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Did People Of The 15th Century Have A Better Life Than You?

Geoist

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When we think of the Middle Ages we often think of the negatives (and rightly so). Sadistic "interrogation" methods, superstitions, seemingly endless warfare, apocalyptic plagues, oppressive monarchs, etc.

But it wasn't all horrible. Even in the late Middle Ages, a typical English laborer with a family of five was arguably better off financially than the same family in the 21st century. That is because even after paying for food, clothing, and shelter, he still held 2/3 of his income.

Six-Centuries-1024x701.jpg


Did people of 15th century and first 1/4 sixteenth have a better life than you? | thedepression.org.au

Yes, taxation certainly plays a role in the change. But rising cost of living cannot be 100% attributed to taxes. Until we abandon the dogma of neoclassical economics I believe we are stuck in this tailspin.
 

Kal'Stang

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In some ways they were better off. In others they were horribly lacking. So really just depends on your POV.
 

Lovebug

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May be I am misunderstanding the question.
No AC!!!!!!!!!!!!
Minimal medical care. Just think, having a tooth pulled without local anesthesia, or dying from a ruptured appendix etc.
Where was the nearest grocery store?
Washer/dryer?
Car?
Social safety net?
The lucky had a plot of land to survive off. Some were lucky to know a trade.
Family values and structure was more intact.
Life was simpler perhaps.
All in all, and may be because I am spoiled rotten, I like the here and now with all its ups and downs.
 

WillyPete

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It's all in how you're keeping score:

Maybe they had proportionately more disposable income, but what did he have to spend that on? Whatever your neighbors produced, which is likely nearly the exact same thing you produce?

Their families were closer, largely because most of them never left the region they were born in.

They didn't live as long, and they didn't enjoy effective treatments for illnesses we've (nearly) eliminated.

Entertainment was pretty limited. If you didn't like singing, dancing, and church, you were SOL. In the unlikely event you could read, you'd better enjoy the Bible, because that's what you've got to read.

Sanitation facilities were crude in the extreme. An 1890's outhouse would be pretty fancy, by their standards. I'd expect that to be a deal-breaker for about 90% of modern women who dream of living as a princess, right there.

Totalitarianism was the name of the game, politically, so if there was a war, or your land was too rich, or your kid insulted a lord's kid, you or your kids could be pressed into service or killed, and you had no legal recourse.

The only positive thing I can say is they didn't know what they were missing. A modern person going back, unless they were ultra wealthy and could benefit from what international trade and conveniences were around, would be somewhere between bored and suicidal.
 

azgreg

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May be I am misunderstanding the question.
No AC!!!!!!!!!!!!
Minimal medical care. Just think, having a tooth pulled without local anesthesia, or dying from a ruptured appendix etc.
Where was the nearest grocery store?
Washer/dryer?
Car?
Social safety net?
The lucky had a plot of land to survive off. Some were lucky to know a trade.
Family values and structure was more intact.
Life was simpler perhaps.
All in all, and may be because I am spoiled rotten, I like the here and now with all its ups and downs.

You forgot dragons and they didn't have golf.
 

humbolt

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The skill level of the craftsmen and tradesmen in the MA was very high, particularly considering the tools at their disposal. Like others here, I think it depends on your POV and what you consider to be essential to your quality of life. Today far more interdependence is necessary to maintain our standard of living.
 

jamesrage

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When we think of the Middle Ages we often think of the negatives (and rightly so). Sadistic "interrogation" methods, superstitions, seemingly endless warfare, apocalyptic plagues, oppressive monarchs, etc.

But it wasn't all horrible. Even in the late Middle Ages, a typical English laborer with a family of five was arguably better off financially than the same family in the 21st century. That is because even after paying for food, clothing, and shelter, he still held 2/3 of his income.

View attachment 67202091


Did people of 15th century and first 1/4 sixteenth have a better life than you? | thedepression.org.au

Yes, taxation certainly plays a role in the change. But rising cost of living cannot be 100% attributed to taxes. Until we abandon the dogma of neoclassical economics I believe we are stuck in this tailspin.


I don't think keeping most of your income is a indicator of how much better someone has it than you when you consider the following-

Lack of public education
Lack of air conditioning and heating
Lack of public services like running water and proper sewage treatment.
Lack of proper medical care.
Mandatory religion.
Slavery
Lack of equal rights.
In many cases being ruled by some inbreed dictator IE a king or queen.
Constant warfare and pillaging.
shorter lifespans.
 

calamity

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When we think of the Middle Ages we often think of the negatives (and rightly so). Sadistic "interrogation" methods, superstitions, seemingly endless warfare, apocalyptic plagues, oppressive monarchs, etc.

But it wasn't all horrible. Even in the late Middle Ages, a typical English laborer with a family of five was arguably better off financially than the same family in the 21st century. That is because even after paying for food, clothing, and shelter, he still held 2/3 of his income.

View attachment 67202091


Did people of 15th century and first 1/4 sixteenth have a better life than you? | thedepression.org.au

Yes, taxation certainly plays a role in the change. But rising cost of living cannot be 100% attributed to taxes. Until we abandon the dogma of neoclassical economics I believe we are stuck in this tailspin.

We certainly live longer. I've already lived nearly twice as long as your average 15th century explorer.

imp-of-medical-research-rsm-14-638.jpg
 

Chomsky

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I argue they absolutely had a worse life!

But see no need to add to the all the excellent points supporting my position already made by the posters above!
 

Geoist

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I absolutely agree with the lot of you: it depends on one's POV and that today's society requires spending on many other things, not just for luxuries but necessities such as insurance, transportation, etc. Heck, most 15th century commoners probably didn't own more than one or two pairs of pants (or trousers, pantaloons, or whatever you want to call them for the time period). And I too much prefer living in this time period than that one.

I do think, though, it is a curious statistic considering how the enclosure of the commons was beginning about the time wages went down/cost of living went up. Are we forever damned to more and more debt as we make progress in society? Or is there another way?
 

Lovebug

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I absolutely agree with the lot of you: it depends on one's POV and that today's society requires spending on many other things, not just for luxuries but necessities such as insurance, transportation, etc. Heck, most 15th century commoners probably didn't own more than one or two pairs of pants (or trousers, pantaloons, or whatever you want to call them for the time period). And I too much prefer living in this time period than that one.

I do think, though, it is a curious statistic considering how the enclosure of the commons was beginning about the time wages went down/cost of living went up. Are we forever damned to more and more debt as we make progress in society? Or is there another way?

But don't we have to pay our dues to society, with society thusly improving our way of life?
 

Geoist

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But don't we have to pay our dues to society, with society thusly improving our way of life?

Well, yes. If you want insurance, you gotta pay for it. If you want nicely kept roads, you better pay the tax. Unfortunately, though, our current system allows site-holders to profit from society's progress, all without lifting a finger. This imbalance raises the costs for everyone but is especially burdensome to the not-so-wealthy.
 

katzgar

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life expectancy was about 35 years so things were much worse then. all the this and that stuff nets out into life expectancy.
 

Mr Person

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When we think of the Middle Ages we often think of the negatives (and rightly so). Sadistic "interrogation" methods, superstitions, seemingly endless warfare, apocalyptic plagues, oppressive monarchs, etc.

But it wasn't all horrible. Even in the late Middle Ages, a typical English laborer with a family of five was arguably better off financially than the same family in the 21st century. That is because even after paying for food, clothing, and shelter, he still held 2/3 of his income.

View attachment 67202091


Did people of 15th century and first 1/4 sixteenth have a better life than you? | thedepression.org.au

Yes, taxation certainly plays a role in the change. But rising cost of living cannot be 100% attributed to taxes. Until we abandon the dogma of neoclassical economics I believe we are stuck in this tailspin.

Financially?

What about **** literally steaming in the pan, if you could afford a pan, a short brutish life often subject to random injustice, the ease of dying from a small cut that gets infected, etc etc etc?


What about the fact that every single thing OTHER than finance was objectively worse for the average person in the 1400s?
 

justabubba

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Consequences of the Black Death included a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1347 and 1350 with 30–60 percent of the entire population killed.[1] It reduced world population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century. It took 150 and in some areas more than 250 years for Europe's population to recover.

From the perspective of the survivors, however, the impact was much more benign, for their labor was in higher demand. Hilton has argued that those English peasants who survived found their situation to be much improved. For English peasants the fifteenth century was a golden age of prosperity and new opportunities. Land was plentiful, wages high, and serfdom had all but disappeared. A century later, as population growth resumed, the peasants again faced deprivation and famine ...
[emphasis added by bubba]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequences_of_the_Black_Death

a time when the only shortage was labor

from your hypothesis, the conclusion might be that society needs a huge enema for good times to return
 

Deuce

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Subsistence farming until you die of smallpox has a lower cost of living than modern life. News at 11.
 

Deuce

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life expectancy was about 35 years so things were much worse then. all the this and that stuff nets out into life expectancy.

Life expectancy numbers for those days are heavily skewed by their outrageous infant mortality. If you made it to ten, you were probably going to make it to sixty.
 

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No their lives were far far worse than ours.
 

Helix

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Did People Of The 15th Century Have A Better Life Than You?

probably not. they had for real feudalism instead of the modern version of it, and i would have died a few weeks after being born due to lack of modern medical technology. i am fascinated by history, though, so it would be cool to visit that time period and to walk around for a bit.
 

azgreg

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Subsistence farming until you die of smallpox has a lower cost of living than modern life. News at 11.

You make it sound like it's a down side.
 

Carjosse

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Yes they have all that extra income to buy another donkey.
 

BitterPill

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When we think of the Middle Ages we often think of the negatives (and rightly so). Sadistic "interrogation" methods, superstitions, seemingly endless warfare, apocalyptic plagues, oppressive monarchs, etc.

But it wasn't all horrible. Even in the late Middle Ages, a typical English laborer with a family of five was arguably better off financially than the same family in the 21st century. That is because even after paying for food, clothing, and shelter, he still held 2/3 of his income.

View attachment 67202091


Did people of 15th century and first 1/4 sixteenth have a better life than you? | thedepression.org.au

Yes, taxation certainly plays a role in the change. But rising cost of living cannot be 100% attributed to taxes. Until we abandon the dogma of neoclassical economics I believe we are stuck in this tailspin.

I believe the typical English laborer in the late Middle Ages was a serf.
 
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