the middle ages

working hypothesis: that the medieval period was a d*mned interesting time wrt selection pressures on europeans (and by europeans i mostly mean northern europeans, altho interesting stuff undoubtedly happened in the south, too) and a lot of the genes for the characteristics we associate with h. europaeus were selected for during this time period.

i know — it’s a long time period, but that doesn’t make it any the less interesting or remarkable.

you’ve got:

– the ashkenazi jewish iq thing [opens pdf], a la cochran, laurel and hardy, and harpending. (you might quibble that they’re not really europeans — ashkenazi jews, that is, not cochran, et. al. my point is, tho, that their high average iq — the ashkenazis, that is — seems to have been selected for in medieval europe.)

– the middle class traits and general independent spirit of the english (and possibly other northern europeans) prolly being selected for starting in the medieval period.

– the shift from tribes to not-tribes via the changing mating patterns which prolly impacted altruism genes amongst other behavioral traits.

– manoralism. not sure what traits might’ve been selected for due to the manoralism system in europe. for one thing, the manors, along with the church, contributed to the, relatively speaking, genetic unrelatedness within some european populations. that the manor system never really took hold in places like greece and italy (according to mitterauer) might explain a lot about those populations. also, i’m guessing that manoralism — which wasn’t very powerful in england either (feudalism arrived quite late there, no?) — might’ve select for somewhat docile personalities. you know — individuals who will go along with what the masser (whether that be the monastery or the lord of the manor) or the group has to say rather than being fiercely independent? conformists, in other words. think: germans.

– the ostseidlung. the eastward expansion of germans (and others) in many cases within the manor system again. selective pressures?: for hard, efficient workers. again, not too uppity. high-ish iq?

– meanwhile, southern spain and italy had arab/north africa settlement and rule for a time. ireland and other “celtic fringe” areas ignored the church regulations on marriage and didn’t really adopt the manor system, either. eastern europe? who knows? (somebody other than me!)

– the black death.

new year’s resolution for 2012 (is it too early to make resolutions?): think and learn more about the selective pressures on european populations during the middle ages.

previously: and so my next question naturally is… and setting the stage

(note: comments do not require an email. think, think, think.)



  1. “You might want to check out the following two articles of mine”

    I read both of those a while back. They were food for thought.


  2. @caleo – “Have a cool Yule and many thanks again for the always interesting commentary and conjecture.”

    conjecture’s what i got plenty of. (~_^) hope your christmas was great! (^_^)


  3. @peter – “A very Merry Christmas to you and your significant others!!”

    thnx! hope yours was great, too. (^_^)

    @peter – “You might want to check out the following two articles of mine.”

    cool! i absolutely will!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s