Sunday, September 21, 2014

Explaining Walled Cities

Occasionally, I'll throw a history note into a blog, and this is the case today.

Nordlingen is a Bavarian village, to the far south of Germany.

You look closely and start to note a walled city that has developed over the centuries.

The way this starts....a couple of settlers come into the area....clear the land and start a community of maybe a dozen families.

Some thugs come in the middle of the night and assault some of the locals, haul off some of the harvest, and burn a house or two to the ground.  So the families band together to put up a small fort.  In the beginning, it might be a fairly small place to just withstand an initial attack of a small group.

Time passes....the community has grown out to twenty to forty families, and the threat to the group has expanded as well.  They progress over the years to various forms of walls.  This is meant also to be a practical thing against letting diseased individuals enter the city (a big thing up until the mid-1600s).

As these towns expanded had city council men who sat and deemed various protect themselves, their craftsman trade, the economy of the village, and the general safety of residents.  A front gate and a back gate would require guards, and a marginal individual with no craftsman trade....would easily fit as the gate keeper.

As you travel across Europe, you will notice various traces of walled cities still remaining.  For an American, your observation ought to include the thought that these villages were left to their own protection.  No one was going to come and rescue cavalry, no king's knights, no army.  You depended on the strength of your community, and a wall.

For this reason, this is why people had various farming plots, that weren't always next to the house, and might even have been an hour's walk from the community.

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