City and Guild: Bills of Lading Project

OK, so, I have way too much time on my hands, and I needed to learn blogging for work, so:

Sweet! :smiley:

looks great.

Sounds very informative!

I have my first question ready!

I was going to leave a comment, but I had to register.

I loathe registering. No rational reason.

For now I'll lurk.

Curious to see how this work. Potentially, with the commitment of the author, this is something that could be advertised in future supplements and a motivator for people to but it sooner rather than later so they can participate in the New Release chit chat. An idea to consider.

I didn't know registering was required. If you want to pose a uquestion, I can just copy and paste it across in one of my own posts. No biggie...

I'd also like to make clear that I will still be answering questions in the other forums. I just see Bills of Lading as detailled work, and for that people really do need to have read the foundational materials. Also, I need a topic for a blog and this is available, so...hey...why not?

As to it being a thing done more often: well, it's an unpaid service, which the author can't profit from, so some of the busier authors might want to focus their time on paying work. Right now I've hit a lull between books, and the whole projedct only looks like 15 000 words with few revisions, so it is very manageable.

If people want to put questions in, that'd be good, because then I could prewreite a few days worth of posts, to get me over days when I'm time poor.

So, to warm up, a post about the Aria Awards, a post-rock band, Sir Walter Scott, and the Vietnam War, and all linked back to City and Guild.

Coming up, as filler between people's questions:

  • trading outside Mythic Europe: what's going on in northern India and the Indian sea lanes.
  • Medieval visions of the far end of the Silk Road
  • the Merchant of Prato and a truly excellent cat story.

It's also an opportunity to point out what those "foundational materials" might be, keeping in mind that not everyone here has access to a research library. I could get those crossbow papers you mentioned on the Berklist, but I'll be losing access soon. :angry:

"Bildungsroman" is a term used in english? :open_mouth:
Damn I hated these in school. :wink:

But otherwise very fine your blog is young jedi.

Gang, this idea that I'll research a question a day is made easier if some of you send me questions before the book is officially out. Now that you have the table of contents, if you see an area which you think would play a major role in your saga and are of the opinion that regardless of what the book says, you might like a bit of extra information, then that's OK as a question.

I have a little bit of critic about the literature that was used for this book: I think it is not ok to use books published in Amerika or England as only source about themes like the medivial live in german towns. Ok I study history and so I am suffering literature crtic from my professor all the time, but I think it would be great if some translated german books would have been used.

And I have some questions: why did you choose this towns for this books?
What about the part "wondrous items"? Is it a collection of magical items like in D&D(hopefully not!)?
Is there some mention about specific things for every country? You probably know that in the Holy Empire the term was Zunft and not Gilde/Guild and such things.
What about the use of money that was rare and used only by a very tiny number of people?
The role of the bishops in the fight for the cities freedom (which was normaly a position against the nobles and towards the townsfolk)?
Is there a mention of jewish communities in european cities?
What about communities of mythic beeings like a part of a city where fearieblooded or giantblooded people live?
How detailed is the Sea Combat chapter?
Is the land of the priest Johannes in India mentioned in the chapter Commercial Sources of Trade?

OK, I didn't do the towns section, so one ofthe other authors will need to answer that one. I would point out that two of the books I used are translated from French, and two were from documents translated from Italian. The translations were published in England or America, yes, because I read them in translation.

As to your questions, remember that I've offered to write detailled answers to 30 questions -after- the book is out. I can't add extra detail to what Atlas has offered yet, because I'm under an agreement not to talk about the contents of the book until it is out.

Basically I need to do a lengthy blog for work, and I've decided to do it on C&G. That doesn't let me talk about the contents of the book before it is out, just promise to expand the contents once it is out through a blogging process.

OK, to be clear, I can't tell you what's in the book - at least not until it is out, so I have trouble answering most of these questions.

What I've offered to do, is to write lengthy, detailled posts expanding the book once it comes out. What I'm fishing for now is things people want me to do these articles about. The NDA I'm under forbids me mentioning what's in or out of the book before it is published. As such, I can't tell you to what depth material is covered in the book. If, however, when the book is out, people want me to expand on medieval coinage, or the role of Jewish communities, or the Sea Combat section, then sure, that can be one of the 30 posts.


Ok, Mr Top Secret I understand this... and I will asksome of this questions again (and pherhaps some others too) when the book is in my hands.

But I thank you right now for every extra work you will do for the Ars Magica "communita". :slight_smile:

Our troupe recently played through a story using (almost) only the supporting characters - the grogs and companions of the saga. I say "almost" as there's no preventing players who go to long (and legal) lengths to visit or spy on the covenant no matter how far away they might be.

The story in question, like our saga, was based in the city of Verona and touched the highs and lows of society, from the powerful and wealthy to the criminal underclass who were only too willing to do the bidding of the wealthy.

We had a great time and the murder at the heart of the story and the secrets learned by the characters and players will have lasting consequences... But for me, being a purist, the story I'd written felt, I don't know, a little later than period. In every scene that I'd planned, I couldn't help but see the swashbuckling lesser aristocracy swilling cheap beer with the cutthroats and criminals in dark smoky taverns through a kind of 15th - 16th century filter.

Is there any evidence/historical precendent or story that can support a storyguide wanting to tell more mundane stories of the aristocracy using the city's low-life for their own ends? Within cities, what distinguished the young, wealthy and ruthless from those they used or associated with?

The fact that anyone wealthy was noble, and anyone peasant-class was not wealthy. There was, at this time, no real "merchant class", or it was only just beginning to form.

Use this rule: no one gets rich in bussiness. They become "comfortable" (in a medieval sense, ie, they aren't starving), but they never accumulate the sort of brute wealth that any noble is assumed to have (even if they don't.)

Any merchant who was successful enough to presume to the affectations of nobility risked their resentment at this presumption. That may not be "convenient", in a story/plotting sense, but it's historically accurate.

The "young, wealthy and ruthless" did not associate with the "young, peasant and ruthless", even if they had everything else in common. The former would hire the latter through a middle man (if not a "cut out" man!), or several layers of them, and, at best, the latter, hat in hand, would meet their employer while the former feasted and tossed perfectly good cuts of meat to the dogs just to emphasize the differences. (It's important that noble dogs eat better than peasants, it just is.) :wink:

What distinguishes them is the same thing that distinguishes the modern "Western" professional or bussinessman from 3rd world locals - the fact that they are mostly dressed better, better educated, have from birth been taught more refined aesthetics and have higher standards and expectations, and have a large body of peers they can call on to protect them- which may or may not be of any use at the time if they find themselves in the wrong neighborhood. So, they don't go there if they don't have to, not without a guide or bodyguards. 8)

Hmm I once wrote a long paper about merchants in the age of the "Ottonen" in the Holy Empire. What you say is not false but the normal way for merchants was: they were citizens of a city with good trade properties, they become very rich after some time and then they became nobles! The citys were ruled mostly by the "Patrizier" or the local bishop/archbishop. And this class of Patrizier was a group of once normal merchants which became very, very rich and so they got a title that made them nobles because they could make it so after they fought for freedom.
In the time of Ars Magica in the Holy Empire most of the rich citys are independent by any "normal" noble. They are indeed under the ruling of rich, formaly non-nobles, merchants. The whole history of the mighty and powerful Hanse is build on these extremly rich and powerful merchants. And yes: they are nobles, but they became nobles AFTER they became rich trough trade.
The old nobility on the other hand were a bunch of illiterate dumbasses that were far more fanatic in their believes and who loved fighting and singing but what they diddnt loved was good work and a hard job (like the job of a merchant).

But in fact the local, little merchants with only two oxes and a small vehicle with little and poor goods as well as the rich Patrizier had a extremly bad reputation because they endangered the power ob the true and old nobility and the mighty church.

Some citys in the middle ages also had nearly "communistic" laws and leaders or the normal citizen had so much rights that they were democratic in many points. Often the independent citys are opposed to the nobles of the land and in Hamburg (the bigges city in north germany) you could expect that the normal man is a proud and intelligent as well as independent and freedom-loving man who loves to kick the asses of the stupid nobility outside his city.

I think the important word there is "some". While it may be true in Germany (or part of it), that doesn't mean it was for the majority of Europe.

There are many, many specific examples of cities that break one rule or another - in Islamic Cordova (aka Cordoba, Spain), Christian, Jew and Muslim lived in perfect harmony and rich cooperation. While London dropped Western Europe's jaw at it's massive population of 50,000 or so, Constantinople (aka Byzantium/Istanbul) had calmly topped a million. And while the vast and overwhelming majority of Europe squinted at the useless mystery of writing, the City States of Northern Italy had achieved a literacy rate of over 50% in males.

None of that means it was common, nor a model for the rest of Europe, nor that the changes begining in the next century ("The Rennaisance") were yet noticeable.

As a rule, merchants in the early 1200's did not "buy a title", tho' in fact most any king in any period was willing to sell any title for the right price.

Some of the references about Germany/France/etc are translated from German or whatever. The author listed in the bibliography is the original author, and the translator is not listed. These translations happen to be published in America or England, so that is listed as the place of publication.

Availiability of information, and a range of sizes/conditions.

Ah thank you for the info, now I am much more hot on this book. ^^

This was indeed a pain although pretty simple really - you had to register for the forums IIRC, so you could register with Blogger with the same details (easy if you have a browser that autofills forms).

I think it's worthwhile to support Timothy in this project - there should be more Ars blogs IMO, particularly in support/around new products and given the imminent demise of Hermes Portal.

Needing to register does put a brake on comments though which may be counterproductive to learning blogging for you, Timothy.

This thread has the potential to sap commentary away from the blog to here, so it might be useful to link this thread to the blog somehow?

For my question I'll reiterate what I said in my comment to the Bills of Lading Blog (BLB? BoLB?) - I'd like to hear more about medieval (and of course Mythic) conceptions of the Silk Road...

Looking forward to seeing this evolve.


PS When does C&G come out BTW?