Medieval Commerce Was Not Free Market   Leave a comment

The urban areas of Medieval Europe became the foundations for the modern age of capitalism, with its legal protections for individual rights, private property, and the emergence of an economic order in which each participant fulfills his own wants by serving others through production and trade in a system of interdependency in an exchange-based system of division of labor.

Image result for image of a medieval townThis was not a free market system. While the institutions of property and contract slowly emerged during this period, but competition as we know it today did not exist. In fact, people in that time would have viewed free market capitalism as a dangerous and undesirable way of doing business. Prices and wages were all controlled along that era’s concept of “fairness” and “justice”.

Communal ownership and management of property in the towns was a common practice in a number of areas. The town generally provided a common pasture where the townspeople grazed their livestock and the town usually controlled the grain mill, and sometimes the bakeries, ovens and marketplaces.

Similar to how I made my farming peasants free folk who could choose to vote with their feet, I made my townfolk owning their own shops and taverns. It would be a stretch to assert that people who diverged from 5th century Europe would continue to develop in the exact same systems for a 1000,000 years once in Daermad. Their interaction with the Kin would have at least led them in different directions. But they do have similar characterists, because I like basing my fantasy writing in the real world.

Like the Medieval towns of Europe, the towns and cities of Celdrya revolve around the guilds.

Guilds were occupational associations that determined who was permitted to trade in the town, under what terms, how the product or service was to be produced and offered on the market.

Foreign merchants were permitted to trade in a town only under special permit. Their movements were watched, they were not allowed to “undersell” the town’s merchants, and could only offer products of specified qualities and types.

Among the townspeople themselves, the guilds had far-reaching influence. They set the rules for apprenticeships – who and how many people might enter a profession or occupation each year under a master who was a member of a guild. They made all sorts of business decisions. They controlled the methods and materials that might be used in producing goods, but also the hours when businesses were open for trade, the time when goods could be withdrawn from the shelves at the end of the day, and generally they allowed items to be sold only in the guild-controlled markets. Prices of both products and resources were fixed within maximums and minimums. Violation of any of these rules was subject to criminal prosecution.

Sir William Ashley, in An Introduction to English Economic History and Theory (1909), recounted some episodes of such regulations and how they were enforced:

In the year 1311, Thomas Lespicer of Portsmouth had brought to London six pots of Nantes lampreys [an eel-like water animal with a jawless sucking mouth]. Instead of standing with his lampreys for four days after his arrival in the open market, under the wall of St. Margaret’s Church in Bridge Street [as was required by law], he took them to the house of Hugh Malfrey, a fishmonger. There he stowed them away, and sold them a couple of days after to Malfrey, and without bringing them to market at all.

They were brought before the mayor and alderman, confessed their guilt, and were forgiven; Thomas gave an oath that henceforth he would always sell lampreys at the proper place only, and Hugh that he would always tell strangers where they ought to take their lampreys …

[In the year 1364] John-at-Wood, a baker, was charged before the common sergeant with the following offense: “Whereas one Robert de Cawode had two quarters of wheat for sale in common market on the pavement within Newgate, he, the said, John, cunningly and by secret words whispering in his ear, fraudulently withdrew Cawode out of of the common market; and then they went together into the Church of the Friars Minor, and then John bought the two quarters [of wheat] at 15.5 pence per bushel, being 2.5 pence over the common selling price at the time in that market, to the loss and great deceit of the common people, and to the increase of the dearness of corn.

At-Wood denied the offense … Thereupon, a jury of the venue of Newgate was empanelled, who gave a verdict that At-Wood had not only thus bought the corn [wheat], but had afterwards returned to the market, and boasted of his misdoing; this he said and did to increase the dearness of corn.

Accordingly, he was sentenced to be put into the pillory for three hours, and one of the sheriffs was directed to see the sentence executed and proclamation made of the cause of the offense.

The rationale for the guilds and their intricate system of rules and regulations of prices, production, and entry into professions and occupations and trades was said to maintain reasonable prices for customers and minimum qualities of the goods offered to them in the marketplace.

Truthfully, the guilds served as a legal means to the monopolize trade within crafts and professions. It acted as a retarding influence on any improvements in the qualities of goods or in the varieties of commodities offered on the market, and a disincentive on the part of craftsmen and professionals to try to lower their costs of production and increase their revenues by offering their goods at reduced and more attractive prices.

Quality improvements, increased variety, lower selling prices were declared “unjust” and “unfair” trading practices that would harm all the “honest” men in the various lines of production and trade. Such market conduct would destabilize markets, disrupt traditional standards of doing business, and harm both producers and consumers in the long run. It was thought better to control and limit supply, methods of production, and prices and wages to customary paths to assure “continuity” to town and commercial life.

In Daermad Cycle, my people are a little bit more free. They can move from town to town to find the guild structure they like best, but once in a town, they are forced to accept the system there unless they want to leave. In The Willow Branch, I have Padraig visiting the guild master at Clarcom to become a member. In Mirklin Wood, he is forced to travel south because he cannot join the guild in Wwmgleadd because (unstated) the rules say you must live there a certain time before you’re permitted to join. This is a deliberate attempt to keep herbmen from the caravans from remaining in Wwmgleadd. We also see Taryn’s brother and Regent Gerriant standing in judgment on disputes between individuals involved in commercial enterprise.

The Middle Ages were a time between the fall of Rome and the rise of the Modern era. Look for the next post.

Posted October 25, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in History

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Medieval Commerce Part 1   Leave a comment

So I’m back to my medieval fantasy and considering the different sort of communities that exist in Celdrya. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I studied European medieval culture and history and then just adapted it to my world.

Image result for image of a medieval townIn Europe, the manors survived through a comprehensive system of self-sufficiency, while the townsfolk acquired many of the things they needed through trade, implementing the use of coin money. Commerce, trade, and money exchange implies a system of property rights that permits ownership by individuals, and rules and laws of contract among agents. The Middle Age towns were were economic, legal and social institutions began to emerge that are essential prerequisites for a complex market economy.

Celdrya has many, many villages centered around or near duns (the equivalent of manors). Generally towns have developed near the central seats of power. There are a handful of larger towns that could be called cities – Dun Celdrya is the capital city, while Llyr and Galornyn are also large enough to be considered cities. Clarcom sits on the cusp, largely driven by Lord Cunyr’s aggressive defense building. These are towns that had grown large enough to develope neighborhoods that acted somewhat like towns within the larger cities.

The urban areas of Medieval Europe became the foundations for the modern age of capitalism, with its legal protections for individual rights, private property, and the emergence of an economic order in which each participant fulfills his own wants by serving others through production and trade in a system of interdependency in an exchange-based system of division of labor.

Look for more in this series in coming days.

Posted October 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in History

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The Art of Getting Out of the Way   4 comments

What do you want readers to take away from your work when they read it?

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I don’t specifically write message-driven books. Mostly, I want readers to feel like they’ve stood in the shoes of my characters and experienced their world. If that happens, I’ve done my job as an author.

That said, I have opinions and preferences just like everyone else and I have this great forum for sharing what I believe about the world, faith and life in general. While I don’t set out to write a message, there are a few things I hope readers gather from my writing.

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I believe in God and I don’t really care if you object to my faith, but I’m okay with you being wrong. I don’t think you’re an evil person for missing the whole point of existence. I do hope you will one day see that God is the ultimate reality, Savior and Lord of the world. I don’t believe I’m perfect, but I do think God saved me for a better life than the one He called me out of. That belief and hope comes out in a couple of ways in my writing. I don’t write Christian books, but I am a writer who is a Christian. I write non-Christian characters who are people with worth and intelligence, who sometimes save the day. I write Christian characters who are imperfect and sometimes drop the ball. I try to present Christian faith in an honest fashion that is respectful of Biblical teachings, but I’m not really trying to witness for my faith through my books. I just find agenda-driven literature to be boring reads, so I try to avoid it, but if my faith speaks as an incidental part of the story, I don’t delete it either because I think sometimes God speaks when people are ready to listen.

I deeply mistrust government and think that life solutions are best found through the voluntary efforts of individuals freely working in groups. That’s a deliberate choice in Transformation Project, but a libertarian fan tells me she found a strain of it in Daermad Cycle, so apparently it’s a personal ethic that flows out of me. Again, I’m not going to preach it because I think message fiction almost always sucks, but my characters are making these choices based on my principles and I hope the reader will ponder the reasons why.

I value self-sufficiency and abhor dependence. That doesn’t mean that a disabled character shouldn’t be helped when they need help, but that I will tolerate only so much whining in life … from myself, from you, and from my characters. I do have characters who are constantly in the why-me’s and who will need to remain like that because that is their role. They are hard for me to write, because my personal ethic is to look boldly at things, say “This is crap” and try to wade through it to the other side. I am a resilient person who has had to be resilient in a life that has not always been a bowl of cherries. I choose to bounce back because that is better than living in defeat. But that’s not everybody, so sometimes characters have to be downer-Debbies. They usually don’t last long because, to quote Don Henley, I want to find their inner child and kick its little ass … and as the author, I can actually do that without going to jail.

I don’t do damsels in distress. I received a great compliment in an Amazon review recently that my female characters are not stereotypical of the apocalyptic genre. They are active, often armed, and willing to take risks, but they are also females. I don’t try to make them physically equal to men because women aren’t in reality physically as strong as men. I’m not making any sort of feminist statements when I make my women capable and as strong as they need to be, but also working in community with men. That is simply my experience of living in Alaska where men are really men and women repeatedly win the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest.

I thought I would share what some famous writers say about messages and symbolism in their books.

Isaac Asimov: “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?”

Ray Bradbury: “No, I never consciously place symbolism in my writing. That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act. Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way. The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural.”

So, while I don’t start out with any sort of message to my readers when I write, these themes flow from who I am as a person. If a character happens to embody those ideals, it is rarely a deliberate choice on my part, but I hope my readers respect or that they will come to respect these ideals through reading my books. Mostly, I just hope you love the characters and experience what they experience, but of course every act of creativity imparts some flavor of the creator within it.

Posted October 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Stay Tuned for the Blog Hop   Leave a comment

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We’re talking messages and symbolism this week.

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Posted October 23, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Why Haitians Don’t Want You to Donate to the Red Cross | Alice Salles   Leave a comment

Despite the desperate pleas for help coming from the hurricane-torn island nation, many Haitians are not thrilled about the presence of scandal-ridden organizations such as the American Red Cross (ARC) — or the Clinton Foundation — in their country.

Source: Why Haitians Don’t Want You to Donate to the Red Cross | Alice Salles

Posted October 23, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in economics, Uncategorized

Review of Transformation Project   Leave a comment

Becky Akers reviews Transformation Project.

Front Cover LAWKI no windowLela Markham is one of my favorite writers living in one of my favorite places, Alaska; LRC’s readers may remember her as the Christian with whom I discussed anarchy and the Bible. So I announce with great pleasure the publication of two of Lela’s novels, Life As We Knew Itand Objects in View. They inaugurate her new apocalyptic series, the “Transformation Project.”

In Book 1 (Life As We Knew It), a nationwide terrorist attack destroys the major cities of the United States and brings the federal government to its knees. (Yeah, I already love it, too!) Cut off from food, communications, electricity and news, the small rural town of Emmaus forges its own plan to cope with the disaster. A resident who previously ran for mayor as a fiscal conservative must now decide whether to impose martial law on his neighbors or remain true to his principles. Meanwhile, he and his sons wrangle with well-meaning statists, out-and-out dictators, and thugs.

objectsinviewBook 2 (Objects in View) picks up the story when the citizens of Emmaus emerge after taking shelter from nuclear rain. Their world looks relatively unchanged–until their technology fails, looters steal their medical supplies, death threatens livestock critical to their survival, and what’s left of the federal government demands their crops and the imposition of martial law.

What inspired Lela to write apocalyptic fiction from a libertarian perspective? She says novels that predict widespread chaos after a catastrophe dissatisfy her, especially because their solutions to Armageddon glorify the State. She wanted to explore how libertarian values might work when government disappears. “What if we didn’t try to force everyone to get along and do things in a set fashion?” she asks. “Why do we assume that would lead to widespread chaos? Maybe it would lead to pockets of chaos with widespread peace. But wait, this world contains some mighty corrupt people bent on having their own way, so maybe it’s not as simple as that and the transformation of American society will be turbulent. This series is really about the struggle to decide if a few people are going to be in control of everyone or people will get to decide for themselves how best to live.”

Lela plans to release the series’ third book in 2017, so fans should feel free to devour Life As We Knew It and Objects in View now!

Posted October 22, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion, Uncategorized

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The Truth About the Detroit Public Schools   Leave a comment

Walter E. Williams

Detroit school students, represented by the Los Angeles-based public interest firm Public Counsel, filed suit last month against the state of Michigan, claiming a legal right to literacy based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Ninety-three percent of Detroit’s predominantly black public school eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 96 percent are not proficient in mathematics. According to the lawsuit, “decades of State disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools have denied Plaintiff schoolchildren access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.”

Source: The Truth About the Detroit Public Schools


In terms of per-pupil expenditures, the state does not treat Detroit public school students any differently than it does other students. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Detroit school district ranks 50th in state spending, at $13,743 per pupil. This is out of 841 total districts. That puts Detroit schools in the top 6 percent of per-pupil expenditures in the state. Discrimination in school expenditures cannot explain poor educational outcomes for black students in Detroit or anywhere else in the nation. Let’s look at routinely ignored educational impediments in Detroit and elsewhere.

Annie Ellington, director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, reported that 87 percent of the 1,301 Detroit public school students interviewed in a survey last year knew someone who had been killed, disabled or wounded by gun violence. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of teachers surveyed nationally in 2011 had been victimized at school at least once during that school year or the prior year. Detroit public schools are plagued with the same problems of violence faced by other predominately black schools in other cities.

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In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. In February 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 300 Baltimore school staff members had filed workers’ compensation claims during the previous fiscal year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job. A 1999 Michigan law requires school districts to expel any student in sixth grade or above who physically assaults a school employee. The Lansing Board of Education ignored the law and refused to expel four students for throwing chairs at an employee, slapping a teacher and punching another in the face. It took a Michigan Supreme Court to get the board to enforce the law. The court said the law was enacted “specifically (to) protect teachers from assault and to assist them in more effectively performing their jobs.”

Colin Flaherty, author of “Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry,” has compiled news stories and videos that show how black students target teachers for violence. He discusses some of it in his Jan. 12, 2015, American Thinker article, titled “Documented: Black Students Target Teachers for Violence” ( As a result of school violence and other problems, many teachers quit when June rolls around. Every year, Detroit loses about 5 percent of its teaching positions (135 teachers). According to a Detroit schools representative, substitutes, principals and other staffers must cover classes, a situation not unique to Detroit ( In California, signing bonuses of $20,000, “combat pay,” aren’t enough to prevent teachers from leaving altogether or seeking out less violent schools.

The departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe. Black people ought to heed the sentiments of Aaron Benner, a black teacher in a St. Paul, Minnesota, school who abhors the idea of different behavioral standards for black students. He says: “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.” Personally, I can’t think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

Here’s my prediction: If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.

Posted October 22, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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