You Wake Up and Find Yourself back In The 11th Century

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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You don't know how you got there , all you remember is going to sleep and waking up in a back alley in (for the sake of argument) London. All You have are the clothes on you back and whatever happens to be in your pockets. What would you do? How would you survive and if so how long ? Would you have the skills necessary to survive in that era?And would you exploit your knowledge of the future in any way? :)
 
I don't know but suspect you would get taken out pretty quickly by bugs we no longer have any resistance to.

Assuming you didn't then if you had a reasonable understanding of practical science (say how to make a good lens) then you could probably do pretty well. That is assuming you can manage to communicate. Even people who understand written English or French from that era (very few people I suspect) would probably be unable to understand it or be understood when spoken.

On the whole most of our modern knowledge would be very little use without our modern technology.
 
I don't know, I think this would be a pretty tough scenario to establish yourself. :)

You have no local currency and I think your ability to communicate with the locals would prove trying if not excruciating. (I believe that the English of the 16th Century was very different from modern usage and we'd struggle quite a bit. Now go back a further 500 years in development and you'll find a different language.)

I'm assuming that you'll have a few bits and pieces with you - say wallet and mobile, but apart from the wonderment that such trinkets and your clothes might generate, (and your mobile just becomes a curious trinket after the battery runs out), what use are these things to anyone else? (And they might be signs of the devil, see below!)

I suppose you might try and search out a trade that you could apprentice in - just for the lodgings, food and the eventual chance to show some of your advanced sciences - so maybe a blacksmith, merchant? I'm reasonably good with numbers and physics I suppose! But would anyone take you on, a strange looking foreigner essentially begging for work? And anyway I don't think I'd be much use in any trade anyway, I really don't have any experience of 11th century trades and my guess is that only a handful of experimental archaeologists or re-enactors will have any experience at all. The rest of us would, my guess, be worse than a five year old child.

Head out and look for the centres of learning might be a possibility, clever people there that might be more curious in you and what you can tell them...But you're about 100 years too early (Oxford the first English university really starts to take off in 1167). 13th Century might be better because then you could go and search for that proto-scientist Roger Bacon. But for us stuck in the 11th I guess you'd have to go to the Church. Hope your 11th Christianity is reasonable or you met someone quite nice, because...

...what do you tell them or anyone. The truth? "I think I've come back from the future." Or does this run the risk of being branded potentially satanic? Taking Bacon as an example he "gained a reputation as the epitome of a wise and subtle possessor of forbidden knowledge, a Faust-like magician who had tricked the devil and so was able to go to heaven." He was also "apparently imprisoned or placed under house arrest for his excessive credulity in alchemy" Do I know enough about 11th Century religion to avoid being branded a heretic or worse? Probably not :)

So I probably wouldn't say I was from the future of this country, too many issues. I'd have to come up with a iron-bottomed fictional back story.

It does depend on the state of my knowledge right at the start, but assuming that I know with 100% certainty that I have slipped through time about 1000 years and I can't get back, and this is my lot - I'm in the London of Edward the Confessor/William the first. I'd try and hide from anyone's view and try my best to find the Thames, slip out along to the coast proper - again hidden from view as best as possible. This might require I steal some clothes, or movement only by night, both with many risks as I don't want to be found by anyone till I:

Find a suitable bit of coast, make sure there has been rough seas a bit before and with a lump of flotsam swim out a bit, then 'wash up on the beach' as a shipwreck survivor, waiting to be discovered. Hopefully I get taken to someone in authority, where I'll spin a yarn that I'm from a faraway land. Which actually would be true of course, but in time not space... The ship I was sailing in, from a huge land way off to the West, was sunk in a storm as we were exploring these islands. Our language might be too far off for them to realise that I'm actually speaking English, but then I could spin a white lie if they notice ("We know Prester John and he mentioned you and your language to us, so this is our bastardised attempt at trying to speak it..)

Hopefully then as a legitimate traveller from some really exotic land I might be a bit of a celebrity, perhaps gain patrons that I could either entertain or talk ideas with, (set up a diplomatic embassy for my fictional country?) And perhaps then have a bit of time to generate something from my future knowledge for these Saxons and Normans that makes me valuable and able to thrive. Something like make paper or as Vertigo stated lenses. It'll take me a bit of time to perfect it, so I'll need the leeway.

Or I get caught on day one and hung for stealing and being a foreign satanic spy :)
 
You know the other thing that would be difficult to explain if you are male, and therefore little chance of having been a milk maid, would be your flawless complexion (at least by the standards of the time). As I understand it pretty much everyone at that time had pock marked skin to a greater or lesser degree with the exception of milk maids who frequently contracted cow-pox which was much less severe than small pox but closely enough related to act as a vaccine.
 
I don't know but suspect you would get taken out pretty quickly by bugs we no longer have any resistance to.

Assuming you didn't then if you had a reasonable understanding of practical science (say how to make a good lens) then you could probably do pretty well. That is assuming you can manage to communicate. Even people who understand written English or French from that era (very few people I suspect) would probably be unable to understand it or be understood when spoken.

On the whole most of our modern knowledge would be very little use without our modern technology.

A simple scratch or cut would be deadly and if you came came down with appendicitis that would be game over as well . The life expectancy in that time was 35 if you were really lucky ? Then there is the problem of modern bugs like the common flu which would have dire consequence to the locals.
 
VB, I'm impressed! Did you really have nothing better to do than think all that through?

As others have pointed out, the language would be totally different. Try reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and seeing how much sense you make of it, and then imagine hearing it spoken.

I have one skill that might be of interest to people back then, and which I can practise to a higher standard than pretty much anyone alive at the time, and that is drawing realistically and using perspective. So even without being able to speak the language, I might, if I were very lucky, be able to find a forward-thinking patron. On the other hand, a style of art so radically different from that of the time might be appreciated by no one.
 
VB, I'm impressed! Did you really have nothing better to do than think all that through?

As others have pointed out, the language would be totally different. Try reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and seeing how much sense you make of it, and then imagine hearing it spoken.

I have one skill that might be of interest to people back then, and which I can practise to a higher standard than pretty much anyone alive at the time, and that is drawing realistically and using perspective. So even without being able to speak the language, I might, if I were very lucky, be able to find a forward-thinking patron. On the other hand, a style of art so radically different from that of the time might be appreciated by no one.

In the 11th century ?I don't think your realistic style of Art would catch on with he locals , especially the church . Didn't They tend to be rather narrow-minded in what they considered proper art ? That period of time was anti classical wasn't it?
 
VB, I'm impressed! Did you really have nothing better to do than think all that through?

Well, once you've 'slipped through time' a few times you get used to setting yourself up again in what ever time period you find yourself in...

whoops, <cough, cough>. No what I meant to say was...

...that F1 had finished and I wasn't going to watch Wimbledon, so plenty of time to write essays on net on a lazy Sunday. And I'm sticking with that explanation ;)
 
This is a great topic, Baylor - literally it applies to something I'm working on, and I can see already I've completely mishandled it. :)

Yes, language would be a serious problem. Death from thirst or starvation would be the biggest immediate threats. Even if - somehow - you were able to communicate enough to do skilled (non-seasonal) work, and earn money, famine and disease are a constant danger.

The 11th century is a curious choice, because a lot of major things happen in this time.

The Norman conquest of 1066 changes everything.

Language, art, culture, economics, will all change. Before the Normans arrive, slavery still occurs in Britain (I've seen estimates of about 10% of the population as slaves). However, the Normans will stop the practice - simply because they find it cheaper to employ seasonal labour, than pay to look after slaves all year round.

If you could read/write Latin you might do well - either join a religious group, else after the conquest join the disaffected English and travel to Constantinople to become Varangian Guard. Even if you can't fight, I'm inclined to think that Constantinople would be a safer place overall to live than London in this period. :)

All that aside, possibly the best way to survive this period might be to join a monastery as a monk or lay brother - at least your food supply may be more reasonably stable. Just surviving might not sound very exciting, though. If you fancy travelling, there are always pilgrimages - or the crusades at the end of the century. :)
 
I would act the mute and show promise as a medic or in chemicals depending on the opportunity. Geometry may also be handy for construction. Other than that, hunker down and be mute! ;)
 
VB has the best idea. It would at worst keep you from being killed immediately and might allow you contact with certain people with necessary skillsets to utilize concepts that all moderns know, which would really be your only advantages.

One thing which I think most modern people know of and could make a real difference is how to do double entry bookkeeping. Another thing would be how to make gunpowder, and most moderns know the basic formula which could be worked out with the help of a good alchemist. Finally, couldn't most of us somehow get a Wine Press, a leadburner and become Gutenberg?

Beyond that I can't think of very much at all that would be helpful back then. If you were a chemical/mechanical engineer then yeh, you could do a lot, but most people have no idea how the miracles we use every day really run.
 
I would act the mute and show promise as a medic or in chemicals depending on the opportunity. Geometry may also be handy for construction. Other than that, hunker down and be mute! ;)

My understanding is that medieval masons and carpenters used most of the same geometry modern ones do. Beyond smaller structures they used rules of thumb. These worked well, usually, except at places like Rouen. Now if you know calculus and how to engineer a truss you might just be set, or burned as witch, I dunno.
 
Depending when you arrive you could be under Danish, Saxon or Norman rule. You arrive in London 1015 or 1016 and the city could well be in the process of changing hands between Saxon and Dane, or it might just be under siege. You'd be far better off in the Danelaw than London.

After 1066 England becomes increasingly feudal. A place for everyone and don't you dare try to better yourself.

Depending on the exact date, I'd probably go to Toledo (via Rouen). I can cook, so that might be my ticket to work passage across the channel.

Having checked my pockets, I'd have to get an excellent price for my Swiss Army knife, because I've nothing else of any value. Tell a lie, I've a watch on my wrist. Battery's good for a couple more years at least, but that might be a bit too "witchcraft".

In Moorish Spain, I'd try lens grinding. The general theory of optics is known, so there'd be no devil-made-me-do-it. It would take a little getting used to, but all the supporting tech would be there possibly apart from the powders (which I could mill from various rocks and sands then grade in water). Any sea-going power would pay a lot for telescopes, even with a bit of spherical aberration, not to mention military uses. No one knows who invented the first specs, and I might find a far sighted near-sighted patron!
 
However hard you tried, you'd stick out like a sore thumb. If you weren't robbed and murdered, arrested and put to death as a spy or witch, or starve to death then you'd succumb to whatever disease was doing the rounds at the time; hopefully before you'd killed all the local populace with your own germs.

A cheerful thought, but also the only realistic propositions. Monasteries wouldn't take in just anyone, they weren't just there as refugee camps. Just travelling from one village to another would be fraught with danger from brigands, wildlife or nobles using you as a bit of sport. You can't speak the language, you don't know the names of any person or place and you have no money ; so you're not much use to anyone. In all likelihood you would be seen as a foreign spy or witch and hung, but before that the first thing you ate or drank would probably kill you.
 
In Moorish Spain, I'd try lens grinding. The general theory of optics is known, so there'd be no devil-made-me-do-it. It would take a little getting used to, but all the supporting tech would be there possibly apart from the powders (which I could mill from various rocks and sands then grade in water). Any sea-going power would pay a lot for telescopes, even with a bit of spherical aberration, not to mention military uses. No one knows who invented the first specs, and I might find a far sighted near-sighted patron!

Excellent thought! Spain would be the perfect place to blend in and not be looked at so critically. The local knowledge level would be higher as well so improvising new things wouldn't be viewed as bad. I could also cook up some new dishes to impress and perhaps land a nice gig.
 
It's sad but as I indicated in my earlier post I must agree with PM. I just don't think you'd survive long enough to do anything. Connie Willis' Doomsday Book has a pretty good take on this where they send the protagonist back to these times. However she has been studying medieval times for years and is fluent in the language of the day, which I seem to recall she still struggled to understand and be understood. A very realistic depiction on the whole.
 
It's sad but as I indicated in my earlier post I must agree with PM. I just don't think you'd survive long enough to do anything. Connie Willis' Doomsday Book has a pretty good take on this where they send the protagonist back to these times. However she has been studying medieval times for years and is fluent in the language of the day, which I seem to recall she still struggled to understand and be understood. A very realistic depiction on the whole.

Exactly this. You might know the words, but unless you know the pronunciation or even the local dialect, you wouldn't have a chance of communicating with anyone.
 

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