Sunday, August 30, 2009
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.