The Curmudgeon


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Blogosphere During the Middle Ages

Although in many ways considerably more advanced than the Stone Age version, the mediaeval blogosphere nevertheless lacked a number of features which today we take for granted, besides having several more that would appear quite strange to modern eyes.

In contrast to the male-dominated blogosphere of the present, weblogs in the Middle Ages were often set up entirely by females, who spent hours of each day painstakingly hand-pixelating the design templates. Since most people were illiterate, postings usually took the form of pictures, often with a pious or propagandistic intent, which had to be cut out of tapestries and uploaded by peasant labour. In rare cases such as the Bayeux Blog commemorating William the Commenter's victory over the massed trolls of Hastings, resolution could be surprisingly high; but for the most part the pictures were simple and stylised, while the Latin text accompanying them was often so primitive as to be for the most part properly spelled and inclusive of at least one vowel per word.

While the prevalence of chain mail meant that links were abundant, the oppressive grip of the Church meant that one-tenth of every weblog had to be given in tithe to the priests, while yearly military campaigns frequently threw ISPs into chaos. For this reason weblogs were designed to be easily taken down and moved to safety, so that comments boxes were generally little more than cloth pouches lined with salt to repel trolls. Updating was a communal affair, and took place with much ceremony at the local church, typically with uploading done by the priest and downloading by the altar-boys: a Catholic tradition which persisted even in the face of Luther's denunciations.

Recently, doubts have emerged as to whether the mediaeval blogosphere was so exclusively aristocratic as has been assumed, and some historians have raised the possibility of peasant weblogs. If such things existed, they can scarcely have comprised more than two or three entries, worked up over several generations from whatever could be put by, and were probably somewhat earthy.


  • At 7:41 p.m. , Anonymous Madame X said...

    Excellent! Steampunk apparently went medieval on someone's ass.


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