The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A tuppence for your thoughts?

That book, Pillars of Earth, that I have been reading has opened my eyes about a number of things. I am assuming, of course, that Mr. Follett has properly researched and documented certain things about life in 12th Century England. I could be wrong to take his depiction as realistic.

For instance, only prosperous people ate white bread. Most people ate what he refers to as "horse bread", a multi-grain bread made with whatever grains (wild and domesticated) were available in a region. This is apparently true... see this link. This makes sense to me but ale and wine were consumed by all seemed odd. Breakfast might consist of horse bread and watered down ale. (Meat at any meal was apparently a treat, special but I suspect that eggs were plentiful enough) Or even strong ale. This is very similar to my own basic breakfast of wine (or beer) and leftover pizza.

The usual customs in which women held little power of their own prevailed, of course.

I found out what a "farthing" is. At the time of the story, farthings hadn't been minted yet. So one took a penny and cut it into 4ths. At least, according to Follett. A penny was silver. A Pound was a pound of pennies (about 240 pennies). And people might make 6 pennies a week if they did well. Farthings are no longer minted.

People made their own clothes, even made the wool sheared from their sheep into a cloth. The wealthy didn't, of course, they could pay others to do these things.

There was no central heat, the fireplace heated the house and was the stove. Floors were dirt or wood (in castles, of course, they were stone) and would be covered in straw. People brought their animals into the house, including horses and cows and sheep. Few people bathed more than once a month (and those usually only women of childbearing age), most might bathe once or twice a year. A lot like a biker gang.

Thatched roofs leaked, windows were not glass in most cases but may just be shuttered or, in some cases, a thin cloth might be used. Nails were made by hand, as was just about everything that wasn't found in nature.

And law? Whatever the rich guy who owned the land said it was. There might be laws but it sounded more a convention than actual statute. You could kill a man for stealing from you and, if it was clear that he was a thief, you would walk away. Unless he was of the wealthier classes. In which case, there was nothing you could do to protect what you owned.

What if civilization collapsed? What if all the factories went silent and the only source of energy available would be beasts of burden, flowing water (streams and rivers), and the wind to turn windmills? I wonder how many would survive the first year?

I wonder if I would.


Steven said...

I guess if grapes are plentiful then wine would be cheap and easy to make. ale certainly is cheap and relatively simple to make.

as for the collapse of civilization - I think most of the first year survivors would be those that are well-armed :P

Irish Gumbo said...

I'd probably make it through the first year, for sure, but I'd be filthy, hungry and dangerous by the end of it :)