Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Medieval Stasis

Go To

Basic Trope: A society has remained stagnant technologically (and perhaps culturally) for a long time.

  • Straight: The Kingdom of Tropeland still has the same tech, borders and ruling dynasty as when they were founded a thousand years ago.
  • Exaggerated: A man emerges from stasis after twenty million years and can't tell the difference.
  • Downplayed: Nothing has changed in the kingdom in a hundred years.
  • Justified:
    • Another society is manipulating things behind the scenes.
    • Advertisement:
    • A previous—possibly extinct—society had And Man Grew Proud issues, so either the local gods or the society itself tried to remain on a tech-level where things can't result in random self-extermination.
    • Severe isolation has kept technological development of others from reaching the town, while its small size ensured it had very few advances of its own.
    • The society was designed with certain "instructions" programmed end that ended up, either through failure to follow or because they were followed, prevent technology from going forward.
    • People (SCA, reenactors, etc) like it that way and don't change because it would ruin the fun.
    • Environmental factors, like lack (or presence) of certain resources, mean that Tropeland either can't support an industrial revolution on the scale that other countries did, or never needed to. What use is central heating if there's no wood nearby and the weather is always temperate, anyhow?
    • Advertisement:
    • The Church of Tropeland is very powerful, and regards most scientific and cultural innovations as heresy, burning people at the stake who contemplate such things.
    • Tropeland is a society of very long-lived inhabitants (either The Fair Folk or Elves) and while the society seems stagnant to shorter-lived humans, it's actually normal progress for the society in question.
    • Tropeland is a society of Amish or Amish-like people, who have very consciously chosen this.
    • Tropeland is actually built in a post-apocalyptic future, however the survivors have long lost the access to modern day technologies, hence the reason why everyone is still stuck in medieval era.
    • Tropeland is a place of constant struggle, and there's just no time for anyone to make technological advancement, or any that do happen are quickly subject to Why We Can't Have Nice Things.
    • Advertisement:
    • Technology actually does advance in this world. It's just so subtle that they aren't noticeable.
    • Due to the laws of physics, it's impossible to develop the technologies required to have for example heavy industries and Tropeland is stuck at the maximum tech level allowed by them.
  • Inverted: See Lensman Arms Race.
  • Subverted:
    • The stagnant society is a facade for a much more advanced one.
    • The world still looks and acts like a medieval one, but Schizo Tech more advanced than even today's is present.
    • The Sealed Evil in a Can wakes up, blasts its way out of its prison, and is promptly either shot or arrested by the police officer who just happened to be buying donuts at a nearby bakery.
    • Historical records in Tropeland, even well preserved ones, sort of end up fading away becoming myths and legends, so the world looks as if it was always stuck in the same epoch.
  • Double Subverted: …which might be advanced, but hasn't advanced any further for centuries.
  • Parodied:
    • Tropeland has not advanced since the beginning of time itself.
    • Tropeland is stuck in a stereotypical version of the Middle Ages with its citizens speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe and minstrels playing music in every town square. The neighboring countries, on the other hand, are futuristic space-traveling civilizations with extremely advanced computers and robot armies.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Another country, one that is a thousand years ahead, invades and conquers easily. It then turns out that this other country has been at the same a thousand years ahead level for two thousand years.
    • See the entries for Clock Punk and Schizo Tech
  • Averted:
    • Tropeland does not have any absurd levels of technological stagnation.
    • The history takes place within a reasonable amount of time, like a few hundred years—long enough for nobody living to remember or for the story to get corrupted into myth, but still realistic.
    • Magitek fills in for several gaps in technology, due to Sufficiently Analyzed Magic or Utility Magic.
  • Enforced: The work is a sequel, far separated in time from the original but the creator didn't want to change the feel of the work too much.
  • Lampshaded: "Did you notice how we're all still using horses to plow when Advancilvania next door has tractors?"
  • Invoked: An especially bright peasant designs a device you mount on your plow that drills holes in the soil for seeds… a "seed drill", if you will. His neighbors give him funny looks, and the local sheriff gives him a clunk on the head for "thinking beyond his station…"
  • Defied: …so he leaves for next-door Advancilvania and builds it there. Assuming there is an Advancilvania
  • Exploited: Tropeland's ancient enemy, Advancilvania, has advanced at a reasonable pace, and they know Tropeland will be far outmatched when Advancilvania decides to invade.
  • Discussed: We see why certain technologies are impossible in Tropeland, or are at best only useful as toys.
  • Conversed: "If only steam had enough pressure to power something larger than those small, useless, machines"
  • Deconstructed: Tropeland is an insulated bubble kingdom that expels its creative and inventive people and has a massive conspiracy to maintain the status quo, and eventually gets overrun by the world that passed it by.
  • Reconstructed::
    • But then something like a Cataclysmic event happens and reverts it back to the stone age, meaning that Tropeland is the only land that does not devolve into chaos.
    • Alternately, Tropeland and all the world around it are constantly experiencing new intellectual ideas, political upheavals and social changes. The reason everyone is still swinging swords, wearing armor and driving horse-drawn wagons is because gunpowder and the internal combustion engine simply don't work in the world's science.

Back to Medieval Stasis. You'll notice Brother Gerard did a fine job on the illumination of the initial "HTML".

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: