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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Medieval Demographics

I read this article years ago: "Medieval Demographics Made Easy", by S. John Ross. Since I am concerned about the sizes of typical settlements right now, and since someone over at Dragonsfoot just asked about this as well, I tracked this down. I've had this impression for a while that a thorp was a fishing village and a hamlet was based around an orchard, and it looks like this is where I got the idea. A village, on the other hand, was originally a farming community based around a villa or manor.

In contrast, Wikipedia is claiming that the old distinctions between a city, a town, a village, and a hamlet was primarily one of what minimum service it offered:
  • city: cathedral
  • town: livestock market
  • village: church
  • hamlet: no church, encorporated into a nearby town's parish
Of course, from the history of the word "town", it should technically be an early enclosed community with some kind of fence or palisade.

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