[LMB] OT: Historical observations

Marc Wilson marc.wilson at gmx.co.uk
Mon Jun 12 15:33:04 BST 2017

On Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:40:51 +0000, Gwynne Powell
<gwynnepowell at hotmail.com> wrote:

>One thing that I've noticed before is the heartbreakingly high death rate. If
>you look at most European royal families from medieval times on up, either
>there's no children, or a long list of miscarriages, still births, and deaths within
>the first few years. Just looking at the Stuarts, hardly any of them made old
>bones. Even the ones who got past those early years tended to fall off the
>perch in their twenties. I know that in the later centuries many royals were
>inbred to an astonishing degree, but even those who married out seemed to
>struggle to get a few offspring to adulthood.
>And that's the royals, living well, with better food and conditions than most
>of the peasants. How did anyone survive? The usual figure is that 50% of
>children made it past five, but the numbers seem to be far worse than that.
>My dad did a lot of family (and other) history research, going back for
>centuries, and covering people living in some pretty isolated and tough
>conditions. And they had a far better breeding rate, despite everything.
>Maybe it's just that peasants are tougher than the feeble aristos?

1) Gene pool size

It's often assumed that a peasant is a peasant, and it's the upper
classes that are interesting and diverse; the very opposite is true.

Even now, the majority of royal families in Europe are rather too
closely related for comfort.

2) The failures among the "lower orders" may not have been anything like
as well-documented.  "The Mountains of Mourning" scenario is not *that*
unusual, even today in isolated communities.
Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.  - W.B. Yeats

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