Archives for posts with tag: legacy of manorialism

the dutch have been exceptional for quite a long time (see here, here, and here), and new york city (new amsterdam) inherited their exceptionalism. here’s colin woodard on “new york values” [kindle locations 144-150]:

“While short-lived, the seventeenth-century Dutch colony of New Netherland had a lasting impact on the continent’s development by laying down the cultural DNA for what is now Greater New York City. Modeled on its Dutch namesake, New Amsterdam was from the start a global commercial trading society: multi-ethnic, multi-religious, speculative, materialistic, mercantile, and free trading, a raucous, not entirely democratic city-state where no one ethnic or religious group has ever truly been in charge. New Netherland also nurtured two Dutch innovations considered subversive by most other European states at the time: a profound tolerance of diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry. Forced on the other nations at the Constitutional Convention, these ideals have been passed down to us as the Bill of Rights.”

the dutch are located nearby, even half in, the heart of “core europe” — known as austrasia back in the day — the region in northwest europe where outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of close cousin marriage), nuclear (not just residential nuclear) families, and manorialism all appeared earliest in the early medieval period (and maybe southeast england, too). here’s a map of the frankish kingdoms, including austrasia, with the location today’s netherlands (very sloppily) indicated (by me):

austrasia - the netherlands

as you can see, the frisians are a bit of an exception — they were not a part of austrasia or the frankish kingdom until the 700s. i discussed the frisians in a previous post. apart from them, however, the dutch have been members of core europe since day one. why though do they seem to be not just core europeans but exemplary core europeans, what with their individualism and tolerance for diversity and their own northern renaissance and golden age? they’re really over the top core europeans. more core european in many ways than even the northern french who should, according to my outbreeding/manorialism theory, be super core europeans.

i really started to wonder about this when i read the other night that the netherlands was “very sparsely populated before 1500, and manorialism was of little importance.” huh?! i knew the frisians (like the ditmarsians) were never manorialized — that’s why they’re all a bit “wild” (i think) — but that wouldn’t make sense for the rest of the dutch. well, i think i’ve got it. and it turns out that the (evolutionary) history of the dutch is very interesting indeed!

to refresh everyone’s memory: manorialism — in particular bipartite manorialism — originated with the franks in austrasia probably in the 600s. here from michael mitterauer’s Why Europe? (which, if you haven’t read it by now, i might just have to ban you…) [pgs. 38-39 – this is mitterauer quoting another researcher]:

“‘I have introduced the concept of an early medieval ‘Frankish agrarian revolution’ that is implictly linked with the thesis that the…manorial village, field, and technical agrarian structures associated with this concept did not develop in Thuringia but were introduced as innovations — in a kind of ‘innovation package’ — from the western heartland of the Austrasian part of the empire…. I should like to reformulate my hypothesis thus: this type of agricultural reform was first put in motion in Austrasia around the middle of the seventh century, or somewhat earlier, under the Pippins, the majordomos of the Merovingians…. This innovation then caught on with nobles close to the king who in turn applied it to their own manorial estates. It would be most compelling to assume that the new model of the hide system — with its *Hufengewannfluren* and its large blocks of land (*territoria*) that were farmed in long strips (*rega*) — was also put into practice in the new settlements that were laid out by and for the kingdom (at the discretion of the majordomos) along the lines of a ‘Frankish state colonization.'”

mitterauer concurs and goes on to present much historic evidence showing how the frankish manor system was spread by the franks right across central europe over the course of a few hundred years (see also here). since “every society selects for something” — and since bipartite manorialism was a HUGE part of medieval northwest european society for something like six hundred years (depending on the region) — i’ve been trying to think through what selection pressures this manor system might have exerted on northwest “core” european populations (along with the outbreeding and the small family sizes — yes, there were undoubtedly other selection pressures, too). my working hypothesis right now: that, among other things, the manor system resulted in the domestication (self-domestication) of core europeans. more on that another day.

i’ve also been trying to work out which populations were manorialized when and for how long (along with how long they were outbreeding/focused their attentions on their nuclear families). for example, if you missed it, see here for what i found out about eastern (and other) germans.

now i’ve found out the story for the dutch. as i said above, the frisians were never manorialized. never, ever. which might account for why they’re, even to this day, a bit on the rambunctious, rebellious side. and up until the other evening, i thought the rest of the netherlands had been manorialized early on because it had been part of austrasia. but then i read that the netherlands was “very sparsely populated before 1500, and manorialism was of little importance.” *gulp!*

yes. well, what happened was: the netherlands was very sparsely populated before 1500, and there was, indeed, very little manorialism, but beginning in the 1000s, vast areas of peatlands in the netherlands (especially south hollad) were drained as part of large reclamation projects financed by various lords, etc. the labor was carried out by men who were then rewarded with farms in the reclaimed areas. much of this workforce was drawn from existing manors elsewhere in austrasia (in areas nearer to frisia, it would’ve been frisians doing the work/settling on the new farms). so inland netherlands, which was sparsely populated and where manorialism was not really present, was in large part settled by people from an already manorialized population. parts of austrasia had had manors since the 600s, and the reclamation projects began in the 1000s — and continued for a few hundred years — so that’s potentially 400+ years or so of manorialism that the settlers’ source population had experienced. thirteen generations or more, if we calculate a generation at a very conservative thirty years. some selection could’ve happened by then.

here from jessica dijkman’s Shaping Medieval Markets: The Organisation of Commodity Markets in Holland, C. 1200 – C. 1450 [pg. 12]:

“…the 11th to 13th centuries, when the reclamation of the extensive central peat district took place. The idea that the reclamations must have had a profound impact on the structure of society is based not only on the magnitude of the undertaking, but also on the way it was organised. Each reclamation project began with an agreement between a group of colonists and the count of Holland, or one of the noblemen who had purchased tracts of wilderness from the count for the purposed of selling it on. This agreement defined the rights and duties of both parties. The colonists each received a holding, large enough to maintain a family. In addition to personal freedom, they acquired full property rights to their land: they could use it and dispose of it as they saw fit. At the same time, the new settler community was incorporated into the fabric of the emerging state: the settlers accepted the count’s supreme authority, paid taxes, and performed military services if called upon….

“Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude have suggested that in the absence of both obligations to a manorial lord and restrictions imposed by collective farming practices, a society developed characterised by ‘freedom, individualism and market orientation’. In their view this is part of the explanation for the rise of the Dutch Republic (with Holland as its leading province) to an economic world power in the early modern period. The argument seems intuitively correct, but the exact nature of the link between the ‘absence of a truly feudal past’ and marked economic performance at this much later stage is implied rather than explained.”

i’ll tell ya the nature of the link (prolly): biological — the natural selection for certain behavioral traits in the dutch population in this new social environment.

according to curtis and campopiano (2012), the reclamations and settlements in south holland were made almost entirely on a ‘blank canvas’.” they also say that the reclamation projects [pg. 6]:

“…led to the emergence of a highly free and relatively equitable society…. In fact, the reclamation context led Holland to become one of the most egalitarian societies within medieval Western Europe…. In the Low Countries, territorial lords such as the Bishop of Utrecht or the Count of Flanders managed to usurp complete regalian rights over vast expanses of wasteland after the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the tenth century. Rather than reclaiming these waste lands to economically exploit them directly, territorial lords looked to colonise these new lands in order to broaden their territorial area, thereby expanding their tax base.

“The consequences of this process were significant for large parts of Holland from the tenth century onwards. Both the Bishop of Utrecht and the Count of Holland lured colonists to the scarcely-inhabited marshes by offering concessions such as personal freedoms from serfdom and full peasant property rights to the land. The rural people that reclaimed the Holland peat lands between the tenth and fourteenth centuris never knew of the manor or signorial dues. In fact, many of the colonists in the Holland peat-lands originated from heavily manorialised societies and were looking to escape the constrictions of serfdom, further inland….”

i need to double-check, but i’m pretty certain that this is a quite different picture from what happened during the ostseidlung. while colonists to the east received their own farms, they still had signorial obligations (owed either labor or rents to the lord of the manor) — i.e. they were tied to manors for as long as the manor system lasted. that’s a different sort of society with different sorts of selection pressures for behavioral traits.

so the dutch — at least the dutch in holland (they *are* the dutch, aren’t they?!) — are descended from a population that spent 400+ years or so in a manor system, some of whom (self-sorting!) then jumped right in to a system where they were free and independent peasants working on their own and trading their wares in markets (another crucial part of the story…for another day). and they’ve been doing the latter for nearly one thousand years. well no wonder they invented capitalism (according to daniel hannan anyway)!

i still think that the combination of frisians+dutch/franks might’ve been the winning one leading to the enormous success of the tiny netherlands as i said in my previous post on the dutch. now, though, i would add manorialized/non-manorialized to that paragraph as well:

“the combination of two not wholly dissimilar groups (franks+frisians, for instance), with one of the groups being very outbred (the franks) and the other being an in-betweener group (the frisians), seems perhaps to be a winning one. the outbred group might provide enough open, trusting, trustworthy, cooperative, commonweal-oriented members to the union, while the in-betweener group might provide a good dose of hamilton’s ‘self-sacrificial daring’ that he reckoned might contribute to renaissances.”

previously: going dutch and trees and frisians and eastern germany, medieval manorialism, and (yes) the hajnal line and big summary post on the hajnal line and medieval manorialism’s selection pressures

(note: comments do not require an email. some hollanders.)

jayman’s got a cool new post up on clannishness and western inventiveness! here are a few thoughts from me…

jayman said re. the abstract thinking type of westerners vs. the holistic thinking type of easterners (a la nisbett) [my emphasis]:

“[A]nother key difference between Western vs. Eastern (i.e., WEIRDO vs. clannish) thought: the former see things (and themselves) as atomized individuals, while the latter view objects in the world as part of an interconnected whole. This is a defining aspect on the clannishness dimension: low-clannishness peoples (WEIRDOs) see themselves as atomized individuals, who form associations voluntarily and not necessarily based on kinship. High-clannishness peoples see themselves as inherently part of the group (e.g., family, clan, tribe, village/town, etc.)….

“How did this penchant for abstraction come about among NW Europeans? I suspect that part of it has to do with the rise of high-trust and social atomization (i.e., individualism) in NW European societies. As clannishness disappeared, and as people were no longer bound to their families or clans (and indeed, we were free to interact with non-relative in cooperative ventures), people became more free to engage in intellectually stimulating thought. Mental space previously devoted understand one’s place in society and keep ahead of schemers now could be used on more abstract pursuits.

while it’s an interesting idea, i don’t think that freed up mental capacity once dedicated to clannish traits was co-opted in the brains of westerners (nw europeans) in their post-clannishness state and then devoted greater abstract thought. maybe. but i suspect the connection is (somehow) much more direct: i think (theorize, speculate, etc.) that in simply becoming more independent individuals — i.e. less genetically like others around them thanks to outbreeding — that the mindset simply shifted. atomized individuals, atomized (and, therefore, abstract) thinking. please don’t get your panties all in a bunch. yes, this is complete and wild speculation on my part. i can’t even guess what the mechanism might have been, so don’t sue me if i’m wrong. (nw europeans, btw, began to think of themselves as individuals in the middle of the eleventh century a.d.)

another much more informed guess: that nw europeans’ exceptional ability for inventiveness especially in science (which cannot be divorced from their high average iqs — as jayman pointed out, africans are pretty inventive, but without enough iq points, no one there’s going to the moon) has a LOT to do with the selection pressures that happened thanks to the manor system which was found in nw europe during the middle ages, specifically bipartite manorialism.

to back up for a sec: inventiveness/creativity/scientific reasoning in east asians, or the relative lack of it. jayman suggests that their tendency for holistic — and, therefore, not abstract — thinking hobbles east asians when it comes to inventiveness, etc. that, i think, makes a lot of sense. i do think, though, that the cochran-harpending idea of conformity in east asia (“nails hammered down”/low levels of adhd) also makes a lot of sense. the two ideas go well together, imho. wrt the “nails hammered down” hypothesis, my bet is that that selection process goes waaaay back. complex chinese civilization (that centered around the yellow river valley) is three or four thousands of years old. i think they’ve been hammering down the contrarians/independent thinkers there for a very long time. greg cochran has mentioned that the high-altitude adaptation of tibetans works better than those of other groups adapted to living in the clouds because the tibetan adaptations have been under selection for longer (even some acquired from the denisovans and/or other archaic humans?). i suspect that this is why conformism/lack of independent thinking is so strong in east asia: it’s been under selection there for a very long time. northwest europe’s civilization is obviously much, much younger.

now, to return to northwest “core” europeans: i strongly suspect their inventiveness/abstract thinking style/scientific thinking (and other behavioral traits, for that matter) were selected for thanks to the the following medieval trifecta:

– outbreeding (i.e. the abandonment of close cousin marriage) which meant that the selection for nepostic altruism was curbed since family members would no longer share so many “genes for altruism” in common (see: renaissances), PLUS individuals became “atomized” (therefore more abstract thinking arose, etc.);
– change in family types from extended to nuclear, which again would limit the selection for nepotistic altruism since individuals would interact more with non-kin than family;
bipartite manorialism, which began in frankish territories in northeastern france/belgium and spread across nw and central europe in areas that are pretty much coterminous (prolly not coincidentally) with the hajnal line.

oh. and the ostsiedlung.

bipartite manorialism, in which tenant farmers would work for (later pay rent to) the head of a manor but also farm for themselves, operated as a sort-of franchise system in which the tenants on their individual farms had to make it or break it independently (i.e. without support from an extended family/clan, the dumber members of which would no longer be a drag on our independent farmers). there was, no doubt, cooperation between the tenant farmers which, once the outbreeding reduced the selection for nepotistic altruism, could’ve resulted in the selection for a more general, reciprocal altruism. but bipartite manorialism, i think, would’ve also selected for other traits like a propensity to be hard working, delayed gratification, and inventiveness: those individuals who came up with new ideas for improving their farming (or related) techniques could’ve bettered their place on the manor and been more successful reproductively.

chonologically, bipartite manorialism came first, arising out of the abandoned latifundia system in what had been roman gaul perhaps as early as the 500s. there also appears to have been pressure from very early on on these manors for nuclear families, so the reduction in family size may very well have come next. finally, the avoidance of cousin marriage came into full swing in the frankish territories in the 800s.

the final stage — at least as far as the medieval period goes — in the selection for “core” europeans was the ostsiedling: this was The Big Self-Sorting to the east of individuals who were already well underway to being outbred/manorialized in western germanic regions — in other words, they were well underway to being westernized as we know it. i don’t think it can be a coincidence that the heart of human accomplishment in western europe (which is also pretty much the heart of human accomplishment) is found in the manorialized regions of europe and very much where the ostsiedlung happened (see also here). my bet is that it was very much hard-working, innovative (especially, at the time, in agricultural/engineering techniques), high-achievers who went forth into the east during the medieval period. and they prospered and multiplied once they were there.

so that’s the picture as i see it so far. i reserve the right to change my mind/be utterly and completely wrong. (~_^)

oh. wrt to thinking like a westerner (abstract/atomized) vs. thinking like an easterner (holistic/group), i still suspect that peripheral europeans (like me!) might think more like easterners (i.e. holistically) than northwest “core” europeans. dunno for sure, and i didn’t have enough data to confirm or refute this little idea, but i’m still hanging on to it for now. really wish an actual scientist would check it out.

jayman also said [his emphases]:

“The reality is that evolution proceeds much quicker than you think. Just as HBD’ers generally understand that human evolution didn’t stop 50,000 years ago, it also did not stop 10,000 years ago, or even 1,000 years ago, or even 500 or 200 years ago. Evolution continues right up to the present day. The reason I bring this up is because I keep hearing about how X group was doing this 2,000 years ago or about how Y group was doing this 1,000 years ago, so how could they be so different now? The reason is that they have changed since that time.

hear, hear! and…duh! human evolution is recent, both global and local, ongoing, and can be pretty rapid. not in one generation, obviously, but twenty or forty is plenty of time. also, gene frequencies in populations move upwards or downwards over time — they do not (have to) remain stagnant. i quoted stephen stearns recently (here):

“Well I think what is very probably going on is that selection is moving a population up and down all the time. It goes off in a certain direction for a while, and then it goes back in the other direction. It’s only if you get a significant change in the environment that it will then continuously go in a new direction.”

and average differences in gene frequencies in populations is all you need for average differences in behavioral traits, etc. for example, i think the ancient greeks might’ve moved from a shame to a part-guilt and back to a shame culture again thanks (at least in part) to changes in mating patterns over the course of several hundreds of years. evolution does not have to be unidirectional.

anatoly karlin said:

“Ancient Greeks did a lot of abstract thinking, and produced the greatest cultural/scientific peak until the Renaissance (according to the same Charles Murray’s figures). During the Middle Ages, in pure scientific terms, the Islamic world was most advanced. The Renaissance began in northern Italy. Only in the 17th century did the bulk of scientific discoveries move to NW Europe.”

as i mentioned above, it looks like the ancient greeks (the athenians) went from inbred to outbred and back to inbred again. mind you, i only have some pretty slim historic/literary evidence for that, so you should take my claim with a large grain of salt, but i’ll keep working on the Greek Question. the romans, who were also pretty sharp, at least when it came to engineering, were very clearly outbred (they bequeathed their outbreeding practices to us). the renaissance did begin in northern italy, and that doesn’t come as a big surprise to me ’cause northern italy was the most heavily manorialized part of italy (i’ll tell you more about this in my long overdue series on manorialism). northern italians were also prboably quite outbred during the medieval period, although further research is required on that front, too. the scientific revolution, however — especially the development of the scientific method — was very much a north european baby, though. from what i understand of science in the medieval islamic world, most of that was down to the persians. can’t tell you anything about medieval persian society, unfortunately, ’cause i don’t know anything about it.

that’s it. outta energy. more soon!

(note: comments do not require an email. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.)

i promised myself that i wouldn’t post any more about france until i’d finished reading robb’s The Discovery of France (and some other materials on that nation), but i’m too impatient, so here goes.

here from Fréquence et répartition des mariages consanguins en France is a map of consanguineous marriages among catholics in france between 1926 and 1945 (this map made a previous appearance on the blog in this post):

france - consanguineous marriages - roman catholics - 1926-1945

last week i posted a couple of maps showing how the distributions of these historic cousin marriage rates in france and the various regions in which different crops are grown are largely congruent — historically there was (prolly still is) a greater avoidance of cousin marriage in the wheat growing areas of the country versus the grass covered areas of the pastoralists (and even those areas inhabited by olive and grape growers!). this is undoubtedly a legacy of medieval manorialism since, as mitterauer has convincingly argued, manorialism was all tied up with wheat/grain growing AND the institution also helped to promote the avoidance of cousin marriage.

normally i don’t like to use a population’s modern cousin marriage rates to try to guess what their past rates might’ve been — it’s dangerous and one shouldn’t make assumptions. mating patterns change. however, in this case, based upon what i know about the history of medieval france, especially the franks and their adoption of christianity, and the patterns of manorialism in northern europe, i think it’s probably safe to assume that the regional differences in the cousin marriage rates on the map above probably do reflect cirumstances on the ground in france for the last few hundred years — perhaps even one thousand. note that i’m not saying that the cousin marriage rates were the same in france in the past as in the early twentieth century, just that these same regional differences probably existed — i.e. that those areas with lower cousin marriage rates in the 1920s-1940s probably had lower rates than the rest of the country for a very long time, etc. going forward, this will be my working assumption for france, but please keep in mind that it is an assumption. could be wrong. if i come across any data contradicting — or supporting! — this assumption, i’ll let you know!

something robb says early on in The Discovery of France [pg. 12] caught my eye:

“Tales of isolation and ignorance tend to be associated with spectacular exceptions and with regions that lie beyond what some French historians have termed ‘an enlarged Paris Basin’, which accounts for more than one-third of the country — an enormous parallelogram [sic] stretching from Lille to Clermont-Ferrard and from Lyon to Le Mans, where ‘men, ideas and merchandise’, all identifiably and self-consciously French, had supposedly been pumping through the system since the Ancien Regime.”

if we map that…

le parallélogramme

…sacrebleu! that’s not far off…

france - consanguineous marriages - roman catholics - 1926-1945 + le parallélogramme

and here overlaid onto todd’s family systems (as best i could =/ )…

todd - traditional family systems of europe + le parallélogramme

my guess is that robb’s paralleogram — the “enlarged paris basin” — represents the most manoralized, most oubred region of france. (i guess, too, that it prolly can be extended a bit to the east). this is “core” france, and the peripheral regions like brittany (where the le pen family is from) and the massif central area further south have experienced more inbreeding (or less outbreeding, depending on how you want to look at it) and so those subpopulations will be more clannish than the population originating from inside le parallélogramme. in other words, brittany and the massif central areas should be thought of as france’s scottish highlands or english borderlands.

indeed, a report from transparency international seems to indicate that, looking away from paris which has no doubt attracted all sorts, there is more corruption in peripheral france than in core france. (i know that it’s also difficult to say much about southern coastal france since there are so many immigrants there.) [source]:

france - regional corruption

also, i previously found, using the world values survey data, that the population in the area officially categorized as “paris east” is the most civic in france. part of paris east falls within le parallélogramme, but much of it lies further to the east, perhaps indicating that robb’s parallelogram should also be extended further to the east. the cousin marriage rates certainly suggest that. we shall see.

and, as we’ve already seen, there are some pretty clannish sounding populations in peripheral france in places such as the auvergne and the greater roquecezière metropolitan region. (~_^) still, Further Research is RequiredTM.

btw, the ancestors of french canadians came mostly from regions bordering on or outside of le parallélogramme and acadians (cajuns) originated entirely from outside this “core” france (see here).

vive la france! (^_^)

previously: meanwhile, in france… and mating patterns in france and topography (and history) and crops and cousin marriage in france and civicness in france by region and the auvergnat pashtuns and the battle of roquecezière and big summary post on the hajnal line and what’s up with french canadians?

(note: comments do not require an email. l’hexagone.)

just sayin’. (^_^)


map via max roser.


previously: mating patterns in france and topography (and history)