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Author Topic: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times  (Read 458 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2021, 02:58:41 PM »
You should write a book.

ScytheSong

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Re: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2021, 04:54:35 PM »
So what do the Millers do in the winter months? The grain has been collected in the fall and must be milled, but how long can the raw grain last before it becomes too bad to be milled into flour? Do they just mill grains into flour or do they use the millstones for making the mash for alcohol?
Isn't it easier to store grains than flour? I honestly don't know, it's just always been my assumption that you mostly wait to mill it until shortly before you need it.
Anyone know the answer to this?

They're are millstones a varying precision for different types of flour, which can vary for different grains.

It's much easier to store grain than flour without spoilage: surface area considerations alone should make that clear. It's also clear that fermentation of grain was a very popular way to store calories; as late as the mid-nineteenth century people were drinking beer during the winter months to supplement their vitamin needs and doctors were prescribing light beer or sweet wine for malnutrition symptoms.

On the millstone precision thing, one of the major technological advances of the High Middle Ages was in this area -- gearing such that the top stone could be moved closer to or further from the bottom stone to get a finer or a coarser grind with a single lever or screw.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2021, 08:42:19 PM »
I know, but still, that just strikes me as really dangerous. Was there a time period given? Supposedly around the time of Vincent de Paul, there was a French saying 'the best way to get to hell was to become a priest'.
I misremembered the details:

Quote
"in 1326 a more violent dispute arose between the inhabitants of Saint Albans and the monastery. It led to an insurrection during which the monastery was twice besieged. The quarrel this time was over the right of the tenants of Saint Albans to grind their corn at home with their hand mills. Five years later, in retaliation, Abbot Richard had all the houses searched and the millstones seized. The stones were brought to the monastery, where the Abbot had the courtyard paved with them, for humiliation of the common people. Their bitterness remained and when fifty years later, in 1381, the Peasant's Revolt broke out led by Wat Tyler, the people of Saint Albans rushed eagerly to the monastery to break up the millstone courtyard, the symbol of their humiliation."
So they rebelled, he put down the rebellion, then they put up with it for half a century until there was some other unrest going on. Every society has some collection of numpties everyone has too much respect for, and puts up with all sorts of shit from - until one day they don't, and buildings burn and guardsmen are hanged. And then who knows how things will turn out.

The context of the quote is the introduction of the water-powered fulling mills. As in with industrialisation 1800 to present, bringing in new technology - especially water mills - in the middle ages took production out of homes and into dedicated facilities far from homes, and made a lot of people unemployed. If you added a drought, a flood, a plague or war or massive hikes in taxes to that, you got famines, rebellions and so on.

SHARK

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Re: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2021, 08:52:44 PM »
I know, but still, that just strikes me as really dangerous. Was there a time period given? Supposedly around the time of Vincent de Paul, there was a French saying 'the best way to get to hell was to become a priest'.
I misremembered the details:

Quote
"in 1326 a more violent dispute arose between the inhabitants of Saint Albans and the monastery. It led to an insurrection during which the monastery was twice besieged. The quarrel this time was over the right of the tenants of Saint Albans to grind their corn at home with their hand mills. Five years later, in retaliation, Abbot Richard had all the houses searched and the millstones seized. The stones were brought to the monastery, where the Abbot had the courtyard paved with them, for humiliation of the common people. Their bitterness remained and when fifty years later, in 1381, the Peasant's Revolt broke out led by Wat Tyler, the people of Saint Albans rushed eagerly to the monastery to break up the millstone courtyard, the symbol of their humiliation."
So they rebelled, he put down the rebellion, then they put up with it for half a century until there was some other unrest going on. Every society has some collection of numpties everyone has too much respect for, and puts up with all sorts of shit from - until one day they don't, and buildings burn and guardsmen are hanged. And then who knows how things will turn out.

The context of the quote is the introduction of the water-powered fulling mills. As in with industrialisation 1800 to present, bringing in new technology - especially water mills - in the middle ages took production out of homes and into dedicated facilities far from homes, and made a lot of people unemployed. If you added a drought, a flood, a plague or war or massive hikes in taxes to that, you got famines, rebellions and so on.

Greetings!

Very nice details, Kyle Aaron! It's interesting how a singular event, or a series of events, can have so many "moving parts" some of which may be obvious, while others may be obscured.

Semper Fidelis,

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Torque2100

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Re: The NPC Miller in Medieval Times
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2021, 12:42:29 PM »
In the Kingdom Come Deliverance crpg, millers are where you can fence stolen goods and are involved in a lot of crime. 

Quote
Milling is one of the oldest crafts in the Czech lands, the construction of water mills being well known since earliest times. Over the centuries the mechanism was perfected, and in the Middle Ages there was a mill in practically every village. There were also windmills or mills powered by oxen or horses. Milling was one of the so-called freelance professions. They conducted trade in the village, among other roles.

With the increasing number of water mills and other water-powered equipment, there was a need to settle relationships between the various millers. Already by the mid-14th century, an association of provincial millers – experts in the field of water rights, was set up, with powers to survey watercourses, stipulate the scale of mill earthworks, assess the technical condition of mills and so on. They also drew up a code of conduct for millers, so as to ensure their use of water for milling caused no loss to others.

Since the mills stood apart from the other village houses, millers were often the subject of gossip and were accused of earning money on the side in nefarious ways – from selling customers short on flour, to outright witchcraft, thievery and trafficking in stolen goods. The latter accusations in particular were certainly defamatory and without a grain of truth.

I am a huge fan of that game.  I think next time I run a Medieval Fantasy campaign, I'm going to have the local Millers acting as fronts for the thieves guild in addition to their usual duties.