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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Peter, if my comments don't address your comments then maybe it's just that I'm misunderstanding your intent. Confused Cool


That would only be the proof of the pudding Jean Laughing Out Loud

Even though my background is from a related culture and I intent to communicate in your language does not mean we ' speak' the same language: I am myself and my experiences and that is different from your package which means that we are probably painting entirely different pictures with our respective wordings.
I am often surprised to read the different interpretations that can be read from the same words even here on this positively polite and wellmeaning forum where all noses are more or less pointed in the same direction.

I know that my map of the world is not a representation of the actual geography. This is the same for the maps the medieval people had.
I have here the manuscript of Gregorius van Tours and a doctorate scripture on him while I am also familiar with the region and the archeology. His world and his thinking are very well illustrated by this combination and maybe this is why I am so aware of the alienness.

Imagine too what during the 14th c. the effect the combination of the repeated outbreaks of the plague, the 100 year war and the christian scisma must have had in a world that actually became more wealthy per capitum because the total wealth was not decimated like the population was.
Another thing is that young children were usually not even named and when they were, not rarely in succession were given the same name untill one lived....

Anyway, the citation Sean Flynt gave gives me both an answer and food for thought.

peter
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Peter, if my comments don't address your comments then maybe it's just that I'm misunderstanding your intent. Confused Cool


That would only be the proof of the pudding Jean Laughing Out Loud

Even though my background is from a related culture and I intent to communicate in your language does not mean we ' speak' the same language: I am myself and my experiences and that is different from your package which means that we are probably painting entirely different pictures with our respective wordings.
I am often surprised to read the different interpretations that can be read from the same words even here on this positively polite and wellmeaning forum where all noses are more or less pointed in the same direction.


My first language is French ( Quebec French that still uses some old French words no longer used in France and local slang as well as a Anglicisms ! Oh, international French is well understood here but current French slang/argot is very un-understandable ! ).

So although we only share English as a common language I find that on this Forum I am more sensitive than people who speak only one language ( English ) to what people sometimes mean when their command of English is not 100%
i.e. I can usually read what their real intent was when their words or grammatical structure seems to say something else !

Anyway, enough of this as it's off Topic but may be useful to mention as some misunderstandings are just language related.

I could be wrong, but I think I might be a little closer in understanding what you mean about 14th century attitudes to death compared to ours today !

The same could be said of an even earlier period when in Viking societies dying sword in hand young seemed much better than dying in bed , sick and infirmed when very old ( or maybe not so old from our perspective ).

Death seemed VERY inevitable: So dying well was more important than dying when ! Anyway, I hope this different example helps by being close(r) to your intent ? Very curious to know if it is or not.

Respectfully yours.
Jean

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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

Posts: 598

PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Anyway, I hope this different example helps by being close(r) to your intent ? Very curious to know if it is or not.



Buenas Jean,

I do not realy understand the medieval attitude to life.
Death was an integral part yet obvioulsy people were motivated to live so my interpretation is that they accepted is as easy as 'shit happens'.
Undoubtedly their perception of time will have had a huge influance and that is someting I cannot explain as I do not understand it: anything else than my own perception of linear sequential time is alien.

My mother tongue is dutch but I speak spanish in daily life. Have lived in both english and german speaking country and the friends I communicate most intensively with are Flemish (almost but not quite dutch) and one from Wallonie.
I guess everybody has a languageless mind and thinks thoughts rather than words but through association the passive vocabulary puts bounderies on at least the formulating.
Not thinking automatically in one language is likely to be more flexible I guess so I understand your point about theoretic sensitivity to meanings. Obviously it helps broadening the mind if shit has happened a bit in one's life Wink

peter
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course the attitude to death was different. Common people of the Dark and Middle Ages had an average life expectancy of 50 (an estimate), had no teeth by 35, didn't wash their hands before eating and drank horrible liquor (with no way of knowing percentage or ingredients) on a daily basis, at least when available.

If sustaining a open wound, they would drink a swig of their paint-stripper booze, cut out the infected flesh with their eating knife and hope that they would get feeling back, so they wouldn't have to amputate. They ate rotten meat and fruit... if the good stuff had run out. They washed their bodies on average once a year. They frequented very dirty prostitutes, and consistently raped war widows, with no understanding of STDs. They slept inside with their farm animals in winter, when they would also urinate and defecate inside to escape the cold. They wore their clothing until it fell off in ragged strips, and lice and fleas would simply jump to the next suit. In castles they had very poor ventilation, breathing in huge quantities of smoke, body odour and food stench.

In other words, they would seem to have gone about their daily business in a great deal of pain, still managing to get everything done. They seem to have been able to pass off both pain and disease as something normal, a part of life as a human. So while they died early and had grotesque hygiene, they were by far much more resilient than any 20th or 21st century person, barring, of course, the less technological cultures.

The question we have to ask ourselves is... How did our culture become so "soft" by comparison? And is it necessarily a good thing?

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am skeptical that this is an accurate depiction of medieval life for the common man, however, I am in the process of finding just that out for myself.

M.

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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
Joined: 28 Oct 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I am skeptical that this is an accurate depiction of medieval life for the common man, however, I am in the process of finding just that out for myself.

I strongly share your skepticism.

Steve

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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 12:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The ' middleages' is far too wide a scope to pinpoint this.
People in quite regions in the country side lived rather good lives compaired to now. Surprisingy may regions were completely untouched by any kind of upheavel too.

The iberian penisula per example was swept by waves of conquest yet on the contryside not all that much changed from etrusken times untill the catholic kings decided to 'repopulate' regions by relocating loyal populus from their heartland to recently occupied lands in 'need' of cultivation.

The thing we should not forget is that:
1. like the newspapers now, the cronicle writers did not write about the obvious; good news is no news
2. good fortune existed next to lesser fortune: p.e. some farmers had desperate lives while may others ate meat, fresh fruit and vegetables daily

Their is a castle-farm in Bilzen in Belgium that was a seat of a german orde and I would most definitely not mind to be timewarped to being a monk-knight there. Those guys had a dreamlife we can hardly imagine; almost as alien as their outlook on life Laughing Out Loud

When one looks at the start of the renaissance this is another good example: it started in Italy and took two centuries to span all of europe. Early 16th century the extremes of enlightened lives as well as fearfull supersticion existed in the same europe.

Allthough popular ' knowledge' paints a backward society, this is quite untruthfull as the middleages were a difficult period in the development of mankind that still new may technological developments.
Particularly the 14th. century, roughly from 1300 to 1455, is unbeleiveable.

peter
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 3:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hundred Years War and the Plague I assume is what you're talking about.

M.

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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Hundred Years War and the Plague I assume is what you're talking about.


Those are two of the five major disturbing factors that period yes.

The plague epidemic of 1348-1350 is estimated to have wiped out a third of the population between iceland and greece. Rather unsettling to say the least and it was not by far they would see of the black plague.
The scism in the christian faith was less deadly but not less of influance in daily lives as were the extraordinarily heavy taxes levied from all sides.

Obviously all is a complex adaptive system: incompetent governing, corrupt clericals, both putting a heavy tax burden on the disorganised society would promote malnutricion which would make the population as a whole very susceptible to a pandemic.

The continous conflict of the 100 year war with it's shifting loyalties was a very heavy burden too yes. It was extremely far reaching, involving most of the heart of europe more than once.
One notorious english mercenary changed sides several times to end up as a leading citizen in northern Italy after serving one of the popes and then 'pension' as the strong arm of a powerfull merchand family. In his wake he left many a city and countryside impoverished and he was only one of multi-score of such band leaders.

To say it was a complicated period would be a gross understatement.

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bennison N wrote:
The question we have to ask ourselves is... How did our culture become so "soft" by comparison? And is it necessarily a good thing?


I believe we are soft physically. Horses kept outside versus pampered in door stable horses are a good example of how something can be made soft in a single generation. You can also take a pampered modern individual and throw them into war, quickly desensitizing them to a lot of things, if they can handle the stress.

Near the end of the medieval ages there was a micro-cold climate shift that resulted in food shortages. Today there is global warming and extreme drought in my area. I wonder if the religious shisms and rebellions against government by monarchs was that much more stressful than recent swings in Communism and terrorism? Mass media and modern literacy ensures that today, we are infinitely aware of nearly every tragic circumstance occurring all over the world. I doubt we are all that soft mentally. I personally think some of the modern attempts of recreating Mead and strong ales taste pretty good!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been told medieval alcohol was of variable alcohol content, and that it was often mixed with water, though I could be wrong.

I too agree that we are not mentally soft, at least, not as much as we wished we where. We do live in an age where a school child defending himself with force and actually winning is put up for expulsion. But I digress.

M.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 9:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I have been told medieval alcohol was of variable alcohol content, and that it was often mixed with water, though I could be wrong.

I too agree that we are not mentally soft, at least, not as much as we wished we where. We do live in an age where a school child defending himself with force and actually winning is put up for expulsion. But I digress.

M.


Wine seems to have been used the way soft drinks are today, at least as casually and often. Water was mistrusted as it could often be " dangerously polluted " while the wine making and fermenting process itself assures a much safer to drink product.

Since wine was used with most meals, at least by the well off, it might have been diluted at times to a weak alcohol content and avoid being blind drunk all day. Some wines being " fortified " like a good Porto being reserved for more serious drinking.

Beer was also very much used as a staple drink and as a food, since thick beers are very nutritious.

Hard distilled alcohols I don't think were very common if used at all I think until the 18th century ? ( Needs to be fact checked ).

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquor It seems that hard liquor was know early on but seems to have been little used in Medieval period but wasn't completely unknown as some use seems to be know from 1200 A.D. on. Medicinal use seems to be a possibility.

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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Feb, 2008 12:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We have changed to a more existential life on a river cottage farm in mountainous country. We make most of the year's meat from animals we breed, raise, kill and butcher ourselves
http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Foto-XK3BTG8P.jpg
http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Foto-JMPJ4KFA.jpg

Eggs, milk we have in excess even after baking our own bread, tartas, making yoghurt, butter, cheese etc.
We heat the house with wood we collect from our own land.
A few times per year I collect the course salt we use for cooking from a natural salt lick:
http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Foto-UMQ46OAJ.jpg

My wife spins wool on an old wooden wheel:
http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Foto-H67R7HBF.jpg

We live now (I am using a laptop on the kitchen table per example) and not in the middleages but we do have more first hand insight into the life in the counrtyside as it has 'always' been. We have deliberately choosen to leave the ratrace: I was ISO9000 Quality manager and my wife big film financial controler. The quality of the life we live now is in a different universe.
The biggest motivator was raising a litter in an environment matching human ethology Laughing Out Loud
http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Foto-337JJV87.jpg

Making wines and beers is easy and we even get light alcoholic yoghurt because the river valey is yeast paradise. The only snag is that it has to be consumed and cannot be stored more than a few weeks. Also the consistency is limited as it is controlled by a natural process.
Pretty much the same goed for medicine as herbal medicine is every bit as much serious medicin as modern medicin is. We use the ' spelt' grain in bread and other bakery because it contains glucosamina which aids cartilige.

The biggest bogeyman of the old days seems to have been tooth ache and reumatic ailments. Proper woolen clothing and products like spelt aid the joints, several herbs would help toothache.
I am susceptible to winterhands and -heels. The bleeding splits in the latter are effectively cured by sleeping with my feet on a lamskin that I prepaired in a way retaining the lanonine, when the first symptoms appear.

The way I see it individual man has never before been so limited in skills as today, never has been so ignorant about basic survival, never been so far removed from the basics of his existance.
I am no SAS survival specialist but simply using common sense one does not need to get lost nor starve just about anywhere yet my former collegues could find their clothes in the morning without a gps. Not one of my former collegues nor those of my wife would be more usefull than a serious hindrance and risc if one would happen to crash with them in a remote area.

Mankind has made enormous technological advances but individual man has become dependant on this. I would not say man has become ' soft' , man has lost his essential perception of self.
Anyway, the book of Barbara Tuchman about the 14th century is a juwel, even for those who do not know life without an airco Wink

peter
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