jamesd on November 02, 2010, 12:43:49 pm
In this particular case, though, you are comparing ancient porn with recent porn. No doubt you could get onto alt.sex.stories or something and find lots of stories about the lord of the manor and the peasant bride, that would not be very historically accurate. But if you find similar porn from 1700 or 1600 or even 1500, what basis do we have to judge its accuracy?

The best we can do is suppose that porn of 1500 set in 1300 is set in a more realistic 1300 than porn of 2010 set in 1300 - though porn of 2010 set in 1810 is not set in a very realistic 1810.

I can also extrapolate from conditions.  Knights of old were a remarkably violent lot, but they did not shit in their own nest - they liked to keep good relations with their vassals.  When they shook down their peasants, they did so somewhat diplomatically.  They claimed to be, and to some extent really were, protection and justice.  They subscribed to, and to some extent really did practice, chivalry.  It seems that the code of chivalry allowed robbery and massacre under an alarmingly wide variety of circumstances, but mistreating your own vassals was not supposed to be one of them.

As you suggest, mistreating someone else's vassals, however ....  One of the jobs of the lord was supposed to be to prevent such mistreatment, but it is far from apparent how energetic they were in doing so.


J Thomas on November 02, 2010, 01:22:23 pm
In this particular case, though, you are comparing ancient porn with recent porn. No doubt you could get onto alt.sex.stories or something and find lots of stories about the lord of the manor and the peasant bride, that would not be very historically accurate. But if you find similar porn from 1700 or 1600 or even 1500, what basis do we have to judge its accuracy?

The best we can do is suppose that porn of 1500 set in 1300 is set in a more realistic 1300 than porn of 2010 set in 1300 - though porn of 2010 set in 1810 is not set in a very realistic 1810.

That may be the best we can do, but that best is not very good. By that standard, hundreds of years from now we should prefer Gone With The Wind or Birth of a Nation to later triD productions as historical sources. Gone With The Wind was 1939, less than 70 years after the war, while Birth Of A Nation was 1915, even closer. Later historical romances are likely to get new things wrong, but that doesn't make the earlier stories more accurate.

<snip quite reasonable guesses>

Your hypothetical assumptions make good sense to me, and I'd suppose about the same thing. My own personal background is probably similar enough to yours that the same things seem reasonable. But we tend to lack actual data about actual peasants. Could perhaps they have been actual Christians? Who actually believed that doing the Christian thing in this short life is more important than not being exploited? That they should turn the other cheek? Maybe the most important thing a nobleman could do was contribute money or materials for a church.

Perhaps a fatherless child was not a big disadvantage for a peasant woman. Lots of them died early, she might have a dozen more, and it would be proof of fertility, maybe not something to say she was "damaged goods". Maybe rape was considered a occupational hazard for female serfs and not something to get particularly upset about. "Relax and try to enjoy it, at least it isn't your fault."

Serf women who got sent to the big house for the first night might consider it a privilege. A chance to see how the other side lives, and perhaps get a warm bath, and maybe a big tip, and perhaps a chance to steal a silver spoon or something else of value.

I don't want to suggest that such ideas are more probable than the idea that medieval serfs were just like American agnostics and Iranian Muslims and everybody on the earth today who are all pretty much alike. But there's a fairly large probability that they had very different lives from us, and our concepts of what reasonably should have happened may be wrong.

jamesd on November 02, 2010, 05:25:11 pm
In this particular case, though, you are comparing ancient porn with recent porn. No doubt you could get onto alt.sex.stories or something and find lots of stories about the lord of the manor and the peasant bride, that would not be very historically accurate. But if you find similar porn from 1700 or 1600 or even 1500, what basis do we have to judge its accuracy?

The best we can do is suppose that porn of 1500 set in 1300 is set in a more realistic 1300 than porn of 2010 set in 1300 - though porn of 2010 set in 1810 is not set in a very realistic 1810.

That may be the best we can do, but that best is not very good. By that standard, hundreds of years from now we should prefer Gone With The Wind or Birth of a Nation to later triD productions as historical sources. Gone With The Wind

I read books written by people of the times.  The world depicted in "Gone with the Wind" is accurate.

"Birth of a Nation" is alleged to be inaccurate in that it vigorously makes the point that blacks were unfit to govern themselves.  Consider what has happened to Detroit, what happened to the Belgian Congo, and what is happening to Rhodesia.  Seems about right to me.

Tutsi had a similar argument: that Hutu were unfit to govern themselves.  They were right.  Groups are not equal in the sense of being the same and interchangeable.  In many important respects the overlap between blacks and whites is not all that large, and the overlap between men and women is quite small.

Perhaps a fatherless child was not a big disadvantage for a peasant woman. Lots of them died early, she might have a dozen more, and it would be proof of fertility, maybe not something to say she was "damaged goods". Maybe rape was considered a occupational hazard for female serfs and not something to get particularly upset about. "Relax and try to enjoy it, at least it isn't your fault."

We do know that an improper pregancy was a disaster among the peasants, and that unless this problem was remedied by marriage, the child was usually disposed of.

We also know that lords frequently applied drastic measures against men that got their peasant women illicitly pregnant, without inquiring or much caring whether it was consensual or not.  It is not clear how risky it was for gentleman to rape a peasant, but in at least some places and times it was not entirely risk free.  If traveling knights frequently raped peasants, which I much suspect they did, they skedaddled afterward.  Traveling knights tended to kill and rob, so quite likely they tended to rape.  But they did not have any widely accepted privilege of killing and robbing, still less of raping.

J Thomas on November 02, 2010, 10:04:21 pm
In this particular case, though, you are comparing ancient porn with recent porn. No doubt you could get onto alt.sex.stories or something and find lots of stories about the lord of the manor and the peasant bride, that would not be very historically accurate. But if you find similar porn from 1700 or 1600 or even 1500, what basis do we have to judge its accuracy?

The best we can do is suppose that porn of 1500 set in 1300 is set in a more realistic 1300 than porn of 2010 set in 1300 - though porn of 2010 set in 1810 is not set in a very realistic 1810.

That may be the best we can do, but that best is not very good. By that standard, hundreds of years from now we should prefer Gone With The Wind or Birth of a Nation to later triD productions as historical sources.

I read books written by people of the times.  The world depicted in "Gone with the Wind" is accurate.

Well, I guess this discussion is over.

How about them Mongols!

 

anything