medieval manorialism and selection … again

dennis put an interesting post up yesterday — well, all of dennis’ posts are interesting, this one is just particularly so! (^_^)

he describes a paper published in Intelligence last year titled: The social and scientific temporal correlates of genotypic intelligence and the Flynn effect. i haven’t read it, but something dennis said about it caught my eye:

“[S]ome of Woodley’s main points include: IQ rose among European populations from the Middle Ages to the present, reaching a 105 average in 1850, and has since declined….”

i can well believe the second point about the decline! =/

regarding the first point — that iq among europeans (specifically northern europeans, afaics) began to increase in the middle ages — well, i wondered about this possibility before. specifically, i wondered if the prevailing economic system of the day in northern europe — manorialism — might’ve selected for bright individuals because you had to be bright to make a go of working the land as a tenant on a manor (i.e. tenants weren’t slaves — they had to be successful at farming their holding or run the risk of losing their tenancy, at least at some points during the middle ages) — AND the brightest farmers very likely would’ve married the brightest hausfraus. and these bright tenant farmers would, presumably, have left behind plenty of bright little tenant farmers in succeeding generations.

yesterday, i read something in A Millenium of Family Change:Feudalism to Capitalism in Northwestern Europe that might back up that idea [pgs. 38-39]:

“Inheritance for peasants did not normally extend beyond the next of kin, and an eligible heir had to be produced on each holding or there was a risk of reversion to the lord. The feudal mode of production was thus characterized by a strong linkage of landholding to marriage and marriage to procreation. Those without land could not easily marry, and those with land had to marry and produce offspring to keep the holding productive and in the family. Only legitimate offspring (i.e., those sanctified by wedlock) could succeed to a holding. The timing of marriage was normally dependent on entry to a holding, and marriage was the principal social regulator of fertility. The land-poor therefore tended to marry later than well-established peasants, and to raise fewer children. The poorest stratum did not reproduce their own numbers in most periods. The population grew by means of a molecular process of downward mobility engendered within peasant families. Those young adults who were not favoured by inheritance and lost out in the scramble for established village holdings became the mass labour force of the system’s extensive growth, moving to the periphery and clearing new land.”

that is selection, my friends. (if that’s how it was.)

that “moving to the periphery and clearing new land” refers to the ostsiedlung which also could’ve selected for all sorts of neat traits/behaviors in these new settlers in the east, the germans. some of them i can imagine are: hard-working, smarts, and possibly a preference for “Ordnung” and authority since these settlers were not independent freeholders but tenants on manors. working for The Man, those who did not rock the boat too much perhaps succeeded better.

previously: assortative mating and the selection for high iq in (some) medieval european populations?

(note: comments do not require an email. the peasants are revolting!)

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20 Comments

  1. That all makes complete sense. But my reading of Gregory Clark’s book (as I remember – I read it a few years ago) emphasizes death rates among the poor. With infectious disease pretty much a constant, those able to raise their children with better nutrition and sanitation had more surviving ones.

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  2. @dennis – “But my reading of Gregory Clark’s book (as I remember – I read it a few years ago) emphasizes death rates among the poor.”

    sure.

    but clark, i think, talked more about the upper classes in england succeeding with a downward movement coming out of that class. what i thought was interesting here was to see someone referring to a similar sort of pattern amongst the tenant classes (i.e. your average to above-average household farmer, but not wealthy folks) — and that it happened in areas beyond england, too (i.e. anywhere there were manors — basically nw europe).

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  3. I believe northern IQs rose at some point. I’ve mentioned before that Nordish art is pretty boring before 1000, moreso before 700.

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  4. hey baby.

    if i wanted to be as smart as you, what books would i have to read? you need a bibliography for all this. no studies, real books.

    maybe you have one in the archives, i don’t know.

    don’t just dash off titles that occur to you pell-mell if you haven’t; give it some thought.

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  5. Clark published an interesting paper a few years ago titled “Genetically Capitalist?” From the abstract:

    Some reproductively successful groups produced more than 2 surviving children, increasing their share of the population, while other groups produced less, so that their share declined. But unusually in England, this selection for men was based on economic success from at least 1250, not success in violence as in some other pre-industrial societies. The richest male testators left twice as many children as the poorest. Consequently the modern population of the English is largely descended from the economic upper classes of the middle ages.

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  6. “But my reading of Gregory Clark’s book (as I remember – I read it a few years ago) emphasizes death rates among the poor”

    I think what this is saying is the process Clark describes of the industrial revolution middle class replacing the people below them had happened before with *the medieval version* of the middle class who were the manorial tenant farmers – in England the yeomanry (who were the guys with the longbows) – doing the same thing.

    So the process would go something like you’d have the aristos and the peasants and the top 1/3 of the peasants would be selected to be the skilled working class aka yeomanry, and their offspring gradually replaced those below them over many generations and then the industrial revolution came along and the top 1/3 of the yeomanry become the new whitecollar middle class and then repeat the process as described by Clark.

    I think.

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  7. @g.w. – “I think what this is saying is the process Clark describes of the industrial revolution middle class replacing the people below them had happened before with *the medieval version* of the middle class who were the manorial tenant farmers – in England the yeomanry (who were the guys with the longbows) – doing the same thing.”

    yeah, that’s right. but clark only looked at england, and now this source suggests that this happened right across europe wherever manorialism was the economic system. so then we’re right back to the question of why did the industrial revolution happen in england? why not northern france or northern germany? what’s the missing element? what did the english have that the others did not if all of them had these middle class traits? hmmmm. (^_^)

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  8. @anonymous – “if i wanted to be as smart as you, what books would i have to read?”

    being smart (or not) is partly innate, haven’t you heard? (~_^) being informed/knowledgeable is something else of course.

    not sure what you’re asking for. just a bibliography for medieval european mating patterns? more than that (like about altruism and inclusive fitness and all that stuff)? lemme know and i can work something up (at some point).

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  9. “this source suggests that this happened right across europe wherever manorialism was the economic system. so then we’re right back to the question of why did the industrial revolution happen in england? why not northern france or northern germany?”

    This is why i mention Holland a lot. The band of terriotory where this process was taking place – basically the lowland strip along the north of europe from eastern England to western Poland

    – more or less maps to the later Protestant distribution. I’d suggest the reformation was a side effect of this process and the answer to your question lies in the different outcomes of the reformation in different places. Holland and England got through it intact. France expelled their outbred segment – mostly to England. Poland and Czechia got crusaded and Germany…

    had the worst war ever.

    So basically back to geography again – this time the advantage of corner countries :)

    (The corner countries in strategy games are usually the easiest :)

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  10. being smart (or not) is partly innate, haven’t you heard?

    How about inability to recognize irony?

    Will simply look through your archives, thanks.

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  11. @anonymous – “Will simply look through your archives, thanks.”

    well, i’m happy to work something up and post it — i’d like to get myself organized anyway (don’t anyone hold their breath…)! just wasn’t sure what you were interested in — the historical side of things or the theoretical. or both!

    reader requests are always welcome. (^_^)

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  12. @g.w. – “I’d suggest the reformation was a side effect of this process…”

    i agree.

    @g.w. – “…and the answer to your question lies in the different outcomes of the reformation in different places. Holland and England got through it intact. France expelled their outbred segment – mostly to England. Poland and Czechia got crusaded and Germany…had the worst war ever.”

    i wonder if there’s something about england and holland in that, while they had some amount of manorialism, they didn’t have as much as the french and germans. parts of holland — frisia, for instance — didn’t ever experience manorialism — and i just read something else the other day suggesting, similar to macfarlane, that private property popped up very early in england.

    something happened in england, i think, in which manorialism didn’t quite take hold as strongly as it did on the continent. it was there for a while — enough to help shake relatedness up — but then it was sloughed off for some reason, surviving for the longest in wessex, from what i gather.

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  13. @rs – “I believe northern IQs rose at some point. I’ve mentioned before that Nordish art is pretty boring before 1000, moreso before 700.”

    plus they weren’t really building any aqueducts or space shuttles back then, either, were they?

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  14. Both, certainly. This is only for me, I think stumblers could profit from having a single post listing tangible sources.

    Another thing that’s been bugging me … the consang tables have Latin Americans as about as out-bred as North Americans, yet clearly, they’re having far more reproductive success. Is this an effect of recent improvement of standards or what? Could the figure be drawn from urban as opposed to rural folk, who are more likely to knock up their kin?

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  15. @anonymous – “Both, certainly. This is only for me, I think stumblers could profit from having a single post listing tangible sources.”

    ok! yes, i agree — a bibliography is a good idea — and, like i said, i’d like to get myself organized anyway. i’ll try to work something up, prolly over the weekend or sometime next week (little busy here these days).

    @anonymous – “Another thing that’s been bugging me … the consang tables have Latin Americans as about as out-bred as North Americans, yet clearly, they’re having far more reproductive success.”

    from what i can tell, there’s not anything wrong with the latin american data on consang.net (like a rural/urban bias, although it would be great to have more data for the region in general).

    the thing with latin american — and, in fact, the data for all the regions on consang.net — is that consanguineous marriages are strictly defined on consang.net as being between first- and second-cousins (that is the formal definition of consanguineous — second-cousins or closer). but, at least in parts mexico, as i showed in a previous post, a lot of marriages are very local — in the barrio — so many, many latin americans are likely marrying a third- or fourth- or fifth-cousin. AND they have a much more recent history of consanguineous marriages as well since christianity arrived relatively late in latin america.

    things are, of course, changing in mexico as elsewhere and, presumably, not so many marriages are within the barrio anymore what with urbanization and migration — but i really have no data for that so i don’t know for sure. that is just a guess.

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  16. hbdchick
    “”i wonder if there’s something about england and holland in that, while they had some amount of manorialism, they didn’t have as much as the french and germans.”

    This is kind of what i mean when i talk about the physical geography. (I should actually try and check this some time) but i’ve been assuming that lowland strip along the northern edge of Europe was the most fertile and populous bit with large communal villages under the direct eye of the local priest and lord. I think manorialism as a mechanism would be at its most effective in those conditions rather than among a more scattered upland or pastoral population as the lord and priest would have more control.

    So i think manorialism combined with the cousin ban is likely to be the mechanism but i think the mechanism would have been at its most effective along that strip (and in a few other similar places like the Po valley).

    So then we get to the definition of as much – 200 years of strength 10 manorialism for 2000 points of effect or 400 years of strength 4 manorialism and 1600 points of effect?

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  17. Also the 30 years war was one of the nastiest and most destructive wars ever

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years'_War#Casualties_and_disease

    “estimates put the reduction of population in the German states at about 25% to 40%.[50] Some regions were affected much more than others.[51] For example, Württemberg lost three-quarters of its population during the war.[52] In the territory of Brandenburg, the losses had amounted to half, while in some areas an estimated two-thirds of the population died.[53] The male population of the German states was reduced by almost half.[54] The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to war, disease, famine and the expulsion of Protestant Czechs.[55][56] …Those that survived, like the small village of Drais near Mainz, would take almost a hundred years to recover. The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.”

    So maybe the whole northern strip hit lift-off at roughly the same time but England and Holland were the most protected from the consequences of one of the side-effects. So while the Dutch were doing this

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Golden_Age

    the Germans were rebuilding from the ruins.

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