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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 29 "In Fire Forged"

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Book I, Chapter 29

Feudalism, as a general term for sociopolitical systems consisting of a series of social classes of landless workers, landowners, warriors, and priests in a low-currency, medium-resource environment, can be seen as a low-complexity societal failsafe in the aftermath of a collapse from a higher order political structure. While higher-order political structures can potentially exist given the same conditions as a typical feudal society, their overhead costs (educational, infrastructure, lack of leisure, etc.) render them more unstable under such circumstances. In contrast, a feudal system can be extremely stable; under conditions that allow for feudalism, the system can persist for centuries before enough excess social and financial capital is accumulated to allow for a shift to higher-order forms of government.

Key features of feudalism include systemic and institutionalized social stratification, wherein a minority of families or other institutions control the majority of the society's resources (typically in the form of arable land), a worker class that farms the land and produces the goods necessary for survival, a warrior class that protects the land and workers from encroachment by other landowners, and a priestly class that legitimizes the rule of the landowners.

It should be noted, though, that, as a low-complexity sociopolitical system, feudalism is highly vulnerable to disruption caused by changes that allow for an increase in productivity or social mobility by the worker class, who make up the majority of the population. Nowhere is this better seen than in the events of the 1040s to 1080s in Europe...

Nationbuilding: How People Move, Talk, Think, Organize, & Structure Themselves, 1888, Amsterdam University Press

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Bullying a Dragon: Wulfhild implies that the reason why Einar and the other vassals issued their ultimatum - as well as planting insults towards Hiccup, Berk, Wulfhild, Ruffnut (who is now their queen) and Magnus - is because they are worried that Berk will eventually decide to strong-arm them with a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    Hiccup: With this sort of shit? Funny way of going about it. What moron thinks that the best way to keep from being attacked is to insult the threat?
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: The ultimatum Einar sent basically says that if Hiccup does not marry or take Wulfhild up as his concubine, then Einar and the rest of the Norwegian aristocracy will threaten to go into civil war. Since Hiccup is loyal to Astrid but feels obligated to prevent a war, he choses the latter.


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