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Thread: Did Christianity Kill the Spirit of the Long House?

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    Did Christianity Kill the Spirit of the Long House?

    Did Christianity kill the spirit of the Long House?

    It's been a question rattling around in my head for a few weeks now.

    In a tribal sense, a Long House kept many families together and talking to one another. So the family loving bonds extended over the entire troop. Learning, caring, work effort, resource management, farming and punishment all took place in what appears to me as a group-home-managed affair. The Long House, kept community people in contact and secure.

    I'm wondering, since the advent of Christianity and the 'Church House' as the meeting ground, I've seen a lot of religious policies that promote the forgiveness of evil. Ie; even predatory sociopaths (who cannot regrow missing brain structure). So, the tribal-family-protection of the Long House has been watered down to the cushy teachings of Christianity into the Church House. Along with it, our sense of close-knit, tribal bonding and in some senses 'Viking brutality toward evil'.

    For some of us, the Long Houses seem a great neurological system for unifying and promoting our best interests. Ie, a strong polarizer and conformer of attitudes and security of our ancestors. It promoted harmony, sharing of duties, pooling of resources, skills and competency. Not only that, children grew up in community care along with other families and close contact with many considerate people. In the old era, I expect these arrangements were the first and best examples of how our culture and people grew strong.

    How do others regard this? Can anyone elaborate on the Long Houses and how they functioned? Or am I being too romantic in my analysis? Am I being too unfair to Christians for removing our bitter intolerance of criminals?
    Last edited by Mouse Shadow; Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Changed the font to Verdana

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    Long houses and their gradual disappearance do not seem to go in direct correlation with the advent of Christianity. Different new types of (oft one-family, but multi-generaton) longhouses would still arrive throughout the medieval and even into the 18th century.

    Their gradual disappearance would rather have to be seen due to ceasing to have the stables in a different building, which would then function more as a wooden annexe and less as a continuous building. For what most people forget about ancient Germanic longhouses is that more than 70% of its area was taken by cattle, and that humans basically populated only a tiny compartment, not that different in shape to countryside houses we populate now.

    That several families should be living under one roof, i.e. not just a few generations of the same family, was mostly due to different standings. In rural areas, the farmer was oft the most respected, as he had his own soil. He would then have countless farmhands (if he could afford to feed them), which would typically either be the younger sons of other farmers, or indeed of lower standing. Those of lower standing would of course marry others of the same standing.

    Such a rigorous "caste system" continued in many very rural areas well into the 20th century, though of course decreasing since the early 19th century when industrialisation made it easier for many formerly rural workers who did not own their own land to find work in the cities. This is roughly when the privilege of living in the cities also became more ambivalent: You moved to city from necessity, not from station.

    Of course, if your household included not only your family but also the families of your Gesinde, this was a sort of "community in its own right". Certainly, it was customary however, for the people of some standing, i.e. the farmers, to have their very own "plot and lot". This is something we oft forget when we romanticise our past: Only 10-20% of us would be owning their own land (and still be dead poor for the share they had to give to the nobility and the clerus - families like mine, who were largely independent farmers, were an absolute rarity), the other 80-90% would be toiling in the mud to be deemed worthy of a measly soup and a warm bed to sleep in, even if that bed was oft a stack of hay in the barn stored there for later use by the livestock. Not everyone in the medieval was a knight in shining armour, not everyone living on a farm owned it.

    Even in "Viking Age" Iceland, most famous for long-houses, you'd be hardpressed to find any two landowning farmers living under the same roof. The multi-family arrangement was not one of several families of equal standing, it was one of hierarchy: Those who owned their own land, and those who didn't. Otherwise of course they all worked the same field belonging to the same farmer, including that farmer; and they all danced at the same festival, though of course you could tell, sometimes even by different attire, who your son was dancing with.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    Long houses and their gradual disappearance do not seem to go in direct correlation with the advent of Christianity. Different new types of (oft one-family, but multi-generaton) longhouses would still arrive throughout the medieval and even into the 18th century.

    Their gradual disappearance would rather have to be seen due to ceasing to have the stables in a different building, which would then function more as a wooden annexe and less as a continuous building. For what most people forget about ancient Germanic longhouses is that more than 70% of its area was taken by cattle, and that humans basically populated only a tiny compartment, not that different in shape to countryside houses we populate now.

    That several families should be living under one roof, i.e. not just a few generations of the same family, was mostly due to different standings. In rural areas, the farmer was oft the most respected, as he had his own soil. He would then have countless farmhands (if he could afford to feed them), which would typically either be the younger sons of other farmers, or indeed of lower standing. Those of lower standing would of course marry others of the same standing.
    Thank you for that! It sounds rather smelly!

    I'm curious of people's opinions, because I find society (currently) far too isolationist in big cities and urban areas. A pervading lack of harmony being wrought by non-European influences and religions. It feels like the social-community bonds are being disposed of and forgotten about so readily.

    I always romanticise little communities nowadays becoming even closer like families and sharing resources, even dining arrangements in a Long house to better their collective spirit and survivability in this terrifying ‘financial’ new world. I know we’ve become very individualistic, but why? Why has our ‘community unit’ gone?

    I’m curious if anyone has any idea of how to bring back communities to a near family style bond. I think churches don’t provide that. I’d like to pretend a mini-neighbourhood and Long house might re-instil such a spirit. Especially if you have to sit down, eat and talk together under one roof.
    Last edited by Mouse Shadow; Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Put the wrong face smiley in..

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