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

knights

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.

Warlords

Heavy cavalry is the most commonly used tactic in the forest zone of the east, where the regions are vast and not very centralized, and rule is enforced by a ruling warrior class. Horses must be big and strong to withstand battle and the weight of their armored riders, so the midwest is able support horses with the surplus of hearty grains, and the south is able to use the longer growing season and diverse crops to their favor. The Ohio River valley has access to crops, metalworking, and generations of horse breeding that has allowed Ohio to become the most powerful feudal realm on the continent.

For the most part, eastern knights prefer the sun-blocking morions on helms, and the lither saber as for sword-fighting. The more mineral-wealthy north has heavier armor than the south, which may supplement their mail with and arms with leather and wood.

Templars

"Templar" is a catch-all term for the heavy cavalry utilized by the Hydraulic Empires of Deseret and California, who's soldiers are theoretically supposed to be untitled and tied to the state, and usually wage war on behalf of their faith. The consolidated wealth has access to the weaponry and horses required to be a knight, but anyone who wishes to be a Templar has to be tested and buy their way in. (This keeps the armies pressed and focused.) In theory, Templars are supposed to be celibate (And Easterners spread rumors of homosexuality), but somebody is keeping the brothels of the deserts open.

Tournaments
In times of peace, warlords will keep their skills sharpened with tournaments held in most major cities. Jousting is the largely the most popular, although melee will take a variety of forms.  In the more Northern regions, there's more of an emphasis on padding up and jumping straight in. Tournament fighting in the South is more about speed, since heavy armors can be uncomfortable in the hotter climate. It's for this reason the Southern nations will hold most of their major tournaments after the harvest season is over, in December and January. Although most of the competing knights are from below the Mason Dixon, everyone from Non-Denominational world is invited. Well-off knights from the north will gladly take a leave from their snow-ridden homes to test their skill in January's Super Bowl Tournament. (The at the behest of the Church, nobody performs on Sunday) The event is not only a big deal for competitors, but for merchants who can sample consumers from all over the continent. The tournament will even present theatrical shows starring characters like Shrek, Snoopy, or Spiderman. The Delmarva Peninsula is home to some of the United States of America's mounted warriors, and they participate. Along the western frontiers, however, herdsmen abhor the pageantry and wastefulness of knights. Their answer to the tournament is the Rodeo.

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

The United States was a republic. Its very breath spread republicanism across the globe, and ushered in a new era for civilization. However, when technology relapsed, so did society, and America is now a continent of barbarian tribes and feudal overlords. Still, there few polities here and there that abide by rule of law, but still much more oligarchical than their 20th century counterparts.

Geography

Republics tends to spring from city states, usually found on peninsulas, or sandwiches between rocky mountains. Historically this has included Italy, North Africa, and even the Swiss Alps. In America, these would be the Northeast and Northwest. These allow a certain natural defense from outside conquerors, at least for a little while, and teach these relatively small populations the art of self-reliance. The narrow amounts of land limit the manorial system, and the lack of natural resources incentivize a more craft-making economy. As a result, merchants and guilds run the show, as opposed to  landowners.

Continuity

The Northeast's clinging to its Republican past isn't necessarily one out of idealism, but inertia. As a political institution, the United States was a republic, and it stays that way, if only because the members Senate and House of Representatives were not about to relinquish their power. New Englanders were also used to a more pluralistic government, with individual townships and their own town councils governing, as opposed to counties which, by their nature, more easily reverted feudalism. That New England communities were some of the earliest meant that municipal structures were more built to human scale, and so an ambitious warlord was less likely to come and take advantage of the chaos.

The Church

The concentrated presence of the Non-Denominational Church throughout the Northeast has also kept warlords from carving at their own slices. The Church was built upon republican ideals, and besides, they don't care for warriors coming and making messes in their backyards. The inordinate amount of Churchmen also means an inordinate amount of literacy, and the learned are much more likely to demand representation, limited as it may be.

Cascadia

The valley between the Cascade mountains is much more fertile than the Northwest, and could make for a very robust manorial system. But it is relatively narrow, and the residents of the once Oregon territory come from a strong tradition of hippie idealism and silicon valley-style entrepreneurialism.  This of course, has led to a warring clash of city states. But in general, they try to avoid feudal west of the mountains. The skillfully belligerent are sometimes granted land along the Columbia River, sort of to be "kicked upstairs" to a buffer state.

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:
Northerners generally eat more Old World Crops than Southerners. Corn isn't unheard of of, but the focus is on crops that grow in colder months, harsher soil, and to can keep over the fallow months. This means wheat, carrots, apples, and garlic. But new world crops like potatoes and squash are also grown. Potatoes are specially popular in the Pacific Northwest. Because a great deal of Yankees live near lakes or coasts, seafood is also common. It's usually popular to cook a mixture of meats, vegetables, and oils together in a kind of stew or chowder, and then serve them up in bread--either in bowls, or spread on large flat pieces of bread similar to pizzas. The emphasis is on stretching out the shelf life.

Housing:
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.

Craft:
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.

The Bible Belt:
Because everybody in the Middle Ages is very religious, the South's reputation for praying and churchgoing has lost its peculiarity. The North, however, has become something of a new Bible Belt. Largely, this is because there are a lot more District Supervisors of the Non-Denominational Church in the North, and so the Church has something of a Northern bias, and its denizens are more closely monitored. It should also be said there's more Churchmen to go around to teach literacy, and with a Northern bookmaking industry, this means the it's earned the Bible Belt moniker by virtue of there just being more physical Bibles and Bible readers per capita.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Francosphere

Like Cascadia, there is no subregional map that depicts Quebec. This makes sense, in that it's still Medieval America, but it's still not hard to talk about Canada in the scope of this project. Most of the country's population is found at the southern borders, closer to their American counterparts than each other. In the event of a societal breakdown, the idea of a "Canadian" nationality may wither--at the very least they would likely share the habits of their southern counterparts--when they're not outright conquered. Ontario becomes more of a Midwest kingdom, Vancouver is one of the Pacific city states, the Maritimes are assimilated into the Yankee naval empires, and Alberta is pastureland for the cowboys. But then there is Quebec.

Quebec is most well-known for being a unique, French-speaking concentration of people (with the population of an average U.S. state) on a continent that speaks mostly English or Spanish, the especially the former as far as proximity is concerned. It definitely definitely beats to its own drum in the way nowhere in America or Canada does, and remains independent-minded, to the point of radical separatists in its history. The world of Medieval America gives such iconoclasts their wish, with little outside forces in a position to tell it what to do.

The east map does not show the entirety of Medieval Quebec's political borders, but this map shows that some kind of organized knights-and-lords government is fairly extensive in the former province, only fading away once we reach the near uninhabitable northern reaches. (The U.S. is also said to have territory in the Gulf of St Lawrence, but fairly small.)

Because Quebec is one of the oldest settlements on the continent, and maintained fairly old practices until relatively recently, it's fairly easy to picture as an "older" version of itself. The seigneur system was the longest-lasting feudal-like government on the continent, and the Catholic Church maintained a grip on the province until the the Quiet Revolution of the 1950's. In general, Medieval Quebec is probably not appreciably different from colonial Quebec, or Medieval Europe.

The biggest challenge, would be language. As mentioned, Quebec goes to great lengths to preserve its heritage as a francophone sub-nation, which is fairly easy with mass media and the written word, but languages in a pre-Industrial society are quite mutable. All across Medieval America, slang ("soda" vs "pop"), dialects (Think the Boston accent vs the Southern accent), and the proximity to non-English speaking communities, to say nothing of the way language naturally diverges, has created wide, variety of spoken languages. Quebec French is even quite different from European French. However, it's probably better preserved than most languages on the continent due a couple of things. First, because most of the population will be consolidated along the St. Lawrence. Secondly, the Church only has to maintain its authority over a million or so people, allowing the written word to be pretty uniform. As a result, the Quebec court probably has the most intact of the ancient tongue.

You'll notice on the map I created (I certainly anticipated the Quebec flag better's than I did for Cascadia) , there's another flag for New York. This is because, as the New York state flag is on neither the Feudal Core or Northeast sub-region map, I speculated that that at one point upstate New York has been conquered by the Quebecois, but this language map doesn't seem to indicate there was a major cultural impression one way or the other. Still, if Northeastern New York was in some way franciphied, it would be fitting, as the Statue of Liberty was originally  French creation. It should also be said that the trade map seems to show the area as a producer of wine, which Quebec, with its Catholic sacraments, European traditionalism, but rather cold weather, would certainly be a market for the libation, so perhaps we should call a map that includes New York and Quebec "Winter Wine Country".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cascadia




Now we have the Pacific Northwest, by far the least populated, as well as the most mysterious. White mentions it briefly, largely that there are people here waging war against its neighbors, trying to get ahold the Bay Area and Snake River. In fact, he talks so little the above map can't be seen on the main site, and has to be obtained by rummaging through the image cachet. This is because all of the aspects of Cascadia--Republics, Buddhism, etc. have yet to have their own pages. I had to make a map myself when I originally started this blog. (I'll be honest, I liked my flags a little better. I don't know what White has against deep greens) In short, a lot of questions about  perhaps the most isolated spot in the country.

Most people know this are as "The Temperate Rainforest", where the rainshadow keeps things pretty  wet, and resulting in those iconic giant evergreens. Interestingly enough, White doesn't give an independent "lifestyle" icon for the northwest--it shares the "Yankee" icon, even though the former Oregon territory is much milder than the Northern reaches of the east. Even more so because I imagine Cascadians import a lot of their food.

Like its eastern counterpart, the Northwest is dominated by Republics, and in some ways, even moreso resembles the independent city states of Medieval Italy--they're certainly larger. The major difference they don't seem to be as expansionist, so they're probably more in line with your Florence or your Milan. And urbanized it is. Despite only two million people, the region has one the largest cities on the continent in Portland, the also sizable Seattle, and even Victoria and Vancouver--the two most northern cities, and the largest of the former Canada. Overall, it's very urbanized, which is interesting, considering it's not too bad on the agricultural front. One supposes that the mix of town hall politics, hippie communes, and even silicon valley-style greed created fairly laid back nation states, and by the time they got it into their heads to become conquerors, they found there was very little room to grow, and similarly-sized neighbors it was hard to get an upper hand on.

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. I do have a belief the balance of nature is emphasized, and, in general, Environmentalism is take to the lengths of religious dogma. I wouldn't be surprised if local indigenous aspects have made inroads. 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.

Despite the Cascadia map concentrating on the city states aspect of the region, the only flag belongs to The District of Colombia--a dyed-in-the-wool feudal state on the other side of the mountains. The name probably derives from the Columbia river, as very little of it reaches into British Columbia. It's unsure what their relationship with the merchant cities must be--probably not bad, it's possible they don't even think about each other an awful lot. It's also possible it purposely exists as a sort of Crusader state, or is a sponsored buffer. In any case, this is also where White's sense of humor pops up, as, seeing as how it exists in Washington, the name exists for the sole purpose of reinforcing the confusion of Washington City vs Washington State.

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, perhaps owing to the idea that when we think "America", we think "Cowboys". He gives us information on the lifestyle, religion and combat of the nomadic herdsmen. Two of the three nations he specifically talks about are ones significantly shaped by them, and which have a significant cowboy minority. The only one he left incomplete was the "Tribes" page, and to be honest, we know so much about how the herdsmen live from the other three pages there weren't a lot of gaps to fill.

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, Oregon Trail-style settlers and natives, but with a little bit of a technology relapse, most notably the lack of guns.

The biggest unanswered question is the two "territories" shown on The West Map, dominated by the Rizzini clan, and the Anderson clan, respectively. It might be worth looking at tribes so powerful, they have a label, despite the herdsmen's distaste for settle nations. The Anderson have dominated central Texas, which makes you ask. Are they occupiers? Patriotic Texans? Is Texas considered more of a vague idea in this era? It's very interesting, because modern day Texans are the most dedicated to the idea of Texas as a nation unto itself.

The other tribe, Rizzinis certainly cut an imposing figure, and even have their own flag, which could be the skull of a deer, or the mythical Jackelope. They may conjure the idea of Hell's Angels bikers as much as they do cowboys.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Gulf

The Gulf is one of the smaller sections of Medieval America, home to somewhere between three and four million people, but is certainly amongst the most unique. So unique, that it appears that it doesn't even have that many historical parallels in the way or Venice or Egypt. There are places in Southeast Asia where the climate is similar, but for the combination of ethnicity, climate, and  geography make it something fairly unprecedented.

To that end, White, has enlightened  us fairly well. While part of the U.S. continent, it shares a lot more with the culture and ethnicity of the Caribbean islands. The people here are darker skinned, and less prone to wearing clothes, so in terms to the clock being turned back, imagine the Taino people. But they also share a lot in common with the the southernmost denizens of the Feudal Core. They grow sugar and citrus fruits, and the port of New Orleans, which may be the biggest city on the continent, is also the fulcrum of channeling goods from South America.

But what really distinguishes the Gulf is the practice of Secretarial States, where women run the civil services, and the intricacies of the household. White has not talked about real world religion, but the prominence of women in Louisiana Voodoo would certainly be copacetic with the woman -friendly culture, to the that which is responsible for which might be an chicken/egg scenario. However, than two thirds are still under the sway of the Non-Denominational Church, and indeed, a district HQ still exists in Florida. But considering this isn't a major war zone, it's probably fairly tolerant and it's probable the rest of the East views them as extremely exotic--maybe even a little sorcerous.

The major gap in information.is warfare, but there are breadcrumbs. We know that typical heavy cavalry wages war on the panhandle (though what it must be like in humid weather leads you to wonder), but it definitely peters out as we get into Florida. In fact, Florida itself is an important touchstone in the conversation. In industrial America, it was the fourth most populated state, and home to many large cities. It appears the prevalence of swampland, hurricanes, and parasites has kept infrastructure fairly low, and as mentioned before, that people aren't fighting very hard over slows down one of the biggest impetuses for building things up in a medieval setting. Just a terrible place to build castles, really.

By contrast, Louisiana  is a little more hardcore, and is even a little expansionist, though not to the level of the United States. Still, that White linked it to its on the Littoral Regions page, and compared it to the Venetians and the Byzantines means that he definitely had plans to talk about it. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Lakes




Even though The Lakes is sub-region of the "Feudal Core", I decided to section it off into its own entry, for a couple of reasons. First, because makes up a third the size of the Heartland, with a few fairly large kingdoms. The second is because the Lakes themselves are pretty unique from a geographical and cultural perspective. The interconnecting waterways create a series of bays and peninsulas, and what we have is a de facto inland sea, only a freshwater one. That this region so quickly industrialized after settlement means we have the least reference for a non-industrial culture. We can look at other areas of the country and harken back to things like southern plantations, the patroon system,  plains tribes--even the clan system of the Appalachians, we can picture as turning back the clock and/or looking at its old world equivalent. The Midwest is sort of what we consider America at its most generic, but so much here would be without precedent.

Today the region is bordered by seven U.S. states and one Canadian Province. In the new Middle Ages, Ohio and Iowa are also connected to the Great Lakes, though their size and relatively little shoreline mean they're not likely not completely occupied with Lakes affairs, but they do make sure to have port cities to keep do business and keep guarded. It's quite possible denizens have more in common with neighbors on opposite borders than their ostensible countrymen.

Michigan is the biggest dog of the Lakes, and in fact forms something of a "Big Three" with the aforementioned Ohio and Iowa. It's actually the smallest of the three by size and population, but its geography keeps it defensible and competitive. It's forsaken the upper portion, which now belongs to Wisconsin, but in turn has taken over lower Ontario, presumably so it can occupy Lake St. Clair as its own personal harbor. Like Ohio, it seems to have the dual-purpose "sword and scythe" approach, as it's both a breadbasket and a place for expert smiths, which probably means knights, knights, and more knights. It's probably Ohio's biggest rival.

Wisconsin is, culturally, the other state we think of as quintessentially "Lake-ish", a place of long winters, quirky politeness and dairy farms. As mentioned above, the upper peninsular of Michigan now belongs to it, and it's may have even claimed bits and pieces of Minnesota. Though "All-American", it is quite possibly the place in America that is the most like Medieval Europe, particularly Scandinavia.

To the left we have two kingdoms that today, would be part of Northeast/Mid-Atlantic states, but are now exploring their destinies in the Midwest. There's Allegheny and Genesee. The former seems to be a bit bigger, with a flag many would recognize as the logo for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but is the original sign for the American Steel Company. This polity probably considers themselves the last word in swordmaking. For its part, Genesee is home to Buffalo, the biggest city on the Lakes, and of the snow belt in general.

Finally, we have Ontario. Actually, the Ontario province has been cut up into several little pieces, until we get to Quebec, and it's quite possibly the Anglo-Franco divide is a little more gradual, to the point they don't get along. This is probably why Toronto is a headquarters for the Non-Denominational Church, even though though the Church is basically an outgrowth of the federal government. Perhaps Anglo Canada threw their lot in with non-Denoms to counter the expansion of the Quebecois.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Feudal Core


The Feudal Core is an interesting region of the map. Unlike many of the other sections, this isn't necessarily categorized by geography, so much as the social structure (Although it's also called "The Heartland" in many files". Pretty much all the nations in this area are governed in a feudal society, with 14 of the twenty major feudal kingdoms. It's also, in many ways, the core of America in general. It's mostly eastward, but moving somewhat towards the middle, and as many as 28 million (nearly half the population) live there. This is no longer flyover country, but where most of the action is.

White has touched very little on what it's like here. Most of what we know about the Feudal Core is what contrasts it, like the Horse Archers. We do know what their religion is like, as they, like the United States of America, are strict practitioners of Non-Denominationalism . We know almost a third of them are distinctly part of the Southern culture. Everything else is pure conjecture. From the trade map, we can see it's very much agrarian, gradually going from cotton, to tobacco, to grain in the northern regions. And we know that the, along with its feudal overlords, it tends to favor knights, except for some of the newly conquered frontiers and sparsely-populated mountains. What we do know about the feudal states in America is that a great many of them share names of rivers, and that the leaders, despite being feudal warlords, don't want to take the outright monarch terms like "King" or "Prince" but take on titles like "President", "Governor" and "Colonel".

Iowa is the only feudal core nation mentioned, and perhaps betraying White's fascination with the herdsmen, and seems to have a pretty distinct parallel--barbarian tribes that eventually went native, like the Saxons, Vikings, and Magyars.

Ohio seems to have absorbed Indiana and Kentucky, and may be the central power of the Heartland, perhaps even the entire continent. Inside its borders you have three important trade cities, six, maybe even seven million residents, and as many as four district headquarters for the Church. The Iowa page shows that it did a decent job of defending itself from barbarian invasion. The Ohio river allows it to be a major pathway of commerce (and the occasional river barges), and the vast amounts of grain it produces means massive amounts of armies. What likely keeps it from becoming completely dominant is that it's still a little landlocked.

Below Ohio is the much less stable area of Tennessee. This is may be the most balkanized region of the continent, and "Balkan" may be the operative word here. The state's "three grand divisions" have been accentuated, between the hot cotton country of the west, the "capital district" (and thus, possible ecclesiastical fiefdom) of the middle, the Appalachian, possibly highlander-inspired West.  However, the most western flag is a green flag with a horseshoe mark This may be Missouri as Iowa's page seems to say Shelby had a hand in rebuilding St Louis, so the area as a whole may generally be considered a colony of patronage of Tennessee, hence its classification in the area.

Piedmont is an interesting case study. It appears to be the only area in the core to have access, to the Atlantic although the US's presence, and very swampy east coast has kept them from building there too much, and they pretty much stick to the fertile valleys. During the Revolutionary War, it was the epicenter of Loyalists. In the Industrial Age, it was the model of the New South, and a growing source of votes for the Democratic Party. In Medieval America, it's very physically close the mercantile Republics. One can imagine a very courtly, cosmopolitan atmosphere. In fact, the warfare map shows it's not a war zone at all. Thus, Piedmont is probably the most picturesque, almost Fairy Tale-like place on the whole continent.

The Deep South comes next. it's symbolized by two flags, both with crosses. One is Georgia's flag, and more or less the symbol for the Confederate States, and Southern Pride in general. Though the url says "Dixie", the Southern lifestyle page is called "Deep South" on the front page, and thus everything White talks about is most exemplified in this section, and this might have been the last "nation" page to have been written, if ever. The area includes Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, more or less, forged into two large nations and a smattering of smaller ones. I would guess nobody cheered louder when civilization fell, as the South was finally able to call their own shots and draw on their own history. With its warrior culture, scantily clad population, and plantation manors made out of marble, we're probably looking at an aesthetic not unlike the movie 300, but with more confederate flags. Which for many fans, may be the only way one can improve the movie 300.

Finally there's the Southern Frontier. Or it may simply be the Southern Front. The two flags we see is Arkansas's flag with a cross, and another is the flag of St. Magnus, with an alligator on top of it. This leads me to believe that we're dealing with buffer/crusader states, that are bulwarks of of a cultural triangle between Non-Denominationalism, New Israel, and Voodoo. The alligator flag belongs to Red River, which seems to be a hodgepodge of Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. Note that it's the largest kingdom without a District HQ in it, which probably truly means it's considered a frontier, and may be a real mix of different cultures, much like the Levant in the old Middle Ages.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Northeast


This is the first of the several regions that make up Medieval America, and it's a good place to start. This is the site of some of the earliest settlements by Europeans, and nine of the original 13 colonies. It was where two of the four largest cities of the country were, and the source of a thick urban corridor which defined modern America. So we have both a model of pre-Industrialization, and post-Industrialization, to really get a good idea on how much this world has changed.

We have an icon of a plow that leads to "Yankees". This would be the lifestyle for those who dwell in the north, but what does that indicate? Looking at  Southern Farmers, this would largely mean Americans who live in the green, under six month area (not including the areas that are colder due to higher elevations). When you look at this map , a lot of the most arable soil tends to fall in the that line. So a people that can be well fed, but they have to work hard to for it, and probably reserve most of their downtime for the winter. Funny enough, White makes no mention of potatoes. It's possible he neglected them, or even planned a potato blight because 1) He wanted Northerners to strictly eat Old World foods, or 2) He considered the potatoes to be a bit of a game breaker. White didn't have an image of the Yankees in his cachet like he did for Southerners and Herdsmen, but that's probably because they dress pretty similarly to Medieval Europeans. The Northeast isn't lousy with natural resources, so they focus on craftmaking.

However, the "Yankee" Notheast culture isn't completely defined by the climate. After all, this include Maryland, which is below the Mason Dixon line, and even New Jersey can be pretty warm.
That's because something that defines The Northeast, that separates it from the Feudal Core, is the sense of Republicanism. The U.S. remains a republic, probably more out of inertia/want for retaining power, but a republic it remains nonetheless. Maryland also has two other aspects that makes it part of the overarching Northeast culture, despite having more in common with the tidewater south. The first that, as it's basically split by the Chesapeake Bay, it's developed a nautical culture that's very distinct from the warlord out west. (Though they do appear to have knights). The second is that it's home of the headquarters of the Non-Denominational Church, and as former state capitals tend to serve as district headquarters, and Northeast states are small, and their capitals fairly close to each other, this means the Church has more of a say that military strongmen. What effect does this have in the region?

If you combine a mentality that is shaped by Puritans, Quakers, and Dutch merchants, it means a society that is somewhat ascetic, but charitable and not focused on class differences. Also, they managed to maintain some continuity from a democratic era because smaller municipalities built to human scale makes it easier to maintain. It should be said that that more church HQ's and a bookmaking industry might turn the Northeast into the new Bible Belt. It's not that the Northeast is necessarily more religious, it's just there are more physical bibles per capita.

White has already covered what has happened to the federal remains of United States. I won't get into too much, but it look two cities it's definitely taken over are New York and New Haven. It's also absorbed the bays of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but it's unsure how much.

New England has broken down a little bit, with ten or so states where once there was six. The borders seem to gravitate towards circular, and similar in size, as opposed to the rectangular states of old New England. They conduct their government as republics, not as expansive sea-faring empires, but likely as collections of towns and villages with town councils dating back to colonial times. There's a lot of Church supervisors, but no major cities, except for Boston and Providence. Both are located in Massachusetts, which is the big dog of New England, and is the only country with its own map. Well, they may be located in Massachusetts--they border he territory of the U.S. As this map may hint at, there's something of a fight going on in this area, and maybe those two cities are constantly fought over. Or maybe Massachusetts is a client state of the U.S., and it operates like a colony, much as it did when it was first founded.

And finally, we have New Jersey. It includes the state and Philadelphia. As this trade map shows it's possibly the breadbasket for much of the Northeast territories, and being more agrarian than its  neighbors may be why it's a feudal state. I also have a theory that a few Mafiaos have taken over at some point, and the Mafia has always had something resembling a feudal order. Still, it's probably more mercantile than the kingdoms in the Heartland, and curiously, it looks like they prefer to use pikes to cavalry.