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Old 12-07-2008, 12:50 AM   #41
Vairė
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May we shift the discussion to Gondor for a while?
Faramir has been briefly mentioned on this thread; his education seems to have been the best that Gondor offered and he himself is a Renaisssance man. He can do all well and gracefully, from reading dead languages in all-but-forgotten archives to fighting with a small band in an Ithilien taken over by Sauron. He is the late Gondor equivalent of Sir Philip Sidney, only he is not killed in battle.
(I could go on about Faramir; I think he is underappreciated.)
What level of education did the guardsmen have? the citizens of Gondor within or without the walls?
Remember also the herblore in the Houses of Healing (and Aragorn's gentle mockery of the Master and the garrulous old woman).
I don't have any more time to write tonight, but I'd be very interested in what others have to say on this.
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:52 AM   #42
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Mithril, whilst rare and valuable, would not stir the Lords of Rohan or Gondor into a fight over it - that view is totally unjustified in context with their real challenges in Middle Earth. If it were so, they would be sending men to mine for it like the Dwarves.
We are talking about Middle-earth, and we know, because Tolkien told us so, that Mithril was a material so rare and so sought after as to be almost beyond monetary worth - which is why he made a comparison to the whole worth of a 'nation' - not quite a literal comparison but a metaphorical one to emphasise what a truly rare thing it was that Bilbo had. It would be like saying today that you might 'pay a King's ransom' in order to obtain that Wii that nobody can find on the shop shelves.

However we also know just how much people wanted Mithril because of what the Dwarves foolishly did in order to get at some of it. We also know there likely wasn't much if any left that was obtainable.

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Economies can only grow with increased market growth nationally and internationally. Where do you think the manufacturing material in China and India ends up? Mostly to companies abroad at a lower price, of course, hence their growing market share and booming economies. And Hobbits do not have the mind set or culture of Men. They would have to prove that they can adapt to the tastes, wants and needs of Men and acquire much more knowledge about them before manufacturing items for them. Most Hobbits avoid men like the plague, unconcerned by their affairs.
The Tokugawa shogunate of Japan was perhaps the most famous isolationist economy. They only traded with the Dutch and were effectively closed to the world at large, and Japan prospered immensely during this time, not just economically but socially and artistically. The Shire probably worked in a similar way - limited trading, little involvement in squabbles, and hence a long period in which their country could grow. This may also tell us why The Shire is a lot different with seemingly more advanced products for sale than other countries - there's not a lot of mention of umbrellas and postal services in Gondor

Hobbits had no need to trade much, they seem to have lived comfortably enough without troubling anyone else. And probably went on that way too in the Fourth Age.

As during those two hundred years of protectionism which Japan enjoyed, The Shire probably quietly improved, including clearly growing enough so that humble Hobbits like Sam had leisure time enough to spend with the old bloke up the Hill, who taught him to read. There's no reason other Hobbits weren't doing the same as this was no subsistence level existence and nor was it feudal.

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War may help to stir a recession, and affect leadership in Gondor or Rohan, but why do you assume the same cannot affect the Shire? Saruman virtually destroyed the Shire single-handedly!
It didn't affect The Shire because it was untroubled by conflict for years. Rohan on the other hand was a 'border' country with troublesome Dunlendings on one border, and eventually a King who became corrupted, while Gondor had been under attack for many years. Saruman only showed his face in The Shire towards the end of the War. He only just had time to chop down a few trees and sell off a few goods.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:36 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Vairė View Post
May we shift the discussion to Gondor for a while?
Faramir has been briefly mentioned on this thread; his education seems to have been the best that Gondor offered and he himself is a Renaisssance man. He can do all well and gracefully, from reading dead languages in all-but-forgotten archives to fighting with a small band in an Ithilien taken over by Sauron. He is the late Gondor equivalent of Sir Philip Sidney, only he is not killed in battle.
(I could go on about Faramir; I think he is underappreciated.)
What level of education did the guardsmen have? the citizens of Gondor within or without the walls?
Remember also the herblore in the Houses of Healing (and Aragorn's gentle mockery of the Master and the garrulous old woman).
I don't have any more time to write tonight, but I'd be very interested in what others have to say on this.
Vaire, you raise some interesting points, which I would very much like to see discussed.
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Old 12-07-2008, 10:09 AM   #44
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I have deleted or edited recent posts that were directed at each other rather than the topic.

*** EDIT: I am also infracting/deleting/editing future posts for those who can't abide by this. ***

** SECOND EDIT: If I have to delete one more post for chatting, I'm just going to close this thread.

Stop quoting each other in order to justify an insult! Do we have to call another time-out?!
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #45
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I am in agreement with Lalwende. There is virtually no outside trade of any significance from or to the Shire at the end of the Third Age. I will add an important caveat to that statement presently.

'Strange as news from Bree' is a favorite phrase uttered by Hobbiton folk. If one reads the encounter of Frodo when he arrives at Bree, the townsfolk greet these Hobbiton Hobbits as if they were a novelty. There are actually Hobbits here from the Shire? Well doesn't that beat all! They speak in terms of a branch of Hobbits long sundered from the outside world, as if the Bree-folk hadn't seen a Shireling for years. If there were any organized trade between Bree and the Shire this would not be such an odd event. Further, Tolkien states in FotR that men are sparse in that region:

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In those days no other Men had settled dwellings so far West, or within a hundred leagues of the Shire.
What does this tell us? Well for one, a hundred leagues equals three hundred English statute miles, which puts any Mannish settlements besides Bree another three hundred miles south of Hobbiton (which would be below the River Greyflood), north past the Ice Bay of Forochel, and east in Rhudaur. To the West there are no settlements of Men, only Elves (Cirdan's folk have nothing to do with anybody, really) and Dwarves (which we discuss momentarily). So, it is obvious the Shire had no dealings with men, and Bree itself, Tolkien states:

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The Bree-folk...did not themselves travel much; and the affairs of the four villages were their main concern. Occasionally the Hobbits of Bree went as far as Buckland, or the Eastfarthing; but though their little land was not much further than a day's riding east of the Brandywine Bridge, the Hobbits of the Shire now seldom visited it. An occasional Bucklander or adventurous Took would come out to the Inn for a night or two, but even that was becoming less and less usual...
It was not yet forgotten that there had been a time when there was much coming and going between the Shire and Bree.
What does this passage refer to? Simply, that any existing trade between Bree and the Shire (the Shire's closest possible trading partner) had ceased long ago. Dwarves are sometimes seen passing through the Shire, but there is no evidence of any established trade between the Dwarrow-folk of Ered Luin and Hobbiton either. Dwarves, like Thorin for example, might mend a pot or two for a Hobbitish matron, but there was no transportation of wains laden with coal from Dwarvish mines, or any large scale trade of foodstuffs from the Shire to Ered Luin (no Hobbit really set foot past the Tower Hills). Everyone was a stranger or an 'outsider' to the Shirefollk; therefore, the Shire can be considered isolationist and without a trade economy.

Now, from an historical perspective, how does this isolationist view of the Shire and its apparent prosperity without apparent trade gibe with early medieval England? Quite nicely, actually. Prior to any systematized policing of roads and wool trade to Flanders, long-range trade was very dicey at best (and it was likely one couldn't get through the primeval forests of England to visit a neighboring village without much trepidation). There was a self-sufficiency that made villages insular, and the 'market' (an actual 'trading town') was usually no more than a few miles away. Therefore, the residents of these insular early medieval enclaves engaged in a wide variety of specializations, including millwrighting, carpentry, leather making, textiles, clothing, metal working, and masonry. Depending on the weather and climate (and it would seem the Shire had good weather without bad droughts or wicked winters for many years -- no 'Little Ice Ages' that would cause famine among the population of Europe just prior to the Black Death), areas of England provided nicely, if not prosperously, for themselves without any external forces intruding on their homegrown market, and there are indications that many peasants were able to produce a substantial surplus of grain and animal products which were sold at the market and allowed themm to purchase other locally manufactured products (iron pots, crockery, woolen-goods, etc.).

Now, regarding my caveat from earlier. England was also open to widescale invasions (the Vikings for instance), and one could look at Sharkey's ruffians -- outside interlopers at first only interested in plunder -- as just such pillagers, taking off with barrrels of Longbottom Leaf and foodstuffs to line Saruman's coffers. Like the Vikings, Sharkey's ruffians then became more systematic, actually subjugating the conquered race of Hobbits and taking up their abodes in the Shire (like England's Danelaw). In any case, the exportation of products from the Shire to the South at that point in time does not equate to trade, rather it was appropriation by a conquering race who began to impose their rule, and their less than subtle modifications of Hobbit culture and architecture.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:42 PM   #46
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Now, regarding my caveat from earlier. England was also open to widescale invasions (the Vikings for instance), and one could look at Sharkey's ruffians -- outside interlopers at first only interested in plunder -- as just such pillagers, taking off with barrrels of Longbottom Leaf and foodstuffs to line Saruman's coffers. Like the Vikings, Sharkey's ruffians then became more systematic, actually subjugating the conquered race of Hobbits and taking up their abodes in the Shire (like England's Danelaw). In any case, the exportation of products from the Shire to the South at that point in time does not equate to trade, rather it was appropriation by a conquering race who began to impose their rule, and their less than subtle modifications of Hobbit culture and architecture.
One thing that always amuses me about the likely results of Saruman's 'asset-stripping' is that all those people he sold Longbottom Leaf to would certainly have wanted more of the weed, so The Shire might well have ended up with a highly profitable trade in the end
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:54 PM   #47
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One thing that always amuses me about the likely results of Saruman's 'asset-stripping' is that all those people he sold Longbottom Leaf to would certainly have wanted more of the weed, so The Shire might well have ended up with a highly profitable trade in the end
In the end, the gentle, charming Hobbits killed more folk than Sauron or Morgoth ever did. How's that for irony?

But I assume with the advent of the King returning to reclaim Arnor in the 4th Age, trade boomed for the Hobbits, particularly in pipeweed. Although nearly all the Hobbitish brands of Tobacco have since disappeared (like Old Toby and Long Bottom Leaf), there is still the Camel brand of cigarettes. 'Camel', as any Middle-earth aficionado knows, is merely a Westron bastardization of 'Khamūl', first exported by messrs. Zippo and Lucky Strikeflint in the second century of the 4th Age.
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Old 12-12-2008, 02:12 PM   #48
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They'd probably have ripped each other's throats out in order to get their mitts on it.
Either they would or they would not, there is no probably about it. I do not think the world of Men was in the slightest interested in Mithril whilst the threat of Mordor remained on their door step.

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