The year ten hundred

Public Sector Consultants, Inc.0 0 `e Way of Life at the Las Millennium Craig Ruf, Public Sector Consultants, Inc. Copyright 1999. Please do not reproduce without permission. For additional copies, please contactPublic Sector Consultants, Inc., 600 West St. Joseph Street, Suite 10, Lansing, Michigan 48933;517/484-4954;
Religion and War on the Cusp of 1000 A.D.
Europe and the Mediterranean 1190 A.D.
Reprinted with kind permission of Lixle, Brown and Company. ankind sands at a crossroad. One path leads to depair and uxer hopelessness; theother, to total extinction. Let us pray that wehave the wisdom to choose correctly. puter problem. Inasmuch ashumans are the only species that A number of ideas are circulating,though no consensus has emerged.
called similarly the aughties. An- the ’00s, pronounced ohs. Soon we may be forecasting the aught-two or consistency’s sake, we should refer The millennial marking of the year 2000 A.D.
we might examine the state of Western civiliza- results from the Christian dating of time from tion in the year 1000—the previous millen- the birth of Christ. Religion contributes the nium—as a means of measuring this progress.
marking of time in most other major civiliza- This entails picturing a world in which words tions as well. As in so many other areas, the such as “newspaper,” “mail,” “concrete,” various religions do not bother with cross- “fork,” “spoon,” “sewer,” “clock,” “button,” cultural consistency. Counting from the year of “cotton,” “windmill,” “compass,” and “dictio- nary” have no meaning. The task is not an easy Christian calendar’s second millennium as the year 5760, a number which lips to 5761 onRosh Hashanah. Islam’s calendar begins in 622 I have learned much from and been greatly [T]he end of the century
and the new millennium
is an appropriate point to
consider how far we have
advanced as a civilization.
To do so, we might
examine the state of
Wesern civilization in
the year 1000—the
previous millennium . . .
munists in the late 1940s permitted use of both continent and sparsely populated North and South American and Australian continents.
But for those using the Christian-based calen- The lack of information in the West on every- dar, the end of the century and the new millen- day life in the many cultures outside Europe in nium is an appropriate point to consider how the period is particularly vexing because the far we have advanced as a civilization. To do so, Chinese, Mayan, Aztec, Ghanaian, Byzantine,and Islamic cultures of 1000 A.D. were indis-putably more advanced than the cultures ofEurope (at least of Western Europe). Many of 1 So far, the dating of the earliest known living thing on Earthtakes us back at least 4 billion years. If anyone strictly adhered the intellectually and economically wealthy of to the march of time, the year in which we happen to live the eleventh century were the artists, artisans, (counted from the years since creation) would be at least ten politicians, inventors, scientists, scholars, traders, and educators living in parts of the Manchester’s account of the period, A World Lit globe we now condescendingly describe as the Only by Fire; yet the Domesday Book, an early “third world.” China’s industrial technolon propery census, recorded only 275,000 heads surpassed Europe’s even into the 0fteenth of household in 1100, just a century later, suggesting a total population of only 1.5 mil- things utterly foreign to most Europeans in lion to 2 million. Qualitative descriptions, too, 1000: cast iron, fans, umbrellas, rich clothing, are plagued with ambiguiy and dissonance. For lanterns, napkins, playing cards, money, and example, scholars debate whether most Euro- pean villages had names. As historians Will andAriel Durant wrote, “History is mostly guess- This is not to sumest that there is an excess of information on European culture in this period.
It is not easy for scholars to research andreconstruct a period of time in which virtually nothing was written down. Original writings All things considered, in the history of the and sources from this period are quite rare.
planet, a millennium is a dot on the timeline.
Here and there, we have a person’s will. The epic poem Beowulf and Icelandic sagas are useful tinuum of geologic time would represent far less than a mile of a trip around the entire Danziger explain in The Year 1000, the transla- world. The earliest life on Earth dates back at tion of everything written between 500 and least 4 billion years. The earliest discovered 1000 A.D. would not 0ll one carton, whereas remains of human ancestors date back 4 mil- the Starr investigation produced thiry-six lion to 6 million years. The species Homo sapiens appears to date back as far as 250,000 years.
People—as we now recognize them—go back 11,000 years. The agricultural innovation of various scholars, hordes of inconsistencies plowing was developed just 5,000 years ago. It is sobering to think that many geologists view Europe’s largest ciy in 1000, but its popula- these past 11,000 years as the single longest tion could have been anywhere from 250,000 stretch of human-compatible weather on most to 750,000, depending on the source of the reaches of the planet. Humans have overstayed information. England’s population was 4.5 the Earth’s welcome by about the same 1,000 years that we currently commemorate.
waterwheel. Such cultures also contributedknowledge: for example, the alphabet andwriting; navigation and boats; and considerable Dis is a bad place for an innocent man. observations in astronomy, mathematics, andengineering. Europeans contributed virtually nothing else to these inherited tools, skills, andbodies of knowledge during the course of 500years (400–900 A.D.) and precious little in the The historian William Manchester points out that for about 1,000 years (400–1400 A.D.),just about nothing constructive happened in The shock of pondering 500 years of European the Western world. In fact, this period did not The shock of
pondering 500
years of European
inertia becomes
more vivid if you
picture life today
absent of anything
invented since
traordinary and exponential gains in knowledge buildings were constructed during those years.
realized in just the past tweny years. Almostsurely, some number of us would be living on Virtually everything that made European life remotely palatable in 1000 A.D. had beeninvented by the ancient Enptians, Sumerians, Blame a lot of Europe’s troubles during this Babylonians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks, or period on the Chinese. They built the Great Wall and it worked. The Hsiung-nu—a nomadic concrete and tools of stone, wood, bronze, and bloodthirsy group of Mongolians—could iron, and bone; blowing glass; spinning 0bers not crack it. They revved up their horses and into clothes; weaving; and drying, salting, and headed west in lieu of south. They drove the smoking food. These civilizations also brought equally bloodthirsy but less adept Goths deep fermentation; the wheel and axle; plow; sickle; into the territory of Rome. The Huns, as the ax; mortar and pestle; potter’s wheel; and Reprinted with kind permission of Martie Holmer. Hsiung-nu were called, eventually teamed up in so many ways because they share Celtic roots.
with the Goths in one of history’s early part- By 450 A.D., non-Celtic tribes from northern nerships and in 410 A.D. sacked Rome, and with it, Western civilization. As these maraud- North Sea. These Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and ing forces created chaos throughout Europe, Gauls drove the Celts and Britons of England civilization retreated into darkness. By our standards, these were heady times for the Wales. This is why these areas today feel the Celtic ignorant, brutal, and brutish. With validiy, you inluence so much more strongly than do central could argue that the Great Wall held back the and eastern England. In turn, many Cornish and Western world’s progress for a full millennium.
Welsh residents resettled in Brittany (France) toescape the invading Germanic tribes.
The largest pre-Roman culture in westernEurope was the Celtic civilization. The Goths’ and Huns’ ransacking tour of Europe in the multiple gods) were playing for high stakes in 0fth century drove the Celts out of central the year 1000. Following Rome’s fall, the Europe. Some Celts led for safey to England and others to France and Iberia (modern Spain Eastern (Constantinople) orientations. The and Portugal). Iberian Celts later migrated toIreland and, in smaller numbers, Scotland.
These Celts developed a culture and language A linguistic irony, the word pagan is rooted in the Latin pagus, which meant an uncultured countryside, and pagani, which distinctly diferent than the Celts who made it described the rubes and country bumpkins who lived in such to England by northern routes. Even so, it is areas. Romans looked down their considerable noses at pagani.
ironic that the Irish and English are at variance Over time, pagan became the word used to describe the verypeople who, like the Romans, believed in multiple gods.
If the Church was the single most powerful Carolingian Empire, the most prominent and organizing force of Europe in 1000 A.D., the successful leader of which was Charlemagne Vikings were Europe’s most powerful disorga- (768–814 A.D.). The Eastern Church staked its nizing force. Over the last 300 years of the 0rst future with the Byzantine Empire. The two millennium, the Vikings—who hailed largely churches formally split in 1054 A.D., but there had been little conversation and not much love lost between them for centuries before.
setbacks, they conquered at will much of theBritish Isles, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Normandy, Paris, the Bordeaux, Lisbon, Italy, Christianiy slowly gained ascendancy in Eu- Greece, the Balkans, and Turkey. Their invin- rope between the fall of Rome and 1000 A.D.; cibiliy stemmed from the size and speed of thus James Reston, Jr. argues in The Last Apoca- their boats, the qualiy of their arms, and their lypse that the magical, millennial year truly was a 0ghting ardor. Lute0sk (the native Norwegian dish of dried cod soaked in water and lye) mayhave had something to do with it, too.
Modern meteorologists explain the Vikings’prowess as a result of a much warmer-than- normal weather cycle in northern Europe at thetime (“Little Optimum,” they call it). Londonhad a climate roughly equivalent to that of the If men recognize no law superior to their Loire Valley in France. Virtually everyplace in Europe was two to four degrees warmer than desires, then they must 0ght when their today’s climate. The arctic ice was in retreat, which explains in part the abiliy of LeifEriccson (or Ericson) to traverse the North R. H. Tawney Atlantic in 1000 A.D. and discover Newfound- land. Not only did the warmth grease the way Reston credits events of the year 1000 as for easier navigation on the northern seas, but resolving—through countless military and it also contributed mightily to the population political strumles—the question of religious Europe. Crops lourished that otherwise either struggles determined that paganism, repre- would not have grown or would have produced sented by the Vikings and Manars of Hungary, and the Islamic faith, represented by theMoors, either were fended of by or absorbed One of Europe’s most regular victims of Viking into Christian societies. In the early tenth raids was England, ruled between 978 and 1016 century, Christian communities largely domi- nated England, northern Italy, France, north- Unred, (or “Unready.”) Ethelred could not 0gure out how to block persistent raids uponthe southern, eastern, and northern coasts of Saxon population. The Norman Duke William, incompetent leadership, lost one skirmish after who defeated the English at the Battle of another, sued for surrender, and paid of the Hastings in 1066, is just one example of these Vikings with substantial sums of silver. As a result, the Vikings cleaned up in Englandwithout working terribly hard at it.
The Vikings were not the only threat to theChristian way of life. In Hungary, a tribe of By 1000 A.D., some Viking leaders had turned nomadic horsemen called Manars (the 40,000 to Christianiy as a way of being neighborly.
horsemen of the Apocalypse) felt yeasy enough Souring on the endless sea travel, they encour- to trash Constantinople, much of Greece, all of aged their people to settle in places like En- Italy, Burgundy, Bavaria, and northern Ger- gland and Normandy. It was easier, of course, many, to boot. Originally, they hailed from to raise a family, marry of kids, and join in the central Asia’s steppes. Shortly before the communiy’s recreational oferings if you gave German Prince Otto met the Manars en masse various saints. Viking genes were hardy, and the and obliterated them. In Rome, the Pope was Vikings made their presence felt in the Anglo- overjoyed and subsequently established theHoly Roman Empire in honor of Otto. Restonironically points out that the said Holy RomanEmpire was none of those things: It was Ger-man, not Roman, and it was a weak confedera-tion of small principalities, hardly an empire.
(That it was not holy in the tenth century goeswithout saying.) Shrewdly, the Pope namedOtto its 0rst emperor.
The third threat to European Christianiy wasthe Moors of southern Spain, or Al Andalus, asthe Moors called the region. Tracing theirorigins to early Islamic caliphs who governednorthern Africa and southern Spain (at onepoint, their troops reached Tours, France), theMoors united under a strong leader, Al Mansour(also spelled Almanzor). During the tenth cen-tury, Al Mansour brought all of central andsouthern Spain into his empire. Slowly migrat-ing south from northern mountain retreats,Christian armies marched on the Moors. AfterAl Mansour’s death in 1002, Moorish uniycrumbled. By 1085, Toledo (south of Madrid)had fallen into Christian hands, although it wasnot until 1492 that the Christian kingdoms of Reprinted with kind permission of Martie Holmer. Portugal, Castile, and Aragon ended Moorish Bede was not content merely to second-guess inluence on Western art, architecture, mosa- Julius Caesar, who commissioned the Julian ics, and music continued. Certainly no culture calendar. He also sought to pinpoint the year as a in Europe in the tenth century could hold a measurement of time since the birth of Christ.
candle to Al Andalus’s civilization.
(The Julian calendar, 0rst presented in 46 B.C.,was predicated on the founding of Rome in 755 In the tenth century, the Christian Church was B.C.) Bede hit two major obstacles in his calcula- busy consolidating its power in Europe. Just tions. One resulted from the fact that Christ after 1000, however, that consolidation became could not have been born in the year 0. If this were true, by the time he would have been thiry- launching the 0rst of ten crusades—which three, his biblical age at death, Herod would have would span nearly a century—to make the Holy been dead for three years; therefore, Christ’s year of birth must have been 4 or 3 B.C. The secondproblem stemmed from a vexing problem with Now that we have in mind the big picture—a Roman numerals. The twelve months of the year continent’s people furiously struggling between 0 never were accounted for because there was no Christian and non-Christian forces—let’s move Roman numeral for “0.”3 You might want to put to everyday life ten hundred years ago.
this truth to the test by asking a Roman acquain-tance what the year before I is called.
Inasmuch as Arabic numerals were not yet invogue in Europe (they were 0rst introduced toEurope in Italy about 970 A.D.), the few people `ere is no fence nor hedge round time who could write in the year 999 A.D. wrote theyear as DCCCCLXXXXVIIIIJ (the “J” at the that is gone. You can go back and have end stands for Julian). Imagine the glee at the what you like of it, if you can remember. beginning of the new year, when they couldsimply write “M” on their checks.
In the end, Bede did what any efective politi-cian would do: He negotiated the facts and In 730 A.D., the English monk Bede (“The simply announced that the current year was 730 Venerable”) took on the job of double-check- years from the birth of Christ. Nobody in ing the Julian calendar. He proudly discovered Christendom cared to argue. He wasn’t called that the 365-and-one-quarter-day Julian year “The Venerable” for nothing. Nevertheless, it was eleven minutes and fourteen seconds too was 800 years before Bede’s updated system long (meaning that about every 128 years, one day should be skipped). Eight hundred yearslater, someone paid attention, and the modern Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory The anal-retentive millennium scholars know that the new millennium and century really do not start until January 1, XIII) came into being. The Pope lopped of ten 2001. While all others will celebrate the changeover this New days in October of 1582, making up for lost or, Year’s Eve, these scholars will find comfort, if not much duced particularly innovative and original artand theolon. In the brief periods ofnonprayer, Irish monks copied the Bible and You’re right. Maybe it’s bexer not to ancient writings and put on paper usefulsermons and prayers for their peers. Irish émigrés to Europe reintroduced classical Church’s campaign against temporal knowledgethat it is miraculous that the writings of the motion picture Curse of the Demon Homer, Socrates, Plato, Euclid, Galen,Archimedes, Virgil, and Cicero survived. Much When early cartographers reached the end of of the work of Sophocles and Euripedes was the known world, they scribbled the following lost. Humans came very close to losing com- warning: “Beware, dragons lurk beyond here.” plete touch with culture before the Dark Ages.4 The system of knowledge in 1000 was organizedaround dragons, demons, saints, and maryrs, Occasionally preserved were some temporal 0gures that inspired dread and uncritical awe.
works—such as the great Anglo-Saxon epic The smallest things—something falling of the Beowulf, Icelandic sagas, or German myths and kitchen table—and the largest—comets and fables—but as mentioned earlier, translations earthquakes—were attributed to the goings-on of all the European writings of this age would of little people, elves, trolls, fairies, and the 0t into one carton. Hence, our knowledge even devil. Magic was everywhere, as were shrines, of the lack of knowledge in the period is limited.
relics of saints, and miracles. Saints were the equivalent of modern-day celebrities likePrincess Di and Michael Jackson.
There existed little ambiguiy about right and wrong. The Church was viciously anti-intellec-tual; it countenanced no other court of justice.
Nothing diferentiated ecclesia (the church) and mundus (the world). Lovers of and searchers for knowledge beyond the Church’s teachings were in the motion picture `e Out-of-Towners skeptics. When these heretics were not reducedto ashes at the stake, they were exiled.
Europe contained about 60 million people in1000 Knowledge was reserved for and preserved in European population. In contrast, China had a monasteries, and it was far from temporal. It is population of about 100 million, and Japan a bit of a reach for Thomas Cahill to argue that had more than 4 million people. Europeans the Irish saved civilization in his book How the were sprinkled around in small villages. From Irish Saved Civilization—a title that kills all thesuspense in reading the book—but not too 4 I understand that the term “Dark Ages” fails the political much of an exameration. In part because of the correctness test in some quarters, wherein “Early Middle Ages” relative isolation of the island, the Irish pro- the vantage of an airplane, Europe would have of the village. According to Norman F. Cantor looked like an archipelago of dink settlements, in The Civilization of the Middle Ages, at least 80 surrounded not by water but by very dense percent of the population never moved more forest. In 1000, London probably accounted than ten miles from their place of birth. This is for 50,000 of the 1 million to 4.5 million one reason why many villages had no names: people living in England and Wales.5 Paris had There was no need to call the only place you’d about 20,000 people. Cordoba, Spain, was the most populous European ciy in 1000, with nofewer than 250,000 and as many as 750,000 In A.D. 1000: A World on the Brink of Apocalypse, residents. Only the Spanish cities of Cordoba Richard Erdoes vividly describes what was in store for the folks who left the village: world’s 0fteen bimestcities of 1000.
According to Norman F.
avoid it did. Roads, wherethey existed, were atrocious, Cantor in `e Civilization of the
Middle Ages , at leas 80
percent of the population
never moved more than ten
miles rom their place of
birth. `is is one reason why
many villages had no names:
`ere was no ned to call the
only place you’d ever know
anything but “here.”
Some people lived intowns and walled cities, large towns, twisting streets could barely ac- killed, robbed, sold into slavery, or raped commodate a man with a fory-inch waist. By passersby. Had there been no amressive animals far the greatest number of people lived in of the two- or four-lemed variey, journeys still villages of less than 100 people, small settle- ments that were about 0fteen to tweny miles Flanders (modern-day Belgium) to Rome would woodlands or swampy bogs. For all but the mostadventuresome and those who had been exiled, Ten centuries before the movie `e Blair Witch an entire lifetime was spent within the con0nes Project, the woods were already a source ofterror. Such bedtime stories as “Little Red 5 Manchester guesses the population at 4.5 million, a muchhigher number than the speculations of Gies and Gies (1.5 million), Erdoes (more than 1 million), and Cantor (1 million).
Riding Hood” need to be read with the context To a modern audience, the story makes little of the Dark Ages—and the very real terrors of sense and may be read as a quaint tale appro- the period—in mind. Ms. Hood lived with her priate for children or an opportuniy to lam- mother on the edge of a large wood. One day, poon political correctness; however, for the her mother asked her to take a basket of goodies audience of the 0rst millennium, the tale was probably as scary as anything Stephen King has Garner parodies strident, intellectual liberal- ever written, because these threats (forests, ism in his version of the story, narrated in this passage from Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Population varied according to the times. In So Red Riding Hood set of with her basket any given century, there might be a half-dozen through the woods. Many people believe that years of absolute famine. One of every three or the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place so years brought a degree of famine. In these and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, periods, an entire village might disappear, its residents killed of by starvation. Gut-wrench- budding sexualiy that such obvious Freudianimagery did not intimidate her.
ing stories of deprivation have been handeddown: Scores of villagers in England jumped On the way to Grandma’s house, Red Riding hand-in-hand over clifs to suicide rather than Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked her face the inevitable sufering that comes with what was in her basket. She replied: “Some starvation; fathers legally sold into servitude healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is children under the age of seven; infanticide was certainly capable of taking care of herself as a The wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn’t safe On the positive side of things, plagues paled in for a little girl to walk through these woods comparison to the force they became in the late Middle Ages because there was so little pesti-lence-by-tourism (people stayed in one place) Red Riding Hood said, “I 0nd your sexist remark and pestilence-by-trade (rats and disease were ofensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it not transported from one village to another because of your traditional status as an outcastfrom sociey, the stress of which has caused you to through mercantilism). Cities occasionally were develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, hard hit by epidemics, but none saw anything if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.”7 like the 50 percent death rate of the BlackDeath plague in the fourteenth century.
The drama unfolds with the wolf beating Ms.
Hood to Grandma’s, eating the grandmother,dressing up in her nightclothes, and hostingthe girl, who is ba6ed over how big hergrandmother’s eyes, nose, and teeth havegrown. The wolf eventually coughs upGrandma, and ends up chopped into pieces bythe old lady.
In 1000, the rigid trappings of the caste systemof the High Middle Ages were ledgling, thoughthe Church was rigidly hierarchical. Among the laiy, certain ambiguities and varying degrees ofworthiness muddied the waters.
Sing whatever is well made,Scorn the sort now growing up The kings of 1000 ruled relatively small swaths of land. France’s “king” at the time, for ex-ample, is better described as the Duke of Paris, `eir unremembering hearts and heads since he would leave the ciy infrequently and could never fully depend on loyaly or securiyoutside the ciy limits. William, who conquered England in 1066, was not a French king but Each kingdom had unclear boundaries. Within Porter-drinkers’ randy laughter. any one kingdom, inhabitants of the manyvillages, towns, and cities battled each other, and numerous dialects further divided citizens.
A king in 1000 resembled an owner of numer-ous plantations in the antebellum South.8Nonetheless, the monarch was expected to livean active life as sportsman, warrior, levier of taxes, and source of social order. He was sur-rounded by a throng of sycophants, retainers,0ghters, and slaves, who all did their best tomake him feel powerful.
Below the king ranked other nobiliy—namely,princes, dukes, counts, and lords—thoughmany of these nobles held greater sway andwealth than kings in other lands. Wealth hingedon farmable acreage, number of slaves, and sizeof police protection.
Although lacking a title, a landowner of signi0-cant propery and multiple farms came next on 8 Strictly for trivia contests, the showcasing kings of 1000 wereas follows: England’s Ethelred II (The Unred), France’s RobertII (The Wise), the Holy Roman Empire and Saxony’s Otto III,Hungary’s Stephen I, Poland’s Boleslav I, Norway’s Olaf I, andRussia’s Vladimir. The Sung Dynasty ruled China. The Popewas Sylvester II.
Reprinted with kind permission of Martie Holmer. the Medieval Age’s list of who’s who. On large estates, people were rank ordered (1) steward, or devices; however, attention to the past and day-to-day administrator, (2) miller, (3) smith, future seems largely absent from human con- sciousness in Europe’s Dark Ages. Christianiycomforted people with the promise that some- The vast majoriy of people were peasants and thing good came after the sufering of life, but serfs. Peasants cobbled together a living by to villagers, the words “yesterday” and “tomor- farming small patches of land behind their row” had little meaning or consequence. Life village home. Serfs did likewise, but rented was strictly about the needs of the present day: land from the elite, paying taxes and sharing 0nding enough to eat, warding of invasion, crops with the master. Unlike peasants, serfs and simply surviving. Ergo, individuals con- were not free. In England, they were called ceived of the relevance of their own lives and villeins. While serfs could plow and harvest crops the lives of others much diferently than we do from a small piece of land that they called their today. Notions of self-awareness, identiy, and sympathy were much more limited then than master’s lands. Serfs toiled nearly as hard for now. Psychotherapists would have had a tough nobiliy as slaves did, but legally they had a time building a market in the year 1000.
In this less complex time, people used simple At the bottom of the list were slaves, who were names, such as “Eric” or “Maude,” and their treated much as the enslaved were from Old kids were known as “Eric’s son” or “Maude’s Testament times through the American Civil daughter.” Just as commonly, villagers were War. Deemed and valued as propery, they were named after their features, for example, “the Fair,” “the Red,” “One-Eye,” or “Limp.”Royaly frequently linked the 0rst name to afeature; thus the Carolingians had Louis the Pious, Louis the Stammerer, Charles theSimple, Charles the Bald, Charles the Fat, andLouis the Slumard; the Saxons had Henry the Always remember, poliics are about Fowler; and the Anglo-Saxons had Edwy theFair, Edgar the Peaceful, Edmund the Ironside, and Harold the Harefoot. Last names were rare and quite unnecessary. Surnames, at least in England, did not come into vogue until themid-twelfth century.
The leaders of the Greek, Chinese, and Romanempires valued organized knowledge anddemonstrated an interest in the history of manand the planet. They planned for the future by roof was thatched with straw, broom, orheather. It rotted easily and often caught 0re.
Stone was used only to erect castles and grandcathedrals, even though older Greek andRoman cultures widely used stone for a variey of buildings. The home contained a hearth ofhot coals for cooking and heating and straw to provide comfort for sleeping. Chairs were rare, but the family might have a bench. Chests heldthe family’s few possessions, like bowls and jugs.
Sod, wood, and thatch sheltered people. If a In the morning, odds were excellent that you good storm came along, you’d have to rebuild.
would awaken next to one or more of the family Sometimes, a budding architect would attempt sheep, goats, dogs, chickens, or cats. The to add a second story, usually with grim results.
notion of familia encompassed not just immedi- By the thirteenth century, second stories had ate and extended relatives but also slaves, in the second story that the family’s animalswere sheltered, hence the expression “raining Aside from the hearth’s 0re, there might be a cats and dogs” is quite literal. The right torrent beeswax or tallow (mutton fat) candle for light of rain and wind indeed would cause the pets to within the home. The tallow candle must have added to the ripe aroma of the medieval house-hold. Lighting had limited bene0ts, anyway.
Storms were part of everyday life and attribut- Nobody could read, and even if they could, able to and predictive of astounding things.
there was nothing to read. Candlelight was used primarily in the mornings and early evenings In May, thunder presages a hungry year . . . In Privacy is a 0xation of the modern age.
the month of July, thunder signi0es crops Lovemaking, bathing, and toileting did not turning out well, and livestock perishing . . . If leave the stage of public viewing until the it thunders on Sunday, this is considered to seventeenth century or even later. The toilet of presage an extensive mortaliy of monks and the home of 1000 was just outside the back nuns . . . Of thunder on Wednesday, there isno doubt that it presages the death of idle and door. There, on the ground, would pile up human and animal excrement, urine, and lastnight’s leftover bones. (In case you wonder, The village home was one room with a dirt moss was the preferred toilet paper of the day.) loor and no windows. The medieval peasant’s This was the golden age of lies. Some scholars home measured about ten-by-tweny feet. The have hypothesized that the human sense ofsmell must have changed over time. Certainlytoday we could not tolerate the odor of the Peasants died with no more possessions than their simple home and their clothes. Even remedy. During the 900s, Bald’s Leechbook, a noblemen left little inheritance. Erdoes cites guide to the cures and remedies of the age, the will of a Catalan baron whose propery at death consisted of “all his furniture, to wit: one Danziger’s description of it follows.
featherbed, three coverlets, two rugs—one offelt and one not of felt. Likewise all his money, Its remedies were conveniently listed in de- scending order from the head to the toe. Onecure for a headache involved binding the stalkof the herb crosswort to the head with a red bandana, while chilblains were to be treated with a mixture of ems, wine, and fennel root.
smok, it ofered only small advantages over the Right in the middle of the remedies, along with peasant’s shack. As the baron’s will makes clear, other ministrations to the groin area, was listed interior decoration was minimalist in the the Viagra of the year 1000—the yellow- lowered herb agrimony. Boiled in milk,agrimony was guaranteed to excite the man whowas “insu2ciently virile”—and if boiled in Welshale, it was described as having exactly the contrary For a spider bite, you would fry, crush, and eat `e art of medicine consiss of amusing black snails. Smoke from smoldering goat’s the patient while nature cures the hair helped relieve lower back pain. If you burned bees, you could make an ointment of their ashes and retard baldness. When bleeding, leeching, and herbal remedies did not work,you could try cautery. Sans TLC and little white The practice of bleeding and the applying of hats, your nursing staf would apply red-hot leeches is not just an over-the-top conjecture iron pokers to your body—acupuncture with an of contemporary historians and physicians.
People bled and leeched to the hilt. Bleedingwas quite simply viewed as the purging of bad Nobody knew what a germ was, but everyone things—like demons—that had gotten into the knew what an insect was. Because individuals bloodstream. It may seem like folly today, but customarily owned one set of clothes, the skin bleeding retained its populariy (though cer- came alive with little gnats, ticks, and lice.
tainly not its efectiveness) well into the nine- Actually, most people in Europe went naked teenth century. Of course, the results were whenever the weather allowed, because nudiy iatrogenic to the max. (In deference to the was far better than dealing with insects. In years squeamish, we will not discuss the medieval of famine, it might have been necessary to practice of trepanning, or drilling holes into the exchange that one set of clothes, anyway, for Bathing was almost unheard of in Christian three-and-one-half inches today). Women of Europe. Only in monasteries would soaping and the period were not excluded from the world of cleaning the body be undertaken, though ex- tilling, hoeing, and other kinds of manual tremely infrequently. One English monastery’s labor. Lacey and Danziger conclude that people log required that monks take 0ve baths every started shrinking in size as the population year, which Lacey and Danziger point out as being fanaticism by Anglo-Saxon standards.
smallness was not reversed until the late nine-teenth century.
The Moors, in contrast, associated cleanlinesswith godliness and bathed regularly. A Muslim Health was relative, as was life expectancy. Half ambassador to the Slavs recorded the following the people died before the age of thiry. If you extended an AARP card. At0fy or older, you were When bleding,
leching, and herbal
remedies did not work,
you could try cautery.
Sans TLC and lixle
whie hats, your nursing
staf would apply red-
hot iron pokers to your
body—acupuncture with
an axiude.
girl carries the same bowlwith the same water to the marriages, sending of the bride and groom to The average height and weight of people at the a fairly private place in the nearby woods. For time is di2cult to assess. Manchester believes the only time in their lives, they got a vacation— that the average man stood 0ve feet and weighed a full lunar month of R&R. Villagers provided 135 pounds. Lacey and Danziger 0nd evidence them with a couple of quarts of mead, made of that men in England were a bit shorter than honey, along with the gruel du jour. The tradi- they are today (0ve feet, eight inches compared tional month after marriage was thus nick- to 0ve feet, nine inches today) but that women named the “honeymoon.” It is hardly surpris- were about an inch taller (0ve feet, four-and- ing that a good number of brides came home ers. The shortage of chickens made this meal arare event. With dinner, you might eat a poundor more of bread. In a ypical day, a European `is place certainly reks of hospialiy of the clern or nobiliy ate more than threepounds of breads made of wheat or rye. Along and good cher . . . or maybe it’s this with apples, pears, and nuts, the peasants’ diet advice to stick with a low-fat, high-0ber diet.
referring to Clark Gable’s character’s manners in the motion picture Red Dust broccoli, caulilower, or brussels sprouts.
These foods were not imported until much In good times (the unfamines) you ate two square later. Worse for vegetarians and carnivores meals a day. The morning meal was served shortly alike, there was no such thing as cofee or tea, after rising, or between 8:00 and 10:00 A.M., sugar, or chocolate. Honey was the only sweet- and supper was served anywhere from 3:00 to 5:00 P.M. Meals were healthy compared to today’s preferred cloves, mustard, caraway, and pepper.
fast food. They included lots of cereals andquite a few vegetables, with starch in the form Meat was special. England and many other areas of bread. Protein was harder to come by.
of the continent were crowded with wild boars,and pigs were domesticated, although not Grain sustained life. Cooked whole, the gruel or plentiful. You might occasionally get served a cereal fed the peasant’s family. Ground by water huge pork sausage (we’re talking the size of a mill, it became oat, barley, wheat, or rye lour for bread. Much progress in the area of processing provided by goats and sheep, was far rarer, and grain would be made in the years immediately after 1000: In the year 1000 there were only 100 horses could be eaten, but cows were valued for mills in all of England; however, the Domesday Book milk and horses for plowing 0elds. The hunter logs 5,624 mills by the year 1086, and that 0gure who stumbled on a deer was one luck fellow, as venison was worth its weight in gold. Swanswere in reasonable supply, as were cranes, In villages, peasants ate a steady diet—twice-a- crows, and herons. If you lived close to an day, everyday—of gruel made from wheat, inland river or lake or the sea, 0sh—particularly barley, rye, or oats. The porridge simmered in eel, trout, and herring—were plentiful and a pot on a trivet over the hearth’s coals. If you popular. In late fall, pork and herring were salted lived in a larger town, ciy, monastery, or and beef was dried and salted for the long winters.
castle, you might dine on several soup courses—one of cabbage, another of watercress, one of The dry martini was nine centuries from being em, and maybe another of carrots, peas, or created, but wine and beer were abundant. On beans. If you were really luck, you got cheese the continent, where grapevines proliferated, soup. If you were really, really luck, you got wine was made and consumed in huge quantities.
chicken soup, which was known even in the year Little was stored or left to age. In England, where 1000 as having soothing and restorative pow- grapes were harder to grow, mead was a respect- able substitute. Both there and in Germany, ale see that poultry was not de0ned as meat. About was popular. During the much later reigns of one pint of wine daily rounded out the monk’s Henry VII and Henry VIII (the sixteenth cen- tury), the king set a per capita allowance of agallon of beer per day. Fortunately for moms anddads, per capita included kids. This gives some sense of just how much alcohol was consumed inearlier times. And there was no aspirin.
Fasting was not so popular as eating but about pounding, and I felt, I felt a funny as common. Some years, as noted previously,were worse than others were, and famines led to tingling all over y’know. I don’t know, I mass starvation. Cannibalism was not unheard was either in love or I had smallpox. of. Families who could not aford anothermouth to feed might defy the church and abandon their newborns to nearby woods.
motion picture Take the Money and Run Some months, even in good years, were worsethan others were. July, for example, was a In England, all human beings were called menn.
relatively barren month. It was late for the spring One human being was called a mann. If you goodies like dandelions, peas, and carrots, and it wanted to distinguish the genders, males were was early for root vegetables. Another terrible called waepnedmenn (weaponed-menn) and time of the year was late winter/early spring, the females were called wifmenn (weaving-menn), a period after things stored over the winter had word which obviously is the source of the been consumed but before spring shoots had modern word “wife.” Technically, words such as materialized. The custom of fasting during the “chairman” or “mankind” or “man” (repre- senting the human race) are very consistent with Anglo-Saxon usage and show no partialiytoward either gender. I would not bother Royaly ate better than the peasants (surprise, surprise!) A monarch, duke, or count wouldentertain special friends at a long table. People Peasants, as mentioned previously, had one set would eat from common platters 0lled with of clothes, full of vermin. In the village in roasted pigs, apples, and beans. A cup of wine or warm weather, many fashion plates went nude.
ale was passed from person to person and was Men of the nobiliy wore knee-length tunics and always replenished by the help. Jumlers and cloaks, open on one side and fastened on the left musicians might entertain during and after the shoulder with clasps. They also wore undershirts meal, which frequently would last hours.
and hose. Women always had their heads covered,in obedience to religious dogma.
In at least one monastery, the diary shows thatmonks ate 0sh two to four times weekly, along Male servants and serfs wore their hair short, with ample quantities of cheese and ems.
while landowners and the nobiliy wore it long.
Under Benedictine policy, monks could eat no Women prided themselves in very long braids.
meat; however, the monks cleverly managed to The Church frowned on sex, admonishing the mal taxes and retainers you could collect. If you clern to avoid it and urging the laiy not to were a monk, you lived a peasant-like lifesyle enjoy it, even within marriage. Most everyone, of course, engaged in and presumably enjoyedit, including the clerics. The Catholic Church Commerce between societies was quite limited had not yet extended formally to clern the fringe and nothing like the east-west, north-south bene0t of celibacy. Many monks, bishops, and trading and transportation dynamic of Roman popes married freely. The wills of bishops and times. Silk from the Middle and Far East seeped priests before the last millennium regularly into Europe’s royal circles and courts. The dispersed propery to their wife and kids.
Islamic caliphates exported silver and horses;India exported spices and gold. Vikings tradedfor these goods furs, honey, and weapons.
Economic Development International trade was just beginning to expand again, most amressively in Flanders.
Flemish merchants huddled for protection in Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey, burghs, or fortresses owned by local royaly. As Where wealth accumulates, and men decay; the bourgeoisie grew in number, they built walls Princes and lords may lourish, or may fade; around themselves and began to resemble thedenizens of today’s gated, suburban communities.
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride, By far the bimest, broadest, and most lucrative When once desroy’d can never be supplied. trade was in slaves.13 For most Americans, A time there was, ere England’s griefs began, slavery always will be associated with the forced When every rood of ground maintain’d its man; importation of Africans, but slavery was com-mon in ancient civilizations as well as in the For him light labour pread her wholesome sore, Jus gave what life requir’d, but gave no more; His best companions, innocence and health;And his bes riches, ignorance of wealth. The Romans had set the bar very high on slave- based entrepreneurship, but the early medi-evalists were not exactly pikers. When you conquered a village, you made of with anyresident sized up as slave material. Slaves As Cantor diferentiates the classes of 1000, possessed utterly no rights and could not own propery or marry without permission. Slaves fought), or prayed, according to their station could be granted their freedom, in which case in life. As a peasant, you grew your own food in they might lead a more normal life. Ireland’s St.
a small plot behind your house, between the Patrick, for example, was abducted from his village and the big, bad woods beyond. You English home while he was a young lad and sold made your clothes from the wool of sheep. You into slavery, but ultimately he was freed.
built your home out of scraps from the woods.
Or, you were a king, prince, emperor, or a factotum in their ranks and lived off the mini- “Slave” comes from the word Slav, the Slavic people being a particularly bountiful source of slaves in this era.
Actually, by the year 1000, slavery in Europe So primitive were transactions that the simple was starting to lose its edge and appeal. The “plus” (+) and “minus” (–) signs did not appear Church urged its faithful not to enslave a in European culture until much later. Roman person other than a Jew, Moor, or pagan. As numbering left a lot to be desired. Try multi- agricultural yields increased due to the intro- plying the Roman numbers MCDVII and DIX.
duction of heavier plows and more e2cient use Only much later did the abacus come along and of horse collars, enslavement of people was slowly loosing its economic incentive.
England and Moorish Spain had currency in 1000, but aside from a few noble families,currency simply did not circulate much in therest of Europe. The economy consisted of I don’t fel that I have to wue everybody bartering and the exchange of goods within a out, Tom. Jus my enemies. `at’s all. single village. Intracontinental trading mightinvolve transporting English woolens to France.
motion picture `e Godfather Part II England’s silver coins gave rise to an intriguingway of taxing people. Every two or three years, Crimes of the eleventh century are fairly all the coins of the realm were declared void.
indistinguishable from crimes of our time.
People raced down to their nearest mint, about seveny of which were sprinkled around the country, and exchanged the old coins for new teachings. But how perpetrators were handled, ones. For every ten coins brought in, the judged, and penalized was radically diferent redeemer got eight or nine back. Some of the diference compensated the minter for all hisbother and some was sent to London as tax. In The elite—which included noblemen, land- unstable budgetary times, one presumes that owners, knights, and clern—regularly escaped the king shortened the shelf life of the coinage.
conviction for crimes. They were held to a If he was running up a big surplus, he might lower standard than peasants, serfs, and slaves.
pleasantly surprise his constituents by stretch- Even when judged guily, the elite received ing their use. By the way, if in your coin collec- diferent penalties than did the ri7af. Mur- tion you 0nd an English coin dated 997 or der was far from a clear-cut matter. Perhaps a 1001 A.D., recall that Arabic numerals were not duke stabbed to death one of his slaves. As rationale, he might have argued that the slavefailed to meet job expectations. The bene0t of Other ingenious forms of taxation included doubt would go to the duke, hence no convic- pontage (charging anyone for the privilege of tion. The opposite would be true had the slave using a bridge), rivage (a toll for wading across a stream), and péage (a foot tax for walking acrosssomebody’s land).
A lord might take the life of a peasant and be judged guily without reason. The lord’s penalymight have been payment of a 0ne—a grieffund—to the peasant’s family, whereas a peasant I am always sorry when any language is murderer might get hanged. If a nobleman was lost, because languages are the pedigree convicted of an unreasonable and particularlyegregious ofense, he might get the death penaly, but it would be carried out in the humane manner of beheading by axe, as op- Life of Boswell: Tour to the Hebrides posed to the mode of executing peasants:burning ofenders at the stake or subjecting Because of
the limied
opportunities for
travel, many
isolated villagers
formed dialecs
indecipherable in
villages as close as
weny miles away.
have at hand, mostlywritten by monks, no such were adjudicated throughvendetta. Families simply justice to those who harmed them. In Living in the Europe. This original language gave rise to the Tenth Century, Heinrich Fichtenau recounts such Romance languages of Spanish, French, and an example from the seventh century, wherein Italian, the variances of which keep American Bishop Landibert of Liège was upset that two visitors on their toes. Because of the limited brothers had harmed his servants. The bishop’s opportunities for travel, many isolated villagers dependents and kin killed the brothers. The formed dialects indecipherable in villages as next of kin of the brothers subsequently had to kill the bishop. Vengeance upheld honor, the England’s multiple personalities of Gaelic, criminal justice system got a pass, and justice Celt, Breton, Greek, Roman, Anglo, Saxon, Jute, and Norse (or Viking) melded and pro-duced the rich tongue of Englisc (Angle-ish).
The many original tongues produced a slew of synonyms for words within the English lan- was miserable, and to wage war in this season guage. Historically, if you wanted to bring up a required expensive clothing. Spring was re- child, you reared him in English or raised her in served for planting, which left late fall as the Norse; both words eventually were incorpo- best time to pick a 0ght. You not only had able-bodied men with fewer constructive things diferent grammars and word endings denoting to do, but you could count on raiding silos full tense and gender, English-speakers simpli0ed words by removing the clumsy endings thatendure in German, Slavic, and Romance “Wars were self-perpetuating,”14 David Fromkin languages. It is no accident that English is the writes in The Way of the World. Feudal leaders attracted to their service the best-skilled war- relative simpliciy of the grammar and the riors. In a tight labor market, the leaders had to explicit meanings make it a logical choice (that recruitment, these leaders had to constantly and the fact that Americans and Brits intransi- acquire new land and booy to pay the warriors, gently resist learning any other language).
requiring of course more warriors for suchconquests. As mentioned earlier, leaders didnot preside over nations so much as clusters of villages and towns. There were probably acouple of hundred kings in northern Europealone. The fact that these monarchs could not keep their hands of one another, lead to a stateof near-constant warring as well as an entire class of nobiliy entirely occupied with support- ing or plotting against the monarch du jour and warring, enslaving, and collecting taxes on his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid behalf. These pez cabals were a far cry fromthe more successful military-industrial empires The absence of decent roads did not stand in of China, Rome, Greece, and the Mayan world.
the way of barbaric and incessant warfare. Theage’s barbarism might make you cringe, but lest In such a world, the bevy of brawn prevailed; you feel holier-than-thou, consider the fact the strong of brain were superluous. Erdoes that in our modern times the combined efect believes that people were roughly viewed as the of two world wars and the despots Hitler and equivalent of livestock. If you killed of the Stalin caused more deaths than the entire peasants and serfs in an enemy’s territory, you hit him in the pocketbook. The strong robbed,killed, and despoiled the weak. Men and women Battles were largely seasonal. You would not were murdered, mutilated, castrated, and had drag in from the 0elds of summer young men limbs hacked of. General rules of war were tilling, weeding, and watching over the crops con0ned to refraining from (1) 0ghting on that meant survival in the upcoming winter.
holy days and the Sabbath, (2) violating nuns Even in the warmer-than-now climate, winter and wounding unarmed clerics, (3) pestering into battle stark naked. The latter certainly took folks who sought sanctuary in a church, (4) advantage of the element of surprise, but the burning cloisters, (5) destroying crops, and (6) former seems more pragmatic. In a compro- cutting down olive trees. In some areas, it was mise between the two wardrobes, the bravest of also considered uncouth to rape and pillage all Vikings were called Berserks, or “men who villagers after dark, steal all the wax and honey fought without shirts” (serks).
from a person’s beehives, or not leave a peasantone horse for plowing.15 Vikings and Manars, being utterly ruthless,subscribed to no rules. The blood curdled atthe prospect of an incursion by either group.
As I undersand it, port is hard work for particularly noxious Viking means of playinghardball was the “blood-eagle.” The victim’s ribs were chopped of along the spine andspread apart like wings so that the quivering As summer television ratings have proved, humans 0nd great appeal in wrestling. Of all through the open back. Prodding poisonous village games and sports in 1000, nothing came adders down the victim’s throat or through a close to the populariy of the wrestling matches hole carved into the stomach also made good maneuvers carefully plotted is anyone’s guess.
The costumes of war ranged from the Vikings’ Chess was played here and there, and a variation on tic-tac-toe provided fun for the whole family.
helmets to the Irish Celts’ custom of running his is not the end. It is not even the begnning Tof the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the future. In this spirit, this essaycelebrates the coming millennium (Are we paying attention to thebig picture or diverting our mathematics, law, and thearts—people whose legacieshave greatly enriched our lives.
The efect of brain science research or the We also might get into the habit of asking home-delivered meal is much greater than we ourselves not simply whether an innovation can fully appreciate. Outstanding stewardship create certain ends but the far more important should be recognized and rewarded immedi- question of whether we want those ends. For ately, not 10 years later, and certainly not 100 example, do we wish for endless life through science? Do we want humaniy to becomemachine-like and machines to become human- prophesize the condition of the Earth in theyear 2100 (the subsequent turn of the century) The past, present, and future all are worth or at the next millennium (the year 3000). In celebrating. We can best milk the millennium, or put it to progressive use, if people unite inappraising and celebrating all three histories.
1 recognize that our full potential is unreal- 1 imagine where we would be had we not lost 1,000 years of progress and dedicateourselves to never again doing so; and 1 envision how those who are sufering (the poor, sick, troubled, and undereducated)might be alleviated.
Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1996.
Cantor, Norman F. The Civilization of the Middle Ages. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Erdoes, Richard. A.D. 1000: A World on the Brink of Apocalypse. Berkeley, California: Seastone, 1998.
Fichtenau, Heinrich. Living in the Tenth Century: Mentalities and Social Orders. Chicago: Universiy of Chi- Focillon, Henri. The Year 1000. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1969.
Fromkin, David. The Way of the World: From Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Tweny-First Century. New York: Garner, James Finn. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. New York: Macmillan, 1994.
Gies, Frances and Joseph Gies. Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel. New York: Harper Perennial, 1995.
———. Life in a Medieval City. New York: Harper Perennial, 1981.
———. Life in a Medieval Village. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.
Lacey, Robert and Danny Danziger. The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium: An Englishman’s World. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1999.
Manchester, William. A World Lit Only By Fire. Boston: Back Bay/Little, Brown and Company, 1992.
McNeil, William H. Plagues and Peoples. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1998.
Reston, James, Jr. The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1998.
“The Year 1000: What Life Was Like in the Last Millennium,” U.S. News and World Report (August 16–



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