Vinland Shore

Month: February, 2014

The World Beyond The Lights

...some atmosphere

…some atmosphere

The modern world has replaced the sound of a crackling fireplace, with that of whirring industrial fans and the clicking of electrical heating systems. The soft inviting light of candles and lamps with obnoxious brightly lit white corridors of stylish structures. Everything that has been replaced is bright, blinding, deafening and all consuming of our human senses. As if it was designed with that very idea in mind! As a child, during the winter we often had storms…

I remember wishing to myself that the electricity would go out, and it often did. We would be relieved of the constant onslaught of the modern world. Even at a very young age I desired this, because the world was so much more comfortable without it. When it did go, everything suddenly became imbued with mystery. We would gather at the table under candlelight and play games or tell stories to each other. It seemed that the modern world was there to distract us, and segregate ourselves from one another.

When I got a little older I was a rather introverted person. I remember when we got a computer given to us from a friend of my fathers, it was quite crude even at the time. It was the kind that you lay flat, with the monitor sitting atop the PC case. There were several boxes of those old floppy discs different software, and different kinds of games. Naturally I had a lot of time to myself aside from regular school work, so I escaped into a vast array of fantasy worlds. Dungeon Master, Ultima, Kings Quest all still linger in my mind. They reminded me of the mysterious atmosphere of telling stories around a candle light as a child. Of course I was instantly enthralled.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it were the computer wasn’t the most reliable one. So not having any money to send it to a repair shop, and the desire to get back to my worlds of fantasy. I started to learn how to repair the things I could, and I out of a desire to escape the modern world I developed a knowledge of computers and electronics. It seems ridiculous that my escapism resulted in learning to repair the world I was desperately trying to get away from!

It seems fate had played a twisted game on me, but I relished in my worlds. I went on to excel in computer science throughout school, and I still retain a modest amount of knowledge on the subject. However even now when the winter wind blows, and the electric lights flicker. In my heart I wish the power would again fail; so we could tell the tales like we did when I was a child.

Taxes, Tithing & The Death Of Ancient Man – Part II

Example of a peasant cruck house in England.

I discussed previously how the advent of agriculture in Europe led to a destruction of the natural landscape of the majority of continental Europe. This was only one of the steps in the death of ancient man. Once large-scale agriculture had begun, so did the distribution of wealth change. Suddenly the common man was subject to the will of the land holder. Swearing an oath to the lord of the land, and to the Church.

The nobility now had great power of the common man, who were essentially reduced to the level of serfs. The lowest possible wrung on the ladder of the hierarchy of feudal system. At the top of this system was the church. The one thing the man had to do in Medieval Europe was to pay rent or tax of his land to the lord, and the tax to the church or tithe. The tithe would have been ten percent of the production of the farmers land. Which might not seem like a great deal, however this had the potential to make or break a family. A peasant could pay the tithe in either coin, or in seed, equipment et cetera. Either way tithes were a deeply unpopular among the lower class. The church would collect so much from these tithes in fact it had to be stored in huge tithe barns, some of which are still standing. After the tax was paid you could do what you will with the remaining, but it was scarcely enough to feed yourself or your family.

Example of a remaining tithe barn in Jesteberg, Germany

Example of a remaining tithe barn in Jesteberg, Germany

Peasants were also required to work on church lands for free. Giving up time they could have used to till their own farms. The power of the church was twisted to make the people believe that if they did not they would have the damnation of sin and hell hanging above their heads. Such had been their indoctrination at an early age.

The movement of man into larger groups, villages and towns removed any chance of a common man bettering himself. If he lived under a lord, he had the supposed protection of his militia. However that was about the only benefit that was received in serfdom. The freedom of man at this time was merely an illusion, seldom educated. The life of a peasant was reduced to the will of his lord and the control of the church. Another chapter in the death of ancient man.

The conditions of man should seem familiar to that of a serfdom that modern man is subject to. Man is still prison to his owners will, and still subject to taxation. Only the illusion of freedom prevails, the spirit of man continues to be subverted and crushed.

Agriculture & The Death of Ancient Man – Part I

Anglo-Saxon_ploughmen
The Agricultural Revolution is in my mind when civilization changed the life of man in the most devastating way. We know that for the majority of human history man lived a hunter gatherer lifestyle. Although local populations of villages and the use of fire impacted the environment; the consequences of his actions were small in comparison to that of farmers and the dawn of agriculture.

Agriculture inevitably transforms the land. Partial or in some cases complete removal of natural vegetation. Forests are removed and not allowed to recover, and the distribution of species of plants and animals are disrupted. Arable farming where a plow is utilized greatly alters the soil, both by adding and removing plant nutrients, reducing soil acidity with lime, removing stones and irrigation techniques greatly altering the soil structure.

Most forms of crop production on a large-scale require the complete removal. Such is the case in cereal production in eastern England where not only the original vegetation is vanished, but the surrounding hedges and trees that were once planted around these fields are also being removed. The scale of the once great forests that covered Medieval Europe have been greatly diminished by the ever-growing agricultural expansion. Not only Europe, but all great agricultural civilizations.

forests

In this case Agriculture is both the cause and the solution to the growing population crisis of the period. Agriculture is required provide the food supplies for the population to be sustained; conversely the more the population expands thus so. Agriculture and the more intensive use of land already in cultivation. So the expansion into neighboring forests; previous to this the main objective of farmers was to provide for themselves and their families. comparatively little of their output of crops left the borders of their own land.

Contemporary documents suggest that the expansion of the amount of arable land for the production more or less matched the growth of population with the exception of particularly rapid growth such as the late thirteenth century in Europe. After the migration movements of the first millennium C.E. the main features of European settlement were established; subsequent increases in cropland usually took place in clearing the forests between villages. Slowly the great woodlands of Europe the homes of our ancestors were just beginning to diminish…

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