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sailor

Serfdom

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I don't think that Martin is obliged to go into enormous detail about the precise legal obligations held by the smallfolk in Westeros.

However, he has stated that Westeros is largely based on England and France (as opposed to say, Eastern Europe) at some undefined period in the Middle Ages. Militarily, Westeros most closely resembles Engald/Scotland/France in about 1300/1350, although socially, it could be any period between about 1200 and about 1500.

I would imagine, however, that the status of the small folk varies enormously. Towns and cities are much bigger than in medieval Western Europe. The lot of the poor in King's Landing is probably dreadful, but there's probably also a huge class of merchants, lawyers, artisans, clerks, etc., the greatest of which are likely to be very rich and powerful, and richer than many of the nobility.

In the countryside, I imagine that many peasants would owe labour service to their lords; others would probably pay a rent in cash or kind, and some will owe a combination of the two. Some will be tied to the land - others will be free to move. The ownership of mills seems to be a big source of income for the lords, so presumably, many of the peasants are obliged to grind their corn there. The use of coin seems to be extremely widespread in Westeros (probably linked to the existence of large towns) which would probably lead to many of the lords preferring a cash rent from their tenants, as opposed to labour service.

Doubtless, there are desperately poor peasants (whether serf or free) and very successful peasants (whether serf of free) . The latter would doubtless be able to afford to practise with longbows and crossbows, bills, and swords, and probably form the backbone of their lords' levies.

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Voodooqueen, I will readily admit that I don't know enough about the particular situation in England to argue my point for this case.

The development in France was pretty similar to the rest of continental Europe, with serfdom being completely abolished - surprise, surprise - in 1789.

Sean points out something interesting, namely the size of the cities and the economical situation. Comparing the system to that of France at the dawn of the Revolution i this particular aspect does seem appropriate. In the mid-18th century, Paris was a sprawling city numbering between 600.000 and 700.000 inhabitants, many of them living in utmost poverty, while merchants from the bourgeoisie thrived, as did intellectuals. At the time of the Revolution, historians estimate the number of non-nobility intellectuals (which includes merchants) living in Paris at 16% - the largest city of the Habsburg monarchy, Vienna, had only half as many inhabitants in comparison, and most intellectuals were of noble birth. Furthermore, industries, situated mostly in Bohemia, were firmly in the hand of high nobility. Off the top of my head I can only give you the number of bourgeoise for Hungary: a meagre 4%. Further east, it was even lower...

As I said, I imagine the situation in King's Landing to be similar to that of Paris in early to mid-18th century. We've had the bread riots already, how long before the hunger (an important factor in the French Revolution too!) drives the poor of King's Landing to outright revolt, possibly supported by a strong, proud merchant class resenting nobility their privileges?

In the countryside, we probably have a fairly medieval system still, though somewhat loosened (for example, no binding to a particular estate - the German term would be "Schollengebundenheit" or "Schollenzwang", if someone finds a translation I'm grateful). I agree with Sean on the possible diversity of legal institutions between lord and peasants.

Pretty much the only source on the relations between lord and peasants are in "The Sworn Sword", unless I'm mistaken, and there they are portrayed pretty much the classic way, the lord's protection for services (at arms or other) and delivery of harvest/coin.

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One other thing is that mining seems to be valuable source of income for some Lords, such as the Lannisters. Conveniently, Lord Tywin seems not to regard mining as "trade", an activity he despises.

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Voodooqueen, I will readily admit that I don't know enough about the particular situation in England to argue my point for this case.

The development in France was pretty similar to the rest of continental Europe, with serfdom being completely abolished - surprise, surprise - in 1789.

Sean points out something interesting, namely the size of the cities and the economical situation. Comparing the system to that of France at the dawn of the Revolution i this particular aspect does seem appropriate. In the mid-18th century, Paris was a sprawling city numbering between 600.000 and 700.000 inhabitants, many of them living in utmost poverty, while merchants from the bourgeoisie thrived, as did intellectuals. At the time of the Revolution, historians estimate the number of non-nobility intellectuals (which includes merchants) living in Paris at 16% - the largest city of the Habsburg monarchy, Vienna, had only half as many inhabitants in comparison, and most intellectuals were of noble birth. Furthermore, industries, situated mostly in Bohemia, were firmly in the hand of high nobility. Off the top of my head I can only give you the number of bourgeoise for Hungary: a meagre 4%. Further east, it was even lower...

As I said, I imagine the situation in King's Landing to be similar to that of Paris in early to mid-18th century. We've had the bread riots already, how long before the hunger (an important factor in the French Revolution too!) drives the poor of King's Landing to outright revolt, possibly supported by a strong, proud merchant class resenting nobility their privileges?

In the countryside, we probably have a fairly medieval system still, though somewhat loosened (for example, no binding to a particular estate - the German term would be "Schollengebundenheit" or "Schollenzwang", if someone finds a translation I'm grateful). I agree with Sean on the possible diversity of legal institutions between lord and peasants.

Pretty much the only source on the relations between lord and peasants are in "The Sworn Sword", unless I'm mistaken, and there they are portrayed pretty much the classic way, the lord's protection for services (at arms or other) and delivery of harvest/coin.

you know it's interesting but from wikipedia on early modern warfare

This transformation in the armies of Europe had great social impact. J.F.C. Fuller famously stated that "the musket made the infantryman and the infantryman made the democrat." This argument states that the defence of the state now rested on the common man, not on the aristocrats, revolts by the underclass, that had routinely been defeated in the Middle Ages, could now conceivably threaten the power of the state. However, aristocrats continued to monopolise the officer corps of almost all early modern armies, including their high command.

Moreover, popular revolts almost always failed unless they had the support and patronage of the noble or gentry classes. The new armies, because of their vast expense, were also dependent on taxation and the commercial classes who also began to demand a greater role in society. The great commercial powers of the Dutch and English matched much larger states in military might. As any man could be quickly trained in the use of a musket, it became far easier to form massive armies. The inaccuracy of the weapons necessitated large groups of massed soldiers. This led to a rapid swelling of the size of armies.

For the first time huge masses of the population could enter combat, rather than just the highly skilled professionals. It has been argued that the drawing of men from across the nation into an organized corps helped breed national unity and patriotism, and during this period the modern notion of the nation state was born. However, this would only become apparent after the French Revolutionary Wars. At this time, the levée en masse and conscription would become the defining paradigm of modern warfare.

so it seems to be implying that say early popular revolts-such as Wat Tyler's peasant revolt after th Black Death almost always failed because peasants vs knight=knight wins. Where as Knight vs peasant with flintlock musket=revolution

my own slight theory is that because in England after the Black death serfdom fell out of practice because it was economically unviable, and so England instead of having vast swarms of serfs(like say Russia, France or Germany) had a peasantry that earnt slightly more and many of them eventually became the middle class (although it's true the industrial revolution was awful and had vast numbers of poor people but...)and this middle class gained political representation long after they had freed themselves from serfdom by working hard...

France, Germany and Russia all seem to have had serfdom abolished by do-gooders (in france as part of a revolution that went nasty very quickly)in Russia a nasty revolution occurred within 50 years. Germany seems to be a bit of an exception and i don't quite know how to fit into my model although one could argue that the popularity of communism and fascism in the 1930's is an outgrowth of this poor model...but having not studied this properly the theory is more woolly then a merino.

okay so back on to my initial point

so given the absence of muskets etc (as their were fire arms by the time of the french revolution) if there is a peasant revolt in Westeros it will be put down ruthlessly ala Wat Tyler. http://en.wikipedia....r%27s_rebellion

but hopefully it will begin the process towards the abolition of feudalism in Westeros.

I wonder if Essex (where the Revolt got started) being on the Eastern side of England had been drastically more affected by the Black Death then say Cornwall or Wales?

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I'm doubtful that the introduction of firearms led to a social revolution. Comparitively small armies, made up of professionals, were the norm in Europe up until the French revolutionary wars.

But, I would certainly argue that developments in warfare led to centralisation and a strengthening of the power of royalty, relative to the aristocracy. From about 1450 onwards, the most powerful European monarchs began to develop standing armies, who were loyal to them rather than individual lords, and which could outfight a lord's retinue. Obviously, this proceeded in fits and starts, and aristocratic rebellion remained a feature of some European states for a long time to come.

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I'm doubtful that the introduction of firearms led to a social revolution. Comparitively small armies, made up of professionals, were the norm in Europe up until the French revolutionary wars.

But, I would certainly argue that developments in warfare led to centralisation and a strengthening of the power of royalty, relative to the aristocracy. From about 1450 onwards, the most powerful European monarchs began to develop standing armies, who were loyal to them rather than individual lords, and which could outfight a lord's retinue. Obviously, this proceeded in fits and starts, and aristocratic rebellion remained a feature of some European states for a long time to come.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_modern_warfare the entry on wikipedia does make some interesting arguments that fire arms caused a centralised state that required a huge standing army of peasants. and those peasants in turn desired political representation.

If you think about it. the reason peasants gave their produce to their feudal lord was so that he would protect them. When they had means to protect themselves/society was stable enough to render that unnecessary, they were less obliged to their feudal overlords.

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Well, the introduction of firearms certainly robbed knights of their formerly decisive role of strength and eventually made armour obsolete, and one had to rely on infantry as the main force, levvied from peasantry mostly, though one should not forget the joker role cavalry could still play (and cavalry were those rich enough to afford their own horse - nobility or bourgeoisie, which, among other things, strengthened bourgeoisie's claim for more political weight),

Like Sean, I don't see a direct link, but part of a development that would greatly change society (one can certainly argue an indirect link :))

Have you found anything on Black Death in Essex?

Germany did not quite exist as "Germany" until 1871. The Holy Roman Empire was really a loose conglomerate of different state, and since fiefs became hereditary in the German lands (unlike France, where the monarch pretty much handed out fiefs as he pleased or kept them for himself), the German emperor failed to establish a strong central power. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806 under the pressure of Napoleon, it was little more than a relic, hollowed out by the loss of territories left of the Rhine, which led to a redistribution of territories to recompense the now landless lords (largely at the cost of the Church, one of the Emperor's strongest supporters), and by the Emperor's declaration of his own Empire, the Austrian Empire (until then nothing but a "bundle of fiefs" in the hand of the ruling family), in 1804. There were several attempts to connect that diversity of territories large and small to one state - I could spout some more wiseassery here (you can tell this is part of the stuff I have to go through with students for exam preparation, right? ;)), but to make matters short, the only success was under Prussian dominance in 1871, when the German Empire was established (also known as the Second Reich in English terminology, I believe - the first being, of course, the Holy Roman one),

There is no connection whatsoever between the missing central administration until 1871 and the rise of political extremism, though. Hitler (and his left-wing counterparts) gained following due to desolate economy and extreme poverty and, not least of all, the catastrophic consequences of the peace forced upon the losers of the First World War. A similar (and parallel) development can be seen in Austria (pretty much same situation), Italy (united in the 1860s) and Spain (united ever since the end of the 15th century). Nationalism was a movement that began in the second half of the 19th century in every European country and gave us the First World War; the Second World War pretty much stemmed from it.

Though I won't keep that one away from you: There is, actually, the "Sonderweg" theory in German historiography, which claims that Germany is different, but it is heavily debated (and it, too, claims that the "special way" started in the second half of the 19th century only, except some proponents who can pretty much be considered absurd). Personally, I disagree - especially since a prominent proponent of its recent "revival" is Daniel Goldhagen, who is, sorry to be so blunt, a racist nutcase with no proper scientific claim whatsoever.

But I guess we're steering away pretty far from the topic already. There is a lengthy article on German history on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Germany, with sub-articles too, if you're interested.

Ok, back to pure and undiluted serfdom now. ^_^

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Guys if you ever want to put that knowledge in to practice of song of ice and fire, please join us at the wiki.

we have tried to start a Feudalism entry but it was stuck in the drawing board stage. we also have some other entries on the seven kingdom society like:

Laws_%26_Justice

Customs

Knighthood

we even have our own "black death" or great spring sickness if you like ;)

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Guys if you ever want to put that knowledge in to practice of song of ice and fire, please join us at the wiki.

we have tried to start a Feudalism entry but it was stuck in the drawing board stage. we also have some other entries on the seven kingdom society like:

Laws_%26_Justice

Customs

Knighthood

we even have our own "black death" or great spring sickness if you like ;)

hmn but whilst the Great Spring Sickness did indeed kill many heirs. It doesn't seem to have had the far reaching social consequences that the Black Death had, namely the gradual decline of feudalism and the rise of the middle class.

Which is why I am expecting the Pale Mare (in Essos and possibly Dorne), the Grey Plague (probably affecting damp areas of Westeros such as the Stormlands, Riverlands and probably the Westerlands and the Crownlands too) and the Others (in the North) to have the long reaching social affects. namely a wage increase that renders serfdom obsolete.

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Guys if you ever want to put that knowledge in to practice of song of ice and fire, please join us at the wiki.

we have tried to start a Feudalism entry but it was stuck in the drawing board stage. we also have some other entries on the seven kingdom society like:

Laws_%26_Justice

Customs

Knighthood

we even have our own "black death" or great spring sickness if you like ;)

Is real world knowledge any good there, though? I mean, I'll gladly help if I can, and I promise (under a weirwood!) I'll check out that feudalism article this weekend, but while my subject of profession is legal history, I don't remember every single mention GRRM makes of such things. I'm fairly new to the fandom (it hasn't even been a year) and have only read each book once (yeah, I'm ashamed).

I can certainly offer my shiny ASoIaF themed feudalism chart I made for use in legal history classes, though. ;)

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Is real world knowledge any good there, though? I mean, I'll gladly help if I can, and I promise (under a weirwood!) I'll check out that feudalism article this weekend, but while my subject of profession is legal history, I don't remember every single mention GRRM makes of such things. I'm fairly new to the fandom (it hasn't even been a year) and have only read each book once (yeah, I'm ashamed).

I can certainly offer my shiny ASoIaF themed feudalism chart I made for use in legal history classes, though. ;)

btw this an a wikipedia entry on the sweating sickness.

that Killed a lot of people in Tudor England and had the same effect that the Spring Sickness did-namely killing important heirs.

Where as I think the Black Death is significant because it killed so many peasants (between 45%-65%) that landlords where forced to pay them more.

Apparently

The fact that the disease seems to have been more virulent among the rich than the poor suggests why it was judged noteworthy in comparison to the other illnesses of the time

so that would definitly make the sweating sickness analogous to the spring sickness from Dunk and Egg.

Where as I think the Others and famine will mostly kill peasants without the benefit of heated castles and huge grannaries. and since the Pale Mare seems to be dysentery it will affect mostly common soldiers (dysentery seems to have killed it's most famous victims in hot climates) and the poor in Dorne.Like wise the Greyplague seems to involve damp climates such as the Stormlands and the Riverlands.

.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_modern_warfare the entry on wikipedia does make some interesting arguments that fire arms caused a centralised state that required a huge standing army of peasants. and those peasants in turn desired political representation. If you think about it. the reason peasants gave their produce to their feudal lord was so that he would protect them. When they had means to protect themselves/society was stable enough to render that unnecessary, they were less obliged to their feudal overlords.

Then the wikipeadia is wrong quite simply.

Standing armies were the result of consistent incomes and in some cases access to developing money markets - think of the Spanish fighting the Dutch revolt.

The biggest European army in the early modern period was probably the French army but France was also the most effective and centralised absolute monarchy in Europe.

Political representation for peasants came late to peasants accross Europe, iirc 1880s for the UK, even though the poor formed the mass of ordinary soldiers.

In the early modern period the Dutch Republic had the most open political system but also one of the smallest standing armies, there isn't a correlation between military involvement and political representation. It's control of revenues that is important.

Fuller overstates his case - the longbow already had that impact, early firearms were a defensive weapon. Armies with an offensive tactical tradition had larger numbers of pikemen.

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Then the wikipeadia is wrong quite simply.

Standing armies were the result of consistent incomes and in some cases access to developing money markets - think of the Spanish fighting the Dutch revolt.

The biggest European army in the early modern period was probably the French army but France was also the most effective and centralised absolute monarchy in Europe.

Political representation for peasants came late to peasants accross Europe, iirc 1880s for the UK, even though the poor formed the mass of ordinary soldiers.

In the early modern period the Dutch Republic had the most open political system but also one of the smallest standing armies, there isn't a correlation between military involvement and political representation. It's control of revenues that is important.

Fuller overstates his case - the longbow already had that impact, early firearms were a defensive weapon. Armies with an offensive tactical tradition had larger numbers of pikemen.

ah... I guess Fuller was a bit wrongheaded then... So would you consider the Black Death an important factor in the end of feudalism?

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Is real world knowledge any good there, though? I mean, I'll gladly help if I can, and I promise (under a weirwood!) I'll check out that feudalism article this weekend, but while my subject of profession is legal history, I don't remember every single mention GRRM makes of such things. I'm fairly new to the fandom (it hasn't even been a year) and have only read each book once (yeah, I'm ashamed).

I can certainly offer my shiny ASoIaF themed feudalism chart I made for use in legal history classes, though. ;)

Personally, I do my research based on facts from the books, the Concordance is real great source for that, making a huge list of it, then I rephrase and connect the dots using real life equivalents/descriptions(avoiding specifics unless it's specifically stated in the books). so I'd say yes, real world knowledge is very useful to explain all the little things, just as I did in the above articles or more obvious example like Armament and Ships.

all the above entries are mostly new and far from perfect but it's always a work in progress and we all make it better little by little, so if you can lend a hand in shaping the feudalism article or anyother article we will be glad to have you :thumbsup:

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ah... I guess Fuller was a bit wrongheaded then... So would you consider the Black Death an important factor in the end of feudalism?

I'm not sure. First I'll re-read Rodney Hilton's "The decline of serfdom in medieval England"!

I would also dodge the question and say that serfdom is not one thing. It's not monlithic. Bad Dog says that serfdom in France was ended in 1789 and that's true. Somebody else, I think in this thread, said that serfdom was already dieing out in France in the middle ages, and that's true too.

Serfom was more like a basket filled with different things: submission to manorial courts, compulsory labour services, fines if your daughter got pregnant before marriage, your lord taking your best chattel when you died (normally an animal), having to get permission if you wanted to marry a serf belonging to a different lord and so on. Sometimes radically different things - in Russia you had both labour services and a rent based system existing at the same time but on differnt estatews belonging to the same lord.

Each of those items disappear from different areas at different times, some maybe never even become customary in some places. Some like compulsory labour services in France (corvee) stick around long after others have disappeared and are bitterly resented.

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However, he has stated that Westeros is largely based on England and France (as opposed to say, Eastern Europe) at some undefined period in the Middle Ages. Militarily, Westeros most closely resembles Engald/Scotland/France in about 1300/1350, although socially, it could be any period between about 1200 and about 1500.

I would imagine, however, that the status of the small folk varies enormously. Towns and cities are much bigger than in medieval Western Europe. The lot of the poor in King's Landing is probably dreadful, but there's probably also a huge class of merchants, lawyers, artisans, clerks, etc., the greatest of which are likely to be very rich and powerful, and richer than many of the nobility.

I am not quite sure whether that generalization holds.

The first rank cities of whole Westeros are King´s Landing and Oldtown. King´s Landing probably slightly bigger than Oldtown.

Tyrion quotes the presence of 500 000 souls in King´s Landing. But that counted the Tyrell and Lannister armies and masses of Riverlands refugees. I expect that the peacetime population was under 300 000.

The second rank cities are White Harbour, Gulltown and Lannisport. All probably under 100 000 - more like 50 000. Nothing like these in Stormlands or Riverlands. Sunspear was a smaller town, too.

And then the smaller towns. But note how infrequently we meet with even modest sized cities.

How big was, say, Paris of year 1300? I suspect that both London of 1600 and Paris of 1600 were bigger and more sophisticated than King´s Landing.

The second rank cities

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"I told you, we're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairsbut by a two thirds majority in the case of..."

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I am not quite sure whether that generalization holds.

The first rank cities of whole Westeros are King´s Landing and Oldtown. King´s Landing probably slightly bigger than Oldtown.

Tyrion quotes the presence of 500 000 souls in King´s Landing. But that counted the Tyrell and Lannister armies and masses of Riverlands refugees. I expect that the peacetime population was under 300 000.

The second rank cities are White Harbour, Gulltown and Lannisport. All probably under 100 000 - more like 50 000. Nothing like these in Stormlands or Riverlands. Sunspear was a smaller town, too.

And then the smaller towns. But note how infrequently we meet with even modest sized cities.

How big was, say, Paris of year 1300? I suspect that both London of 1600 and Paris of 1600 were bigger and more sophisticated than King´s Landing.

The second rank cities

50-100,000 was enormous, by the standards of medieval Western Europe. 300,000 or so would have been well in excess of any Western European city (although Constantinople, at times, and some middle Eastern cities reached that figure).

Paris in 1300 was probably in the range 50-100,000, along with Venice, Genoa, Bruges and Ghent. London would have been much closer to 50,000. By 1600 or so, both London and Paris would have been well above 100,000.

A typical figure for a significant medieval city in Western Europe would be 3-10,000.

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Someone else, elsewhere has argued that Serfdom was already over by the time the Blackdeath came around?

Would people say that for social change there needs to be widespread destruction? Or would people say that widespread destruction actually sets people back economically, ie makes them more poor, and therefore too poor to worry about things like freedom or political representation?

I mean would a war be just as good at beginning the process that makes serfdom obsolete as a plague?

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Someone else, elsewhere has argued that Serfdom was already over by the time the Blackdeath came around?

Would people say that for social change there needs to be widespread destruction? Or would people say that widespread destruction actually sets people back economically, ie makes them more poor, and therefore too poor to worry about things like freedom or political representation?

I mean would a war be just as good at beginning the process that makes serfdom obsolete as a plague?

I think that serfdom would have declined (and there were always plenty of peasants - in England anyway - who weren't serfs,) with the development of a monetary economy. But, the loss of population caused by the Black Death accelerated the process.

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