|Section of the Bayeux Tapestry|
And I think, I’m drawn to both time periods because they are periods of exceptional change. I mean in the Medieval period, you have the Goths, the Barbers, the Franks…etc pushing through Europe, organizing, fighting, and reorganizing into new kingdoms, and new laws, some of which were exceptionally violent. You have Christianity reaching out and attempting to impose order amongst the chaos, you have the founding of Monasteries. You have the reorganization of people’s into villages and the emergence of a feudal society.
In Spain you have what looks like an early Renaissance under Moorish and Gothic rule (The Ornament World). In Parts of the Italian Peninsula, and the Middle East you have different sects of religion emerging, and claiming Christianity, some of which are so unlike anything we have today, they might as well be worshiping aliens (Google Manichaeism Cosmology if you don’t believe me).
This isn’t even mentioning the Black Plague, or the Crusades.
In the years leading up to WWI you have probably, the most rapid change in technology, paired with some of the most rapid changes in social structure that you’ll ever find (if you want to know more read The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield ). Case in point: In 1914, in Russia there was a conference, of which name I cannot remember, where the leaders in Europe, mostly still Monarchs, who were all related through Victoria Queen of England (she had 26 grandchildren who survived into adulthood), came together with their advisors to discuss technological advances and War. At which point, a German suggested they ban people going up into hot air balloons, and dropping projectiles on enemy lines. He was laughed out of the conference. Less than a year and a half later, you see this exact thing happening on the battle fields in Europe, something people thought impossible only a year prior.
You have Horses charging alongside tanks. You have books published about the war, written by veterans of the war, translated into all of the languages of the people fighting in the war, and available in those countries before the war was over (Under Fire by Henri Barbusse)
Now, what is my point, other than perhaps the fact that I am a super nerd, and I just completely nerded out on you?
History can be a great and awesome and scary source of inspiration. Plus, a lot of fantasy is written in a type of Medieval Europe setting, and a lot of writers have only a basic fundamental understanding of how Medieval Europe worked.
And I love history. And there are some great resources out there for those of you who also love history. For example, recently I found this: Yale Open Classroom Early Middle Ages http://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-210 .
If you’re curious about books, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to recommend some, I have way more than I mentioned, and forgive me if I mentioned anything out of print.