warriors to courtiers?

in The Realm: The True history behind Game of Thrones ed west reminds us that medieval europeans were batsh*t crazy violent and that if you met one of them coming down the street, you would almost certainly want to cross over to the other side! [kindle locations: 563-615 – links added by me]:

“Drunkenness had always been a common feature of life in the Realm. As far back as the eighth century St Boniface, the Devonian who converted the Germans, complained that it was ‘a vice peculiar to the heathens and to our race, and that neither Franks, Gauls, Lombards, Romans nor Greeks indulge in’. Twelfth-century writer William of Malmesbury said of the English that ‘Drinking in parties was an universal practice, in which occupation they passed entire nights as well as days.’ In the early 13th century England went through one of its periodic booze epidemics, so that ‘the whole land was filled with drink and drinkers ’, and leading the way was the drunken King John, whose fondness for booze and lechery inadvertently gave the world its most important legal document – Magna Carta.

“By the end of the 13th century there were 354 drinking establishments in London…”

the population of london in 1340 was somewhere between 40,000-50,000 people, so that’s ca. one bar for every 140 persons!

“…and everyone drank heavily, although they did so among their own class – the wealthy drank in inns, the middle ranks in taverns, while at the bottom of the social ladder there were the alehouses, where violence was almost guaranteed. During this period court rolls, which began in the reign of the Lionheart (before 1189 in English law is literally ‘time immemorial’) are filled with accounts of drink-fuelled incidents, often involving ill-judged horseplay with axes, swords and farmyard animals….

“The worst drink-related incident occurred in 1212 when London Bridge burned down, with up to 3,000 charred or drowned bodies turning up on the banks of the river the following morning. The fire started in Southwark at a bring your own bottle party, or ‘Scot-Ale’ as they were called.

“John certainly led the way in the drinking stakes. He kept 180,000 gallons of wine at his personal disposal, a slight hint at alcoholism, and drank anything he could find. His drunken antics were famed, and no woman was safe.

“John also displayed signs of a violent temperament from an early age. As a boy he once lost his temper while playing chess, and smashed his opponent over the head with a heavy piece….

“John violated all the rules of war; after his victory over the King of France in 1202, he kept his prisoners ‘so vilely and in such evil distress that it seemed shameful and ugly to all those who witnessed this cruelty’. He massacred a garrison of his own men in Normandy, because he’d switched sides without telling them. Perhaps worst of all was the sexual depredations he committed against females of all ages, including several noblemen’s daughters; and he almost certainly murdered his 16-year-old nephew Arthur in a drunken rage….

“There was also inheritance tax. Some noblemen were charged up to £7,000 to take over their father’s or brother’s land, and the king often kept barons in a state of permanent debt, and threatened arrest or worse. The king kidnapped the wife and son of one such baron, his loyal follower William de Briouze, who had failed to cough up £3,500. When Matilda de Briouze blurted out to one of John’s men that they knew about his nephew’s murder, she and her son were taken prisoner and starved to death; their corpses were found huddled together, with the boy bearing tooth-marks on his body from where his mother had tried to eat him.”

aaaaand THAT gave me a nightmare! (or maybe it was the leftover pasta i ate just before going to bed. (~_^) ) somebody please tell me that matilda (maud) tried to eat her son after he was already dead. =/

that was all in the 1200s. what about later in the 1400 and 1500s? [kindle locations: 1171-1242]:

Elizabeth of York had already endured an unsettled upbringing. When she was three, her father was forced into exile, and his cousin killed her grandfather. Later one uncle murdered another and probably her brothers too. In 1475 she was betrothed to the dauphin of France and her training as a princess would have began; however that match was broken, and she was now free, or as it could be interpreted, vulnerable….

“Henry Tudor died in 1509, and within days his heir Henry VIII had two of his father’s moneylenders tried and executed in a show trial. It was a sign of things to come. As well as thousands of common people, the king had numerous aristocrats executed, most of them close relations with outside claims to the throne. Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, the White Rose, had been handed over to Henry VII in 1506, who had made a solemn pledge not to execute him. He kept that pledge, and instructed his son to kill him when he became king; this the youngster did. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who was descended from Edward III on both sides of his family, was tried for treason and executed by Henry VIII merely for ordering a new coat of arms with the royal insignia inserted. His father the Duke of Norfolk was already in the Tower of London awaiting execution, and would be saved only by the king’s death….

“Henry famously went on to have six wives in total, having executed Anne for adultery, and divorced Anne of Cleves, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, a powerful German state on the Rhineland. Apart from political reasons, Henry had fallen in love with her portrait, drawn by renowned German artist Hans Holbein. Unfortunately Holbein, the finest artist in the land, was not in the habit of upsetting his clients, and Anne was in reality rather plain, so much so that Henry called her the ‘Flanders Mare’. She also had bad breath and body odour, and the king confessed to a friend: ‘I had neither the will nor courage to proceed further.’ The marriage was never consummated, and Anne agreed to a divorce; strangely, they stayed good friends….

“The king remarried within a month, to 20-year-old Katherine Howard, who really did commit adultery; she was executed alongside her lover Thomas Culpeper, and just to make sure that his honour remained intact, Henry executed two previous lovers of Katherine, despite there being no suggestion of anything occurring since: one was her old music teacher and the other her cousin. And for good measure he had Howard’s lady-in-waiting executed just for knowing about the affair.

“Of his six wives, he is said to have only truly loved number three, Jane Seymour, who had given him a son, Edward, who succeeded his father in 1547. The boy king, just nine, was a fanatical Protestant and at 12 he had called the Pope the Antichrist in a tract. He once ripped apart a live falcon in a rage, and when he was 11 he had his own uncle, Thomas Seymour, executed.”

et cetera, et cetera. you get the idea. still pretty violent later in the medieval period. and these were the upper classes!

which got me to wondering, if the nonviolent english today really are descended, a la greg clark’s theory, from the upper classes of the past — well, how on earth, then, were all these violent traits knocked out of the population when the upper classes were the batsh*t crazy way that they were?

one really good theory for why violence declined markedly in europe beginning in the middle ages (and it has) is that the state simply removed from the population via execution the most violent members of society. took them right out of the gene pool and largely stopped them from reproducing. henry harpending has shown that, theoretically, this should’ve been possible in the time given (the ca. 800 years from the 1200s to the 2000s) if enough violent individuals were executed early enough in their criminal careers so that they wouldn’t have reproduced much or at all.

but were violent members of the aristocracy regularly executed? they were “the state,” weren’t they? were death penalty laws applied equally to that class? maybe. i really don’t know. but if not, wouldn’t their descendents just continually replenish the lower classes with individuals with violent traits? how did the upper classes become less violent?

in Better Angels, steven pinker references norbert eliasThe Civilizing Process on this [kindle locations: 1839-1847]:

“Once Leviathan was in charge, the rules of the game changed. A man’s ticket to fortune was no longer being the baddest knight in the area but making a pilgrimage to the king’s court and currying favor with him and his entourage. The court, basically a government bureaucracy, had no use for hotheads and loose cannons, but sought responsible custodians to run its provinces. The nobles had to change their marketing. They had to cultivate their manners, so as not to offend the king’s minions, and their empathy, to understand what they wanted. The manners appropriate for the court came to be called ‘courtly’ manners or ‘courtesy.’ The etiquette guides, with their advice on where to place one’s nasal mucus, originated as manuals for how to behave in the king’s court. Elias traces the centuries-long sequence in which courtesy percolated down from aristocrats dealing with the court to the elite bourgeoisie dealing with the aristocrats, and from them to the rest of the middle class. He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.

so, the idea, maybe, is that over time going forward through the middle ages it was the less violent aristocrats who became more successful at court and, therefore, more successful reproductively (and some of their kids filtered down into the lower classes)? dunno. haven’t read The Civilizing Process (now on The List). would be nice to have some numbers. there’s a ph.d. thesis here for some brave student. (~_^)

what would need to be worked out, too, imho, is whether or not the english artistocracy in, say, the 1400-1500s was less violent than the aristocracy of the 1200-1300s (and so on and so forth), because violence had already declined from 1300 to 1500. and, of course, it kept on declining. from pinker’s Better Angels:

pinker - fig. 3.3

that’s all i’ve got for ya today! i definitely recommend reading west’s The Realm! it’s a kindle single, so it won’t take you ages. just don’t read it before going to bed! (~_^)

oh, and wrap up…winter is coming!

previously: “violence around the world” and kinship, the state, and violence

(note: comments do not require an email. where are my dragons?!)

Advertisements

49 Comments

  1. Great post, as always.

    Steve Sailer once noted that even the nobles killed each other frequently (mostly in the early Middle Ages, however), so Clarkian replacement may have gone both ways – yeoman farmers replacing the lower classes and rising into the upper class.

    Reply

  2. The book looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation. Just a quick note. That’s not a Kindle Single, it’s a short, self-published book. Kindle Singles are a curated program.

    BTW, my own series of novels just crossed half-million sales, and HBD is a huge theme, which I have managed to slip under the radar, even though characters openly discuss things like racial differences in IQ and the possibility of breeding humans for desirable traits. Not even my publisher seems to have noticed. I do this by putting the HBD truths into the mouths of otherwise unsavory characters, but none of the other characters seem able to refute them, even though they try.

    And sorry, that’s all the info you’re going to get about it. Otherwise, the Crimethink will murder my career.

    Reply

  3. Violence was greater then than now, and I imagine alcohol consumption was as well, but compared to who else at the time? We don’t have such great records of what people were doing in other places. The eyewitness testimony of outsiders has value, but has its own problems. What they remembered from “back home” would be weighted strongly in favor of their own circle of friends, who they considered normal and representative, and not so much the outsiders back in Italy. That doesn’t make their observations invalid, but some discount must be applied. Compare this to how old guys like me look back and remember how much harder kids studied, and had jobs, and were respectful and such and they taught them better in the schools and all (And the vegetables were better and the girls prettier, too). Well sure – in your neighborhood, and among the literate, alert, ambitious people who would go on to become commenters on history, biology, and sociology on internet sites. That was perhaps 10% of the people, maybe less.

    Okay, not me specifically, because I grew up in a bad neighborhood and was a general screw-off, but you know what I mean. All those drunken Teutons may have indeed have been worse than the Romans and Byzantines back home. But I’m betting there was some selection bias in the accounts.

    Reply

  4. @sansfoy – “BTW, my own series of novels just crossed half-million sales, and HBD is a huge theme, which I have managed to slip under the radar….”

    excellent!! and congrats on the sales! (^_^) (you’re buying the next round. (~_^) )

    @sansfoy – “That’s not a Kindle Single, it’s a short, self-published book. Kindle Singles are a curated program.”

    it’s listed on the kindle singles page. -?- i think it is a kindle single.

    Reply

  5. You’re right, sorry. They must have changed how they put the information on the book page since I looked at it last. I glanced at it and didn’t recognize the layout.

    And I’d be happy to buy. What’s your drink?

    Reply

  6. “which got me to wondering, if the nonviolent english today really are descended, a la greg clark’s theory, from the upper classes of the past — well, how on earth, then, were all these violent traits knocked out of the population when the upper classes were the batsh*t crazy way that they were?”

    I watched Gregory Clarks lectures on youtube. He makes a distinction between the “violent aristocracy” and the “strivers”. His argument in Alms is that modern Anglos are mostly descended from the strivers and the violent aristocracy became demographically irrelevent. Certainly, there was mixing of the wealthiest strivers with some gentry. An example would be the Spencers of Althorp were once wealthy yeoman in the 1500s and later generations married with Churchills and famously Prince Charles.

    Reply

  7. My thought mirrors Pinker’s a bit in that I think the technology we have makes violence less effective. The invention of the gun makes physical strength less useful in a fight for for bullying and nuclear weapons make industrial war less useful.

    Prosperity and social consequences for violence cover the rest

    As for the most uncontrolled, some might have ended up killed over time, if not by executions than in reckless actions in war,

    Also as there area lot more outlets for antisocial impulses than violence and drinking, maybe the agressive guys are now business leaders or on Wall Street or just playing Call of Dutt . The agression is still there but its buried.

    Reply

  8. “which got me to wondering, if the nonviolent english today really are descended, a la greg clark’s theory, from the upper classes of the past — well, how on earth, then, were all these violent traits knocked out of the population when the upper classes were the batsh*t crazy way that they were?”

    The casualty rate among the aristos seems to be pretty high plus the frequencies of surnames like Smith, Carpenter, Baker, Miller, Tailor, Farmer, Weaver, Mason, Cooper etc hints at artisans being in the sweet spot between peasant mortality and aristo mortality.

    Reply

  9. Immediately after the Norman Conquest of 1066, the English aristocracy was replaced almost entirely by Duke William’s followers. The Welsh and Scottish rulers, even male ones made crossovers into the system over the next two hundred years. At the end of this time, about 16 familes owned 80% of the land and 65 families owned 90% (from memory). Disputes over the French crown and dynastic squabbles, particularly The Wars of the Roses took their toll as did the Battle of Bannockburn where many male lines in England were extinguished by the Scots. After the Battle of Evesham where the Yorkists exterminated the Lancastrians and the Battle of Bosworth where the pseudo Lancastrian Henry Tudor repaid the favour, virtually all the Norman familes had been wiped out. The Crown and the Church had by and large collected the land. The Duke of Buckingham, with his own little country and army in the Welsh March was the last of the Marcher Barons. The Howards in Norfolk survived as well. The oldest surviving Duchy belongs to the Howards, since 1483. Henry VIII dissolved the monastries which were usually bought on mortgage (the beginings of the City of London) by the chief lay brother (the farm or iron works manager). These became the next generation of aristocrats. Church lay officials were probably not selected for violence which might intimidate the monks. Out of about 600 hereditary peerages, only a handful (5 on a quick scan) predate Bosworth. These were well served by personally applied violence. The rest got there by getting rich through landownership, commerce, industry or enough wit & beauty to attract a King’s attention. And the Cecils who were outrageously clever in administering the realm for 300 years.

    Reply

  10. Some lists will say 800 peers but they include Irish Peers who sat in the Irish House of Lords which was dissolved in 1801.

    Reply

  11. From Beowulf.

    Heremod …
    He slew in anger his table-companions,
    Trustworthy counsellors,

    Beowulf …
    He lived in honor, belovèd companions
    Slew not carousing;

    GG Beowulf:
    carousing
    doesn’t slay you

    Reply

  12. Could the Black Death have played a part? Once economic power had moved from landowner to labourer, it might have been harder to say “Follow me into battle!”, in the sense that the ex-serfs might have replied “Not bloody likely!”

    Reply

  13. I do not know much about the murder rate of medieval England, but I presume the juicier the story was, the more likely it survived, especially if it involved the aristocrats. So it seems rather hard to actually assess the real rate of violence from such stories. It is like trying to make crime statistics based on tabloids. What’s more, the better organized and civilised they got, the better documented these events became.

    Also, the selection for non-violence does not have to necessarily be class based. It might be general or within certain classes. [that is the upper and middle class might be favoured for conscientiousness over the lower ones, while one can imagine a general selection for non-(physical)violence for all concerned.] What if a feud of two powerful families lead to the advancement of the by-standing less violent ones – even if one of the feuding families ended up victoriously? [you know – “Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone.”]

    Reply

  14. “what happened? did they mellow out by marrying down into the middle classes?”

    I think your post hints at it – violent traits select against themselves except when the difference they make in reproductive success is dramatic. In a lawless environment where not being violent means you don’t get to reproduce at all then violence will be self-sustaining. In a raider environment where being violent gets you 2 or 3 wives and lots of rustled sheep to feed the kids with then violent traits will be self-sustaining. But perhaps among medieval aristos where the psychos are killing each other at a very fast rate playing Game of Thrones maybe they kill faster than they breed? Or perhaps that combined with a lot of warfare at the same time. When you consider societies where the elite are a warrior elite they could potentially lose a huge percentage in one battle or a long sequence of bloody battles e.g. War of the Roses, 100 year’s war or 30 year’s war.

    Actually perhaps there’s something in that – pacification by war?

    Reply

  15. There is an assumption behind this note that I am not sure can be justified.

    What makes you think the aristocratic class was less violent than the folks at the bottom?

    In today’s world it is mal-adaptive for folks at the top to be particularly cruel and violent.

    I am not sure this was the case 1,000 years ago. Violence may have been an advantage in those days.

    On the same token, lower class folks who could suffer without launching revenge spirals they couldn’t win might have been better adapted to survive in a medieval world than the commoner who picked fights with every authority above him.

    Reply

  16. Well, have you ever read memories of partisans, or prisoners of gulags, concentration camps etc? While no doubt there is major genetic component in being prone to violence, being exposed to constant violence surely is a contributing factor too.

    Anyway, other people are part of environment too. When you remove some most the violent part, the environment become less violent for the others, and people should be flexible enough to react to changes in environment, so there is a place for cultural influence too.

    Reply

  17. ““Drunkenness had always been a common feature of life in the Realm.”

    I was in downtown London on a Saturday night several years ago and almost all the pedestrians on the street, overwhelmingly young, were drunk out of their minds. It was like an enormous outdoor drunken party. I asked a policeman standing by if it were always like this, and he said yes.

    Reply

  18. Luke Lea – the English have always been drunks. From Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition, “Liquor Laws”:

    In the year 1732 a complete and detailed survey of all the streets and houses in London was carried out by William Maitland, F.R.S. Out of a total of 95,968 houses he found the following: brew-houses 171, inns 207, taverns 447, ale-houses 5975, brandy-shops 8659; total number of licensed houses for the retail sale of liquor 15,288, of which considerably more than one-half were spirit bars. The population was about three-quarters of a million. About one house in every six was licensed at this time, and that in spite of attempts; made to check the traffic by restrictive acts passed in 1728-1729.

    Reply

  19. Chick –

    but were violent members of the aristocracy regularly executed? they were “the state,” weren’t they? were death penalty laws applied equally to that class? maybe.

    There were lots of attempts made to overthrow the monarch. Most of these ended up with the execution of anyone closely related to the losing claimant, to limit future challenges from claimed heirs of the loser.

    So while a nobleman might escape execution for killing or raping a commoner, he had a relatively high probability of being executed for being related to the wrong person.

    Reply

  20. @jayman – “Steve Sailer once noted that even the nobles killed each other frequently (mostly in the early Middle Ages, however), so Clarkian replacement may have gone both ways – yeoman farmers replacing the lower classes and rising into the upper class.”

    yes. perhaps the upper classes marrying the (pretty?) daughters of the middle class strivers? because the middle classes started to have lots o’ money? (^_^)

    Reply

  21. btw, here’s more from clark on how the english aristocracy — the normans in particular — didn’t disappear right away [The Son Also Rises – pgs. 83, 254-257]:

    “There is evidence that the population share of Norman surnames continued to increase from 1560 to 1881. For the sample used here, the share of Norman-derived surnames in the population as a whole was 0.32 percent in the years 1538– 99, 0.46 percent in 1680– 1709, 0.47 percent in 1770– 99, and 0.50 percent by 1881….

    “The Norman surnames are the most striking anomaly. Until 1800, Norman surnames were eight times more likely than the typical surname to appear among MPs. This implies an astonishing persistence of political status for the descendants of the determined band of adventurers who triumphed on the bloody battlefield of Hastings on October 14, 1066. More than seven hundred years later, their descendants were still heavily overrepresented in Parliament….

    “Norman surnames are also significantly overrepresented in English armies in the years 1369–1453, more than three hundred years (ten generations) after the Norman Conquest. This was the period of the Hundred Years’ War, the long struggle between the French and English crowns for control of the English-held territories in France. The evidence on the composition of armies comes from surviving muster rolls, which list soldiers engaged in English armies in France, Scotland, Wales, and elsewhere.

    “What is surprising, however, is the heavy concentration of Norman-derived surnames at all ranks of the armed forces. Even among the lowest ranks of the army, the archers, Norman surnames still show up at three or four times the frequency predicted by their population share. Archers were skilled workers, with wages comparable to artisans, but did not rank particularly high on the social scale. The preponderance of Norman surnames among them thus does not stem from the relatively high social status of these names: to the contrary, this should have led to Norman surnames’ being underrepresented in these ranks. Instead it seems to suggest that even ten generations after the conquest, the descendants of the Norman conquerors still had a taste and facility for organized violence. This hypothesis is supported by the share of knights and esquires in these armies with Norman surnames. This was 3–11 percent, much greater than the share of Norman surnames found in the more pacific realm of Oxford and Cambridge at the same time.

    “This particular concentration of Norman surnames in the realm of violence is not contemplated in the general theory of social mobility advanced here and thus represents an unexplained anomaly.”

    so, some of the violent aristocracy — the normans — didn’t kill themselves off in the early medieval period, were still pretty violent at the height of the middle ages, and were commonly found in the upper echelons of english society as late as 1800 (and even today). only they’re not very violent anymore. but they didn’t disappear (kill themselves off). what happened? (intermarriage with the more peaceful middle class is probably it, or was it just that individual violent normans killed themselves off? it’s worth considering elias’ idea, i think. especially since clark, himself, has a hard time accounting for them.)

    Reply

  22. @jayman – “As well, nice banner image! It fits you perfectly, for a variety of reasons. You should make it permanent! ;)”

    (^_^) DRAGONS! (^_^)

    Reply

  23. @assistant village idiot – “Violence was greater then than now, and I imagine alcohol consumption was as well, but compared to who else at the time? We don’t have such great records of what people were doing in other places.”

    oh, yeah. i’m sure everywhere else — or most places, anyway — were also extremely violent. seems to be a common “setting” for the human species. =/

    @assistant village idiot – “The eyewitness testimony of outsiders has value, but has its own problems.”

    the crazy descriptions are one thing, but the data from eisner (in pinker’s book) are from court records, so it’s not just a matter of outsiders telling tall tales. i posted about eisner’s paper here. (^_^)

    Reply

  24. @sansfoy – “And I’d be happy to buy. What’s your drink?”

    oh, h*ck – i’m not picky! as long as it doesn’t have an umbrella in it. (~_^)

    Reply

  25. @andrew – “I watched Gregory Clarks lectures on youtube. He makes a distinction between the ‘violent aristocracy’ and the ‘strivers’. His argument in Alms is that modern Anglos are mostly descended from the strivers and the violent aristocracy became demographically irrelevent.”

    yeah, that’s probably it. but there is still the problem of the normans — a group that clark describes as an anomaly. they were violent in the middle ages, multiplied, and remained at the top at least into the 1800s — but they’re not violent today. so, what happened? marryied some strivers (like the spencers — and the middletons?), prolly, like you and jayman suggested. they didn’t just kill themselves off completely (and, therefore, remove their violent genes from the gene pool).

    Reply

  26. @dearieme – “Could the Black Death have played a part? Once economic power had moved from landowner to labourer, it might have been harder to say ‘Follow me into battle!’, in the sense that the ex-serfs might have replied ‘Not bloody likely!'”

    could very well have. the peasants definitely became full of themselves after the black death what with their peasant revolts and all that. as if tptb passing laws saying that the peasants shouldn’t be allowed to move to where wages were higher was a bad or unfair thing. pft! uppity peasants. (~_^)

    Reply

  27. @nador – “I do not know much about the murder rate of medieval England, but I presume the juicier the story was, the more likely it survived, especially if it involved the aristocrats. So it seems rather hard to actually assess the real rate of violence from such stories. It is like trying to make crime statistics based on tabloids. What’s more, the better organized and civilised they got, the better documented these events became.”

    there are actually pretty good homicide records from england beginning in the 1200s. like you say, though, the documentation improves enormously going forward (by the 1500-1600s it’s pretty darned good). see eisner’s paper that i linked to/posted about here.

    @nador – “Also, the selection for non-violence does not have to necessarily be class based. It might be general or within certain classes. [that is the upper and middle class might be favoured for conscientiousness over the lower ones, while one can imagine a general selection for non-(physical)violence for all concerned.]”

    oh, that’s an interesting thought! thanks. (^_^)

    Reply

  28. @grey – “But perhaps among medieval aristos where the psychos are killing each other at a very fast rate playing Game of Thrones maybe they kill faster than they breed?”

    yes, that seems to be the thinking. but it doesn’t seem to apply to the normans — unless the specifically psycho normans were weeded out?

    dunno? hmmmm…. (^_^)

    Reply

  29. @t.greer – “What makes you think the aristocratic class was less violent than the folks at the bottom?”

    oh, i don’t think they were at all!

    Reply

  30. @panjoomby – “this clever fellow below considers Game of Thrones as borrowing Tolkien-like from the Norse Volsunga saga :)”

    oh, cool! thanks! (^_^)

    Reply

  31. @szopeno – “When you remove some most the violent part, the environment become less violent for the others, and people should be flexible enough to react to changes in environment, so there is a place for cultural influence too.”

    yeah! absolutely. good point! (misdreavus said something along these lines on twitter the other day.)

    Reply

  32. @philip – “…virtually all the Norman familes had been wiped out.”

    not all the norman families or greg clark would have no norman names to study today. (~_^) so, maybe mostly the ones at the very top. but as clark shows, even the lower ranking normans (like archers) had a propensity to violence, so it wasn’t just the ones at the top who were violent. (so eliminating them wouldn’t eliminate all the violent tendencies in the normans….)

    Reply

  33. they were violent in the middle ages, multiplied, and remained at the top at least into the 1800s — but they’re not violent today. so, what happened?

    Emigrated to America and Australia?

    Reply

  34. Except that the statistics show violence falling for centuries, so it’s not something that happened overnight.

    Reply

  35. @hubchik

    “yes, that seems to be the thinking. but it doesn’t seem to apply to the normans — unless the specifically psycho normans were weeded out?”

    That would be my view – or alternatively that the psychos with the least self-control were gradually selected out in favour of those with enough self-control to balance out the psychoness. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a still a disproportion of Norman names in the UK military – especially among officers – if, as a culture pacifies psychos survive in soldier ant form i.e. a mixture of psycho genes and self-control genes.

    I think the pacification process generally works the opposite way round to the way people think, that is the default case is for the frequency of violent traits to decline because violent traits *select against themselves*. People with violent traits will get in more fights, drink too much, climb higher trees, jump wider gaps, drive cars too fast, drive chariots too fast etc so I think their mortality rate will always be higher.

    I think violent traits only maintain their frequency in specific circumstances where violence creates a big enough reproductive advantage to outweigh the higher mortality.

    Starting at the beginning male gorrillas can never be non-violent or rather I bet non-violent male gorillas get born regularly through random mutation but they never reproduce except in zoos. Violence is the *only* way for male gorillas to reproduce.

    In a HG environment especially one where the females can feed themselves then if two 20 year old males are competing for a particularly fertile looking 20 year female then killing the rival makes perfect sense, then after having 2-3 kids with her maybe killing another man over another particularly fertile looking 20 year old female ten years later then doing the same at 40, 50 and maybe even 60 if tough / psycho enough.

    In a pastoralist raiding environment where the size of your herd and therefore the number of wives you can support is proportional to raiding then a non-violent male may end up with one wife or none but a violent raider might end up with three or four.

    In an inner-city gang ruled environment with mass unemployment violence will get you a string of pregnant 14 year old baby mothers. Non-violence will get you nothing.

    On the other hand among farmers who can only support one family violence doesn’t help – having multiple sets of kids has no benefit if you can only feed one set – so if violent traits select against themselves then that environment will pacify itself (although no doubt sped up by state formation and rule of law).

    In a peasant farming culture however the elite could still be violent if it benefited them because they could support more than one set of kids. In Europe the Church enforcing monogamy would have hindered this somewhat but the process seems to have occurred elsewhere as well so I wonder if as states formed and the state wanted a monopoly of violence the benefit of violence was gradually squeezed up the social scale until the benefit was restricted to the winner of the game of thrones himself – the top dude – enough violence to win the grand prize could get you a harem of concubines but too much violence lower down the pecking order just got you the chop?

    TL;DR

    Violence selects against itself except in environments where it provides enough reproductive success to outwiegh the higher mortality rate.

    Reply

  36. Not every Bassett, Sinclair, Mortimer or Montgomery would have been descended from a genetic Norman. The retinue (familiars ie. senior servants and personal guards) of a great house would have acquired the family’s name as a surname. Extermination of the highest ranking, which did occur, could have been a Darwinistic event. There would have been a bias to military occupations. Having said that Montgomery, the Field Marshall was a classic Norman.

    Reply

    1. @Philip Owen:

      The problem with that reasoning is that Y-chromosome analysis has shown that the historic non-paternity rate is very low, about 1%. This would include people who assumed surnames as well. Surnames are reliable markers of genetic heritage.

      Reply

  37. HBDchick-

    This essay by Randall Collins is very relevant. He argues that “Murderous Family Infighting” only happens when a certain set of external conditions are met…. and most fit the bill of the early Middle Ages.

    Reply

  38. @t.greer – “This essay by Randall Collins is very relevant. He argues that ‘Murderous Family Infighting’ only happens when a certain set of external conditions are met…. and most fit the bill of the early Middle Ages.”

    oh, thanks! (^_^)

    Reply

  39. @grey – “Violence selects against itself except in environments where it provides enough reproductive success to outwiegh the higher mortality rate.”

    i think that makes sense! (^_^)

    Reply

  40. @sansfoy – “Except that the statistics show violence falling for centuries, so it’s not something that happened overnight.”

    yes. except for the normans, a group which clark admits is an anomaly. hmmm…..

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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