Would you have survived in the middle ages?

By Shamus
on Jul 17, 2007
Filed under:
Random

449 comments

Last weekend one of my gaming buddies and I were talking about surgery. I have surgery coming up this weekend and we were comparing notes. One thing we both realized was that both of us would have died before we were six if not for modern medicine. He had his appendix out at five. My life more or less depends on medication to keep my asthma under control. I’ve had several life-saving trips to the hospital due to severe attacks in my lifetime.

I’ve mused on this sort of thing before, but since we were about to play D&D in a fantasy setting my mind was on it again. In the medieval times people got married at ages that would scandalize us today. They began having sex at a young age, and continued to do so without birth control for their entire lives. Women cranked out babies at an alarming pace, yet the population remained flat. Run those numbers in your head and it becomes clear that people who lived to adulthood where a small minority of the total number of people born. Their lives were bleak, harsh, and filled with death. They died of things that are trivial to fix today.

I wouldn’t have made it. Asthma would have killed me. If that didn’t get me, the infection I had at 20 would have done the job.

My dad would have died six months before I was born.

My mother would have died a few years after I was born.

My friend wouldn’t have made it. He would have died of a burst appendix at five.

I think my brothers and my sister would have made it. (Ignoring the fact that two of them were born after my mother would have died.)

How about you? How long would you have lived in the middle ages? Ignore all the general risks – like typhoid or the plague or cholera – that everyone would have faced in general. Let’s assume you were lucky and missed those. (Unless by some chance you actually DID face one of them in your life.) Also ignore the fact that your deadly injury might have been caused by modern technology, like an auto accident. Just pretend you were trampled by a horse or something. So, given the injuries and illness you’ve faced in your life so far: Did you make it? Would you have survived to your current age?

I don’t want to go on the cart!
I don’t want to go on the cart!

I’m curious to see the responses on this one. If you like, post your results to your blog (I’ll link back) and pose the same question to your readers. If you don’t have a blog you could always use the comment gizmo below. I hear it works pretty good.

(ADDITIONAL: To answer goblinpaladin’s question below, yes. Let’s assume we didn’t die in a flood, or a famine, or get worked to death, or die in a war, or anything else like that. Let’s just go with what’s happened to us in our modern lives. For a lot of us, even that is enough to kill us.)

The tally so far:

On The Cart Pulling The Cart
Shamus Young
Oscagne
ms_danson
e_scapism101
Steven Den Beste
Webs
Nick
Bogan
Winged Ignorance
Ingvar
Remus
BriScan
Sir Sefirot
RedHillian
goblinpaladin
Jag Dell
talorina
JohnW
Rollie
Erik
Galenor
Delta Force Leader
SimeSublime
Deathblade_penguin
Gus
Mari
arlani
Otus
Mik
VikingMonkey
Rupert
Gary
Michael L
Rich
Dan
Ariel
Eltanin
guy
Tom Gunn
Joel
Gary
Cradok
BlueFaeMoon
Doug Brown
Anonymous Botch
Kalle
MintSkittle
Downtym
Tarous Zars
Rob
Jacob
AJ
Space Bumby
DavidS
Mr. Blue
Ysabel
Allura
David H.
JasonS
Katy
Poet
Shadow Wolf
Arson55
Jimmy
Don
wumpus
Browncoat
milw770
ZackTheSTGuy
Doug Sundseth
SiliconScout
Al Billings
lplimac
Dangerous_Jade
SteeleButterfly
chuko
Ken Talton
dreamfarer
Refugee
Joe M
Corsair (Don’t be such a baby!)
Rhea
Kevin
Kurt
MONKEEYYY
xbolt
Devin
Mrs T
DoveArrow
coz
beckyzoole
Brett
Matt`
Siobharek
trigear
SteveDJ
jpetoh
stevend
AnnMCN
Smyth
J Greely
unseelie_sidhe
M Hamann
Nothing
Davemonkey
Chris
Ralff
Attorney At Chaos
Yonder
Sion
Jewbacca
Lanthanide
Rixaxun
phobiandarkmoon
veloxyll
luagha
Woerlan
Raved Thrad
Chrystalline
Sem
Justin Alexander
Kajen
Ravs
Mark Caliber
the_corruptor
Clint Memo
AdaMM
Zaxares
Antendren
Roses
Jon
Contagion
Mrs. Who
KMC
Mandi
corwin
txknight
indikate
Matt J
Knastymike
Robin Z
out_totheblack
Spider
Jimmie
Telophase
Melfina the Blue
Rev.Dr.Blacky Thanatos Roach
NRD80Y
Alden
Jennifer Snow
phlux
Robyrt
Anh Minh
Arthur
Christopher
Locri
gomi no sensei (Pulling with gusto!)
Hanov3r
Marmot
Redguy
Katy
Nathan M.
Michael McHenry
Ryan
-Chipper
Zak
Falafel
Jeremiah
Jessie
TwiddleStooch
Martin
Kevin
Amanda
Nilus
Lars
Matt P
Segev Stormlord
Janneh
Joe
leopardeternal
quadir
SongCoyote
Althanis
Alex
Dan Morrison
Skeeve the Impossible
Alexis
BlackJaw
Dev Null
Maia
Vykromod
Guy
Karen
John
Myxx
Deoxy
Cenobite
Cadamar
dishuiguanyin
Nanja Kang
Osvaldo Mandias
Jack of Spades
Coyote
Gobo
icekatze
brian
Kristin
Gothmog
Dave
Mark
TooMad
PurpleStarfish
ravenkith
Sewerman
Mysterium
rou
Otters34
Sauron
Jeremy Bowers
ohnoabear
Water_Singer
CJG
melchar
Seracka
Anna
capitain
Petrushka
Julia
Dave Klecha
andy
Clarifon
rogue_stupidity
kdorian
Pilomotor
Glumly
lynnylchan
wildweasel
Pixy Misa
jdhays
Dix
Rick
Ben
Masakados
Purple Library Guy
Daebereth
Zaghadka
Nefke
James
Hito
Traiden
Tolmar
dragonbane
Brian
kat
Paul Arthur
Pffh
Danzaemon

A further thought: I should have made three columns for our list above: On the cart, Pulling the cart, and Beggars. A lot of so-called cart-pullers up there are missing limbs, very ill, blind, or otherwise not up to performing their cart-pulling duties.

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!20209449 comments. Keep commenting and you're liable to break the internet.

From the Archives:

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  1. Nilus says:

    Despite my less then stellar fitness level(I could stand to lose several pounds), I think I would be pulling the cart. Despite a few trips to the ER as a kid and adult I have never needed stiches, never broken a bone(although I have had a few nasty sprains, but they all healed up fine), never needed surgery, Never been seriously ill. Unless chronic Heartburn would kill me I think I would be pulling that cart.

  2. Janneh says:

    Pulling the cart!

  3. Dan says:

    I wouldn’t have survived the 1950s, much less the middle ages.

  4. Lars says:

    I have to say that I’d probably be ok, I’ve been fairly healthy most of my life without any brushes with death myself.

  5. Matt P says:

    I would have made it. I’m pretty lucky medically speaking except a minor allergy to bees. I was stung once but it only cause a whole lotta swelling; nothing life-threatening.
    Oh, and I got herpes when I was about 3 (not the embarrasing kind, thank all that’s holy) but I don’t think that’s life-threatening. We were road tripping around America (us Australians) and my brother and I just got it. Our parents were worried but every doctor they saw told them there was no need for treatment so I assume we weren’t in any danger.
    Pulling the cart for me, and by the looks of it those guys need the help.

  6. Segev Stormlord says:

    While my mother would have died of complications due to my birth within a few months after it happened, and I have miserably obnoxious allergies which would have made me get a reputation for being “sickly” (any nasal allergy you can name, I have), I’d actually be moderately healthy and still alive.

    The fact that I have vision just slightly better than Mr. Magoo’s without my glasses, though, means I would be effectively blind. Without glasses (or my more commonly worn contacts, since my glasses are literally a quarter of an inch thick), I can see well enough that I won’t run into that blur there which is probably a tree, or a pole, or a wall, but isn’t that blur over there which I think is a person because it’s moving and talking to me.

  7. Janneh says:

    I think the worst illness I suffered as a child was chicken pox. Other than that, no broken boneses or anything serious until adulthood, and since I rarely have medical insurance, I haven’t depended much on modern medicine. I’m a survivor.

  8. guy says:

    Birth related complications involving my heart rate flatlineing might have killed me, but it might have gone away easily. None of my problems since were life threating, but several falls from a bike might have carried risk of infection if it weren’t for anispetic.

  9. Rich says:

    You know, I rushed to write that reply above. Now I’m actually reading the list and thinking about it. I seriously have the chills. Man, Shamus, heavy stuff… But thanks for the perspective, I’m gonna be hugging a lot of people today. Whether they like it or not. :o

  10. Eltanin says:

    Dead: appendicitis at 22.

  11. Ariel says:

    I got my first pair of glasses at age 7. At 42, my nearsightedness is such that things start blurring at 2″ away. Then there was the virus that drove my temperature up to 106 degrees when I was ten. If the virus didn’t kill me, the nearsightedness would’ve.

    I would’ve been on the cart.

  12. My life would be quite different no doubt. As mentioned, Allergies have been shown to be more common among those who did not grown up on the farm or in such conditions as existed in the “dark” ages. However even with growing up on the farm my parents still both developed strong hay fever. Thats a toss up then as to how well I’d be doing. My tonsils and adnoids were also removed in 3rd grade in assosiation with horrible ear infections.

    I’d be alive, may even be healthy, but I’d likely be deaf.

  13. Joe says:

    Some things aren’t as deadly as one might think… I was a breech birth three weeks overdue, and my mother had me natural (only thing the doctor gave her was O2). If I had been born today, it would have been a C-section, because no doctor would take the risk of letting a mother do a natural breech birth. Different times, different risks. In the middle ages, C-sections did exist, and they did have a high mortality rate, but it’s not quite a certain death sentence (well, except for the mother… that was pretty deadly until fairly recently)

    I remember reading somewhere about an analysis of the death rate vs. age throughout history. It’s true that the average person in modern industrial society has an average lifespan of about 80 years, but way back when the average was more like 40, but the devil is in the details. The big difference between then and now was a huge spike in the death rate for those under about 5 years old, and another big spike near 15. If you made it to 6, you had a fair expectation of a long life. If you made it to 16, your life expectancy wasn’t *that* much different than it is today.

    A while back I was visiting a local historic plantation, and wandered around some in the family graveyard, with one families burials dating from the mid-1600’s to last year. The oldest grave there was for a man who died at 98. His son and daughter-in-law’s grave was surrounded by the headstones of their 12 infant to toddler-age children.

    As for me, I’ve had one reasonably significant surgery (like Rollie, a pilonidal cyst at around 20). That would have been a high risk, but I don’t believe it would have been an automatic death sentence. So I think the phrase is “I’m not dead yet!”… well, maybe I am…

  14. quadir says:

    made it barring any plagues.

  15. On the cart or made an invalid. Scarlet Fever at age 5.

  16. Rob says:

    If you look at this document, you’ll see that life expectancy in The United States was only 47.3 years in 1900 (scroll down to Table 12).

    So, anyone here older than that (me, that is) is on borrowed time, even compared to this country a hundred years ago.

    But, I haven’t had any drastic health interventions so far, so perhaps I would have made it. I guess I count as pulling the cart, but I probably would have died of old age by now back in the Middle Ages.

  17. Joel says:

    I’d be dead. Appendix for me as well. If it hadn’t been for that though I would have lived.

  18. Tom Gunn says:

    Pneumonia would have gotten me when I was 6. I spent 10 days in a hospital under an oxygen tent.

    It is possible you might not have gotten asthma if you were alive in the middle ages. I’ve seen theories about the rise of asthma and allergies being cause by our current hygiene standards and lack of exposure to microbes causing our immune system finding something else to fight. *shrug* just a supposition.

    There is a educational card set meant for school teachers that occasionally gets around SCA circles where you draw one and it says what would have happen to you in the middle ages. I think 9 out of 10 died before getting out of childhood. I can’t find any info with a quick search but there is something out there.

  19. Gary says:

    Oh wait! I completely forgot the 5 times that I’ve had pneumonia!!!!!!

    I’d be dead 5 times over! Not only am I on that cart, I qualify for my own cart! :)

  20. SongCoyote says:

    I likely would have made it, but I’d likely be lame in one leg due to an injury I got when I was about 8 or 9. I’d likely be a blacksmith or something like that :)

  21. Althanis says:

    Pulling the cart… My right thumb wouldn’t be able to grip anything, but I’d still be a-kickin’

  22. Cradok says:

    Let’s see… I poked myself in the eye with a sharp stick as a child, that’s loss of the eye at least; dislocated thumb and cut through the eyebrow to the bone would probably have been survivable; testicle tortion when I was 17, dead or a eunuch; glandular fever at 18 would probably have offed me; and if that didn’t, the pneumonia last year would have defininitely done it…

    And even if that hadn’t done it, I’d have been pretty useless with my mild athsma and shortsightedness…

  23. Alex says:

    I’d probably be deaf (or at least hearing impaired) due to frequent childhood ear infections, my wisdom teeth would have scrambled my teeth around a bit(but really, who wouldn’t have bad teeth then?), my vision would be uncorrected (but in the days before driving and universal literacy, what needs to be seen clearly anyway?), and my birth might have killed my mother (and hence younger brother), but I would probably have been fine.

    So, probably pulling the cart.

  24. Shamus says:

    Note about my asthma: I was wheezing about five days after I was born. It wasn’t caused by pollution, or lack of things for my immune system to fight. I was too young. Mine is genetic.

    Some people believe that astha is “caused” by something modern, because it’s so much more common today. But the answer is more simple: My sort of asthma is inherited. People that had it usually didn’t live long enough to reproduce. Now we’re able to grow up and have kids, so there are more of us.

    The allergy-driven asthma is a bit different. Many people can grow right out of it, and it might not be inherited.

  25. BlueFaeMoon says:

    Assuming there was a competent midwife at the helm during my birth, and I survived my mother’s difficult labor (doc had to extract me with forceps) then I might have snuffed it when I was 10 and contracted chicken pox. If I survived that, I would have most likely died at age 12 from a severe bronchial infection. Then I would have been fine (but completely deaf) until I was 18 and died of a mysterious infection and super high fever (that was a week in hell I don’t want to redo!).
    So I’m sure I would be on the cart. Eventually.

  26. Doug Brown says:

    I probably would have been exposed or something. Sign me up for the cart.

  27. Anonymous Botch says:

    I, luckily, have had no major illnesses, or even broken bones. However, I reckon I would be on the cart, being severely short sighted, I doubt I would have got past my teens before being mown down by a horse or falling in a well. Without distinctly post-medieval spectacles I can can make out fuzzy blobs and thats it. Not life threatening in itself, but its so hard to avoid dangers you can’t see. And what work could I hvae done? Its the monastry or begging for me, if I was lucky.

  28. Kalle says:

    I had a pretty severe case of pneumonia when I was 20 which actually made me think “this could have KILLED me” if it hadn’t been for the virtues of penicillin. That said, pneumonia wasn’t always fatal back in the middle ages and it’s possible that I might have pulled through so I give myself a 50/50 chance of survival. My near-sightedness could be cured with medieval glasses. A luxury item for sure, but so was books, and reading or otherwise staring intently at tiny things for long periods of time is the major cause of near-sightedness.

    I’d probably be down a fair number of teeth and walking around with a miserable toothache since I just had a root canal done last week, but otherwise I’ve been perfectly healthy.

  29. Dan Morrison says:

    Slightly disfigured and mostly crippled, and at the grand age of 34 probably a grand-dad past my use-by date, but I think I survived.
    Near-death accident at 2 (a washing machine fell on me) turned out not to have done any damage, so assuming the sawbones back then did nothing useful (instead of the ‘exploratory’ surgery I got here) I’d have ended up OK.

    As of two years back I have a big metal clamp in my ankle, so I can only imagine I’m a bookkeeper or a begger. Certainly not pushing any cart, but I’ll limp along, one leg dragging trying to keep up with it.

  30. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I would still be alive, but my life would be uncomfortable and crappy. I had a hernia operation back in december. In the middle ages I would of just had to tough it out like I had been over the previous few years. But yeah I am pullin the cart.

  31. Alexis says:

    Con 16. Nothing more severe than chicken pox and gastroenteritis my whole life, thanks be to anyone/thing involved. Some myopia, probably caused by reading. I’d be fine, probably would have dodged Osgood-Schlatters Disease (growing pains) due to malnutrition.

    Luddites… unfathomable. I party with a lot of them, damn hippies, the Dark Ages are some kind of idyll of self-sufficiency and freedom to them. Hello, DARK ages?

  32. BlackJaw says:

    Huh. I’d be and mostly ok.

  33. MintSkittle says:

    I’m pretty sure I would have died from asthma if I didn’t bleed out from a facial wound at the age of three. I’m probably on the cart.

  34. Dev Null says:

    Alive… and about as useful as a collander at a beer-drinking competition. With my remarkable natural ability to focus my eyesight out to at least, oh, 6 or 8 inches, I’d be pulling the cart, but not steering.

    I think the eyesight thing is similar to your take on inherited asthma Shamus; too many nearsighted dweebs surviving to breeding age these days who never would have made it in the bad old days. I had a friend who was an ambulance driver who described his job as a “Crusader against Darwin; fighting to keep the selected against alive.”

  35. Maia says:

    I would have made it, I only got the chicken pox because at age 4 I was made to all but lick my little cousin who got it. I’ve never had strep throat or an ear infection, never even had a fever… But then again, my dad was born in a mountain village in northern Iran, his mother had 13 live births and only 5 survived to adulthood (and three were born after they got to Israel), they had no medical care, they boiled their own water and milk, etc. so maybe I had a running start?

  36. Guy says:

    I would have made it either by luck or the grace of God, depending on your viewpoint. I have never had any serious injuries or illnesses, not even any broken bones.

    I did get a concussion once, but it went undiagnosed and untreated so I would have certainly survived it then as well.

  37. Vykromod says:

    I once got hospitalised for what looked like appendicitis, but wasn’t. It went away overnight as well. Seeing as this is the most potentially fatal thing that’s happened to me, I think I’d be pulling the cart.

    My teeth would be bizarre, though, as I’ve had orthodontic work done, and I’m more myopic than I care to think, but I’m alive.

  38. Downtym says:

    Verdict: DOA at birth of acute pneumonia.

    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 1 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 3 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 4 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 6 of pneumonia.
    (Notice a pattern here? At least it’s only turned into chronic, yearly bronchitis instead of oxygen tents.)
    Assuming I survived that: Drowned at age 10.
    Assuming I survived that: Drowned at age 15.

    My parents have commented that I’m like a cat borrowing lives from other cats.

  39. Tarous Zars says:

    Dead at 6. Spinal meningitis.

  40. Rob says:

    Tonsilitis at 2 probably would’ve spread. Plus asthma. Aside from that I’ve been pretty safe.

  41. Jacob says:

    I’d have died at 4 months. I’d have died from Pyloric Stenosis. Which means I’d have literally starved to death because food was blocked from reaching my stomach.

  42. Karen says:

    I had 2 broken bones (both minor) that probably would have healed. I had ‘walking pneumonia’ at 17 — I felt fine but that is potentially fatal. I have no idea how often something like that clears up by itself. After that I’ve been fine. I will tentatively say “pulling the cart” but I could have been taken out by the pneumonia or any number of childhood diseases that I never got because of vaccinations.

    Regarding the mortality levels in the Middle Ages: If you use modern subsistence level cultures as a reference one birth every 4 years seems reasonable (that takes into account natural fertility but with a rather lower nutritional state for the mother). Don’t assume the population was flat. To get a flat line even with the lower fertility you’d be assuming a higher infant/childhood mortality rate than has EVER been observed in any popution. It looks more likely that the population grew but then got knocked back by, say, the Black Death and other major epidemics periodically wiping everyone out. (I’m a biological Anthropology person and catastrophic mortality is one of my special topics).

  43. AJ says:

    Any number of things probably would have killed me off. I’m bipolar, so odds are I might have offed myself given that it wasn’t a particularly cheery time, or I might have gone murderous and been killed…either isn’t good. Then there are the injuries I’ve sustained over the years…so yeah…dead many years ago.

  44. Space Bumby says:

    I didn’t require hospitalization for my low birth weight, and I walked around with pneumonia for a week before I was treated, so I’m thinking those wouldn’t have killed me. I’m far more likely to have died giving birth to a breech-presentation baby; in the medieval era, you just had to push them out the hard way, as opposed to getting a nice C-section like I had (which, as Arlani points out, were possible but rare). So I’m going to say…three close calls puts me on the cart at 22.

  45. DavidS says:

    Born with a collapsed lung and spent 5 days in the ICU, so I wouldn’t have had a chance. If I got past that somehow, I’m diabetic, so that would have taken me out at 16.

  46. Space Bumby says:

    Oh, and Shamus–about the inherited asthma thing: My youngest daughter has it. In her case it’s linked to eczema and triggers very rarely. Her most common trigger is a persistent dry cough, and she isn’t allergic to anything.

  47. John says:

    I would have been one of the lucky ones, I’d say. At my ripe old age of 36 I might have been crippled or killed by one of the many potentially maladies of the time, but nothing in this life that wouldn’t have gotten me through back then.

  48. Mr. Blue says:

    On ye cart I go: I had a pretty bad infection at 10.

  49. Myxx says:

    It’s most likely I’d have made it. I was afflicted with a few ear infections as a kid, but I’m not sure if those are fatal if untreated by modern medicine. My wife would have never made it though, due to several issues in her childhood. So… I’d have potentially been deaf and single. Doesn’t that kinda defeat the point of being deaf?

  50. Spider says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m pulling. I’ve had no surgery. The only time I’ve ever been in the hospital was a reaction to Penicillin, which I never would have been given. Ironically what I was given the medicine for wasn’t the severe. I have allergies, but not severe. I can’t think of a moment when my life was saved by Modern medicine. I think the only real physical change I’d have to my person is a scar on my right arm and missing teeth.

  51. Ysabel says:

    I’d have survived to adulthood, but I doubt I’d have survived to my current 37. Folks dealing with gender dysphoria in centuries past didn’t tend to live long lives, for a variety of reasons.

  52. Deoxy says:

    iffy, here.

    Poor eyesight, but functional at a non-driving level.

    Mild asthma, but never severe enough to need an inhaler, so obviously not a problem.

    Significant ear infections as a child, so I would probably had some hearing problems, but nothing fatal.

    A nasty cut when I was in my young teens requiring 9 stitches – possibly death by infection, but probably not.

    The worst thing I can think of is that I picked up malaria (don’t ask), and malaria kills about a million people a year… but there are literally 10s of millions (or more) that have it and live, and I got it at a relatively healthy age, so probably still not dead.

    No broken bones, good teeth.

    Lots of allergies, but nothing I didn’t survive, anyway.

    Oddly enough, the thing that MIGHT have killed me (most likely of anything) is an infection in my foot recently. It was caught early enough that it’s hard to say, but it’s possible.

    I was born by C-section, but that was because I was running so late, and my mom had still not started labor – in “ye olden days”, they would have just waited until she went into labor, however long that took. Hard to know on that one.

    So, probably pulling the cart, I guess.

    My oldest child, however, would most certainly have died. Actually, she would probably have died as recently as 50 years ago; she was unable to hold down ANYTHING for 4 days (roto virus – BAD stuff), and lived on IV bags in the hospital. Definitely would have died, no question – it kills several infants in the US each year even today. I actually thought about that at the time.

  53. Allura says:

    I likely would have died from pneumonia a few years back (it wasn’t a serious case now, but without meds, it could have progressed to kill me). I certainly would have had lousy eyesight. Oh, and the lyme disease could have progressed to cause a heart attack or something as well; no way to be sure on that either.

    My husband would be dead of appendicitis bout 10 years ago, and would have had little to no use of his left arm since he was 10ish.

  54. Cenobite says:

    Pulling the cart, but with a severe limp.

    What amuses me about this morbid experiment is the thought that, a thousand years from now, gamers will be doing the exact same thing. (A thousand years is a fair estimate, since the Dark Age period ended roughly around the year 1000 AD, and we are speculating today about life and conditions back then.) They’ll have a game (or virtual interactive simulation called The Matrix) set in the world of the early 21st / late 20th century. They will wonder how many of them could have survived given the pathetic state of medical technology back then. (No clones to pull organs from! No DNA repair! No nannite surgery! No life extension treatments!) They will sober up when they realize how fortunate they are to be living in the year 3007 with all of its scientific benefits.

    I can almost hear Bones complaining about our “Dark Ages” leech-applicator “medicine” now.

  55. Cadamar says:

    I’d have lived. I’ve never suffered an injury severe enough to kill me and I would’ve recovered from every illness without medical attention. However, my teeth would be a mess (impacted wisdom teeth and a root canal) and a cyst on a tendon sleeve on my right hand would’ve made it difficult to work or hold a sword. Heck, even after the surgery it’d be difficult to hold a sword. And what would be the point to living in medival times if you couldn’t oppress the peasentry with your own blade? (Bloody peasents!)

  56. Jimmie says:

    I think I’d be one of the cart-pullers. NO broken bones, no complications in childbirth. I’m an oldest child, which helps the survivability thing. I did have chickenpox when I was 11, but I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t have killed me (though it’s possible).

    I’ve had stitches before as a result of childhood tumbles, but none so severe they required much attention (except for the head woulnd I suffered in a car accident..but hey! No car, no head wound. I’m saved!)

    I think I managed to come off pretty lucky. My vision stinks, but I can still see shapes well enough to stab the middle of them. :)

    So, unless the chickenpox puts me on it, I’m in front of the cart.

  57. David H. says:

    I’m on the cart. Asthma could have done it a couple of times, and as a kid I ate pokeweed berries. I don’t remember that hospital stay, but an oxygen tent was involved.

    If by some miracle I’d survived, I’d be in lousy shape with no asthma meds, and even if there was some natural equivalent readily available I’d have a hell of a time finding it without my glasses.

  58. Osc says:

    I reposted you to the SCA LJ group so there are more results there if you are interested.

  59. I’d definitely be pulling the cart. I’m 25, in great shape, never get sick, better than 20/20 vision, (My friends hate me for it) most that would be wrong would be a slight overbite that was fixed dentally. But it is amazing to me just how many people would be on the cart.

  60. dishuiguanyin says:

    Alive.
    Normal birth, no major injuries or illnesses, never visited a hospital in my life, very little dental work done.

    However, in the middle ages it would have been very unusual for a woman my age not to have given birth to several children, and, as has been noted, childbirth was a VERY dangerous pastime until remarkably recently.

    Thus, I’m going to decide that I entered a convent around 16 and by now am well on my way to the prestige, comfort, and riches that came from being a mother superior.

  61. JasonS says:

    On the cart with me!

  62. Nanja Kang says:

    Alive. But I wouldn’t have any teeth… :(
    But I could pull the cart! YAY!!! :)

  63. Katy says:

    Never would have been born — Mom has type 1 diabetes and would have been on the cart at 6.

    Disregarding that, I’d have an interesting scar on my forehead from a fall when I was six, and presuming that didn’t get infected, there was the chicken pox at 13 or the bronchitis at 30 or the breech birth of my son later that year instead of the C-section I actually had. So… not sure if I’m on the cart or not, really. If the chicken pox can be presumed to be a stand-in for some other highly infectious disease… I’m on the cart.

  64. Marmot says:

    Inspired by Crusader Corim’s ideas about how amazing the number is…
    I am actually wondering….is there a statistical correlation or something like that between literate people or people using the Internet and those who would have been pulling the cart?

    I know that we won’t hear from those who are not browsing this; however, there can be 3 obvious conclusions:

    a) most people who post here are sickly/physically weak/would have perished rather early
    b) most people who post here are strong/physically powerful and would not have perished rather early
    c) there is no correllation between the two

    and also a question that has to be asked: seeing how we have a roughly 50:50% ratio, presuming it’s by an average age of 25 or so, how does it compare to the true Medieval situation?

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