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Earthdate 2004-01-05

“Horsey” Vikings II — Requirements reassessed

Continuing the reevaluation of Bainbridge's requirements:

  1. Language:  disposed of above as a requirement.
  2. Place of origin:  While a northerly origin can be kept in mind as what might be called a nice to have, “reminiscence” attribute for a people, this aspect is pretty much irrelevant to the question of, are they like the Rohirrim?  Remember: what's being sought are interesting folk that resemble the Rohirrim, not peoples some accidental element of whose history aligns with the fictional history of Middle Earth.
  3. Current location — i.e., “occupying lands that had once been part of the domain of a neighboring culture that is both older and more highly developed,” as Bainbridge put it.  This aspect is also possibly worthy of consideration, though once again largely disconnected from the personality, characteristics and accoutrements that a “horsey” culture like the Rohirrim actually possessed.  Let's keep it in mind, however.
  4. War panoply:  Bainbridge's itemization is pretty good here, except perhaps for the necessity (as he sees it) to have stirrups, and another consideration that he doesn't see.  Stirrups shouldn't be a deciding factor in meeting the overall goal, but another arms requirement needs to be added: armor.  Cavalry and foot soldiers ought to wear at least some armor (as the Rohirrim weren't light cavalry), most probably helmet, chain mail, and shield, which the Rohirrim troops in the LOTR films prominently displayed.  Shields need not be round, nor is it very important if a particular “horsey” culture's cavalry used, say, bows rather than spears.  Contrary to Stephen's preference, there's no problem if some arms and armor are made of bronze rather than iron.
  5. Lifestyle:  As Bainbridge says, either nomadic or agricultural lifestyles are fine, but there should be some permanent residences, as the Rohirrim so obviously possessed in the films.  As Impearls' earlier piece pointed out, nomad empires in history “covered the most medley conglomerations of nomads and peasants,” so there normally were settled peoples and some agriculture performed within such states.  See below (e.g., under Scythians and Avars) for examples of the fortresses and permanent residences that these so-called “nomads” maintained.
  6. Fortifications, or place of refuge:  Yes, there should be such, but see the previous item above.
  7. A final consideration might be added to the list: allowing women to fight!  That would seem to be one of the expected characteristics for the Rohirrim, given the screen version of the LOTR at least.  It is, however, a “gotcha” requirement:  Given history as it has unfolded, few (no?) real cultures would be able to meet this requirement were it to be rigidly applied — except for the Sarmatians!



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