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19567Re: [mythsoc] Re: Population Levels in Middle-earth

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  • Larry Swain
    Mar 8, 2008
      > ---"Larry Swain" <theswain@...> wrote:
      > << Some areas of Middle-earth are fairly populated. Gondor is far
      > more populated than we see, though there are a good number of hints.
      > Rohan likewise, and Dunland certainly has population enough to harry
      > Rohan and be Saruman's suppliers to the Shire. >>
      > Good point about Dunland, though Aragorn says, "I have never been in
      > Isengard, but I have journeyed in this land, and I know well the
      > empty countries that lie between Rohan and the Shire. Neither goods
      > nor folk have passed that way for many a long year, not openly."


      You make two errors here. First, you deemphasize the "openly", when it is quite plain to Aragorn as he says this while smoking Hornblower pipeweed that very obviously came from the South Farthing, the 1417 crop too it would seem, events in the story taking place in early 1419 at this point. You also neglect the next sentence: "Saruman had secret dealings with someone in the Shire, I guess." Quite plainly Saruman has agents, and I doubt he was sending orcs to the Shire (in fact we are told elsewhere that they were Dunlanders)to deal business or to ferry pipeweed and other goods to Isengard. So there may not be much population between Isengard and the Shire, but there isn't that much distance either. 4 days on horseback following a road. There were certainly places in Ancient and Medieval Europe which had such distance between population centers, particularly in regions that had not been part of the Roman Empire.

      Let's look a bit further: Farmer Cotton tells our heroes in "The Scouring of the Shire" that Lotho had been selling away pipeweed for a few years, and that the autumn of 4018 he sent away "loads of stuff", enough that supplies actually ran short in the Shire. To send away that kind of volume takes a large number of personnel (much less the few hundreds of "ruffians" sent north, a small tally of Saruman's total human forces, themselves only a part of the population to draw on (women and children, the too old or too young to fight, others).

      And a bit further: In the Prancing Pony chapter we see refugees coming into Bree, not a small group and not the only group: they in fact complain of such refugees fleeing the "troubles away south". Well, our choices are limited in terms of where these folk are coming from: Dunland, Rohan, or Gondor. I think we can eliminate Rohan from consideration: it just isn't the way of the Rohirrim. Gondor? Well, the troubles in Ithilien certainly would create refugees, but would those who had lived in the Shadow so long leave Gondor and Rohan and go north? Possibly some of them. Enough to make the crowds of refugees indicated in that chapter and again mentioned on the return journey? Open to interpretation I suppose, but at best I can only think that this would make only a part of those running from troubled times in the south. Other Gondorans, esp those on the West of the White Mtns haven't really been affected yet, and even if they were, it is unlikely that they would be coming up the Greenway. That leaves Dunlanders. Boromir also says he sought Imladris for 110 days and that many had heard of it, but few knew where it lay. Other than his father, the librarians at Gondor, who else would he be asking in his 110 day journey than people and pubs encountered on the way that we otherwise do not hear about? Indications are that while between the Misty Mtns (or the northern arm of the White Mtns) and the Shire, nothing remains of Arnor save places such as the Shire, Bree, Fornost (if that is where the remains of Aragorn's folk live), and that there are a few other places hinted at, but the south seems fairly well populated.

      > Rangers on the Shire's southern border must have been careless, if
      > they haven't noticed any traffic going south from Sarn Ford.

      Indeed, but such seems to be the case.

      > And Gondor, or at least Minas Tirith, is less than it was:
      > "Yet it was in truth falling year by year into decay; and already it
      > lacked half the men that could have dwelt at ease there. In every
      > street they passed some great house or court over whose doors and
      > arched gates were carved many fair letters of strange and ancient
      > shapes: names Pippin guessed of great men and kindreds that had once
      > dwelt there; and yet now they were silent, and no footsteps rang on
      > their wide pavements, nor voice was heard in their halls, nor any
      > face looked out from door or empty window."

      Much like Rome or London in Late Antiquity or the early Medieval period......

      Larry Swain

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