Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

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Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#1  Postby devogue » Jun 27, 2018 8:55 am

A mad question from my nine year old son at the dinner table...but a good one.

We honed it a little - economic equivalence in both cases.

AD 270 was decided upon - with everything the Romans had done for us swinging it...
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#2  Postby Animavore » Jun 27, 2018 9:00 am

270. Ireland was free and independent of England and untarnished be Christianity.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#3  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Jun 27, 2018 9:02 am

Animavore wrote:270. Ireland was free and independent of England and untarnished be Christianity.

Same, but also being born in Ireland.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#4  Postby Hermit » Jun 27, 2018 9:19 am

270

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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#5  Postby Macdoc » Jun 27, 2018 10:34 am

Well 1460 saw the beginning of the Little Ice Age, and numerous epidemics. Yep 270 it is.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#6  Postby Matt_B » Jun 27, 2018 10:54 am

I'll go for 1460 because I don't subscribe to the view that civilization collapsed utterly along with the Roman Empire. Indeed, it's only the Western half that collapsed with the East continuing to thrive both culturally and economically with the West catching up and overtaking it once more well before the 15th Century.

Heck, it's slap bang in the middle of the Renaissance. You'd be a contemporary of Da Vinci, Bosch, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Paracelsus to name but five. OK, so you're most likely not going to rub shoulders with them and eke out a meagre existence as a peasant instead, but even that's probably a bit better than the slavery that was the norm for most of the Roman Empire.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#7  Postby Macdoc » Jun 27, 2018 11:19 am

I think you should check your time frame. Michelangelo was born in 1475, and Da Vinci Date of birth: April 15, 1452 and the Little Ice Age was devastating.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#8  Postby Animavore » Jun 27, 2018 11:22 am

Ireland wasn't a territory of Rome, though there was a little slavery at the time. The slave trade became big after the Norse invaders with many Irish sold as slaves to Iceland in the 9th century. It was under English rule slavery was abolished.

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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#9  Postby Matt_B » Jun 27, 2018 11:57 am

Macdoc wrote:I think you should check your time frame. Michelangelo was born in 1475, and Da Vinci Date of birth: April 15, 1452 and the Little Ice Age was devastating.


What's to check? Da Vinci is 8 in 1460 and you'd only need to live into your 30s to see some of the great works of Michelangelo. That's close enough to be contemporary.

Also, the Little Ice Age might have started by 1460 but it doesn't get really bad in Europe until well into the 17th Century, by which time you'd be over a hundred years old. Obviously there are some wars, famines and natural disasters in various parts of Europe during the late 15th century, but on the whole it's a relatively stable period of population growth.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#10  Postby Hermit » Jun 27, 2018 1:03 pm

Matt_B wrote:Obviously there are some wars, famines and natural disasters in various parts of Europe during the late 15th century, but on the whole it's a relatively stable period of population growth.

Except for the Black Death mowing people down because post Roman "civilisation" had somehow forgotten to provide covered sewers, running water and other hygienic measures that the Romans were so careful to include in their social infrastructure.
The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level.
...
According to Biraben, the plague was present somewhere in Europe in every year between 1346 and 1671. The Second Pandemic was particularly widespread in the following years: 1360–1363; 1374; 1400; 1438–1439; 1456–1457; 1464–1466; 1481–1485; 1500–1503; 1518–1531; 1544–1548; 1563–1566; 1573–1588; 1596–1599; 1602–1611; 1623–1640; 1644–1654; and 1664–1667
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#11  Postby Matt_B » Jun 27, 2018 1:24 pm

Again, the worst of the black death was in the 14th century. There were still outbreaks in the late 15th, but in general it was a period that saw the population rebound from what had happened a century before.

Besides, it's not as if third century Europe didn't get plagues:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_of_Cyprian

And you'd still have 15 years of the Crisis of the Third Century to get through if you were born in 270AD:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_of ... rd_Century
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#12  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Jun 27, 2018 1:25 pm

Matt_B wrote:I'll go for 1460 because I don't subscribe to the view that civilization collapsed utterly along with the Roman Empire.

Who said it did?

Matt_B wrote: Indeed, it's only the Western half that collapsed with the East continuing to thrive both culturally and economically with the West catching up and overtaking it once more well before the 15th Century.

More importantly, while the Western Roman empire collapsed, society didn't.

Matt_B wrote:
Heck, it's slap bang in the middle of the Renaissance. You'd be a contemporary of Da Vinci, Bosch, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Paracelsus to name but five. OK, so you're most likely not going to rub shoulders with them and eke out a meagre existence as a peasant instead, but even that's probably a bit better than the slavery that was the norm for most of the Roman Empire.

You'll also be living in a Christian dominated Europe, 7/8 years before the Spanish Inquisition, Ottoman invasions of Europe and several other unpleasant events.

but even that's probably a bit better than the slavery that was the norm for most of the Roman Empire.

That's a crass generalisation, more-over who says we'd be born as non-Romans?
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#13  Postby Matt_B » Jun 27, 2018 2:15 pm

Nobody here said civilization collapsed, but there's the widespread myth of the dark ages and that's what I was addressing. My point is that despite this misconception, the society of the 15th century would seem remarkably advanced in its science and technology to someone from the 3rd century even if, from a cursory glance, it might appear otherwise. Just because the great civic works of the Romans were lying in ruins at the time, for instance, didn't mean that there weren't many superior equivalents in use that needed far less work to maintain.

There was certainly a Christian dominated Europe in the 15th century, but once Constantine comes to the throne you'd get that in Rome too, and I'm not one of those people who thinks paganism to be any superior. Neither period is a great one for religious unorthodoxy, that's for sure.

And yes, we wouldn't necessarily be enslaved, but lots of people were; far many more than in the 15th century. Also, being of higher social strata wouldn't necessarily help with It being a somewhat tumultuous period; even as an emperor in the 3rd and 4th centuries you wouldn't exactly be guaranteed a long life and a peaceful death. For comparison, try finding a Holy Roman Emperor from the period beginning in 1460 who didn't die of old age.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#14  Postby Hermit » Jun 27, 2018 2:56 pm

Matt_B wrote:...there's the widespread myth of the dark ages...

It's not a myth. Have a look at the size of Charlemagne's empire. He owned most of western Europe and controlled huge swathes to the east of it as well.

Image

He was Europe's most powerful man by far. Way more powerful than the Pope, even. And he managed that without ever being able to read or write a word to his dying day.

Here's his signature:

Image

Well, the diamond shape formed by four straight lines in the middle is.

I put it to you that if an illiterate man can keep most of Europe under his thumb for 14 years until he died, aged 71, the dark ages were really dark.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#15  Postby Keep It Real » Jun 27, 2018 3:11 pm

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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#16  Postby Macdoc » Jun 27, 2018 4:10 pm

There was great social stagnation with serfs - knowledge had been lost with the Black Death and the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire.

Which was in progress
In the age of the soldier-emperors, between the assassination of Alexander Severus, the last of the Severans, in 235 A.D. and the beginning of Diocletian’s reign in 284, at least sixteen men bore the title of emperor: Maximinus (r. 235–38 A.D.), Gordian I and II, Pupienus and Balbinus (r. 238 A.D.), Gordian III (r. 238–44 A.D.), Philip the Arab (r. 244–49 A.D.), the Illyrian Decius (r. 249–51 A.D.), Trebonianus Gallus (r. 251–53 A.D.), Aemilianus (r. 253 A.D.), Valerian (r. 253–60 A.D.), Gallienus (r. 253–68 A.D.), Claudius Gothicus (r. 268–70 A.D.), Aurelian (r. 270–75 A.D.), Tacitus (r. 275–76 A.D.), Probus (r. 276–82 A.D.), Carus (r. 282–83 A.D.), Carinus (r. 283–84 A.D.), and Numerianus (r. 283–84 A.D.). Most were fierce military men and none could hold the reins of power without the support of the army. Almost all, having taken power upon the murder of the preceding emperor, came to a premature and violent end. Social life declined in Roman towns and instead flourished among the country aristocracy, whose secure lifestyle in large fortified estates foreshadowed medieval feudalism.


I'd rather have the remains of the Roman era than the feudal stagnation that followed.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#17  Postby Mirrorless » Jun 27, 2018 5:45 pm

Roman Britain was stable at the time, prosperous and if you were a Roman citizen your lot was pretty good. A villa somewhere around Oxfordshire would have been nice.

I do however think the brutality of the Roman way of doing things is sometimes under-emphasised. Step out of line and you were for the chop.
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#18  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Jun 27, 2018 5:58 pm

Hermit wrote:
Matt_B wrote:...there's the widespread myth of the dark ages...

It's not a myth. Have a look at the size of Charlemagne's empire. He owned most of western Europe and controlled huge swathes to the east of it as well.

Image

He was Europe's most powerful man by far. Way more powerful than the Pope, even. And he managed that without ever being able to read or write a word to his dying day.

Here's his signature:

Image

Well, the diamond shape formed by four straight lines in the middle is.

I put it to you that if an illiterate man can keep most of Europe under his thumb for 14 years until he died, aged 71, the dark ages were really dark.

That's in incredibly simplistis argument based on the idiosyncratic definition that the darkness of a historical period can be determined by literacy alone.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#19  Postby Macdoc » Jun 27, 2018 7:26 pm

I'd certainly enjoy a small villa near Bath ...lovely area, amazing baths,
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Re: Would you rather be born in Europe in 270AD or 1460AD?

#20  Postby Matt_B » Jun 28, 2018 12:48 am

Mirrorless wrote:Roman Britain was stable at the time, prosperous and if you were a Roman citizen your lot was pretty good. A villa somewhere around Oxfordshire would have been nice.


Again, I can only suggest that you read up on the Crisis of the Third Century. Britain was prosperous perhaps, being isolated from much of the turmoil in and around Italy, but it was far from stable. There were numerous revolts and breakaway empires formed, and even if the Britons weren't up to anything the Gauls probably were which was enough to cut the country off from Rome.

Even after the end of that period there were a number of other revolts that were ultimately put down with the customary Roman brutality. Still, I suppose Constantine succeeded in taking Rome from a British base and you could potentially have done very well out of supporting him.

Macdoc wrote:I'd certainly enjoy a small villa near Bath ...lovely area, amazing baths,


Yes, but third century Bath or fifteenth century? I dare say that the Baths would have been quite impressive by 270, but let's not forget that what you see today is largely a nineteenth century reconstruction which is only the latest of many they've had since the early middle ages. They might not have been quite at their finest in 1460, but they were still in use and the city was quite prosperous with the Bishops of Bath and Wells investing much of their considerable wealth in it at the time.

On the whole, I'd think that if you wanted to enjoy the best of what the late third century had to offer, you'd probably want to be fairly close to Rome. Bath's Roman Baths have got nothing on Caracalla and Diocletian built the largest ever Roman bathhouse in pretty much the right time frame too. You'd just need a fast horse and somewhere to bug out to whenever there was a plague in town, rioting or a rebellious general at the gates.
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