Here is another article on Middle-Earth by the distinguished Michael Gladius!
Its quite interesting, and there’s also an excellent Youtube video embedded below on how reaslitistic the castles in Lord of the Rings are.
In Search Of Middle-Earth: Part 3
Numenorian Stonework: Urbanism in Middle-Earth
Much of Middle-Earth was built by the Numenorians. These men from the sea founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, built the great cities of Minas Tirith and Fornost, the watchtowers of Amon Sul (weathertop) and Amon Hen, as well as marvels like the Argonath. Like all great civilizations, they built great monuments that endure long after their original builders have passed from memory. Europe is no stranger to this.
Thus far, we have looked at the need for an agrarian society, and then at the need for communal life as well as individual freedoms. Once our society stabilizes, however, the natural tendency will be to drift back towards cities for the commercial benefits. Therefore, we will deal with the subject of urbanism and its risks and benefits.
Minas Tirith is a mighty fortress city in Gondor. Its defenses are strong, and its armies large and powerful. Gondor is a maritime and commercial power, but the majority of its population are farmers, as was the case with Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The minority that lives in Gondor’s cities are primarily tradesmen and merchants. The social fabric of the cities is every bit as tribal as in the countryside, and communal life is still present.
Rather than corporations or unions, urban industry is dominated by the guilds. The closest analogy today are blue-collar ‘skilled’ laborers. Just as in the medieval period, tradesmen begin their careers as apprentices, under a master. Once they complete their apprenticeship, they become journeymen, and may work as hired men for a master, but may not own their own shops. Once a journeyman has acquired enough skill/experience, he is recognized as having mastered his trade. Once he is a master, he may own his own shop and teach apprentices.
Within the medieval town, men who practiced a common trade would live together as neighbors, have their shops next door to each other (often along a single street or surrounding a plaza), and live a communal life together.
Guilds were fraternal institutions, much like the Knights of Columbus today. This allowed tradesmen to support one another, decide on prices, and share their knowledge with each other.
Unlike corporations and unions, guilds were not centralized institutions. Tradesmen owned their own tools and shops, and had great autonomy over their business deals. Guilds were specific to their towns/localities, rather than having branches in multiple locations.
The other major group within the city is the merchant class, the bourgeois. These men could form guilds as well, but could also be independent. The modern-day middle class, service industries, and banking industries all trace their roots to this unusual culture (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2580).
The great social risk, however, comes from the bourgeois, not the guilds. Throughout the centuries, most successful revolutions have been the work of the merchant class and lower nobility, rather than the working class. We can easily see this today by contrasting George Soros (merchant class) to Tommy Robinson (working class), although there are many others.
Historically, heresies such as the Cathari, conversos, and Protestants wreaked havoc on the social fabric of European civilization, and the merchant class eyed the Church’s monastic wealth when they threw their support behind the rebels.
Even where the bourgeois sided with the monarchy, as they did in France against the Huguenots, or William Cecil supporting Queen Elizabeth I, the merchant class would usurp and weaken the monarchies more often than not.
Queen Elizabeth was powerless against Cecil throughout her reign, and the French bourgeois later become patrons of the French Revolution, usurping the popular monarchy with their wealth, connections, and organizational prowess.
Where they were successful, communal life was destroyed, beautiful things were stripped bare, European unity against the advancing Islamic tide was divided, and the seeds of modernity were sown. The bourgeois culture, and lack of communal life, was embraced by the nonconformists in Protestant territories whose new societies existed solely for the purpose of producing wealth, and left all else to private initiative.
This economic worldview produced the industrial revolution, along with all of its accomplishments and abuses, as profits and production replaced human needs as the primary goal. Puritanism accepted this lifestyle, as it also viewed God as a strict, Heavenly banker demanding tireless labor.
Ironically, Puritanism’s embrace of this bourgeois culture simultaneously made those nations (Prussia and Britain, especially) tremendously wealthy and powerful, yet sowed the seed for their own demise.
In the Victorian Era, the twin excessive, one-sided developments of industrial urbanism and Puritanism tried to live side-by-side, but could not. Eventually the machines triumphed, and religion and marriage were cast aside, leading us to where we are today (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=860).
Oriental societies, such as China and India, have not had these social problems with urbanization. This is, however, more likely due to their tribalism, which sees family as a mere subunit, rather than an autonomous unit unto itself. This is not a model worth emulation, as it de-emphasizes individualism, oppresses women, and leads to nihilistically regarding human life as cheap and expendable. No Oriental army has ever had a shortage of suicide bombers.
Gondor has avoided the problem of the bourgeois by being a society overwhelmingly comprised of farmers and tradesmen.
The merchant class is kept in check by a series of laws that limit their rights, authority, and privileges to the cities where they live. All other social groups, from the peasantry to the guilds, are bound by similar laws that protect their existence and local autonomy.
In our time, decentralizing political and economic power through the use of antitrust legislation and distributism will allow us to grow the agricultural and blue-collar demographics at the expense of the banks and merchant class. We ought to see the working class movements against Islam (English Defence League, Football Hooligans, etc.) as allies and as the basis for restructuring urban society.
Concurrent with this, we will also benefit greatly from emulating Switzerland’s universal conscription and military training for all male citizens.
Historically, the lower nobility who comprised the bulk of the army often allied with the revolutionaries against the kings, Church, and peasantry. We can thwart this from happening again by ensuring that the army isn’t the only institution that is armed and trained to fight.
Moving on from the social fabric of the cities to the cities themselves, we see that most cities in both the fantasy and real-life Europe have a relatively small footprint, but are filled with towering, tall structures. The benefit of tall buildings is that they have greater volumetric capacity, while taking up less square footage.
Tall buildings also correspond to wide streets and open-air plazas, both to allow fire departments to deploy their ladders and to make room for airy, green spaces and parks. All this, while remaining walkable, so as not to rely on automobiles.
Old tall structures have always been associated with advanced cultures, be they the Eiffel Tower, palaces, cathedrals, the Empire State Building, or the Pyramids in Egypt, South America, or Cambodia. Not only should these structures be tall and inspiring, they should be beautiful and built to last.
This is less of an issue in Europe, and more typical of the United States, but it is still worth mentioning. Beautiful architecture, rather than bland steel and concrete, is worth preserving. Our ancestors’ monuments were built to last, as a sort of heirloom and as a way to be remembered.
Agrarianism is the natural state of humanity, and the majority of the population should work the land. Monasteries and communal life will dominate a truly decentralized society.
Urbanism has its own niche. Let our new, reborn society be organic, antibourgeois, full of color and singing, and lively again.
Far from aping our past, we shall continue its organic growth and surpass our ancestors. This is our time, let us build our monuments and write our pages in the history books.
Mentioned Or Similar Content:
Why We Fight</ u>
The Vikings: A History by Robert Ferguson