit. These border cities may or may not feel a shared cultural heritage as the Ohio Valley triangle.

As for the rest of the Eastern U.S., the biggest cluster is around Lakes Ontario and Eerie, with three cities--Buffalo, Toronto, and Rochester. Buffalo is the only major city, but the area is rather special for being cross-coastal, and also containing a piece of Canada. The waterways probably keep it very tight, but the very cold winters keep it from becoming too large.

Then we head to the Western half the country. Its population is much smaller, and much more spread out, as there's less arable farmland, and most of this was filled in by a more modern, automobile-based world. Still, there are some smaller concentrations.

There's California, with the three cities of Sacramento, San Francisco and Stockton. It's something of a mirror of Ohio, with a very concentrated triangle as none of the three cities are more than a hundred miles from each three cities.  Fresno manages to be a bit outside that range, although it's mostly accessible by river. Bakersfield and and especially Los Angles are much farther apart.

Finally, we come to the Northwest cluster, or rather clusters, as Porland and Tacoma are pretty far away from each other, and separated by mountains. The "Oregon" half has bigger cities, but the Washington part has more, including two Canadian cities, Victoria, and Vancouver, basically showing how in the new world order of Medieval America, former arbitrary borders don't matter.