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Ye olde question about the midieval-ness of LOTR

Kris Rhodes

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I am just curious to know what the arguments are on either side of this debate.

I've never discussed it before with anyone, but as I read the books (I just finished the second one) I have consciously tried to keep from thinking of things in midieval imagery - after all, the story is set thousands of years in the past, not hundreds.

But what do you guys think?

Also, are there any theories on just where on Earth Middle Earth actually was supposed to have been?

-Kris
 

Rosie Cotton

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I've always thought of LOTR as being in a midevil setting; only a midevil setting that includes elves, dwarves, and hobbits. :)

It was supposed to be somewhere in Europe.... I don't know where.
 

Grond

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Hail and well met, new friend Kris Rhodes. Your first thread is indeed a good one. I personally find myself thinking of a darker period than the medieval time. I am more reminded of the dark ages.

During Medieval times, there were rules of conduct and chivalry. I think of Middle-earth as a place with much more chaos and disorder. To me, that's what the whole story of the LotR is about. Aragorn seeking to turn ME into a world where chivalry, order and honor would actually have a chance.
 

Gothmog

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I have to agree with Grond. I feel that there were two periods of what might be concidered chivalry. These were the at the hight of the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor before the battle with Sauron and the rising again of these Kingdoms under Aragorn after the War of the Ring. In between there was a dark age dominated by fear of the One Ring. It at the end of this Dark Age that The Lord of the Rings is set.
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by Grond
Hail and well met, new friend Kris Rhodes. Your first thread is indeed a good one. I personally find myself thinking of a darker period than the medieval time. I am more reminded of the dark ages.

During Medieval times, there were rules of conduct and chivalry. I think of Middle-earth as a place with much more chaos and disorder. To me, that's what the whole story of the LotR is about. Aragorn seeking to turn ME into a world where chivalry, order and honor would actually have a chance.
As one who majored in history while at university, I must note that while the medieval period is described as having rules of conduct and chivalry in the texts of the day, the truth itself was far bloodier and more in line with chaos and disorder than conduct and chivalry.

Very very bloody and chaotic era. Most of the states/nations that existed in 1400 in Europe were completely absorbed into others by 1500, and many of them have never been heard of by most Americans... at least not in the context of them being actual nations... (Brabant, Gelre, Mecklenburg, Suzdal, Dulkadir, Karaman, Pommern, Wurtemburg, are just a few that disappeared in wars during this bloody time)
 

gil-estel

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I was under the impression that ME was sometime like 7000 years ago-and that is just the 3Rd Age.
In this way it does reflect Medieval Europe as the tiny kingdoms constantly fought with each other for High-Kingsmanship, and trade links(Italian City States, Scottish Wars of Independence(and if anyone says Braveheart i will hit the roof) anyone?)
Also JRRT based some of his stuff on his own geography-the Shire was the Midlands of England etc.
 

Wizdom

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The book is set sum time in the 14 hundreds.... and since america wasn't discovered yet...... i think it was sumwere in england or scoutland......
 

Walter

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Originally posted by Grond
Ty... I give.... You just inform me of when in our history ME fits closest and I'll agree.:rolleyes:
ROFLMHO Grond, I have to second You on this one - almost unbelievable, I know ;) - ourones know where to give in, huh? ;)

Although a few of the statements Ty made don't seem to fit quite into my understanding of the medieval age here in Europe. But then again, I surely haven't majored in history...as far as I can remember, that is :D
 

DGoeij

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Ty is quite right about the pre-state dominions that existed in the Netherlands. Gelderland (former Gelre) happens to be a province in the Netherlands and Northern Brabant is also a Duth province. Together with Utrecht and Holland, these territories were at constat war with eachother or being overrun by larger European kingdoms, then traded, sold or taken back again. Usually very nasty wars, nothing to do with chivalry.
 

Lantarion

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I think it'd obvious that all fantasy novels have at least some Medieval-ness to them; what with the swords, spears, bows, shields, horses, etc. In that sense I think it is Medieval.
But as for the tone of thr story, I think that is quite different. The Medieval times, at least the Dark Ages, were terrible and gloomy times with little joy. The feudal system served for an easy way for the rich to get richer and poor to do even more work and become even more poor. The great "royal" families feuded amongst themselves about small trifles like bits of land, and they killed eachother pointlessly and called it "chivalry". This proved ill for the peasants, and they were always crushed.
On the other hand there were some good times. Although only people from wealthy families could become knights, these chevaliers did fight the good fight. Although much of it has been glorified, the knights did have a sort of code: basically to protect the weak, to serve their king, to fight all evil and to save the day. Hurrah.
But the definition of "evil" is different, depending on what kind of a king you have. If he is an unjust and horrible king, to him "evil" would mean any who oppose him. If he was a just and kindly king, "evil" might mean all that is against the basic, human morals, and opposes truth and simple justice.
Generally knights were noble and glorious, only partial to the Bible and to their king, and kicked some dragon-butt with their longswords! shwish, shwash, thwack ,clang! :D
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by DGoeij
Ty is quite right about the pre-state dominions that existed in the Netherlands. Gelderland (former Gelre) happens to be a province in the Netherlands and Northern Brabant is also a Duth province. Together with Utrecht and Holland, these territories were at constat war with eachother or being overrun by larger European kingdoms, then traded, sold or taken back again. Usually very nasty wars, nothing to do with chivalry.
Thanks for the confirmation, DG... :)
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by Grond
Ty... I give.... You just inform me of when in our history ME fits closest and I'll agree.:rolleyes:
Well, I really don't know what time period would correlate strongly to ME... all that I was noting was that the Middle Ages were brutal, bloody, dark and chaotic times... chivalry and honor did play some small part, but were usually used as excuses for political expediency, or personal gain. Most knights and men-at-arms of this era were little more than robber barons and brutish mercenaries, bribed by their overlords to take the part of one liege or another. The code of chivalry was an attempt to curb the excesses of this warrior class, who would, during times of peace, often visit terror on those they ruled over in lieu of some enemy country to loot. But it was never foremost in the minds of monarchs and rulers...
 

Wizdom

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Who the heck cares what time period it was in!? people put to much importance on were a book takes place!!!!! if tolkien didn't want us to know were or when it was.... then let it go!!!!!
 

DGoeij

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Wow, take a dive in a smimming pool full of vanilla ice .:cool:
I care about the stories of professor Tolkien and like to talk about the great variety of themes it covers. No need to start yelling 'leave it', read other threads if you're not interested.
 

Walter

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Wizdom: A word to the wise - If You don't like a specific thread then simply do not read it or post there...

As for the situation in Europe during the late medieval era - where the 14th century should fit in - we do have very different political situations throughout Europe.

England and France were major kingdoms and engaged in the "100 years war", Spain and Portugal was also divided into 3 major Kingdoms: Kastilien, Aragon and Portugal, Danmark was a kingdom, Germany - including todays Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg was a more ore less united connection of city-states (considered the heir of the "holy roman imperium of german nation), Italy divided in 3 kingdoms, Poland and Hungary Kindoms, the south-east of Europe mostly part of the osmanian Imperium...

Well, I should like to say that Europe in the medieval era to me seems pretty well organized - even if involved in many a small or big war - compared to most other continents of our world.

Chaotic? Yes, indeed if one calls a - for this era - highly developed political system a choas and hence sees a couple of of native tribes who - wisely enough - maintain the sanity of mother earth as organized and structured...

Cruel and bloody, yes indeed, each and every war is cruel, but was it actually less cruel than let's say the WW2, Vietnam, the Gulf war or Afghanistan?

Well, I do not think that the attributes Ty gave actually characterize the medieval era any better than they describe the 20th or 21st century...
 
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Grond

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Okay... Grond will wade back into the fray. Middle-earth did not remind me of medieval times because there was so much open territory which was lawless. It reminded me more of the dark ages prior to 12th century.

Yes Ty, medieval times were both bloody and lawless. But the lawlessness occurred during periods of war which were themselves an attempt to enforce one robber-baron's laws and will on the other. Middle-earth had few fiefs and few rulers... which is totally at odds with your medieval comparison. It is much more like the dark ages.... a period of chaos with no real central leadership anywhere.
 

Walter

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Originally posted by Grond
Yes Ty, medieval times were both bloody and lawless. But the lawlessness occurred during periods of war which were themselves an attempt to enforce one robber-baron's laws and will on the other.
I beg to differ...see my previous post. The medieval Europe had a rather complex system of states and law, most of them based on the old roman law and the caesars (Kaiser) and kings were no robber-barons...

As for middle-earth: do we really need to put it into those timeframe of which we know the history well enough to say that this is no actual possibility?
 

Tyaronumen

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Originally posted by Grond
Okay... Grond will wade back into the fray. Middle-earth did not remind me of medieval times because there was so much open territory which was lawless. It reminded me more of the dark ages prior to 12th century.

Yes Ty, medieval times were both bloody and lawless. But the lawlessness occurred during periods of war which were themselves an attempt to enforce one robber-baron's laws and will on the other. Middle-earth had few fiefs and few rulers... which is totally at odds with your medieval comparison. It is much more like the dark ages.... a period of chaos with no real central leadership anywhere.
Absolutely, Grond! I do not disagree with you here. I was merely pointing out that categorizing medieval times as chivalrous and well ordered was unfortunately a bit idealistic... :D
 

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