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.