(Medieval Stasis) Stretching Iron-to-Medieval Age Tech for... 5000 years?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dolan, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    The rough Iron Age could be said started in Mesopotamia and Meditteranea from 1000 BC, and the end of the Medieval era is roughly listed as 1500 AD, with the start of Renaissance. Giving the stretch of time people fighting with bashing and stabbing each other using Iron Weapons without large-scale gunpowder use stretching for about 2500 years OTL.

    But let's say that the tech development of our earth could be slowed down, starting from around 1000 BC, the challenge is mulling on possibility about Renaissance-equivalent era only started in the year 4000 AD. Yes, this implies we at 2019 AD still fighting mostly in melee and with bows and or crossbows, with nobles still strutting around as heavy cavalry.

  2. baltur2 Well-Known Member

    Aug 30, 2019
    Seems pretty hard. "The Middle Ages" wouldn't be recognizable without its intellectual undercurrent which in the background slowly led to modern science and industry in about 500 years.

    For example the year 1300 may not be superficially different in warfare and daily life from the year 300 in Western Europe, however in monasteries there are already early wind-up alarm clocks, water wheel powered sawmills, and monks theorizing about extraterrestrial life.

    The Middle East reached an early version of the Theory of Evolution, and early gunpowder warfare and the printing press was already around in East Asia.

    By the time period the West identifies as the "Middle Ages" came around, it was pretty much a smooth sailing to the modern world.

    As a quote once said: "One shouldn't be amazed at how we got from Charlemagne to the Steam Engine. Rather, one should be amazed how we got from the Stone Axe to Charlemagne."
  3. obamaslovechild Active Member

    Sep 3, 2009
    I would say a good example of this is Game of Thrones. Yes its fiction, but they have had roughly the same level of technology for thousands of years,
  4. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2012
    In fiction you could have Medieval era lasting for million years if you wish. In reality surviving and expanded Roman Empire gives better chance for stagnation than OTL Medieval Europe.
  5. The Tai-Pan The Pagemaster/Plogmonger

    Jun 10, 2015
    Weapons, which did radically change over that period anyway, are hardly the only measures of technological development.
  6. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    ah yes, that too... And also Tolkien's works... First Age, Second Age, and Third Age has almost identical ways of fighting...

    That's why I get the start at the first widespread Iron Weapon, aka 1000 BC era. Stagnation could start there, and thus the intellectual undercurrent wouldn't get that big until year 3000 AD or so...

    "Medieval" stasis is just the trope name, because Iron-Age era to Dark-Age to Medieval-Era Stasis is too long.
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  7. SenatorErnesto Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2017
    Well technically sure; but like George RR Martin has stated that the stories of the history are romanticized, and that even though they talk about the older King’s and nobility in the same light as the current era, we should assume they were in the bronze or Stone Age at the time of the first Long Night. Plus a million other fantasy elements which stall progress.

    I digress from the OP though. There must be a way to stop gunpowder from being discovered or at least delayed. Even up until the 1900s there was still a lot of “standby stabby” in warfare but come industrial revolution it dies out.
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  8. herkles Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2017
    The issue with the concept of Medieval Stasis is presuming that the medieval era was static. When that was not the case at all.
    You had the Islamic Golden Age going on. You had the Carolingian and Ottonian renaissances. You had the development of banking. Even just looking at warfare and castles just look to the early medieval age and then contrast that with the late medieval era around the time of the Hundred years war. By the end of the period cannons and guns had been introduced. Castles evolved from wooden forts and Motte and Bailys to stone fortresses. Fashion changed as more material and dyes were available as trade grew.
  9. Riain Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2007
    I think there is a technological ceiling extending from antiquity to well into the middle ages; I was recently in Europe and noted the Theodosian walls of Constantinople are a lot like Dover and Trim Castles which were built the better part of 1000 years later. The ebbs and flows appear to me to be from political and economic organisation, large centralised polities can build up a large material culture whereas a series of fragmented polities is unable to marshal the resources to match these sorts of things.
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  10. Thanksforallthefish King of Dolphins

    Mar 13, 2012
    Territorios Espaciales Argentinos
    Medieval stasis is almost in all respects a myth, first made by Renaissance/Enlightenment scholars who saw Rome and Greece through rose-tinted lenses as a golden age, and then by fiction writers 'inspired' by Tolkien (Tolkien looks generic to us now, but at the time, he REALLY put an effort on building a brand new world) who want to make a world with thousands of years of history but don't want to commit to the technological and social changes that would be involved. They just can say "hey, it was the dark ages after all!" and make it a mishmash of outdated medieval tropes.

    As other posters have said, there is a world of difference between the technology of the 500s to the 1400s, not to mention the differences between, admittedly, a declining urban culture in Western Europe, and the thriving Arabic and Chinese empires.

    Not even other cultures compare. Egypt has a lot of changes from the early cities to the Ptolemaic period. China experienced changes as dramatic as Western Europe. The Americas went through several cycles that ended in empires such as the Inca and the Aztecs. There was no stasis anywhere in the medieval period, except, maybe, in hunter gatherer societies, which have actually been the most static model in human history.
  11. Canaan Osborne Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2019
    Maybe not stasis but draw out change veeeerryyy slowly. Have worse memes spread around for one. Have Thomas Aquinas say "science is from the devil!" Have the mongols thrash Christendom as bad as they thrashed Dar al Islam. Devil worship becomes the popular religion on the steppes? Gunpowder never develops or gets squashed? Lot of options.
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  12. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2015
    I think the real core of the issue is keeping human society shackled to muscle power; no steam engines, no gunpowder. Of course the medieval period wasn't static, but that doesn't mean the widespread use of gunpowder or the development of steam power were inevitabilities.
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  13. Jürgen Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    I think you can keep a society in the Iron Age for a pretty long time, iron could be discovered earlier and one of the main benefit of Iron Age societies over Bronze Age society is that you don’t need the massive trading network to keep them functional. So if a iron working was developed on the edge of the agricultural world, it could spread pretty slowly and stay a low population society, which stayed low in population density and only slowly developed.

    Jan 24, 2010
    The DMV
    The key is butterflying Islam and Charlemagne, and then maybe have the Bulgars or other Turks smash the Persians and Romans. No Islam to facilitate the spread of Indian and Chinese ideas and tech back to the West (along with a number of other innovations in shipbuilding, agriculture, science, and preserved classical literature), no Byzzies to preserve the latter, and no Charlemagne or Otto to reintroduce a strong state and spur the growth of monasteries.

    No Charlemagne or Muslims (or Byzzies) also keeps vast swathes of Europe underdeveloped for longer. The Frisians are never smashed, so they continue to act as middlemen, reducing the need for Norse expeditions that helped urbanize Ireland, spread trade, and create Russia. The Saxons stay a power in northern Germany for longer, and both the Volga Bulgars and Rus coalesce much more slowly due to a lack of a Volga trade to the Abbasid Caliphate. Pagan tribal statelets remain the norm, especially without any major European states to withstand the Magyars or other waves from the steppe.

    This doesn't necessarily retard development east of Iran, however. India could recover post-Guptas, and China is China. Without the Europeans to bring the whole world together out of economic necessity, however, there would be stasis in the longterm. East Asia would have gunpowder, but west of the Indus (or maybe west of the Zagros/Urals) would suck. Bedouins screwing the Middle East without any of Islam's civilizational benefits, Europe stuck in a cycle of war without nearly as much trade or monasticism to revive urban and non-urban culture, and no single-liturgical-language civilizational conduit connecting India with the Mediterranean.
  15. Sriyam Swastik Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2017
    Gunpowder was extremely difficult to get, and only a chance observation by Chinese medicine makers created it. It is not impossible for gunpowder to be delayed indefinitely, even for several thousands of years. After that, it is going to be easy for Europeans to never get the necessary military advantage over natives, meaning no (or little) great development in sailing and no Columbian exchange. Agricultural remains mostly same and industrialization is delayed significantly.
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  16. Canaan Osborne Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2019
    Columbian exchange could still happen but the Europeans would only achieve demographic majority east of the Appalachians. It would be more like a traditional migration than colonization.
  17. SeaCambrian Alien Space Bat Gone Fishin'

    May 28, 2018
    True. There could even be a cycle of the same ancient military technology and each time it would be an innovation while actually discovering nothing new. Horse archery was cutting edge, paradigm changing technology like 5-6 different times from the Bronze Age to Late Middle Ages. Same with plate armor, chainmail, baggage trains, and other ancient military techs. What was more advanced was based more so on relative circumstances and what countering forces existed.

    Arguably if a printing press is never made, that situation could pretty much last forever.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
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  18. Canaan Osborne Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2019
    Knowledge wasn't stationary before the printing press and Bureaucratic empires like China would have a great desire to shove out as much text as possible. You can delay it. And that's the whole point of this. Not to stop progress but to draaaaggg ittt oouuuttt.
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  19. CivEng Well-Known Member

    Aug 23, 2013
    What if there were more powerful and frequent plagues? I am thinking sth like a black death in every 100 or 150 years mostly effective at cities? I know it is hard to get but would it be enough?
  20. HB of CJ Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2018
    42N-123W Kinda SW Oregon USA
    Only joking. Perhaps an Earth carefully controlled by super intelligent benevolent space aliens. The human species keep at a very low tech level. A common science fiction theme? The only alternative for the space aliens is to wipe the planet of all primates. The human species is just too dangerous. I think I am joking.