Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Flashman, Jun 21, 2017.
This does look like it came straight out of medieval America.
It does, very nice images there
I've loved this thread for a long time I was wondering if it would be cool if I created a story based on this thread and universe?
Sure would be. I’m actually working on a story that uses White’s original work as a foundation and I’m just going through the threads for worldbuilding. My story follows the life of a cowboy.
Could someone repost the population map?
Have you thought about adding Threadmarks to the thread?
Yeah, I need to get around to it at some point.
Where did you get this from? I'd like to see more of it.
Found it over on the post apocalyptic picture thread
The original creator is Dominik Zdenković.
The First Heresy: American Evangelism
"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
The American Non-Denominational Church did not, in fact, begin as a church. Rather, it began as a series of regulations.
As society began to regress, the United States government desperately sought to put a pretty face on things and assure the public that everything was just fine, thank-you-very-much. The need was particuarly pressing in certain houses of worship where religious leaders were whipping their flocks into a fervor over the coming end of days. Therefore, Congress passed a bill to better regulate and analyze these churches.
Unfortunately, as so often happens with well-meaning regulation, the bill had precisely the opposite effect of what was intended. Though most parishioners simply shrugged their shoulders and tried to get on with the busy work of surviving the slow degradation of industrial society, those churches that made the legislation necessary in the first place were up in arms. They saw this (not entirely wrongly) as a violation of their freedom of religion, and evidence of a tyrannical government and the end of days. Their cries of secession, of armed resistance, and of repentance drew many followers to their cause.
The regions where the American Evangelist movement found the most success were two of the regions harmed the most by the transition to the new middle ages, namely the South and the Great Plains. In the south, the loss of air conditioning and effective disease control in the nigh-on tropical climate made the decline in standards of living intolerable, while in the great plains the break down in infrastructure due to the vast distances involved made life very difficult. The Evangelists in these states led the movement to cut ties with the federal government - however, unable to solve the problems that created the rise of the Evangelists in the first place, the state governments found themselves fracturing to secession-minded Evangelists, forcing them to turn back to the federal government for help. In response to the increasing radicalism of the Evangelists, the government expanded its control over non-rebellious churches, eventually leading to the establishment of the American Non-Denominational Church.
The theology of the Evangelists was not unified, naturally, but most churches shared common threads. All agreed in the evil of the Federal government, and that the end times were either here or rapidly approaching. They were extremely traditionalist, rejecting many of modern society’s cultural advances and turning toward the Old Testament for guidance. They held that American Evangelists were the new nation of Israel. Many were prohibitionist. Speaking in tongues was extremely popular. By far the most famous convention, however, was that of snake handling. Snake handling was a centuries-old practice by this point, but it gained new life with the rise of the Evangelists. Anti-Evangelist commentators have derided this practice, claiming that snake handling was proof of diabolic influence. The Evangelists themselves did not see it this way of course, believing that by handling the serpents and coming away unharmed they were proving that God was giving them the power to overcome evil.
While the Evangelist movement would enjoy tremendous success in the early days of the new medieval era, its inherently atomizing nature kept it from building a solid power base. Small communities rallied behind their local revival preacher and then conflicted not only with the crumbling state governments but with other churches and Evangelist communities over often petty doctrinal difference. The power vacuum allowed the US to re-assert itself in less radical communities. What the newly-established Baltimore government lacked in direct power projection it more than made up for in political guile and the soft power it exercised through its emerging thalassocracy.
The Evangelist movement began to collapse. This collapse was made final by the Tchaktaw Wars. The Tchaktaw themselves subscribed to a branch of Evangelism, albeit one flavored by their Indian heritage. The suffering caused by the Tchaktaw caused many sympathetic to the Evangelist cause to turn against it, leading to the rise of strong central governments friendly to the Non-Denominational Church. The emergent Cowboy Hordes believed that Evangelism’s emphasis on the new testament made the Tchaktaw soft, beginning the shift towards New Israelism.
The most obvious legacy of the Evangelist movement is the Non-Denominational Church itself. Ironically, their militancy led to exactly what they feared: the federal government seizing control over religious worship. Indeed, the struggle with Evangelism has informed the Church’s outlook and theology, namely in its emphasis on the importance of Union: the Union of the Trinity, the Union of the Church, and the Union of the Nation.
While Evangelism is highly illegal in the Non-Denominational world, it continues to enjoy adherents in the backwoods of the South and influence the way Southerners perceive Christianity; indeed, just about every major Southron heresy to date has been in some degree inspired by the American Evangelists.
Where did you find these?
East of the Appalachians, Federal Law means nothing and edicts from Baltimore are worth less than the parchment or paper they are written on. However, along the Atlantic Seaboard, where Federal Ships sail laden with soldiers and goods from the Caribbean, Mexico and beyond, the President in Baltimore has enough sway to have at least some privileges.
Where the local authority is extremely weak, the Chesapeake government will often just seize land as was the case in Florida, New York, New England and the Canadian Maritimes. However where the local warlords can recapture a city before the American Navy can reinforce or relieve a siege, the Federal Government has managed a compromise. Federal Quarters exist in many eastern cities. The splitting of a city into two different areas with differing control has allowed both warlords and the Chesapeake government to share cities and not have to ruin them in constant siege/resiege. In Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Providence and Boston the Federal Government has walled off a section of city and dock for itself. These areas act as separate cities in and of themselves with markets and churches of their own. They have their own taxes and own city guards and even their own separate mayors. In Boston and Providence, the seat of the District Supervisor lies outside the Federal Quarter.
Another Federal privilege is the draft. Theoretically the Federal Government has the right of recruiting any citizen across the country, Peasant and Noblemen alike. This is very seldom used on Noblemen, they generally resent being pressed into service. However, with permission and compensation to local warlords (officially known as the Selective Service Federal Grant), Federal Recruiters will take the most unruly and disliked peasants and press them into service in the American Navy. Many young spare sons will chose to take up this service voluntarily. The prospect of adventuring in far off lands gives these young men the opportunity for advancement that normally aren't available to them in the densely populated Eastern Seaboard. This provides much needed population relief in an area of the country free of Cowboy Invasions and large scale war.
What kind of secular holidays do they have?
I don't think that secular holidays are a thing. Maybe a royal birthday or something. Perhaps some harvest festivals.
Holy day -> Holiday
All Federal holidays have probably been religicized by this point.
That Most Peculiar Institution: Southern Society and Economics
The South is the most prototypically medieval region of the former United States. Here more then anywhere, traditions of chivalry, of honor, of nobility are upheld. What this inevitably means, of course, is upholding a rigid class system where society's "betters" are segregated from the lowly. Below is a general overview of the social structure of the South.
Much like the Almighty, Churchmen exist both above and beyond the normal order of Southron society. Theoretically, the priests are loyal only to God and the Supreme Court. The truth can vary wildly depending on the time and place. Many Baptist-leaning nobles worry that the priesthood's loyalty to the Nondenominational Church also translates to a loyalty towards the secular authorities of the United States. While the interests President and the Court do occasionally align, more often then not they are at odds: there is a reason the secular seat of government is in Baltimore while the Supreme Court resides in the District of Columbia. Since the priesthood is generally drawn from the second sons of local nobility, and due to the Church's emphasis on the sanctity of government, most of the time the priesthood is fully supportive of their liege. The priesthood makes up less than 1 percent of the South's population.
The Mastery sit at the top of Southron society. These are the nobility, those believed to be of good blood from old families who can often draw their lineages back to the Colonial period and venerable Patriot-Saints. Fundamentally, all nobles are believed to be created equal - but of course, some are more equal than others. Nevertheless, though the lower nobility is bound to the higher nobility by their obligations and notions of respect, the highest gentlemen are severely limited in power by a complex networks of etiquette and ritual and the belief in equality between the gentlemen. This represents the perennial shortcoming of the South, and prevents the consolidation of truly strong states. Due to the decentralized nature of the South, the nobility makes up a larger percentage of the population than anywhere else in Medieval America
The First Families or the 'Guvnas' are the greatest of the South, who possess storied histories and vast tracts of land: the Lees, the Flannagans, the Washingtons, the Duvals, the Jeffersons and Hemings, to name but a few. They usually represent the executives of a given nation. This, combined with the fact that they can often trace their lineages back to Patriot-Saints, marks the First Families as semi-divine. They expected to uphold an example of Southern nobility for the rest to follow. Though occasionally the houses of lower nobility may rise to the rank of a First Family, the First Families will never truly fall to the level of lower nobility: even if a Jackson were a homeless pauper on the street of Charleston, he would be accorded with a tremendous amount of respect by all he comes in contact with. The First Families call upon hordes of serfs, hosts of vassals, and even entire nations.
Below the First Families are the gentlemen. These are the nobles of middling pedigree, of middling holdings, and of middling means. Exactly how middling can vary widely. The gentlemen makes up the core of the mastery, ruling over smaller localities and holding allegiance pledge from smaller land holders. A gentleman often has several planters pledging allegiance to him, and a goodly number of serfs at his disposal.
The Planters are the lowest of the landed masters, and are often the descendants of Knights awarded land by their master. They rule over the many individual plantations that are not directly owned by the Masters. Technically, any master that directly owns land is a Planter, and Planters are occasionally referred to as "Yeoman Planters" to draw a distinction.
Landless Masters are the lowest rung of the Mastery. Most landless Masters are landless knights or the sons of knights, while some are those awarded with honorific titles by higher nobility. The lowest of the landless masters are the Overseers, who are essentially serf-knights, landless and hereditarially pledged to a plantation. overseers may be drawn either from Freemen hoping for a chance at advancement when the militia is not recruiting or debt slaves.
Freemen are the highest level of peasantry. The most common occupation for freemen is that of yeoman, paying rent to a planter for the use of some of his land. Other freemen work as artisans in guilds, or as merchants. Those freemen who become very wealthy or powerful may be granted a title by the mastery. Alternatively, a freeman hoping to advance his standing may enlist directly in the militia as a Private in the hopes of eventual promotion to Knighthood, or if the militia is not recruiting he may be forced to seek work as an Overseer.
Debt slaves make up the largest portion of the Southern population, and are essential to its labor intensive agriculture. In the early days of the new Medieval era, some southerners revived the peculiar institution of chattel slavery. When the Church finally managed to reassert itself across the south, it pushed those who pledged it allegiance to phase out the practice once more. This posed a massive problem for the south and the nation at large who needed vast numbers of laborers who were willing to work for basically nothing. A compromise was reached by the Court in the case of Boyd v. Peaks. Boyd was a Southern gentleman who had imprisoned Peaks, a free tenant farmer, for his inability to pay off his debt. Peaks argued that his condition was essentially slavery, and that debt slavery was illegal. The Court ruled that debt could be considered tantamount to theft, and therefore enslavement was legal under the 13th Amendment, assuming a state passed a law equating debt to slavery. Just like that, the floodgates were opened, and Medieval America rebuilt itself around debt slavery.
The number of debt slaves varies from state to state. In some states the number is zero, as debt was never equated to theft. The number tends to average around 50% in the American South, jumping as high as 60% in South Carolina. Though the Supreme Court ruled that debt slaves were still afforded certain basic human rights, they left much of their treatment up to state discretion. The treatment tends to be at its worst in the South. The favored example is that of the right of First Night, by which a Southron master has the right to have carnal knowledge of a female debt slave upon her first night of marriage; most horrifyingly of all, if a child is resultant it is legally considered the son of the debtor, and therefore subject to their debt. Even in the South, however, there is a hierarchy among debt slaves.
Sharecroppers occupy the highest rung of debt slaves, and are afforded the most rights. They rent their own home on the plantation grounds, and are expected to work the Master's fields and submit some additional form of tribute. But for the most part, they are left to their own devices, free to cultivate their own plot of land and even pursue specialized trades. A sharecropper may even gain his freedom by two principal means: one, he may buy his own freedom from his master, or two, he may escape to a town or city in another municipality without being caught for a year, at which point he is legally free. This latter method seldom works, however, as Slave Catchers prowl much of the south, and a Sharecropper may expect a severe beating if he is caught and returned. Sharecroppers are tied to the land, and may not be directly traded.
Indentures are those slaves who are so deeply indebted to their masters that they must work for them directly, not even renting their own strip of land. Generally, these are the second sons of Sharecroppers. They live in communal cabins, and only by demonstration of an extremely high level of loyalty or skill can they hope to be advanced. Indentures are not tied to the land but to their Master personally, and their debt (and by extension their personage) may be freely bought and sold.
Ironically, the lowest rung of Southron society are not the slaves: at a minimum, the slaves are offered fairly fertile fields for their own sustenance and protection by their master. The Crackers are those that exist outside of the confines of Southron society: the hillbillies, the Melungeons, the hoboes, the Gullah, the swampfolk. They are offered few protections by the laws of the South, and are subject to harsh discrimination. They usually live in the harshest and least fertile regions, and live the most destitute lives. Many resort to beggary, brigandry, or piracy.
While the ToC remains unedited for the most recent additions, I have added a few posts from the last thread.
Separate names with a comma.