Charlemagne was very tall, but not robust

Paper mentioned by John Hawks: "Reconstructed stature of 1.84 m falls at about 99% of Medieval heights [. . .] Thus, tall stature indeed could have contributed to the success of “Charles the Great” as a king emperor and soldier."

Below, a couple other papers that appeared in Hawks's citeulike feed.

The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia: "We find that heights stagnated in Central, Western and Southern Europe during the Roman imperial period, while astonishingly increasing in the fifth and sixth centuries."

New Light on the "Dark Ages": The Remarkably Tall Stature of Northern European Men during the Medieval Era: "Based on a modest sample of skeletons from northern Europe, average heights fell from 173.4 centimeters in the early Middle Ages to a low of roughly 167 centimeters during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. [. . .] It is plausible to link the decline in average height to climate deterioration; growing inequality; urbanization and the expansion of trade and commerce, which facilitated the spread of diseases; fluctuations in population size that impinged on nutritional status; the global spread of diseases associated with European expansion and colonization; and conflicts or wars over state building or religion."

14 comments:

Wanderer said...

"We find that heights stagnated in Central, Western and Southern Europe during the Roman imperial period, while astonishingly increasing in the fifth and sixth centuries."

This seems an obvious product of the Voelkerwanderung?

Anonymous said...

A period of constant warfare, like the one that accompanied the fall of the Western Roman Empire, can break the Malthusian dynamic. If enough peasants get killed in wars, then suddenly the number of peasants ISN'T larger than what the land can support. So everybody gets to eat well.

When relative peace is eventually reestablished, the population starts growing again, eventually approaches the Malthusian limit, peasants start starving again on occasion, and their statures drop.

Theo Tiefwald (Proud Caledonian) said...

"We find that heights stagnated in Central, Western and Southern Europe during the Roman imperial period, while astonishingly increasing in the fifth and sixth centuries."

It is because Roman subjects were fed mostly on nutrient-scarce empty grains instead of high-protein/high-fat meat, milk, fish, etc.

Grain will keep you alive, but it'll stunt you because it lacks the necessary fats and proteins the body needs to grow to full health.

We see the same happening in the modern USA, the disgusting modern American diet which is full of grain, corn/corn syrup, white flour, sugar, 'fortified' bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, beans, canned foods, sweets of all kinds, meat and milk from grain-fed and hormone-pumped livestock, etc - the increasingly degenerate people of the USA and elsewhere which eat a similar diet are thus physically, mentally, and morally stunted just like they were in the Roman Empire.

In the process of trying to grow enough grain for its expanding population, the Roman Empire deforested huge portions of its colonies clustered around the Mediterranean Sea and eventually many of those areas turned in to barren deserts or arid semi-deserts: southern Italy, Sicily, North Africa, southern Spain, southern France, many parts of Turkey, much of the Near East adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea such as Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, etc all used to be heavily forested until the Romans cleared much of the land to grow grain for its growing population. - http://spqr360.com/menu/the_roman_empire.html

The North Europeans, safely ensconced in their deep forests, escaped a similar fate. The Roman Legions always remained too scared to venture very far in to the dark forests of Germania and Sarmatia. In Britannia a tactic used by the Roman legions to subjugate and rule the populace was to gradually burn down the native forests and 'smoke them out.'

---

"The spread of the degradation of the soil was centrifugal from Latium itself outwards. Varro noted abandoned fields in Latium, and two centuries later Columella, about A.D. 60, referred to all Latium as a country where the people would have died of starvation, but for their share of Rome's imported corn. The Roman armies moved outwards from Latium demanding land; victory gave more land to the farmers; excessive demands again brought exhaustion of fertility; again the armies moved outwards.

'Province after province was turned by Rome into a desert,' wrote Simkhovitch, 'for Rome's exactions naturally compelled greater exploitation of the conquered soil and its more rapid exhaustion. Province after province was conquered by Rome to feed the growing proletariat with its corn and to enrich the prosperous with its loot.

...

Latium, Campania, Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, Northern Africa, as Roman granaries, were successively reduced to exhaustion. Abandoned land in Latium and Campania turned into swamps, in Northern Africa into desert. The forest-clad hills were denuded. 'The decline of the Roman Empire is a story of deforestation, soil exhaustion and erosion,' wrote Mr. G. V. Jacks in The Rape of the Earth. 'From Spain to Palestine there are no forests left on the Mediterranean littoral, the region is pronouncedly arid instead of having the mild humid character of forest-clad land, and most of its former bounteously rich top-soil is lying at the bottom of the sea.'"

- http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/Wrench_Recon/Wrench_Recon_3-5.html#Ch5

Wanderer said...

RE Anon, couldn't warfare just as plausibly be a cause of declining height? The dysgenic effect of war is well known.

There are two things at work here: 1.) Height derived from nutrition, and 2.) 'Inherent height' of an ethnic-group. #2 sets the general bounds for #1. No well-fed Lappid will grow to be a Charlemagne-ian 1.84m, and no undernourished Nordid will grow to be a 1.44m midget.

If the heights of sample populations in Western Europe went way up in the 400s-500s AD, like they never had before, it's got to be mostly because of the waves of Germanic invaders becoming a big share of samples starting in those years. (This was the "Voelkerwanderung" period when Germanics conquered the whole of Europe and further afield).

The "Germanen" were, and are, the tallest people of Europe -- and the second-tallest on Earth after Nilotics. (So I hear).

Anonymous said...

What negrophile is telling you these lies? Is it Guy White? Get him out of your ear!

Some Nilotic groups average around 5'9" but not all of them. Rather they are known more for their extreme ectomorphic body type.

The Dutch are the tallest people at an average of 6'.

Anonymous said...

Grain will keep you alive, but it'll stunt you because it lacks the necessary fats and proteins the body needs to grow to full health.

We see the same happening in the modern USA, the disgusting modern American diet which is full of grain, corn/corn syrup, white flour, sugar, 'fortified' bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, beans, canned foods, sweets of all kinds, meat and milk from grain-fed and hormone-pumped livestock, etc - the increasingly degenerate people of the USA and elsewhere which eat a similar diet are thus physically, mentally, and morally stunted just like they were in the Roman Empire.


Not to spoil your narrative, but the height of American White men has increased over time and leveled off at an average of 5'10", similar to their Northern European and colonial racial cousins.

Anonymous said...

You guys are acting like Europe reverted to hunting and gathering in the Dark Ages, or something.
It was a continent of serfs. They didn't become big "paleo" meat eaters.

Occidental said...

Rome's decline is primarily due to the marginalization of the Roman elite (their numbers had already been depleted by centuries of internal and external warfare) and the migration of a literal horde of Levantines and North Africans into the heart of the Empire who eventually usurped control of the Empire. Many of the descendants of this invasion still reside in the southern part of Italy.

It was the half-Punic, half-Syrian Emperor Caracalla who made all free non-Italics full citizens, and by his day the majority of the Roman Senate was comprised of these newcomers.

This is a cautionary tale of what happens when Europeans allow such culture distorters to gain political power, and we will soon wish we heeded the lesson of history as our own civilization hurdles toward the same dark fate of miscegenation and corruption which destroyed the civilization of Antiquity. Only this time there are no "virile barbarians" waiting in the wings to reverse the damage.

Wanderer said...

RE Occidental,

Your reasons for Roman decline are right on.

Fortunately for European-Mankind (for all of Mankind really), Germania past the Rhine/Danube were never conquered/romanized. The free Germanics [Charlemagne's ancestors] were able to pick up the pieces after the pathetically-multiculti late-Roman-Empire plunged Europe into a dark age and racial-chaos.

I get the feeling that it is only very few people who truly appreciate what happened at Teutoburger-Wald in AD-9. What if Germania had been romanized out of existence? (Or at least "romanized out of dynamism", as as the Gallic Celts were?)

Anonymous said...

What if Germania had been romanized out of existence?

Indeed, and what if Britain had never been an empire and the Latins colonized the world. There would be no argument over race it would already be over with.

Anonymous said...

Johann Gottlieb Fichte:
Address To The German Nation, 1807

Rob S. said...

Very nice thing there from Fichte. 100% awesome, and easy to read.

Rob S. said...

> RE Anon, couldn't warfare just as plausibly be a cause of declining height? The dysgenic effect of war is well known.

In the past, before WWI or so, so few people were warriors. There could have been some effect anyway, but I would think it was much smaller then, than it has been in 20th C. wars.

Some wars might have had a eugenic effect in the fighting spaces. For example, the Thirty Years War may have killed something like a quarter of all people in (approximately) present-day Germany, mostly civvies who perished of hunger and/or infection. Insofar as the tougher, healthier, smarter, more disciplined, but maybe also meaner among the civvies survived, there could have been a significant genetic change. Though, afterward, mutation and selection may have begun slowly moving things back towards where they were. Partly or wholly.

When dysgenic effects occurred among the small number of warriors involved in pre-modern wars, I suspect the effects on the population would have been shallow enough that traits would move most of the way back toward what they had been, pretty soon. Pretty soon = maybe two centuries? Obviously this didn't happen after the 20th C. world wars, because of the abundance of food, clothing and shelter. Instead, I would guess that dysgenesis in Europe has gotten worse since 1945, but probably almost imperceptibly so. As for the total dysgenic regress since ~1830, it may be perceptible in some ways - unfortunately it is hard to know. For most intelligence tasks, matters seem to have improved due to Flynn-like effects, whatever causes them. It's not clear that there have been improvements on all intelligence tasks and I can imagine that there may have been mild regress in some - and also in other traits, as opposed to performance on various intelligence tasks.

Anyway, any small regress would be fairly trivial to fix (just that it'd cost a fair chunk of change) and would not require any inhumane methods. Anytime we succeed in getting our civilization out of this perilous rut, it can be fixed.

Rob S. said...

Eh, forget my long post here. It's not as rigorous as it looks, not by a long shot.

I might add more later, but here's one example. I assumed that there was a fixed 'ecological' ideal for IQ (under pre-modern conditions, that is), like, it should be 100 in Britain and 70 in Equitorial Guinea. This is a poor assumption. IQ may well be driven partly by competition with other humans. So as soon as some large event alters population IQ in Britain down to 100-x, and then the event (which could be admixture, or something like Catharism) comes to an end, it's not like the selection coefficient for higher IQ will immediately be proportional to x. Rather, the speed of selection could be such that IQ is 'headed' from x (say, 90) to 95, because 95 is now fitness-optimal, or balances selection against mutation, or whatever. Then, once the average moves up, the fitness-optimal IQ may *also* move up - because part of the advantage of IQ is being smarter (relatively) than other people. Probably everything else I said is wrong too.