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Thread: Medieval Psychology
07-17-2010, 11:19 PM #1
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- Apr 2010
After reading a fun historical book, this seemed interesting:
How Medieval people thought, and how the concepts of right and wrong simply did not exist. The idea, when considering people, was to show Respect (for the English person).
Since it is Medieval English type stuff that seems most popular here, can anyone contribute to that?
Does anyone know about famous dictators, medieval character, thinking or outlook? We could easily imagine how that might influence the standard Birthright setting.
07-18-2010, 01:33 AM #2
in my campaign i was focused on medieval world and customs, we tried to relive medieval idea as much as we could, anuire was seen as late medieval france (as opposed to england ).
the main idea was the relationship between senior and it's vassals, the awkwardness and ignorance of peasants, the clash of churches and faiths + all the mysteries of birthright magic...
- HIGH CLASS: honor and duty, devotion, (chivalry) pride were the biggest ideas to fallow, in real life, nobles ruled the serfs as they liked, they were judges, protectors and controllers of their life. even among the nobles of different statures, kings used to arrange marriages of counts or dukes, send them to war or judged their disputes. all this gave enormous power to senior over his minions: you were an owner (and owned at the same time) of the people and the land. the land was EVERYTHING - you were measured and appreciated mostly by the you turf!
LOW CLASS: simple life of devotion, religious practice and hard work filled serfs life. they were bound to the land (and landlord), couldn't move or express discontent. remember the power of the nobles comes from god so to question them you question him!
(to be continued... )How can you capture a beautiful bird without breaking it's spirit?!
07-18-2010, 05:30 AM #3
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- Apr 2010
FAITH, COURAGE, HUMILITY, LOYALTY, JUSTICE
PROWESS, FRANCHISE, NOBILITY, TRUTH, DEFENSE, LARGESSE
-Battle only when necessary or at your Master’s request
-Battle only with as much force as is necessary
-Arbalest is the weapon of crude and untrained warriors, it is dishonorable.
-Dagger is the weapon of sneaks and thieves, for dishonorable backstabbing.
-Face the enemy openly and honestly, let the best Knight win...
-Knights were captured in battle and not killed, but held for ransom
-Commoners were slaughtered like dogs!
-Bound to follow the tenets of your religion above King and Self
-Required to uphold the religion in your lands, and over your people
-Chivalry guided behavior toward others
-Chivalry demanded that Knights respect each other
-Covers the learning of reading, languages and the arts
-Courtly love, ideal life behavior, gentleness toward women
-Religious chivalry, to protect the innocent
-Warrior chivalry, where the first concern is to a Master
-According to the song of Roland, a group of Knights was ambushed and due to a matter of honor they were all slaughtered; they blow their horn only after death is certain (they were not afraid of their fate). The hero, Roland, dies facing the enemy land, showing that he is not a coward. He is so honorable he bursts his temples when he blows the horn.
-Knights have believed in forced conversion, when someone did not want to.
-The modern salute is derived from the gesture of tipping open the helmet guard
-This would allow a view of the eyes and in turn the ‘soul’, to wear a heart on their sleeve
-Handshake could be derived from the empty right hand, to show not holding weapon
In the song of Roland, it is noted that Charlemagne spares a Saracen Queen the gesture of Conversion by Force. He wants her to be converted of her own will. He does convert the people by force. He later announces that the Queen comes over of her own will to God.
Is this because he was afraid that converting the Queen by force would spark the fire of hate in the subjugated Saracens, leading to a rebellion he could not handle?
It is a guess that he was making a ‘political move’, whether he was telling the truth or not.
07-18-2010, 07:33 AM #4
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- Apr 2002
- BR mailing list
At 04:19 PM 7/17/2010, HimekawaMiyako wrote:
>After reading a fun historical book, this seemed interesting:
>How Medieval people thought, and how the concepts of right and wrong
>simply did not exist. The idea, when considering people, was to show
>Respect (for the English person).
What`s the book?
07-18-2010, 07:56 AM #5
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
It was something called 'Time traveler in Medieval England'. At first it was really disgusting, but with more reading, it was very enlightening.
If it can be found again, will check the ISBN for everyone.
This book dispelled many stereotypes. The first part describes a fictional sensory experience, and something called 'Shitbrook' where feces (and worse) are deposited. It mentioned how people would spend the majority of the day away from home, at work, peeing wherever.
It went into respect, household manners, and how to treat a King.
There was information about the 'Medieval character', how a King gave a retainer a lot of money for falling off his horse. Not as an aid to an injured man, but for making him laugh so hard.
The highest form of humor was sarcasm, or something.
There was information about an event where a bunch of armed soldiers forced their way into a nunnery, raped all the nuns, took them aboard a ship, then threw them overboard to drown later. They also raped the wife of a groom, in a wedding congregation next door.
Apparently most of the population is composed of volatile youth, with very few elders.
There was a game where they would catch each other in a rope and leave people hanging upside-down until they paid a ransom.
Not what many would consider a very nice place...
07-18-2010, 08:31 AM #6
ok, all that is mentioned is some kind of 'unusual' behavior or what you would do when you are 'bored as hell'.
(armed military men at the wedding? that became the custom known as a groomsmen!)
in medieval time people would work a lot, weather you are serf or a townsfolk. despite that, a lot of people would die of hunger, starvation, cosed by droughts, floods or wars. that would make them think a lot of divine and god and death and stuff. one of my professors used to say that it would be common to hear two grannies bickering about gospels or afterlife or something similar. that was the central thought of all men during medieval time.
higher classes, soldiers had a lot of time off, so they would hunt, train or play, attend churches, masses, processions and all other religious things...
it was truly dark and scary place. imagine the world without electricity, viewed with all kind of folk stories and mythical creatures. small huts, houses or towns surrounded by dark forests or misty mountains whit the light of only few candles! listening to howling of beasts nearby, hidden in darkness...
werewolves, vampires, angels, devil etc. were real to them as much as every word of their local clergy. that is the mood of the dark ages.How can you capture a beautiful bird without breaking it's spirit?!
07-19-2010, 04:29 AM #7
Also keep in mind that the vast majority of people in the medieval world never went anywhere. Most spent from birth to death within the same small area, never going more than a day's walk in any direction from home. Everything about the world beyond those boundaries was heard second, or even third, hand from their liege lord, priest, or the rare travelling stranger who was often a conman. The accuracy of their reports from beyond were naturally suspect and heavily flavored by personal biases.
There were no radio stations, TV stations, or internet to provide numerous sources of information on multiple topics. All they had to base their world-view, and opinions, on was folklore and myths. Superstitions were not superstitions to them. They were facts of life that only the dangerously insane ignored or scoffed at. You did things a certain way because that is the way they've always been done.
Don't forget the smells either. Perfume had a hell of a fight on its hands back then.Sir Robin the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot,
who had nearly fought the Dragon of Agnor,
who had nearly stood up to the vicious Chicken of Bristol,
and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill.
07-19-2010, 08:28 AM #8
Medieval psychology, IMO, isn't one grand cohesive piece. I like books about medieval times written by french authors of "Annales" school - F. Braudel, G. Duby, J. Le Goff and others. They cited many episodes and facts we can use for our worldbuilding.
Many rustic people never wandered further than local town (so Jerusalem and Constantinople were near one another in their view). But anyone who traveled (especially in early medieval times) as pilgrim, merchant or vagant often traveled far and wide even by our standards. Marco Polo is extreme example, but others were not so much behind him. Form Rome to Khanbalyk, from Moskovia to India, portuguese march to the equatorial Africa, viking trips to Mediterranean - to name the few.
Only late in IX c. german and french nobles discovered that they speak different languages - but Latin was scholastic Common (Draconic, in the terms of 3E ) up to XVIII-XIX c.
High mortality rate and utter unpredictability of life had lead to very short-term (who knows what tomorrow bings?) or grand long-term planning (we shall build our cathedral... then our children... then grandchildren...). No middle ground. Only best and brighest had planned for 25-30 years.
As other posters mentioned before, low-class medieval people worked hard. 10 hours per day was usual, 11-12 hours were common. If daylight hours were short, people did housework and spinning yam in the light of tallow candle, small oil lamp or simple burning splinter of wood. But this downthrodden people had sense of community few of modern people can match. Russian language still have word for "subconscious consciousness" characteristical for this mentality, even if following its pull in modern country can be self-destructive.
Nobility, on the other hand, had many ways of living. Some more militant (barbaric) leaders marched, trained their troops and fought wars almost endlessly. Others build as much decorum and opulence as possible. And only few raised law and guild holdings, building future power of Europe.
God (or gods in early times) was always over you, watching your deeds - same as D&D setting, but much more. Duel is ordalia, sudden death is divine retribution and discovered treasure is divine gift - no other way!
Medieval mentality is complex mix of tribal mentality, rational thinking, shamanistic worldviews, individualistic thinking, natural philosophy and utter ignorance. All the ingredients in different proportions in every head
One of few my concerns about our beloved BR setting is that most of the rules, numbers and events speaks about early medieval world, but technology, guilds , trade routes and many NPCs are more like late medieval centuries. And different times need different mentality.
07-19-2010, 11:30 PM #9
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
Sometimes that might be correct; humans frequently require the wisdom of ancients though. Ignorance of history, or the refusal to follow its lessons, means we are fated to repeat the same silly mistakes. Often the psychology of older times is of the utmost use now. Do not become to caught up in the perceived negatives.
There were always very literate, enlightened people.
Takeda Shingen would say, ‘Men are the castle, men are the walls’.
Was it a Hojo Daimyo who said something like:
‘When you defeat a foe, you will become arrogant, and want to insult him or use him because you are drunk on victory and confident of your superiority. Do not do this; many houses have fallen in this way. Always treat your foe with courtesy and respect.’
Heian literature, interactions between lady Murasaki and lady Saisho, has shown at times the height of human tenderness and mutual consideration. The city of Heian-kyo, later called Kyoto, means ‘Tranquility and Peace Capital’.
There are parallels in European literature too. The true love of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare, and the ideals of Chivalry had to come from somewhere.
The noble knight kneels before his lady, accepting her cloth, but not touching her hand because she is so sensitive. With sincerity, he raises his face to her from below:
‘My Lady. I will protect you with my life.’ He takes his sword and stands to protect innocence, and his brave men join him.
All these rumored stories about chanting poets had to come from somewhere.
Perhaps different times need the same thoughts, too. A balance of old wisdom and new knowledge…
If you want to know life, you must look at the life of a tree.
Without a seed, or a root, where did the blossoms come from?
07-20-2010, 12:10 AM #10
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- Feb 2007
Minor nitpick: Romeo & Juliet has nothing to do with true love; Romeo is depicted from the first as someone who falls in love all the time with every woman she sees and Juliet is running away from an arranged marriage; it's a tragedy in part because they're teens who do stupid things to the point of killing themselves over a flirt because their families are too busy killing each other.
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