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RE: [gothic-l] Gothic horses

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  • Tim O'Neill
    ... It is the same Lynn White, who is a he BTW, not a she . ... Iron ploughs were developed and used by the Romans in heavy northern European soils -
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
      On Saturday, April 06, 2002 2:56 PM, Bertil Haggman [SMTP:mvk575b@...] wrote:
      > Keth,
      > Could not tell you if it was the same White

      It is the same Lynn White, who is a 'he' BTW, not a 'she'.

      > The White quote serves to illustrate the superiority of
      > the techniques for farming used north of the Alps.
      > There slaver and wooden tools plus oxen, here horses
      > and iron. What a difference !

      Iron ploughs were developed and used by the Romans
      in heavy northern European soils - something which has
      become clear through archaeology in the decades since
      White wrote. And the technological developments White
      details took place centuries after the last Gothic kingdoms
      ceased to exist in area which had never been dominated
      by the Goths.

      I'm wondering what exactly the White thesis has to do
      with the Goths. Nothing at all as far as I can see, and
      I've read 'Medieval Technology and Social Change' and
      subsequent works on the medieval agrarian revolution
      many times.

      Tim O'Neill
    • keth@online.no
      Hello Bertil, ... The reference I had in mind was actually Terry Reynolds. Yet, Lynn White sounds awfully familiar. I am quite sure I have run into it before,
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
        Hello Bertil,

        You wrote:

        >Could not tell you if it was the same White

        The reference I had in mind was actually Terry Reynolds.
        Yet, Lynn White sounds awfully familiar.
        I am quite sure I have run into it before, though do not
        have the reference right now.

        Then you have some remark on what our topic is:

        >but it seems to have gone unnoticed that
        >we are this time debating the general
        >advantage north of the Alps in using
        >horses instead of oxen.

        Well, I asked you before, why the subject header says
        "gothic" horse. And I wonderer what "gothic" horses
        have to do with agriculture north of the alps.

        >Also about the
        >superiority of agricultural technique.

        I don't know what you mean by that.
        I'll stick to what the subject header says.

        >Jag citerar igen Paul Johnson:

        Below here you have a quote about the light
        wooden plow used by Greeks and Romans.
        Then further below you mention the iron
        plow as being much better.

        >"Naer greker och romare plöjde hade de
        >använt den laetta traeplogen som koerdes
        >tvaa gaanger oever fyrkantiga faelt med
        >tunn jord. "(Resultatet av användningen av den
        >tunga järnplogen blev dramatisk, den kunde...)
        >bearbeta aeven den tyngsta jord, foeraendrade
        >bokstavligen jordbrukslandskapet. De fyrkantiga
        >faelten foervandlades till laanga remsor som
        >gick upp och ner over landskapets konturer och
        >gav alltid någon skoerd, till och med under mycket
        >torra eller vaata aar." (p. 35)

        I don't recall discussing this topic earlier.

        >So it was the iron plough and the horses that
        >were superior to Roman technique. And then
        >there was slavery in the empire.

        Yes, but the point I was trying to make, was that
        horses were not used for plowing until in the 13th
        century, after the invention of the horse collar.

        I do not see the relevance of your quote to a discussion
        about Gothic horses, except in a roundabout way.
        In fact, it underlines the need to breed horses
        that were good at pulling things, after the horse collar
        came into use for plowing in the 13th century.
        This means that there was a need for bigger and heavier
        horses, and that therefore our present day horses are rather
        different from Migration Age horses.

        >When the so called 'barbarians' moved inside
        >the empire, it had by then declined so that the
        >Goths and others regarded the Roman society
        >as inferior, even if there was some material
        >wellbeing. The society was unfree. Tacitus skrev
        >en del om slavar i _Germania_.

        Are you saying that German tribes of Tacitus had no slaves?
        Doesn't Tacitus talk about slaves being drowned
        in a lake each year after a sacred procession?

        >"I de gotiska samhällena var husslavar en okaend
        >foereteelse. Naer slavar anvaendes inom jordbruket,
        >bodde de i egna bostaeder (de kunde faktiskt ocksaa
        >aega egendom9 och var i viss maan sina egna herrar.
        >I varje fall var antalet slavar litet, de som fanns var fraemst
        >icke-germaner och aegdes enbart av de hoegre
        >klasserna. Kort sagt, slaveriet var en marginell foere-
        >teelse i det germanska samhället.". (p. 30)

        It is quite possible that Germans had fewer slaves than
        the contemporary Romans. But that seems to me like a different
        discussion than "Gothic horses".

        >Besides it was something imported from Roman society.
        >The sickness of slavery had poisoned society in the
        >Roman empire, there was a development in the other
        >direction in Gothic and other societies :the dynamic idea
        >of freedom in the end came to influence the whole of Europe
        >in the Middle Ages.

        Slavery did indeed disappear in the Middle ages,
        and this happened in continental Europe as well
        as in Scandinavia. I think it happened around the
        13th century. It was a gradual process.
        Later it was reintroduced by the British and others.

        >In my opinion the example of the small Icelandic
        >horses is not relevant in relation to the large working
        >horses or the big war horses. I must admit I am not

        The point is that large working horses were developed
        during the late Middle Ages. There were no "working horses"
        in our sense of the word, before the advent of the horse collar
        in the 13th century. The same with the heavily armored
        knights: they are a late phenomenon.

        With the Romans the cavalry was counted among the lightly
        armed. During the Migration Age the mounted soldiers
        did use the lance, but the horse rider was only lightly
        armed and used lightweight leather stirrups, as evidenced
        by the representation on the silver platter I referred to

        >very well versed when it comes to the Icelandic horses
        >but it has been my impression that it was not used
        >for plowing, but I may be insufficiently informed.

        Well, Iceland is probably not like Jylland, covered
        with plowland as far as the eye reaches.
        But perhaps you ought to see the Iceland horse as
        typical representative of what European horses
        may have looked like before they began breeding
        for size.

        >It is also a little complicated to explain cavalry
        >campaigning tactics then and up to the 19th century
        >or the beginning of the 20th. Grazing horses during
        >campaigning would not have been a very good idea.

        That is perhaps a good point. But then again, a campaign
        has several phases. Animals trained for endurance are
        able to burn body fat while running, and thus basically
        only need water, until they are back in a safe area.
        How many days a campaigning horse can live from roadside
        grass and water only, I do not know. But I am quite sure
        that it depends a lot on the kind of horse it is, and how
        it has been trained. The physiological principles are the
        same as for other mammals.

        The Romans were defeated by the Hunnic tactics of very
        fast and light cavalry where the bow was used instead
        of the lance.

        >A bit further down you are switching from discussing
        >Gothic and Roman cavalry campaigning to that
        >of the nomads of the steppe.

        I explained to you that the Goths lived in present day
        Ukraina and Hungary, where the landscape is typically
        "steppe". Hence for a discussion under the subject header
        "Gothic horses", it is quite relevant to take the landscape
        the Goths lived in, into account. I assumed that there is
        a particular kind of horse that is best suited for the steppe
        landscape, and that this may be the same kind of horse that
        is used in Mongolia and Kirgistan today.

        Here you are being ironic:
        >Horse keeping of the nomads?
        >I am sure there are lists for Mongol and Hinnic horsemanship and history.

        It would be much more straight forward, if you simply said
        that you believe the Goths had horses that differed significantly
        from the horses of the other steppe peoples (Awars, Alans, Huns
        and Sarmatians). If you had said it as simply as that,
        I could then have asked you as the next question
        what your evidence is for your assumption.
        As it is, I believe the simplest assumption is that
        all steppe peoples used horses that were somewhat similar
        in their physical makeup. In fact you see the same thing
        in humans, viz. that marathon runners have *their*
        typical look and weightlifters have another.

        >The White quote serves to illustrate the superiority of
        >the techniques for farming used north of the Alps.
        >There slaver and wooden tools plus oxen, here horses
        >and iron. What a difference !

        Yes, but White's book applies to the 12th century and later
        doesn't it?


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