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