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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Surviving the Middle Ages (Read as Written)

   
Author Topic: Surviving the Middle Ages (Read as Written)
Blayne Bradley
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Suppose an sufficiently advanced being is willing to transport yourself, and whatever you can carry on your person that you can reasonably afford to acquire with 1 to 3 months prep time to ANY WHERE during the year 1080 AD.

And HOW would you go about surviving for: twenty five years.

The Sufficiently advanced being will put on "hold" any medical problem that requires chronic medication (cancer, severe allergies, diabetes, etc) and heal any wounds you might be suffering 'now' so that you have a fair shot.

Suppose you survive 25 years, the above hand wave is granted to you permanently. You may also choose a reasonable number of people to likewise be forever cured of whatever.

You will also be given a sufficiently large amount of money in whichever currency of your choice as a reward and brought back to exactly where and when you were transported from as if you never left, and never aged.

a) suppose would you take that offer, though also say that if realistically offered it, would you take it?

b) As said, how would you go about prepping and surviving, where would you go?

I'm willing to be flexible, if you can realistically acquire a horse but only 3 weeks of prep time in that case.

I would go to Heien Japan as likely the safest place as I would want to actually take the risk of *travelling* and pretend to be Chinese or Ainu because hey, has the average peasant ever seen a real Chinese/Ainu* person?

*The Ainu actually I'm told almost look caucasian.

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ricree101
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The language part would be the trickiest. Anywhere you went, it would require learning a new language, and that's a tough thing to get in three months.

If I did take the offer, I'd be inclined to spend the time in Constantinople.

It's a rich, cosmopolitan city, one with a reasonable tolerance for foreigners. Being literate, I imagine it wouldn't be that hard (given preparation) to find work as some sort of clerk or scribe or something of that nature. Again, assuming I could pick up the language fast enough, but that's as true of spoken as written, so whatever.

For the most part, it's a reasonably stable time, at least as far as such things went in that time period.

The first couple years would be really nasty, because that's around when Robert Guiscard made his march against Constantinople. He never reached the city,though, so it would be reasonably safe. Same thing for the handful of other aggressors during that time.

If, during those 25 years, I got bored and wanted to tamper with technology, there's a lot worse places to do it. Constantinople still had a strong scholarly tradition, and some of the most advanced mechanical devices of their day. Except perhaps Song China, you aren't likely to find a better collection of skilled workers, something you'd need if you seriously wanted to try for modern advancement.

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Blayne Bradley
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I'm going to throw this in here that don't be afraid of meddling with the timeline.

either a) history will contrive to ignore you.
b) alternate timeline and nothing there matters.

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Destineer
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So many factors to consider. At 6'3", I'd stand out as a towering giant of a man in 1080.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
A recent study conducted at Ohio State University, based on skeletal data from 30 previous studies, reveals that men living during the 9th to 11th centuries had an average height of about 5 feet 8 inches. Average height then steadily declined until it reached a low point of 5 feet 5.5 inches in the 17th and 18th centuries, rising again through the 19th century and only reaching prior heights in the first half of the 20th century. An article on the study by Richard Steckel appears in the Social Science History journal.
http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question53664.html
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Samprimary
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this harvest season's ye olde illuminated college reporte indicates that constantinople is 'party towne centralle' and was voted as having the moste bounteous damsels of 1080.

also a rocking club scene (or a rocking poleaxe scene, if you're more into non-hafted weapons)

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by ricree101:
... Constantinople still had a strong scholarly tradition, and some of the most advanced mechanical devices of their day. Except perhaps Song China ...

Probably the two choices for me as well. What would probably decide things for me would be which place has a better resistance to whatever diseases I may accidentally carry across. Even if its an alternate timeline, it would kind of be a downer if I was surrounded by millions of dying people because I accidentally carried across a modern bacterium or something. It would probably make it harder to order a decent meal.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:

also a rocking club scene (or a rocking poleaxe scene, if you're more into non-hafted weapons)

I laughed.

But in what sense is a poleaxe a non-hafted weapon?

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Lyrhawn
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I'd never do this, unless they had the internet back then.

But if I did, I'd probably do Constantinople, although, things will start getting tricky in the 1090s when the First Crusades start to kick in and everyone rolls through Constantinople. You might find yourself in the Varangian Guard before long.

But so long as you get out before the 4th Crusade, Constantinople is probably the safest place around. It was basically impregnable as a city, and there weren't any major plague attacks around then.

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Blayne Bradley
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I'ld also handwave it that any vaccinations you have are rendered inert, lucky you your immune to everything the middle ages can throw at you and likewise your immunities won't result in millions dying around you. Just so that we have our anthropic principle of your in the middle ages and can Do Stuff.
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Itsame
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By coincidence, I'm reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court right now. The main character seems to be handling himself pretty well so far, though for some reason the locals speak modern English with words like thee thrown in.

So what would I bring? Books on physics, medicine, engineering, mathematics, etc. Why not revolutionize the world a bit early while I'm there? We're already assuming time travel is possible, so it should certainly be possible to establish a new timeline.

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Orincoro
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It's tricky. I would want to make best advantage of my technical and scientific knowledge, even as a non-scientist. I would also want to bring my knowledge of music theory to bear for best success in my new life. I would carry with me texts on material sciences that I could use to become wealthy and influential, and I would carry scores of the great works, and become their author. I would also carry several instruments with me to make a living as a musician. Might be fun!
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Stone_Wolf_
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I was with you up to plagiarism...yuck!
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Lyrhawn
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As an historian, I would locate every lost text I could find and bury them somewhere so I could win some major awards when I got back.

I'd also do some oral histories with major crusades figures and get to the bottom of some of the larger controversies. I just need to polish up half a dozen language skills, or hire a translator.

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Carrie
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As a woman, my gut reaction would probably be to decline the offer. I enjoy my privileges like speaking to men and walking outside, thank you very much.
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Xavier
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quote:
As an historian, I would locate every lost text I could find and bury them somewhere so I could win some major awards when I got back.
See, this is how they get lost in the first place!
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Carrie:
As a woman, my gut reaction would probably be to decline the offer. I enjoy my privileges like speaking to men and walking outside, thank you very much.

Stipulate that you have to be in Constantinople and have to be Anna Comnenus' best friend. You'll be fine. Women in Constantinople weren't that bad off, but yeah, there aren't many great places for women in history.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
quote:
As an historian, I would locate every lost text I could find and bury them somewhere so I could win some major awards when I got back.
See, this is how they get lost in the first place!
They don't get lost because they get buried.

They get lost because we forget where we buried them.

Perfectly sound logic.

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Destineer
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No one thinks living in the country might be nicer and safer? I think a rural monastery could be a nice place to spend 25 years.
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Lyrhawn
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I guess it depends on whose hinterlands you're in. People liked to live in walled cities for a reason. The country had a bad habit of being pillaged, especially during this time period. It was an incredibly violent time to live.
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Destineer
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Right, so pick one you know (from historical records) won't get pillaged.
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Lyrhawn
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Isn't that cheating?
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dabbler
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Definitely not cheating. Though your own presence will begin to shift the timelines, so accuracy will go down as years pass.

I agree that being a woman makes it a harder decision as to where. I'd probably bring a high amount of wealth in whatever I could easily carry. What's worth a lot then, spices and salts? Carefully sell them until I'm rich in a land where I can be a wealthy independent woman.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by dabbler:
Definitely not cheating. Though your own presence will begin to shift the timelines, so accuracy will go down as years pass.

I agree that being a woman makes it a harder decision as to where. I'd probably bring a high amount of wealth in whatever I could easily carry. What's worth a lot then, spices and salts? Carefully sell them until I'm rich in a land where I can be a wealthy independent woman.

Knowledge, by far, would be your best stock in trade. Find yourself a wealthy patron and slowly churn out practical goods for him based on your knowledge and you're set for life.

Otherwise, spices more than salts, yes, would be incredibly valuable and easy to carry. Worth more than their weight in gold.

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Teshi
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As a woman I would want to be very wealthy and relatively "important", and living as part of a stable and protective community (or able to create one around me).

Honestly, I think trying to do much else than that as a woman would be very trying, although I'm sure there are pockets of the world where it would be okay. I think the best way to deal with it would be to establish yourself as semi-self-sufficient early on, better to get yourself a patron. I think being an craftsperson, artist or doctor (heck, you could probably decrease the deathrate without anymore than lay medical knowledge if you could avoid being murdered by angry physicians) would be relatively doable provided you could get yourself taken seriously. Working with a male friend might also be a decent route but you'd have to get someone to take you seriously first.

Being a peasant *might* be fine provided you could avoid social upheaval.

I think all of us would have to get used to a totally different expectation of the commonality of death.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
I was with you up to plagiarism...yuck!

It's not plagiarism if they don't exist yet. It's preemptionalism.
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dabbler
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Writings from another time period aren't going to be necessarily popular in the 11th century. They may just fade into obscurity. Besides, there were no printing presses so your market would be quite slim.
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Orincoro
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I had considered those points. I could as easily choose works for the taste of the age.
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Aros
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Sheesh, I'd go somewhere uninhabited. Have at that nonsense. I'd bring some hand tools, to go all Swiss Family Robinson, and a couple of kindles (backups) and a few solar chargers.

Maybe New Zealand or the Azores?

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Orincoro
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25 years. You'd lose your mind.
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Aros
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You're assuming that I require social interaction? *arches an eyebrow*

I'd be in it for the money and to catch up on my reading.

[ December 17, 2012, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: Aros ]

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Lyrhawn
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How much reading do you have to catch up on, exactly?
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Aros
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How many readable novels have been written? In my two years stationed on a ship in the Navy, I probably dusted 400 books. I'm sure I can find 5000 books to keep me company.
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