Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Borders

While looking through the image archive, I discovered certain files with "bar" attached. It was then I went back and realized most of the pages on the site were bordered with certain designs. It was a nice little touch that may have gone unnoticed, and it was interesting to see where certain regions had a recurring theme. This may have just been something to do for fun, but I think it also hints at the kind of aesthetics these different regions may have. I think the fringes of clothing and jewelry would very much reflect their bars, so it does warrant some looking into, should one seek to do artwork based on White's world.

White had two general borders, a "keybar" and one that was a shrunken down version of the main map. However, the rest seemed to generally reflect the religion of the area. (Which once again, I point to jewelry and the like) One border which would probably only get play for one page is the Jewish one. I actually haven't touched too much on real religion on this site, but I think this means the story of Jews in Medieval America might have been an interesting one from White.

All the pages pertaining to cowboys have a border that includes quilted looking arrow designs. White already knocked out three pages with this culture, with Tribalism being the only unfinished article that this border would likely belong too. However, since the Rizzini flag is in the archives, and there are two herdsmen territories, they may had pages created for them with this particular border. Whatever page the Texas map would go to (Which would probably be one of the aforementioned pages) would likely get it as well.

The most used border is, and probably would continue to be, the "fubar", which has the design of the cross on it. It's seen on the page for the Non-Denominational Church, the USA, and Iowa. We probably would have seen it on the nations that made up the Northeast, the Great Lakes, and a few southern nations. (I'm guessing anywhere between seven and ten nation pages) Quebec may get the border as well. Even though its something of a quirk on the map, it's not mutually unintelligible with the rest of Eastern culture. I would also take a stab that Feudalism would get the cross border, as with a few frontier exceptions, the feudal states tend to practice Non-Denom. It's a little less exclusive with the Knights, but I would bet they get that border as well.

The "loop" bar may have been the second most common "culture" bar. So far we've seen it with all the desert-based pages. The Hydraulic Empire page has this motif. Both California and Deseret are given this design as well, and it's pretty certain their corresponding religions would have been bordered. And there's a good chance the Irrigation page would have would have had this border too. But not certain.

Because looking around, an unused design called the "nmex" bar shows up. which very clearly has a quilted southwestern feel to it. This would pretty certainly go on the page for New MExico and New Age, but it seems strange to split the desert nations up. But I suppose this it's there to make the distinction between the more "anglo" desert people of California and Utah, as opposed to the more Hispanic/native culture we're going to find down south. The irrigation page could go on either page, but the New Mexico motif may get custody of that one, to generally keep up with an at-least three-per-page ratio we're going with here.

On both the Secretarial States and Southern Farmer pages, we have a border which is referred to in the archives as the "snake bar". Pretty much makes sense since it's already associated with two of the other pages that make up the culture of the Gulf, of which Voodoo is the prominent religion. It's certain that would have gone onto the Voodoo page. (Especially since, once again, relgion seems to be a driving force behind the bars) As to what individual countries the snake bar would have bordered, Louisiana is the only sure thing. It's certainly possible it would have gone on the Southern Front or the Deep South page, but we can't be sure. As mentioned in other articles, the transition from northern to southern culture is gradual, and Georgia might not necessarily have much in common culturally with the Gulf.

And then we have the "northwest" bar, found here. As you can see, a pretty clear yin-yang marks the center, but if you put it in bar form, you see both crosses and moon crescents. This may be a coincidence and White was playing with abstract designs, but this may indicate how much Cascadian Buddhism may differ from its counterpart from across the Pacific. Obviously we'd have the Buddhism page with this border, and the District of Columbia page. But I don't know how many we have beyond that. First, I don't know if the Northwest merchants get their own page. But the rest of the icons the Northwest gets have Northeast counterparts. On both the Government and Warfare maps "Republic" and "Pikemem" are both shown on the Northwest corner. And this map shows that, if there isn't a higher population of pikemen and republics in the Northwest, they play a bigger proportional role than they do in the East.

I don't know what the make iof the oklbar. Looking it up, the only references I could find were Oklahoma and a town in Minnesota, both which are kind of politically banished in this age. I suppose going with the relgion theme, it might go with the "heresy" pages, of which there are two. It might have been an orphaned page for "Here be monsters".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It seems jmberry on the Alternate History Boards discovered a stash of images on White's site that he never got around to using. Needless to say, this cuts down on a bit of my speculation, and some major revisions are in order. In some respects, I was probably not as off on the mark as I would have thought, in others, very. I don't know whether I should go back and revise past posts, or start new ones. In any case, the discoveries have given me a lot to think about.

The borders for the East of America, and the West half. Also, this here gives you a good idea on the various borders around the continent. White pointed out that the forest zones could be a disparate patchwork, but I had no idea how much. It seems most balkanized around the Appalachian and Ozark Highlands, though it's also that way in both the Northeast and Northwest. (No surprise there, as they operate as mercantile city-states. I'm most surprised to see New York and parts of Canada have fragmented so. It has caused me to think a lot about Quebec's expansion. Quebec proper is safely tucked away where it has been. But I would think Canada's being broken up might make it subject to conquest. If cowboys can conquer everything in site, I don't know why Quebecois wouldn't. This map displays the language of the region, and while it doesn't confirm anything about Quebec, I do notice New York seems to have a similar gradient as the Ottawa metro-area, so I wouldn't say the theory is shot down. The New York flag has the statue of liberty, which is an American symbol, but it's also a french statue, so...part of me is tempted to abandon the French New York thing, but I don't have anything to truly shout it down yet.

There's a sub-map for the Pacific Northwest, which is titled "Cascadia". The weird thing is, the file name is "pac-northwest", which is what you get from clicking on cities like Seattle and Portland. But it also has the flag for the District of Columbia inside that so...while it doesn't raise an insane amount of questions, I am left to wonder about the formatting, if not the content. I do wonder what the Columbia page is, though, since it seems to be this country without any major cities in it. Also, more of Medieval Texas is explored. White himself has an image for Texas, although I'm unsure what page it would have appeared on. Perhaps the tribal page? In any case, the most eastern of Texas is fused with some of Louisiana and Arkansas to form "Red River Territory", the most western absorbed by new Mexico, and the bulk of it under a tribe named the Andersons, who have nevertheless kept Houston up and running. Generally makes sense for the competing (Dixie, Latino and Plains) cultures,, although I am curious to know how "Texas" plays into any sense of nationalism for the region.

Perhaps the one thing I was way off the mark on about was the Yankees. I think I'm generally correct about what culture is like in the Northeast, but apparently I was incorrect in interpreting the Yankee symbol as a boat (it's a plow), and extrapolating it to be mostly a maritime culture. This probably remains true for the three Northeast nations, it's just that I'm incorrect in assuming the Northeast is distilled "Yankee" culture. Or maybe not, as the icon isn't any further west than Pennsylvania. I do think Ohio and it's four District HQs does give it something common in the Northeast, but it's still arguable as a "Yankee nation". I'm assuming this map would go to that particular page. Unfortunately, there are no other pictures for that "How they would" dress, no for the "Irrigation" (Desert-Dwellers) page, which is unfortunate. I suppose very little I've said on the subject has proven to be wrong, but I do have doubts.

I've mentioned very little of it on this blog, but White does have a page for the Jackelope, which led me to believe other American folklore monsters had one, and I was correct. There are images for Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, and Roswell aliens. That covers most of the American folklore monsters (I suppose Wendigos and Men in Black could be mentioned as well), although I have myself wondered about what other folklore would exist in Medieval America. Christmas Elves? Tooth Fairies? Movie monsters? I do think White covered the most he could while 1) Remaining exclusive to America, and 2) In the public domain. My next post is actually going to touch on how popular culture would fit into American folklore. Interestingly, there is also a file image for Elvis, connected to the confederate flag. (Though I would think him attached to a Tennessee flag) I was also thinking about Elvis before I saw that--he's both a entertainment legend and an urban legend, as he's often mentioned in the same publications as Bigfoot and UFOs, so he probably has some folklore status as well.

The only figure I did find from White is a Knight, probably for the Lancers page. I...kind of doubt we'd see pastels like that, but I think I see what he's going for here. The armor reminds me a little bit of the Asian grid designs , which combined with some elements we see in European armor, is something pretty unique. Actually, it reminds me of the look the villains from the film version Prince Caspian. I don't know what nation this is from in particular, (Though I imagine it'd be one from the feudal core) and if the knights look different in the desert, in Quebec, if one some of them have more native American motifs, but I have actually been doing some sketches. In any case, it's nice to have a taste of something that obviously plays a big part in the continent.

In general though, this will lead me to go back and clarify questions, and revamp some ideas. At first I was on the mission of suggesting, not telling. Then I got it in my head to just tell, now I may go back and suggest. I suppose I've done as much as I can without actually doing to nations per se. What I'm thinking of doing is creating a wiki for all this. I was hesitant because White hates Wikipedia, and it would feel a little disrespectful, but I think I may have taken this as far as it can go in blog form (at least until I do illustrations), and it's obvious I will have to retouch things over time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Age

Despite much of the Southwest originally being Catholic in nature, religion in the desert can be a lot like flooding a basin. The isolation means the message gets spread to everybody, and there are not too many outside forces to compete with. That's the nature hydraulic empire--religions can be pretty uniform, easy to enforce, and prone to some very bizarre whims. In the Industrial Age, New Ange movements were informal and de-centralized, and hard to define vagaries. But in the new Middle Ages, most New Age believers were flushed out as heretics, and in the Southwest Hydraulic Emperors tightly guided from a grassroots belief system into a a highly organized and heiarchial one.

In a lot of ways, New Age is like Buddhism. There's a reverence for their Earth, a belief in enlightenment, and a need for purity and meditation. However, in other ways there are complete opposites. Buddhism focuses very much on the earthly surroundings of the natural world, while New Age focuses on the beyond. The clear skies and the somewhat barren landscape have led them to study stars and see them as sacred.

Astrology plays a large role in the religion. The Zodiac is the frame of reference for religious doctrines and practices. Priests are required to study the movement of the stars and planets. Both governor and peasant alike take their horoscopes very serious. Signs will often play a role in the name a child is given, and the career they are apprenticed towards. It's also a large part of matchmaking, as marriages between incompatible signs are a taboo. Many a tragic tale is told over "star-crossed lovers".

Priests have a very active role in the lives of the southwest populace and royal courts. Besides astrology, they are also trained to develop therapeutic teas and massage techniques. They are often charged with healing, which may sometimes rely on herbs, but just as often disease is countered with crystal baths and chanting. In funeral rites, they may place emeralds with departed.

There is a specific priest caste which religious higher ups are born to, but ever now and then they will learn of a child with strange or autistic behavior, who they will induct into their ranks. They are called Indigos, and their jobs usually involve calculating or deciphering mathematical equations, which the priests will interpret the meaning of.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scientology

In the Industrial Era, much of the West Coast was secular in nature, with basic Christian tenets merely informing its lifestyle. From Las Vegas to Los Angeles to San Francisco, much of the regions west of the Rockies had, at best, a tenuous relationship with the country's religious leaders. However, once society slid back into medieval era, people were going to slide back into religion no matter what. All it needed was something to fill the vacuum.

The Church of Scientology started out as a fringe cult fronted by eccentric celebrities. This tended to be a boon when society started devolving. Even though performers have little practical use in a back-to-basic civilization, wealthy performers may have a little more clout. Estates of the rich and famous would be lent out to the peons, and celebrities could maybe amass a few loyal bodyguards. Some may have even had enough foresight to stock up on goods and hide in a personal complex until the worst was over, and they could come out to pick up the pieces.

This is where the Church of Scientology stepped in. Often criticized for its bizarre ideas and scare tactics, the fact was, nothing really stood out as insane as somebody had some kind of out-there religious epiphany on every corner. It's just that the CoS was well-equipped with charismatic and already well-known preachers. Many of the huddled masses even found comfort in familiar faces from better times, and a tightly rigid structure. Sure hierarchy was brutal and treated them as little more than slaves, but this was par for the course everywhere in the desert, so it might as well be them. Laws against detergents and psychiatry mean rather little when they're not around anyway. Criticisms on how credible the back story is also bounce of a populace that is mostly illiterate and superstitious anyways.

While things like Xenu, Thetans and Auditing still exist in the Church, a large amount of the canon has slowly been permuted with what's known as "Hollywood folklore". It's filled with heroes like Indiana Jones, goddesses like Marilyn, wizards like Vader, monsters like Kong, and locales like Casablanca. The Mann's theater is a place to canonize their heroes and saints, and rulers are appointed with a gold statue of a man at their coronation. It's said that upon death, the President of the Church will join his ancestors and become a star in the sky. These figures of Californian mythology appear in a lot of art and sculptures, as the CoS is the largest employer of artisans and masons, and often wish to make their places of worship ornate and easy for the peasants to understand. Californian art and architecture also has a recurring motif of rings and arches.

Interestingly, many of the Holidays of the Church match the Non-Denominational ones. Festivals are held around the same times Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July are in the East, however the celebrations are strictly held to the weekend. There is also a major Memorial Day, to commemorate those destroyed by Xenu. (Because there are not a lot severe winters in California, spring festivals do not feature in Scientology very much. More often Scientologists use spring as a time to discard or use up lesser possessions) These festivals are known for producing large theatrical productions which tell stories of many great heroes and events in the culture. November tends to focus on stories for children, December pageants tell their stories with song, and July presents stories of the most heroic and bombastic feats.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Voodoo

The Northeast of America has always had a somewhat adversarial relationship with the rest of the country. Further west, the Non-Denominational Church has been essentially rejected. In the south, the Church districts are farther and farther apart, and nations pay less and less attention to what the Supreme Court has to say. Religion has been relatively unorganized and independent, and typical evangelist congregations have been supplanted by Voodoo along the Gulf Coast.

There are a couple of other reasons for the spread of Voodoo. Besides the growing infusion of Caribbean culture, the more African descended population may have felt more of a kinship than religion dominated by the ethnically different Yankees. Its spread also has a lot to due with the presence of Secretarial States. Women are given a prominent role in the bureaucracy and stability of the deep south, because the men are off fighting, fishing or doing merchant work. With males usually away, women were also left to their own devices in the field of worship. As Louisiana Voodoo is a faith that gives women a prominent role, it seemed like a pretty natural fit. Spiritual leaders called Voodoo Queens can provide the spiritual needs of the community. It's also a reflection of the Non-Denom church performing the bureaucratic services of its territory. Since the bureaucracies of the Gulf Coast are made up of women, women might as well be helping out with the religious duties. Schools are taught in Creole, medicine is administered by priestesses, and whatever passes for Voodoo organization keeps track of will and deeds. Voodoo Queens may also play a part in the royal family's linage.

Because property is passed from father-in-law to son-in-law, there's less of a pressure to produce male heirs. If the queen gives birth to a boy, that's great, and makes things a little more straightforward. But if it's a girl, she's simply trained to be a High Queen, and they look for a worthy bridegroom among the noble families. Heritage is matrilineal anyways, and this allows the father's direct line to at least play some part in the authority of the state. This of course, has led to a lot of politicking and abuse in its own right, but the point is, nothing short of infertility will cause a succession crisis.

By the way, the presence of Voodoo Queens in the royal family make these states, in theory, theocracies, but the very informal nature prevents secular and religious conflicts of interest. Voodoo leaders are more or less charged with organizing and performing rites, or divinations. There isn't a particular lot of dogma to create schisms with anyways. But that's not to say rulers haven't used to to their advantage.

In some ways,Voodoo does resemble Catholicism, with the importance of Christ and much of the pageantry. However, the Voodoo Church is in many ways quite divergent with the Non-Denominational Church, and only moreso as the two faiths have canonized different saints over the years. Marie Laveau is there most important figure. Voodoo also uses widely different symbols (aside from the cross), with imagery like snakes, skulls and card motifs. Combined with the language, rites, and prominence of women, Non-Denoms view Voodoo practitioners as little more than pagans, and nations like Mississippi and Red River have found themselves embroiled in furious religious wars for Louisiana.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Canadian Raiders

The colder regions are populated by those often called Barbarians. Out west, it's dominated mainly by cowboy horse archers, but north of the great lakes, grain and grass is too little, and the terrain too tough for large cavalry forces to be formed. The hunter-gatherers centered around the Canadian lakes have much less resources, and much more fury. Many travel the land to raid nearby villages, but it's very common to build barges for rivers and lakes, to attack kingdoms like Wisconsin, Michigan and others. They are somewhat similar to viking ships of old, except more equipped for freshwater travel. They're smaller, but provide less buoyancy, so barges are designed to hold a good amount of weight and make trips over the summer season.

Warriors of the north tend not to have the most sophisticated of weaponry. Most of it are things that are used in practical, everyday purposes like bows, arrows, spears and axes. They are also know to wield staves with curved, flat heads that can be used as not only weapons, but oars or ice picks. However, some chiefs do have swords, and it's often common to confiscate an armory during one of the routine raids.

The Canuck raiders are feared largely because of their size. Like other Barbarian societies, pretty much the entirety of the adult males are drafted into campaigns of war. They're hardened by the long winters and a belief in might. They often venerate powerful beasts like bears and wolves, and will often dress themselves in such skins to gain their powers. Their faces are also painted red, a sacred and mystical color in the north.

Naval Forces

The Americas are rather strange, in that there is not a large amount of of seas that cut through it. This is probably the biggest thing that distinguishes it from the Europe it draws so much from, culturally. The major military naval bases are found on the Atlantic Seaboard, Vancouver Sound, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean sea. The Gulf of St. Lawrence and Labrador Sea are generally too cold and sparsely populated for major battles to be waged there. However, the Great Lakes tend to serve as something of a de facto sea, with kingdoms guarding the canals that connect them. There's also the Mississippi River, which connected to both the Ohio and Missouri ultimately provides something of an interstate for the feudal core. Largely, the river system is used for trade, but it's very common for warlords to create river barges to raid these ships, or blockade them for ransom. However, these are generally means to and end, and not a lot naval strategy is used for them.

There are no missiles, or even canon fire anymore, so fleets have only the most basic of ancient projectiles at their disposal. However some allow themselves to be pretty inventive. Even though the ships don't resemble the large galleons of the age of exploration, they're relatively sophisticated, as coastal cities were able to at least glean some knowledge from the past, and have a fundamental understanding of nautical schematics.

The United States is the supreme naval power of the coast, with most ships of the Northern Atlantic trying to copy their jealously guarded designs. here, ships are made for longevity, and the ability to hold heavy cargoes. Marine soldiers are taught mostly endurance, for both the long winters and the long voyages. Northern ships have sturdy, thick hulls which are able to provide decent (by the standards of the time, anyways) barracks for the soldiers.

In the Caribbean and Gulf, warfare is played a lot like "capture the castle", which involves conquering and securing various island port bases. If fleet is particularly good at what they do, they can have islands full of provisions and weaponry for years to come. Many islands however, are full of leftovers from eradicated fleets who took their secrets with them to the bottom of the ocean. The heavy rains and winds of hurricane season means ships are made from more flexible, durable wood--usually balsa. One of the favored techniques of the Caribbean is to shoot fiery arrows at the ship.

Lake Navies are somewhat part time, as the winter freezes the waterways, leaving them to only b engage each other other during the summer. This lakes can also not hold as much weight. As a result, naval battles in the Great Lakes turn largely into all-or-nothing bloodbaths, attempting to storm forts as soon as they can, and do as much damage to the other ship as possible. Siege weapons such as trebuchets are sometimes even mounted to ships, resulting in a heavy amount of collateral damage on the "Drinking Sea".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pikemen Infantry

To a certain extent, medieval warfare plays a lot like a game of rock paper scissors, with armies evolving to counter the biggest and nearest threats. To counter the lancers of the feudal kingdoms, many nations arm their soldiers with large sharp pikes, which can form a sharp defensive wall that most cavalry can't reach, or hope to trot over. Pikemen are largely the citizens of the the northern, coastal nations. Cavalry is much too expensive to maintain where the soil can be much more limited. Likewise, because large communities are so close together, it's more important to feed people than horses. The close consolidation of people also pretty much means speed is not as much of a factor. A mobile infantry can probably move from one outpost to another without much trouble. If they can't, there's always the nearby ocean. In fact, the focus on maritime transport pretty much means captains don't want too many knights, as horses on ships pretty much just complicate things.

It's not to say there are no mounted troops in the Republics--a few high ranking officers are cavalry, if for no other reason than to show off. It's just these nations don't particularly engage in feudal warfare, and are more concerned with being on the defensive.

Because most of them are ruled by mercantile families, not warlords, there tend not to be citizens who were born and bred for combat. The city-states will conscript private citizens for service, and these citizens are given relatively simple training and equipment. For Pikemen to be effective, one simply needs a large pool and leaders with an ability to look at the big picture. City-states will even have a very strong municipal guard force, who are generally equipped the same way, and maybe even bear similar uniforms as the infantry.

Interestingly, despite it being feudal in nature, New Jersey relies more on a pikemen force than knights. New Jersey is largely in the same place as the bustling northern cities, with a large population fitting into a relatively small piece of land, as its realm includes counties that had the highest population density in the country. It only has a few major cities and counties, and they're not widely dispersed from each other, so there's very little need for warlords to mount themselves and reconnoiter the countryside. It also has access to the oceans, so it likewise focuses on sending its infantry. However, the Pikemen here are relatively more ornate, especially the guard captains.

Pikemen have also taken root in the highlands of the Appalachian mountains. Here, the people are usually not wealthy enough for mounted knights, nor is it advantageous for the altitudes. Rather, they're large wooden polearms held by clan militias. The mountain fighters are quite different from the other pike-holders, as they're not really uniformed. conscripted armies, but clans bound together by loyalty. Here, pikemen have firm, lightweight wood polearms, which some have even taken to throwing like javelins. Appalachian forts are also known to surround themselves with "pike moat" traps.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lancers

America is much larger, and much more inland than Western Europe, so horses are even more valuable in the American Middle Ages than the European Ages. Horses are expensive to keep, but they are worth their weight, and the value of horses has resulted in intensive breeding for the animal, especially in places like Kentucky and Texas. In fact, many are quite specialized for speed, luggage capacity, and of course, warfare.

As the herdsmen began to move eastwards, the rulers of the Eastern territories knew something had to be done. Because the herdsmen lived a more pastoral existence, they were better equipped to using horses and long range weaponry. The Warlords figured the best way they could handle this onslaught was focusing on defense. Therefore, America began to foster its first ever knights class.

Knights rely on strongly crafted and very heavy armor. several layers may be added on, depending on the battle or wealth of the knight. Most use leather, maybe even flexible woods from South America. the armor itself is formed into a coat-like structure, with impressive shoulder pads. At this point, the Knights will start adding the metal armor, usually a tunic made of scale male. The helmets are almost always metal, and they are curved to resemble the helmets of conquistadors. This is because, as most war is waged on the frontiers, fighting would like something like a brim to keep the sun out of their eyes. To do battle, knights carry massive wooden lances, used to hopefully penetrate the enemy, or at least incapacitate him enough to finish the job. Most nights carry, instead of longswords or broadswords, rather lithe fighting sabres.

Though most Knights exist in the Eastern forest zones, it's not unheard of out in the arid west. Nomads aren't as much of as threat out here, but it's still good to have forces to keep them at bay. Here, knights aren't part of a nobility caste. but servants of their Emperor. Because the Emperor can finance whatever war he wants, he can use valuable water to finance his armies. While the Non-Denom Church and the Warlords have a working, if not always smooth relationship, out in the west , Church and War are considered two very different things. But in the desert lands, Church and State are one, and as a result the Mormon army is also rather religious. This has rubbed off on the Buddhists.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barbarian Tribes

When the industrial age ended, some places took it better than others. Some stripped down major cities and built societies based on trade routes. Some claimed rich farmland and garrisoned it. However, some regions were just out of reach of the more powerful nations. There are cities in America that only exist due to transit for trains, automobiles and airplanes. Once these highly industrialized means of transport dissipated, way of life in the sparser regions of the map was changed drastically. Towns full of closely-knit families were cut off from the rest of the world, and these rural communities ultimately had to adapt. Because the land could not readily provide them what they needed, nor were they connected to any trade routes, the people here eventually phased out of a material life, and many outright gave up a stationary one.


The center of the continent is too cold, or arid, or both to yield vast populations and more complex societies. Those that survived were people who could handle whittling life down to the bare essentials--food, shelter, and clothing. (And very basic clothing that could cover one in the cold) These conditions resulted in a hardier people, who had to be able fight nature on its own terms. Caste systems were largely unimportant, because there was very little wealth one could acquire. There are no noble families here.

The leadership of the tribe usually depends on if it's in a period of war or spirituality. Elders usually interpret and guide the faith of the tribe, and most political decisions are made with the sanction of these elders. However, a lot of the meat and potatoes of decision making will go to a chief. He will coordinate raids on villages, wars with rival clans, and where to head when greener pastures await. In theory, the chief will be the son of a previous chief, however since the entire adult male population usually makes up the army, and there is no class system, leadership is contested fairly often. Grooming one to be head of the tribe is not significantly different from the way others are brought up. All tribe members usually fight the same way, nor is there there an administration one needs to be educated to run. Thus, an ambitious warrior can stage a coup, or an incompetent chief can be overthrown, with little to no difference in how things were run before.

However, some chiefs quite like the idea of having their lines head the tribe for generations to come, and aspire to have dynasties like those in the west. Their sons will be educated in history, sciences, and more sophisticated means of warfare. This has certainly helped tribal leaders become more central authority figures, but elders bemoan the corruption of civilization is slowly eating away at their way of life. The Canadian Kingdom, Greater Texas and Iowa Territory are made up of lands that are slowly evolving from Tribalism to Feudalism, in large part because of tutored scions wishing to emulate the monarchs. Much like the Gauls, Vikings and Mongols before them, eventually the old ways give way to the new.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mercantile Republics

Much of Medieval America is warlike with towns raided, and maybe wiped off the map. In one corner, we see vast, despotic empires, in others marauding tribes, and in the bulk of the continent, a patchwork of feudal states. However, in the Northwest and Northeast coast, we see independent city states which are separate, but often share cultures, although they're very cosmopolitan overall. These cities are not ruled by commanders in chiefs, so as established town bylaws and a ruling class descended from merchants.

In most of Inland America, we see warriors fighting bitterly for territory. However, Warlords and War Chiefs are not the only ones to call the shots. There's also the growing merchant class; Those who deal in exotic goods, and make sure the nobles in one country have access to materials and delights they cannot procure in their own borders, or closely conquerable kingdoms. They tend to congregate in cities with large populations, because not only do the rustic farmers and shepherds provide a poor customer base, but a smaller labor pool means less artisans to specialize in goods to buy and sell. In most of America's kingdoms, the merchants are a valuable part of society, and can live the good life with influence and relative freedom, but ambition has a ceiling, and the governors can't be trusted. Thus, many might live a traveling life, or gather in the city states of the Northern coasts.

The Merchants are particularly suited here. Here, various bays, inlets, islands and sounds are ideal places to set up ports. The North and South have considerably different things to offer, and the Northeast and Northwest are perfect hubs to connect trade. It's also the result of being the location of former bustling metropolitan areas. Here, the municipalities are built to human scale. The interior of the continent is much newer, and the populace distributed after the age of mass transit like trains and planes. So when places like the Midwest and the deep south fell, communities could be taken over by warlords with little to answer to. However, in Cascadia and the Northeast, major cities and their suburbs are were tightly bound together. This means not everybody can be a farmer, and there's a larger pool to draw employment from.

It also helps that these places can headquarter the local religions. In the Northeast in particular, we see many headquarters for the Non-Denominational Church in proportion to populace. As a result, the Church brings it Republican bureaucracy to the populace. More public works and social services are implemented, and the populace is largely more educated. Many holy buildings can keep these places somewhat free from devastating attacks; While the leaders of city states may conquer each other, it's widely frowned upon to slaughter the local population or clergy. Because of this, many people feel relatively safer in the city states, leading to more people per capita, and denizens not being full-time fighters.

Many of these Mercantile City States are located in what were once known in Industrial America as "blue states". This no mere coincidence. The values of Red-Staters and Blue-Staters, North and South, Democrat and Republican, were unquestionably tied to the rural vs. urban dichotomy. Blue states had higher population density, and more cities. Therefore, they valued a strong bureaucracy, catering to a varied population, and a relationship between other countries. Red states tended to have their communities spread wide apart, and valued self-sufficiency, defense, and loyalty for local traditions.

This is not to say the Mercantile Republics are averse to war. On the contrary, many merchants will constantly war to expand their realms. It's simply that the leaders are not as trained in the martial arts as the feudal warlords. They delegate duties to career soldiers, and mostly weight in with tactical maneuvers. The city states' relationships with each other are different than the kingdoms and tribes found elsewhere on the continent. When nations in the Heartland, Deserts and plains war against each other, it's generally with the purpose of wiping the enemy out. However, the mercantile city states will usually share among themselves a similar culture like in New England, the Beltway and Vancouver Sound, and wars among themselves are something of a fierce rivalry.

Feudal States

As civilization fell into ruin, some were better defended than others. In the deserts, safely isolated governors were able to establish control of the population. On the coasts, a few established city states were able to take advantage of trade routes, and buy themselves out of any trouble. However, in much of the interior of the country, people were lost, confused, and very willing to fight among themselves. Not to mention the constant threats from Barbarians that stalked the frontiers. Only the strong had a chance in this world, and the weak clung to them.

Feudal States were forged out of these fires. Peasants till the fields for the Warlords, who in turn, protect the--even if that often means protection from them. The wide open spaces of the Midwest and Deep South, with fertile fields and longer growing seasons (If not both) were easily able to establish agrarian communities. Much of these kingdoms are therefore located in the Feudal Core, the Heartland of America. However, just outside the core are other very fertile territories like New York and New Jersey, which are smaller but still operate under the same agrarian fiefdom system. The distance between communities in America's interior also plays a big part. Warlords pretty much have carte blanche to run things as they see fit, and the only way to get rid of one if for another warlord to take him out and conquer his territory.

This is where the nature of Feudalism really comes into play. Maintaining swaths of land can be a full time job, so we begin to see delegation. Once a nation or lineage is established, the head of state will allot various counties to allies and vassals, who, depending on the size of the territory, further divide up land among his vassals. These men are generally allowed to do as they wish, just as long as they swear loyalty above. Most Warlords usually possess estates surrounded by villages, as well as a church. Pyramid mounds of earth are built to place the castle on top of. On the frontiers of civilization, especially large fortresses like Rock Island and Macon exist.

This system pretty much allows for little central government, as allies can become enemies, vassals can become usurpers, and devastating wars can be declared at the drop of a hat. As a result, the many different cultures of the feudal zone is constantly in flux. Borders change constantly, and dialects evolve into different languages. The only thing keeping the Feudal Core cohesive in any way is the American Non-Denominational Church. Much of the continuity of the East is found in the Church's documentation, interpretation, and communication between districts.

Though the relationship isn't always perfect, (On account of the Warlords' habit of slaughtering each other and making attempts at unity hard) the Kingdoms and the Church can often have a symbiotic relationship. The Church provides the warlords with bridges, hospitals, and the rather tedious things in life they can't or don't want to bother with. And in turn, the Warlords serve as protectors of the faith on the frontiers. The worry is constantly on the Barbarians that surround the Heartland, and as a result, we've seen the cultures bleed a little into each other. Thus, we see somewhat similar Feudal structures for Voodoo Louisiana, New Israelite Texas, and Catholic Quebec.

As America was built on a rejection of monarchies, feudal lords tend not to have European titles like "King" and "Duke", but "President" "Colonel" and "Governor". It was with these distinctions of American nobility, feudal lords were pretty much able to get away with acting like medieval rulers from pretty much any other country.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pacific Northwest

Much of the west pretty much doesn't bother with the rest of the continenet and pursues their own agendas. This is especially true in the Northwest of America. Tucked in between the Cascadian Mountains and the Pacific Oceans are a group of rival and independent city states like Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. Because most of the citizens are connected to coast or river, the climate is extremely mild, and the resources are bountiful, no particular community can assert dominance.

Like is counterpart, the United States of America, the Northwest city states are a very maritime and a trade-based culture. They're situated very well between mineral rich mountains and timber-heavy forests, and are a very convenient stop between the tundras of Alaska and the deserts of California. The major difference being that Cascadia is not a united empire. Cascadia also nothing to do with the Non-Denominational Church, its citizens are Buddhists.

Because the culture revolves around a harmonious balance with nature, some of the outlying villages and hamlets may build around the very tall trees that make up the temperate rainforests. Farms and a few other places are still located on the ground, but it's strategically advantageous to garrison troops on the the ground, and very few people have to worry about flooding caused by the area's constant rain.

In the region's prosperity and wealth though, the Northwesterners have become ambitious, and sought out to expand. The merchants will support this for the opportunity of trading rights, and to keep the more belligerent war-mongers out of their hair. The most successful attempt at expanding has been along the Columbia river, forging the new kingdom, the District of Columbia.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Canucks

Eventually, the villages of the north give way to settlers of the colder regions. While the dominant Barbarians of the continent are found in the Great Plains, there is another powerful warrior culture found in the former Canada. They've splintered into a few tribes, and they're almost a gradual phasing from farmers to hunter gatherers. As such, what exactly defines a "Canuck" can be rather fluid, especially as migration and pillaging has melded into the culture of the Great Lakes. Even though the nationless Northern Tribes are not in large quantity, they've had a very large influence on nations like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Quebec, and some might see the moral denizens live more like them than the Yankee nations the royals wish to emulate.

Food
For the large part, the primary food is game meat, which can include deer, elk, moose, rabbits. Fowl like duck and geese are eaten when available during the summer months, and summer solstice festivals usually make them the main course. The biggest game meat is of course, caribou, which some hunters follow around so much it's almost indistinguishable from herding. However, many tribes have also tried to subsist on the crops from the more southern kingdoms either by trading or raiding.


Clothes
Clothes largely depend on season. During the long months, thick furs are worn as vests and fur bombers. Some tribes have also taken to weaving thick sweaters and scarves from wool. Hair is braided by both men and women to consolidate the warmth and prevent the winter chill from blowing through it. During the summer, and voyages to the south these clothes are usually shed, and we see very simple hides. Men and women like to wear jewelery that could consist of iron, wood, tooth or bone, depending on what is available.


Transportation:
Horses are expensive to feed, and there's not always much grass or grain available where they are. Therefore, most villages will have a pack (or, if they're prominent, two) of sled dogs to traverse the frozen wilderness. Their coats likewise protect them from the elements, and they're fed remains of game meat. The life of a sled dog is full of toil and not very long, but they are immensely valuable to the north tribes. They are thus revered and treated with respect. Pyres are sometimes lit for dogs that have been especially

Housing:
While not a completely nomadic people, society in these regions is not built on towns Game may disappear, weather may be too cold, or other tribes may move in. The nomadic versus sedentary lifestyle is more or less a north to south gradient. For the villages that are more settled, we see many thatched huts surrounding a great log hall. There the people try to survive the blistering winters huddled over the fire drinking ale and telling epic stories. Some log cabins may exist for particularly revered members of the tribe, or those who wish to rough it out alone.

Tools:
While a hunter society, Canucks can't help but interact with the outside world. This is especially prevalent due to the vast resources the north provides. With so much timber and metal, lumberjacks and metal smiths are considered as integral (if not as common) contributors to the tribes as hunters. When visiting Wisconsin, it's said the best way to tell the difference between a Cowboy and a Canuck is is the latter may be donning metal artifacts.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Irrigation

Desert Dwelling

The barrenness of the American desert is broken up by a collection of rivers. The altitude of the Rocky Mountain collects enough moisture to fill the rivers that pour into the Southwest. Communities then gather around these rivers to collect the water and moisture, creating their own canals to divert this water into their crops, in a process called irrigation. Irrigation can also help keep the ground soft after the cold desert nights. This is absolutely vital to surviving in the west, since rain falls so little, and the soil is otherwise hostile without human intervention. In the Industrial Age, there were concerns about the American Southwest having enough water for their needs, but the smaller population and lack of plumbing or intensive gardening have lessened the burden. However, nations and tribes do fight over water rights, since if a state is to expand, it would have be along the river lines. It has also given the governors absolute power over their subjects.

Communities are small, but very tightly wound together. All villages and cities tend to center around the major rivers used for irrigation and wells. This helps foster consolidated population densities. The denizens in Hydraulic nations tend to share common languages and have access to similar goods. We also see small but impressive middle-to upper classes that can concentrate on craftsmanship, education and health. This is because access to civilization is much closer, and there is no warrior class, but rather the Emperor's own private army. As such, the desert kingdoms are often much more advanced in fields like astronomy and medicine.

The exception is out deeper in the desert, where we see wandering bands of nomadic herdsmen. These people may be subjects to the Governor, and have to pay him tribute or have their sons and daughters conscripted into military, servant or even bridal duties. They are nominally considered parts of these kingdoms, but they often do not get along well with their farmer counterparts, and may be persecuted or treated like second class citizens.

Food:

The desert farmers have somewhat similar diets to those in the south, though there's less a focus on vegtables (Which tend to thrive in wetter regions) and rice (Which is downright wasteful in the desert). They often focus on crops that don't need as much water like blue corn, chile peppers, mllet and various beans. Fruits are very common, especialy oranges and dates. Most cheese tends to come from goats, who are the most valuable livestock out in the deserts, since they are highly durable and their stomachs can digest almost anything.

Clothes:

Along the river banks, farmers and other denizens may dress much like they do in the American south--with loincloths and and ponchos and wide-brimmed hats. If straw is hard to come by, or the rich wish not to look like peasants, they may wear pieces of cloth similar to the keffaut, made out of cotton. It's also common to put black makeup around's one's eyes to block the rays of the sun. However, for villagers outside the rivers, where there is less moisture and buildings to mitigate the sun's rays, protection becomes immensely important. Here, loose, baggy clothes are used, and bandanas to protect them from sandstorms. Once we start getting out into the nomad territories, they may dress much like other herdsmen, however their clothes are looser and more colorful. Many people in the desert may also keep cloaks handy, for the nightfall turns the climate from blistering heat to bitter cold.

Transportation:
Much of the kingdoms are traversed along the life-giving rivers the communties cling to. Barges are built for the governor and his court to do business or just sight-see. They are also very important for transporting the infantry from one corner of the nation to another. Because most of the Hydraulic Empires in North America are located near mountains, wood isn't as hard to get. But it can still be expensive and something of a luxury. Therefore, most of the farmers and traders traverse by land. They ride durable beasts like burros and camels. The wealthy upper classes may still use horses for battle or envoys, since they will have large enough caravans to support less hardy beasts.

Mythology:
The isolation of these nations from the rest of the world, in addition to each other, has allowed belief systems to wildly diverge from the Christian east. A large element of many beliefs around here is the obsessing with the stars. The skies are very clear at night, and astronomy (as well as astrology) are valued skills out west. Many myths and folklore involve chariots of the gods, great ships that traverse the stars, and even creaturess from beyond who crashed out in the far reaches of the desert. Because of the lack of moisture, scholars are able to keep advancements and records very well documented.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yankees

Nations of the North

Even though the farmlands of the south have fertile soils that can support all kinds of crops, and long, warm summers, they have their disadvantages as well. The diversity of life down south means more parasites and pests can get into the crops, and a larger variety diseases can infect the populace. Also, much of the American south is rainy and swampy, making it much harder to maintain crops, as well as structures.

North of regions like the Appalachian and the Chesapeake, growing seasons are shorter but the land much more fertile. This means that while there's less of a variety in crop, it can potentially feed a lot more people. It took a while for people to adjust to the bitter northern winters, but once they managed to adapt, very resilient people managed to emerge. The potential for higher, more concentrated populations was needed, because the Yankees live in a relatively more complex society. The soil needs the best medieval technology it can to function, so there needs to be specialized labor forces for ox-breeders and plow makers. The harsher winters mean houses and clothing have to be more elaborate. Stone cutters, lumberjacks and many other more specialized trades are needed to prevent people from freezing or starving to death. However, unlike in Hydraulic Empires, the greater and more diverse groups of people means that these bureaucratic societies aren't as autocratic. There's more compromise and politicking required.

Food:
The agriculture of the north supports crops that are much more durable, and are conditioned better to the soils. Cereal grains like wheat and oats are important simply because it's important to have bags of grain ready for the winters, but there's also a large focus on root veg tables like turnips and potatoes. The potato is the staple crop of the North. It is unaffected by snow on the ground, and the starches yield high calories for labor intensive medieval life. Apples, pears, blueberries and cranberries are widely eaten because the trees and bushes can withstand the weather, ready to produce another batch the next year. Because many of the Northern regions are connected to the ocean or the great lakes, there's a large proportion fisherman. Clams, lobsters, cod and bass make up more of the diet of many Northern cultures than meat or poultry.

Housing:
In the South, structures may be relatively simple due to the common occurring of floods and hurricanes. Aside from the annual blizzards, people in the North really don't have to worry about natural disasters, the priority is in making big, durable abodes that they can all pile in for the winter. Such structures tend to be made of sturdy oak or, if they can afford it, stone. There's a reasonable availability of granite and limestone in some of America's colder regions, so it's very common to build a house with the chimney or hearth being part of the entire wall. The use of stone is valued not only for the insulation from the hot summers and cold winters, but because firewood may burning for so much of the year, there's a higher risk for flammability.

Mariner Ports:
The Northeast of the US is not blessed with much unique resources. Just a great deal of wood. However, the cash crops of the South and the minerals of the farther North, as well as the seas and rivers create trade network that cities can sprout up on. Also, because people of the North want to concentrate on exporting rather than importing, trades in artisanship are very important. In order to stay competitive with the relatively little they're given, these places make it a point to be the best as textiles, metal-working and wood crafting that they can be.

Culture:

Perhaps what the Yankees pride themselves most on is their scholarly pursuits. With so many Church districts nearby, a much higher proportion of the populace is well educated. Churchmen are often hired, not just to do many of the bureaucratic work, but tutor the children of the region's leaders. Many prestigious colleges of old were located here in the industrial age, and while some fell into disrepair, it was considered very important to keep the tradition of learning alive. While many of the kingdoms further south and west have no interest in enrolling their sons there for fear of going soft, the occasional kingdom (Usually in peacetime) will send important scions to Universities in the Northeast in the hopes of having a wise and well-versed leader succeeding them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Francosphere

Although the project is named "Medieval America", Canada often finds itself folded into the scope. It's easy to see why; Most of the country's population is found at the southern borders, closer to their American counterparts than each other. Since a country Canada's size, with such displaced population, and in rather inhospitable conditions, could probably not maintain itself politically, we see the various provinces absorbed into the culture of their Southern neighbors. Ontario becomes more of a Midwest kingdom, Vancouver is one of the Cascadian city states, the Maritimes are assimilated into the Yankee naval empires, and Alberta is pastureland for the cowboys. But then there is Quebec.

In modern times, Quebec has managed to remain culturally distinct. It is a province of several million people who have managed to carve out a society that speaks French on a continent that is otherwise rooted in English or Spanish. It has also felt more European than the rest of North America. It's a true quirk in the modern world. In Medieval America, it would be interesting to see what kind of identity it has taken on, especially since the linguistic world would be just as different as anything else.

The language would probably be very fluid and gradually changing from one region to another. There is the common ancestry, so from coast to coast it would probably owe itself to English. Dialects and colloquialisms would then splinter as we passed the Mason Dixon line, the Appalachians, the Great Plains, and the Rockies. These would be the barriers in which the tongues stop being as intelligible with one another. The south would also see be kissed by Spanish, with maybe even Creole working its way into the Gulf Coast. We may see more Amerind influence out in the western, isolated spots. (Give a thousand years, and the West Coast could morph into something else entirely) But what of Quebec?

French could possibly have worked itself into the language of as little as one million people, or as many as five million. The first thing to keep in mind is, if any language is intact in these nine-hundred years, it's Quebecois French. To the people in these province, nothing defines them and their way of life as much as their language. It could potentially be preserved as if it were Latin. The cold and relative isolation could certainly help in preserving it. But I do wonder if it would be satisfied being its own enclave. It doesn't have the best piece of real estate. Also, remember that Quebec prides itself on how different it is. Give the desperation of long winters, and a generally warlike medieval society, and it doesn't take long for "different" to transform into "better". I can imagine a cultural tide of conquest coming for and retreating over the centuries. This has probably affected New Brunswick and eastern Ontario, which take bi-lingualism more seriously than the rest of Canada. It has also led me to wonder about New York.

I found it funny White created a page for New York, but did not include its flag in the Northeast or Feudal Core maps. Culturally, New York can resemble the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, or even New England in some places. (Though New York City is part of the USA empire) There could be several reasons for this. One is that maybe it's just very unique, or mostly important as a trade stop. (White has another orphaned flag around Virgina) It may not be included as part of the Northeast because it is both feudal, and occupied by knights. (The Northeast nations are either republics, or mostly infantry) Maybe it's too inland to be part of the Northeast. But it did occur to me that maybe at one point, it was conquered by Quebec. It would be a decent prize. Better farmland, and access to the Hudson river would certainly make it the gateway between the Midwest and Atlantic. (Quebec has always lamented the Eerie canal and its "bypassing" the St. Lawrence River) It would make sense too, with the Statue of Liberty as its flag. Both a very New York (And Non-Denominational) icon, but also one that lends itself to France.

If Quebec is an empire, it's a vestigial one, maps indicate. But whatever its current state, I believe just as the Anglo-Saxons had a large effect on Mainland Europe, the Quebecois have had a mark on Northern America.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cascadia


Now we have the northwest, a rather slender section of the continent, but a very vital one. However, this may be the region we have the least information on, as no countries or other aspects of life here have their own page. At this point, it's pure conjecture. All we know is that the cultures may have an effect here and there on Northern California to the Bay Area.

Interestingly enough, White doesn't give an independent "lifestyle" icon for the northwest--it shares the "Yankee" icon. Perhaps there's not much to elaborate on. It's the mildest climate on the continent, neither summers nor winters getting particularly extreme. In fact, in a lot of ways, the Northwest mirrors the Northeast, although cosmetically one could easily tell the difference between someone from New England from someone from Vancouver sound. The northwest's most distinct aspect however, is the vast amount of rain. Metals and woods are often cured to be water resistant, and they usually gravitate towards the resistant resources to begin with. Cloaks are probably not made from wool. And much of the architecture includes water spouts and various designs for expelling the rain. But other than that, the region is so well-suited to support life that it's surprising that the population is this low. Proportionately, it's a good drop-off from the current population, but one can't help but think this corner of the map would suffer much less than say, the Atlantic seaboard. Perhaps the environmental dogma has prevented them populating too much.

I've mentioned several times I think the Northwest is stridently environmentalist. And whatever caused the destruction of civilization probably helped convince people respecting the earth and living simple lives would not have gotten America in this mess. The religion seems to be Buddhism, or at least an on offshoot of it. It can kind of mean several things at this point, as it's kind of the non-religion religion, and put in the context of holy wars, it could mean many different things. Perhaps the forces of the earth are more sacred to its worshipers, or it has its own rules and pantheon, just with much less rites and Sabbaths than other faiths of the continent. Green may be the signature color of the area--with the environmental dogma combined with the almost everlastingly green colors of the wilderness. The Pacific Northwest may very well challenge Ireland for emerald identification. Variations do probably exist more, should totem poles still be prevalent. Totem poles have been perhaps the most well-known symbol in this part of the country, and the American Indian influence is probably the most valued (if not co-opted) around here.

In the upper northwest, we pretty much have the crux of its population, which White has simply labeled "Pacific Northwest". Maps display that it's a patchwork, probably of various independent city states that share languages, religions and lifestyles, but are constantly competing. They're probably very much mercantile states like the US, just much more divided. It may in fact be something of a "Hippie" version of the US. I wouldn't be surprised to see White have mentioned Hippies when talking about the region's culture. I do wonder how often they have had common goals. On the California page, White mentions every now and then San Francisco is conquered by the Northwest armies. This has probably led to merging of cultures every now and then, with the Bay area serving as a buffer between two otherwise quite different cultures.

The other region is The District of Colombia--a feudal state on the other side of the continent. The name probably derives from the Columbia river, though I've used the setting sun of BC for its flag. There are no cities evident in this region so far, so it may simply be a large collection of castles and villages that support the cities of the west. I'm not sure what their relationship with the merchant cities must be--probably not bad, though east of the Cascade mountains,t hey might not even think about them much. However,. there does seem to be an intense rivalry with Deseret. I don't have the best idea where one nation ends and the other begins, but I imagine the conflicts are too new for there to be a major blurring within borders. With the Asian influence and mountainous, sometimes volcanic terrain, you're left to wonder if it might at times resemble feudal Japan. Ultimately, the area has been too shaped by the European and Native population to completely go that way (especially since its Asian immigrants probably don't know that much about Japanese sword-melding), but a lot of the aesthetic could bear a passing resemblance. However, this seems to be something of a blip in the grand scheme of things--no major cities are even shown under its jurisdiction. Maybe Portland, as a relatively inland city, is its capital. It's hard to tell as White simply didn't give a link to this area on the main atlas.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Desert

The Desert is a pretty vast region of Medieval America. And to eyes in both the present and the future, it may be the most outright alien. Encompassing much of the southwest, these nations have probably been kept isolated from the rest of the continent by plains and mountains. And kept isolated from each other by desert. The most distinct thing about each of them, from what we can tell so far, is that they have wildly different religions. Religion seems to be the best way to divide the three nations, if not states up. When White mentions peoples west of the Rockies, he seems to emphasize the religion. It makes sense as in the East, Warlords and Churchmen are distinct entities, but here there's no such separation of Church and Military. As a result, I think the soldiers there may have religious as well as secular duties. Some places, like Colorado and Nevada look to have three religions within their former borders, but that might not be a case of friction so much as petering out. In fact, Nevada itself seems to withered away, with no tourism industry, or technology to divert the rivers. The settlements of the desert may have suffered the most traumatic transition into this era, as the southwest is home to many bustling and growing cities, with the relative lack of resources to support it. It's said these places might never have attracted people in the first place if air conditioning wasn't invented. The climb back to the top must have been harsh, maybe even gruesome at times, but distinct nation-states were formed.

The lifestyle icon is a water pump denoting "irrigation". White has dropped reference to the fact farmers need to irrigate their land, building canals from rivers to farms in order to grow crops. The sunlight and lack of parasites make up for the shallow soils, but agriculture remains intensive. Civilizations pretty much appear on the river banks and nations are long, narrow bends and arcs. It's likely that not only do the rivers serve as the bases for farming, but also transport and fleets. This is another reason hydraulic empires are able to thrive with absolute authority. Cities are very condensed and built on a single route. White doesn't have any pictures, even in the archive, of what people in the desert look like. However, we probably don't need to imagine it too much. I think during the day, the farmers dress like the Southeast farmers, except maybe implimenting designs of the local culture. Something resembling the Middle Easter kaffa may be worn to protect the neck. Alternate sets of warmer clothes may be kept, as the desert gets very cold at night. However, half the desert population isn't made of farmers, but of herdsmen. They may look a little like their Plains counterparts, except maybe a little more colorful. What also makes this desert region distinct from the Middle East and Sahara is the Rocky Mountain range. These very high altitudes probably means desert dwellers are not completely unfamiliar with cold. The shepherds may even dress a lot warmer than desert nomads we're used to. Ice may also be feasible for the wealthy to access, which could affect society in several ways.

Most of the population of Mexico is found in the more forested, south, and the "border towns" of the desert are now firmly nomadic. In my opinion, this means that the territory is relatively up for grabs. Why would a nation want this area? Well, I think they would want the area around the Baja peninsula. Trade with South America probably shapes the mobility and initiative of the north, and the Gulf of California would make an excellent trade route without having to traverse the inland deserts. The main problem is how arid Death Valley is. These would not be great sources of agriculture for the region--they would be trade cities, plain and simple. A breakdown in trade, or a wane in demand for the goods would see such cities wither and die.

First we have New Mexico, which also seems to include Arizona, and even the edge of Texas. The desert shepherds and goatherds may play a very large role in New Mexico. The husbandry map combined with the West Map shows that within New Mexico's borders, we see quite a few nomadic tribes. They may even make up half the population. It's not so surprising since New Mexico and Arizona have always been more "Wild West" than the other desert states, and still boost a few ranches. Most are shepherds and goatherds, but it's possible at least 100,000 or so are cattlers. Another interesting thing is that the major cities seem to mostly be in the eastern half of the nation. However, there are settlements on the Gila river. I wonder if they're more spread out, and most resemble the old Native American cultures which have likely blurred over history. The religion map says "New Age", and I'm not sure what that is, or why primarily Catholic New Mexico would be practicing that. It's possible that, with the sun belt's collapse, people were looking for drastic new answers. The religions of the modern westerns world come mostly from the desert (The same desert, in fact), so it probably makes sense that if anything dramatically different were to pop up, it would be there. And it would probably take just one eccentric emperor to impose his new faith one everybody.

Speaking of which, Deseret is one of the more interesting parts of the country--it seems to be a nation that exists by force of will, with only a few things to keep it together--its place as a trade hub, and its unique religion. It's not unrealistic for a theocracy dominated by Mormons to do reasonably well during dark times. The Church of Latter Day Saints preaches self sufficiency, and many of the members are known to store a great deal of food. Probably the biggest contributors to Hurricane Katrina relief were Mormon organizations. As I've mentioned before, I imagine the army consists of warriors known as "Templars", named after the order seen during the Crusades, and reasonably appropriate considering Salt Lake City's monastic center is called a ""temple". Right now, it's thinking of expanding into less arid regions, and I wonder how that would effect its Hydraulic Empire status.

And finally we have California. Or "The Californias". It seems this is two nations in one. The thing is, there's a fiefdom dominated by the Church of Scientology. But it also holds spiritual authority over the "Republic" of California. So it's hard to imagine just how that structure works. Is it like the Holy Roman Empire? White does mention that every now and then, the San Francisco is conquered by armies from the Pacific Northwest. (Perhaps a reference to the Bay Area not quite between the Northwest, and not quite being Southern California) The California area in general though, seems remarkably wealthy. The husbandry map shows the regions has the most farms west of the plains. And the trade map indicates it may have the finest goods of the west. Where the east is concerned, California may almost be legendary, with its sunshine, various fruits, and maybe even an insane amount of gold. Whether it produces that much as the time is besides the point; It's almost certain that in the east, lore about California has reached a mythic status. Speaking of California and myths, as I mentioned in the religion article, I think much of California's mythology is steeped in American pop culture, particularly Hollywood films. Star Wars may be the quintessential epic, especially since Scientology is a very celestial religion. I would bet Emperors often claim they're made into stars upon death--and local astronomers are bribed to name stars after their recently departed rulers.

Finally, I wouldn't be surprised if the Free Zone is home to the world's most stunning menagerie. Once upon a time, Southern California was home to the San Diego Zoo. Because of the Mediterranean climate, a few megafauna were able to make their home there, and eventually colonies of beasts went undisturbed. However, California is much more rigidly structured, and once Empires started popping up, they quickly collected these beasts. Some for exotic pets of the upper castes, and some for the fabled Labyrinth. The greed and short sightedness of some empires has probably kept megafauna from thriving as much as in Florida.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Plains


This is the area White seems to have spent the most time on. He gives us information on the lifestyle, religion and combat of the nomadic herdsmen. Two of the three nations he talks about are ones significantly shaped by them. The only one thing he leaves blank about the region is system of government, and to be honest, we probably only need to seemore for the tribes outside the Great Plains (And which take place outside the historic U.S.). In short, it seems this culture holds a special fascination for him. It probably also bears the most explanation, because we're not used to grassland cultures in pre-industrial times. Any look at a map will tell you countries are coasts. So what would culture look like in a sea of grass?

It's probably best described as cowboys and Indians rolled into one, with a little bit of the Mongol empire, and maybe a dash of Viking. Some say White was inspired by the Horseclan novels, but the lifestyle does make sense. In many ways, it's just a reversion to the pre-industrial free-grazers, settlers and natives. It's very easy to imagine society turning out this way. Many of the towns are quite distant from another, and have been most able to thrive with modern transport like planes, trains or even just automobiles. Cities turned to farms. Farms turned to ranches. Ranches eventually went mobile. The population density was just too scarce
for settled communities to work out, and city limits dissolved. The Herdsmen don't have towns, so it's hard to tell when they have actual nations. The West Map shows two particular Cowboy nations. Territory belonging to the Rizzinis, and Territory belonging to the Anderson. There might also be yet another tribe indicated by this map.

The Rizzini Tribe is talked about as one of the most powerful, and its flag of a deer's skull is certainly imposing. It conjures up images of bikers, who one can suppose these barbarian tribes resemble to a degree.

The Black Hills does seem to be one of the more relatively settled communities. The area extends from roughly South Dakota to Wyoming. White says it's a location for pilgrims, although the herdsmen map indicates quite a lot of people live there. As a result, there are probably entire camps in the Black Hills. The eventually move on, but this may be where festivals, trade and metalwork takes place. In fact, I've actually been wondering about trade. it's widely considered a neutral territory by all herdsmen clans? Does this only specifically apply to the cowboy tribes, or could anyone pass through the Black Hills? it would explain why Utah has superseded Colorado as a trading crux. Of course, being "allowed" might not even stop traders anyways. Caravans likely doll up their wagons like herdsmen, much like the frontier men would dress up like Indians in the days of pioneering.

There are probably countless tribes, but I wonder if there are certain kinds of nations. The main atlas, and the population map seemed to go by a rule of three for states that took place in the plains. I also noticed Dakota and Colorado switched places they do in today's borders. The third "nation" seems to be Texas. It probably does make sense it would be these three. For all of White's fascination with this culture, it seems to be on a wane. The Wyoming tribes seem to have been conquered, and possibly absorbed by Deseret. Kansas and Nebraska kept their eyes on the east, and have been absorbed into the culture of Iowa. That leaves Oklahoma, and I can very easily imagine Texas declaring war and wiping them out. The really interesting part is, evidence shows this may not be all there is of Texas.

Much of Plains Texas is held under what's considered "Anderson Territory". Once the second largest state and crossroads between wildly different cultures, its shrunk to a small amount of its size, but retains an interesting aspect. Looking at the government map, the area is operated by feudalism. Houston seems to remain a major city. Yet, the area is primarily New Israelite. This lends itself to one of two possibilities; One is that the southern front has conquered these areas, and a few warlords oppress the New Israelite population. Another is that this is a nation of herdsmen that decided to mix agriculture with their usual herding lifestyle. (Either that, or the Herdsmen came out of this settled community) think the towns may look a lot like the early Anglo-Saxon settlements, but with a bit of an old west vibe. They don't have elaborate cathedrals, but chapels with ministers usually specifically part of the warlord's court. (Or conversely, the ministers may have their own following--think famous prophets from the Bible) I'm not sure how the relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers who's culture they resemble get on--though maybe the Texan nomads see them as reasonably pragmatic. The east of Texas is too swampy for pasture, and this aberration of society does exist as a good buffer between the nomads and the Non-Denominational Church.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Gulf

The Gulf is one of the smaller sections of Medieval America, but is certainly amongst the most unique. So unique, that it appears that it doesn't even have that many historical precedents (In the way that say, Northeast=Italy, California or New Mexico=Egypt) It's its own society, born out of a vast, but medieval civilization in the subtropics. It's hard to tell how many live on the Gulf Coast or in the Deep South according to this map, but I would say the region is between four and six million in residents. For the purpose of this article, "The Gulf" includes the Caribbean sea, but not Texas, which while on the Gulf coast (and Houston is a very important port) its culture is very dissimilar from Louisiana, Florida and the Islands. I'll talk about it when I get to The Plains.

South/Central America is a foreign, scary place where the beasts are ferocious and the stars are strange. But it's also the source of many goods we take for granted, like cocoa, coffee and rubber. In short, it's to North America what the Orient was to Medieval Europe. And that's where the Gulf Nations make their mark--as a gateway to exotic goods. (In fact the Gulf Coast is the location of a sugar belt) The main religion in these parts is Voodoo. I found that a little strange, how it could have exploded, but in religion articles I explain how it seems to work very well with the a more woman-friendly society. However, this probably puts it at odd with the rest of the American East.

As mentioned, the government here is, for the most part, secretarial. This means civil and bureaucratic work is done by women. Men's roles in society seem to be a little more distant. The idea of a structured woman's society while the men are distant, coming home to reproduce and assert rule reminds me very much of lions. Which makes me wonder if women have some martial prowess of their own. After all, if the men are away, it would make sense for the other half to be able to defend themselves. I'm thinking something not quite as intensive as naval and cavalry training, but something that could resemble martial art called Capoeira. Dancing is important in Southern society, so maybe it would be a good way to combine ritual practices with practical self-defense.

White only mentions one country here; Louisiana. Louisiana as a country seems to have retreated southward, (Most of inland Louisiana is part of a nation called Red River) and moved eastward. Some of Mississippi's and Alabama's coasts have been absorbed Much of the population is palpably African-descended. New Orleans is described as the most important trade city in the region, and the major funnel from South America to North America. The ethnicity and religion of the region tells me that if any language dominates the country, it is Creole. I don't know if it's leaned towards English, or even more strongly clung to its French routes for ceremonail reasons. It should probably be mentioned that White wrote these articles before Hurricane Katrina, which took a heavy toll on the population of New Orleans. Who knows how that would have affected what he wrote, but possibly not much. Remember, there's no reason for Deseret to be that populated, but it thrives on being a gateways. This is no longer the age of skyscrapers and interstates. If Louisiana's going to be flooded, they'll just use boats. Maybe a canal city, similar to Venice, except more easily-reconstructed building like seen in Southeast Asia? I wouldn't be surprised to see New Orleans as strange atmosphere of transport boats and open-air markets.

Also worth mentioning is the status Florida. In the present day, Florida is the fourth most populous state in the union, and two of the twenty most populated metropolitan areas in the country. Also, it's much closer to the island nations of Cuba and Haiti/Dominican Republic. Yet White seems to have reduced it to a footnote, with no major cities (Except a Non-Dom district capital in Tallahassee) And the population map leaves it practically blank around the peninsula. There seems to be little mention of it in Warfare as well. It seems a large reason for this is the poor drainage of the soil. As a result, people had a hard time building farms, and where there are no farms, populations drift away.

It also has me thinking about zoos in the United States. An interesting question to ask would be; What happened to the animals? Some would likely be killed for meat, hide, or just being a nuisance or a threat. Some might not be equipped to deal with the habitat. Some did fine, but there obviously weren't enough of them to form colonies. However, in Florida, which is the closest place on continental America to qualify as a jungle, animals that escaped from circuses and zoos managed to make their way to the Everglades and thrived, untouched by man. Elephants, hippos, rhinos and tigers joined pythons and their like in staking out a claim in the Florida swamps. Once these populations exploded, they started invading human settlements. Without cars and lights to care them, or guns to shoot them down, nature easily won this round in the corner of the world, and humans dispersed to less dangerous places like the Florida panhandle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Lakes


I talked extensively about the Feudal Core, so I felt I had to talk about the lakes separately. Even though it's only a couple of nations, it's very distinctive from a lot of the Southern Kingdoms. (Ohio is something of an "in-betweener") The winters are longer and harsher, the agriculture more limited. It may. in general, resemble more what we recognize as Europe, due to ancestry and climate. What also makes this distinct from the Southern Kingdoms is, of course, the lakes themselves.

The area today is sometimes referred to as "The Third Coast", because the vast size of the lakes (as well as the connecting rivers and canals) have allowed it to operate as a de facto sea, with their own waterways, ports, and peninsulas. and  the Lakes probably have something resembling a maritime culture. Since it's freshwater, the boats can only carry so much, and they can also freeze in winter, but naval warfare and trade are probably an integral part. The Lake Kingdoms may interact mostly with each other, and the Canadian tribes. They may also concentrate more on minerals. While iron and steel are not as instrumental a resource in a non-industrial world, it's still very useful for a warrior society. (Sparta in fact conquered the helots for their iron deposits) The trade page shows  metal, as well as metalwork is a big part of the region's economy. The Lakes are probably renown across the continent for their metallurgy

The most northern country is Wisconsin. It doesn't seem to have a flag, but the Iowa page indicates it is its own nation and Milwaukee is depicted as a decent-sized city. The nation has about a million people, and though it lost some territory to Iowa, it has also absorbed Michigan's upper peninsula, as well as some of Minnesota's population. (where the Twin Cities population center once was) Minnesota, fr its part, has largely withered, either due to the cold conditions, or because of raids from cowboy tribes.

We then move on to Michigan. Most of the population is located in the lower part of the peninsula, and the population in the neighborhood of two to three million. Because of its excellent soil, and ability to connect the lake routes, Michigan is possibly the top dog of the Lake Kingdoms, and Detroit is a major city. I'm not sure what the flag is, but it's either a  a beaver or a wolverine. The last two makes the most sense. Beavers are certain both a useful and a clever animal, and that motif might make sense in the context of a lakeside nation. The wolverine is associated with the University of Michigan, and I have a feeling it may have a particular totemic significance What animal strikes more fear in the frozen north?

We then move Eastward, to what may possibly be the flag for the Allegheny County. Its flag is recognizable to a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but it's actually a logo for the steel industry. Probably same difference, as Lake Eerie Pennsylvania has thrived on steel-making. We also have Genesee County, which has in its borders the very important port of Buffalo, one of the largest cities on the continent. It's no surprise these places have been cut off from the Pennsylvania and New York of the coast. The Appalachian mountains are a very good divider, and people would remark about Pennsylvania being "Alabama in the middle". I wonder if these two counties have a relationship with each other, and are descended from Steel or other business barons.

And finally, we have the "peninsula" of Ontario. It just calls itself Ontario, but it has the maple leaf flag. Much of Industrial Canada's population was centered here. It may actually be the last vestige of Canadian culture, as Vancouver has more or less melded with the Northwest republic, Quebec has become its own distinct entity, and the rest of the country has reverted into Barbarism. Officially. It seems to be a trader of wheat, which makes one wonder who it sells it to--possibly New England or Quebec, or maybe the wilder tribes of the north, who in turn sell furs. Here's something interesting to ponder; The area that was once Ontario clearly as two million people. I wonder how much is still Ontario, though? The Ottawa metropolitan area borders Quebec, and has a very strong francophone influence. Quebec has likely tried to move south to expand its nation. So the entire area that borders Lake Eerie could be anglophone, francophone, or a strange mix of the two.