Re: Heortling social structure and wergeld confusion - a clarification

From: Greg Stafford <glorantha1_at_sV2cquiWK5drvAquUn01aH0azVGvQOu3uE8_erry9TW1bFZmF8Hf8hppNVmWzuJ4U>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 15:39:01 -0000

YGWV Sorry to be entering this so late. My regular email account has gone haywire.

I am not sure what you mean by "significantly different lifestyle," but I would say that thanes and cottars DO have significantly different lifestyles far beyond the belt buckles.

Thanes are leaders, and their primary responsibility is not in hard labor. They are leaders, organizers, communicators and decision makers.
Cotters, especially, have a difficult life of gardening to feed their families (no plows for these guys), manual labor, etc.

> >It has been said that devotees are exceptional people who
> >must be supported by the clan since they don't have enough time and
> >opportunity to lead a normal life (that of a carl).
> That's true of specialized subcults. A devotee of Esra isn't going
> to do much weaving because she's going to be performing magic and
> otherwise helping farmers to grow barley. However a devotee of
> Orane is going to be running the weaving shed. Supported by the
> clan is a bit misleading because their magic provides greater
> value for the clan than "normal" tasks.

This is correct. A devotee does the work to which she is devoted. "Supported by the clan" means they don't have to do the normal work of a farmer.

> >I think thanes are
> >such specialists, and even those that are initiates don't really
> >the time to be out there plowing the fields and milking cattle. No
> >doubt they do some of that, but their primary responsibilities lie
> >elsewhere.
> But what is their specialism?

See above: organizing, leading, arbitrating, settling disputes, designating workers for this or that, etc.

> All Orlanthi are fighters so they
> don't need protecting by a warrior nobility. The huscarls the
> chief appoints and supports are the few full time warriors but
> don't have any special status because of this.

I disagree. See my other post, but these guys are weaponthanes--a VERY special status.

> In my view even
> they help out at peak farming times like harvest.

It is common that EVERYONE helps out at harvest, even very young children, cripples and the old. The harvest time is a very, very small window and absolutely critical to survival. Miss it and you starve to death. I know people who read histories will find time and again that armies of commoners dissolve at harvest time because they go home to harvest. They dare not do otherwise.

> Nor do they
> need an elaborate management structure, in any activity they
> will choose one of the most experienced people and follow
> their lead.

The thanes ARE those experienced people.  

> >On the other hand, I think I understand what you mean. Now that
> >thought about this a bit more, I think the communal model fits well
> >within steads, families and bloodlines. The thanes, as the heads of
> >bloodlines (and the heads of families in smaller steads) make the
> >decisions regarding wealth. The thane is well off, and has nice
> >things, but the level of personal extravagance is less than it
> >be in a true feodal society.

Thanes are probably not as different from their carls as knights were from their peasants, but the feudal and tribal life style are not the same at all. You are right that a thane won't be as different from a cottar, but he WILL have nicer clothing (linen instead of wool, dyed in different colors, with jewelry etc.) and eat better, have nicer furniture, and so on.

> I think the thane's mother will make the decisions about wealth.
> She's probably the only person who actually knows what's been
> hidden away for future need. Asrelia/Ty Kora Tek doesn't share
> secrets without good reason.

The wife of a thane is a thane, and these decisions are naturally made by the leaders involved. I don't think the norm is for the old lady to have an exclusive hold on wealth.  

> >I hear you. I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle
> >(thinking how many thanes, huscarls and warriors a clan supports,
> >how the wealth for this is generated and distributed), but I'm not
> >forgetting that the power and position isn't permanent or
> Since a typical clan is about 1200 including children you are
> talking about supporting maybe 50-60 full time warriors.

At maximum! 10% warrior class is pretty high. I would suggest a 10% of all non-laboring people, of which half would be warriors. The others are specialists, priests, leaders, etc. So I'd say 25-30 full time warriors in a clan.

> The
> clan could possibly support twice that number but that's
> unlikely. A more peaceful clan might get away with as few as
> 30. To pay for them the chief gets a share of everything
> produced - probably about 10% although with payments to the
> tribe and Lunar tribute it may need to be as high as 20%. The
> chief may well have other sources of income such as fees
> charged to foreign traders at the clan market.

That is correct. Everyone contributes a share of their food and other goods to the clan chieftaincy. The chief distributes this to his household.

Greg Stafford            

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