Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Social Decay and Change

In Roma Mater (London, 1989) by Poul and Karen Anderson, Gratillonius' father, Marcus, is of the curial class which is being ruined by enforced casteism, a declining economy and mounting taxes. Some are becoming serfs and one is believed to be hiding among the proletary of Londinium.

That last phrase anticipates and summarises many subsequent centuries. Feudalism grew from the ruins of Empire. Land worked by serfs was held by lords loyal to and protected by greater lords but some serfs fled to towns where they became either bourgeois or proletarian. The former, employing the latter, developed trade and industry, accumulated wealth as money, not land, then challenged the lords. Hence, the scientific revolution, the Protestant Reformation, political revolutions, the Industrial Revolution and the eventual replacement of feudal realms by modern nation-states.

Thus, Marcus' absconding neighbour, despised for hiding in Londinium, is really in the first wave of a very revolutionary future.

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