Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Feudalism and Memetics

Thanks to baron_steffan for the pointer to this fascinating article on the subject of feudalism -- or more precisely, the falsity of feudalism. This eight-page discussion concisely explains how a post-medieval concept got quickly turned into a be-all-and-end-all explanation of how the middle ages worked, and how, over the past few decades, scholars have begun to recognize that it is oversimplified to the point of being more hindrance than help. (Summary: feudalism as usually understood in the SCA was more the exception than the rule; the "feudal system" as an overarching principle simply never existed. Reality just wasn't that neat.)

The article is doubly interesting as an example of applied memetics, though. This is historiography, not history -- the article is mainly focused on how this idea got entrenched, and how hard it is to dislodge the notion now that it's widespread. Once people set up a mental pattern, it tends to stick, and this is a great example of how reisistant people can be to recognizing that the world doesn't conform to their preconceived notions...
Tags: sca
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