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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 42 "The Pen..."

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Book II, Chapter 11

The economic and demographic growth of Berk's territory can be tracked due to the tribal census records. Begun in AD 950 under the auspices of Chief Hiccup II, the yearly census tracked a slow, steady and inexorable contraction over the next ninety-one years, with the first census recording a population of 1,373 people from eight clans and nearly 400 clanless freemen, dropping to 712 across five clans and 208 freemen in early AD 1041. After the end of the Dragon War, however, the pattern reverses itself explosively, with the Eirish annexations and the tribe's own natural growth. Child mortality drops in all of the tribe's holdings, and immigration begins in earnest. At the start of AD 1042, according to the census for that year, the total population of the Hooligan holdings was recorded as 4,902 humans, and approximately 12,000 dragons...

...Vedrarfjord, as an Eirish city with room to expand that was unavailable to Berk on its small and hilly isle, is extremely illustrative of the growth that occurred. Beginning with approximately 2,000 people in AD 1042, plus another 2,000 in the immediate hinterlands within walking distance, the city's population boomed over the next ten years to 31,826 permanent residents—after contracting from a refugee-boosted height of 56,105 in AD 1044, nearly all of whom ended up settling elsewhere in Berk's territory (see Chapter 23: The Eastern Massacres).

In that first census, the image revealed is of a small Viking trading port, primarily focused on agriculture, with the majority of the population involved in farming, herding or fishing and the other major industries being shipbuilding and other port-related activities. Recorded in that first census, there were 8 shoemakers, 9 furriers, 10 tailors, 6 barbers, 3 jewelers, 4 tavernkeepers, 4 bakers, 9 carpenters, 12 weavers, 5 chandlers, 2 scabbard-makers, 3 brewers, 5 coopers, 2 butchers, 3 fishmongers, 6 smiths (specializations not noted), 8 healers, 3 millers, 8 ropemakers, 36 shipwrights and 2 tanners recorded.

Ten years later, the portrait of Vedrarfjord is that of an industrial and educational center, featuring glassmakers (207), teachers (572), bookbinders (17), papermakers (98), ropemakers (453), weavers (429), tailors (168)...

Origins Of The Grand Thing, Edinburgh Press, 1631

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Culture Clash: Hákon thinks it’s confusing why nobody other than priests are allowed to read the Bible.
    Hákon: But… wait. I understand it being kept a mystery. That's fairly normal. Gothi doesn't talk about the inner secrets of the gods' worship and all of that. But if they have it written down… doesn't that mean that it's supposed to be read?
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Rome's politics can get nasty, with Harald describing the beating and attempted assassination on Sigurd/Snotlout as a love tap by comparison.
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  • Info Dump: Heather gives one detailing the inner workings of Eirish politics.
  • Should Have Thought of That Before X: It wasn't until after they gave Ulaid and his men Sacred Hospitality on Berk that they find out they brought thralls with him.


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