Forum: Economics in Middle-earth

Discussing: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Hi folks---

Recently I have been wondering about how the deafeat of Sauron and the subsequent political reorganisation would have impacted the economy of MIddle-Earth. I assume that productivity and general prosperity would rise, but what particular economic changes do you think would occur? Large-scale trade? Technical advancements? I know this is a massive issue, and just thinking about possible changes, and how these changes would both derive from and impact upon the larger culture, and so forth, would take a lifetime of speculation, but I would be very much interested in your ideas.

Schnoogles,

----AM

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Hi.

Thinking about this issue, I'd question first off whether there would be an automatic rise in general prosperity after the defeat of Sauron. Consider Gondor as an example. Two scenarios can be put in place; 1) that the fall of Sauron was the end of all the main wars, or 2) that Gondor spent much of immediate aftermath of Sauron's fall engaged in wars in the South and East, fighting the remnants of Sauron's supporters.

In the first case, it could be argued that the general standard of living would be able to rise as soldiers returned to their lands and their 'proper' trades. However, experience suggests this would not be the case. Soldiers would be returning to jobs that no longer existed - their roles having been taken over by others - with resulting problems in massive unemployment as the army reduced in size. Additionally, with Gondor financially weak after the expense of the war, there would be limited funds available for any resettlement, retraining or 'social welfare' programmes. I would agree, however, that after a very hard few years, the general stability would enable Gondor to recover begin to grow.

What about the second case though. Tolkien suggests that Aragorn spent the first part of his reign engaging the remnants of Sauron's forces. If this was the case then any ideas of increased prosperity and increased productivity are off, or at the very least, significantly reduced. Gondor would have to maintain the army and support it in campaigns that were far abroad, significantly more difficult that maintaining the army on Gondor's soil. Financially, therefore the strain would increase. Furthermore, manpower would not be released from the army to go back to the trades. Economic production would not grow as much, therefore, especially if the wars dragged on or turned into garrison or guerrilla wars.

Underlying the whole economic question, however, would be one of demographics. We know that Gondor has suffered appaling losses and that these losses would, by their very nature, be in one of the most economically productive demographic groups - young, healthy men. While these losses can be made good, it makes recovery harder in the short term, especially if those who remain have to be on campaign in Harad or Khand.

So that's a pessimistic view, isn't it? What about government finances? What would their state be when Aragorn began his reign? It could easily be argued that they would be exhausted. War is a very expensive business and the treasury would have been bled dry by the cost of equipping, supplying and paying for the army and conducting unending campaigns over the past decades. Now look at the other side of the balance sheet - much of Gondor is laid waste, taxes will be totally disrupted, quite possibly the government will have had to borrow or debase the coinage to have paid for the wars. So you've got the possibility of massive inflation or crippling debt repayments. Also there's massive costs of reconstruction - Minas Tirith needs rebuilding in part, not to mention Osgiliath. What about the costs of supporting the dislocated refugees? The soldiers too wounded to work? The orphans? The old whose sons have been killed?

Not a pretty picture. Certainly recovery is possible, but I wouldn't assume it.

Anyway, I'll think about the cultural impact. Expect another cheery view!

Hope that's useful,

Matt

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Said I'd write more. Really should just have done a paper. Ah well.

What would be the impact of the Fourth Age on large scale trade? Much of this would, I think, depend on the political situation. Assuming for the moment, however, that this was stable and that war did not disrupt trade routes, I think that there is potential for an increase in trade.

Trade between Gondor and Harad, for example, not to mention Gondor and Rohan could increase significantly. The reduced perils of passage and (potentially) increase ability to manufacture and put resources into transport and trade would enable the expansion of trade routes. Given this, the Great West Road between Edoras and Minas Tirith would become significant with increased traffic along it. In the south, however, I'd say that any trade that did happen would mainly come along the Anduin. Overland routes into Harad would be too harsh and slow. As a result the ports of Umbar and Pelargir would be the obvious centres for import and export. However, it's entirely possible that an increase in trade along the south Anduin would encourage the rebuilding of Osgiliath as a port closest to Minas Tirith. Just a thought on that last one - idea for a landing tax or something that would go into rebuilding the city.

What about other trade routes though? Can't see much else, to be honest. The distances are simply too vast. The Elves are leaving so they can be discounted, by and large. Any trade between Esgaroth, for example, and Gondor would take months to be completed. Unless it was for specialist items, I can't really see that much trade occurring. On the same lines, the political decision to forbid men to enter the Shire means that there is a limit on the amount of trade that will be conducted between Men and Hobbits.

What trade in the north? I'd say there'll be little change for one simple reason - too few people. The North is massively underpopulated; there simply isn't the market there for any large scale trade. Maybe there would be specialist trade again, but on a large scale, no.

Long distance trade. Interesting idea is one that is a long standing practice of the Dwarves. The idea of Dwarf companies moving through the land with 'specialist goods' - gold, quality equipment, gems and so on - is one that could be explored further. Trade caravans going over long distances I can see being a possibility now there the situation has calmed down and there aren't as many dangers to be avoided. In short, people would be more likely to travel in order to trade if they were sure they weren't going to get their throats cut by a band of Orcs.

What else? The main basis for economic growth is in the South. Rohan and Gondor will trade. The trade between Rohan and Dunland might increase, if a political solution can be found - that is, if they can get over their hatred of each other. I would think, though, that the really noticeable increase in trade will be within individual countries - within Gondor, within Rohan. Now that there isn't a drain on resources and manpower for war (assuming that is the case) people will able to put greater effort into trade and into investing for the future.

What kind of investment, technical improvements though? Agricultural improvements?

I'll have another think about that.

Matt

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Well, actually...

Your view makes sense, of course, if we consider ME as a world like our own, i.e., not governed by narrative constraints. ME, however, is not such a world - the rules of story are much more important than the rules of history. That's why, for instance, Faramir does so well under Aragorn's rule, as opposed to having the life expectancy of a glass anvil, which would be his obvious destiny under "real world" conditions (trust me, I should know).

So, in keeping with the theme of Aragorn's messianic kingship, the Reunited Kingdom must be a prosperous and happy place. Yes, I know that Tolkien was often, how to say this, meta-mythological, but Pratchett-style iconoclasty was not exactly his beat. Yes, the struggle against the remnants of the forces of Sauron continued for a while, but it is also stated, in canon and elsewhere, that Aragorn's rule was a time of general peace (the King's Peace, after all) and prosperity.

(Note that even if we take the ultra-realistic view, the Reunited Kingdom was hardly fated to a threadbare destiny - after all, the US bounced back from WWII quite nicely, further conflicts on a much smaller scale nonwithstanding.)

So yes, the prosperity I mentioned is pretty much a canonic given.

----AM

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Your view makes sense, of course, if we consider ME as a world like our own, i.e., not governed by narrative constraints. ME, however, is not such a world - the rules of story are much more important than the rules of history. [snip] So, in keeping with the theme of Aragorn's messianic kingship, the Reunited Kingdom must be a prosperous and happy place.

Very interesting point. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. The end of the Third Age is, after all, the age of transition to the Age of Men. The Elves are leaving. But you're right that there are still people alive and making decisions that are familiar with Elves, that have seen magic and enchantment at work in their day-to-day lives, and that have felt the benefit (or consequences) of the workings of prophecy. I think that the times are stopping being story and becoming history, but that it doesn't happen overnight.

There's some stuff in the Letters about the Reunited Kingdom and the wars that would it have faced in its early years. I can't think of anything specifically related to economic growth or change, but it would have a knock-on effect, presumably. Or perhaps the Reunited Kingdom has a glorious year straight away - a 'proper fourteen-twenty'. This might help set things back on an even keel immediately.

I'd like to hear more about what you have to say about Faramir - is this the place, or should we start one of those threads in the character forum?

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

I'd like to hear more about what you have to say about Faramir - is this the place, or should we start one of those threads in the character forum? ~ Altariel

Well, I assume that if you are referring to my speculation on his economical role in the 4th Age, this would be the right place. If, however, you are referring to the "glass anvil" comment, we'd better take it to the character forum - in fact, the second option is probably preferrable, since we won't have to think "is this off-topic, is this off-topic" all the time.

----AM

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Hi.

Interesting argument on rules of story versus rules of reality / history. If you take the rules of the story as read, though, you can still reconcile the two views; that is, the one of Aragorn's properous reign and of economic hardship.

Tolkien says that in Aragorn's time Minas Tirith, for example, was 'made more fair than it had ever been'. Streets of marble, all was healed and made good, gates of mithril and so on. We can take it that as it is the capital the standard there might be higher than elsewhere, but even given this I'll accept general prosperity, no problem with that in story.

What I'd say though, is that this would not happen overnight. Even with the help of the dwarves (rebuilding Minas Tirith) and Elves (before they went over the sea) it does take time; there would be a period, maybe only for a year or so, when life could very easily be hard for the average person for the reasons I've said.

Keeping with rules of the story (and history), however, people might not associate this with Aragorn's reign; collective memory being a rather inaccurate thing. After all, Gondor has had many years of hardship and the last few of them might be seen as the overhang of the war and not really as part of Aragorn's reign 'proper.'

Good argument on story vs. history, tho! (Confession: am a historian, so no surprise which side I fell on.)

(Being ultra-realistic, though, I'd argue a better analogy would be France post-WWI rather than US post-WWII (but that could easily be a dicsussion for somewhere else as well.))

Anyway, interesting discussion.

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Thoughts:

Arnor was largely desolate. Is it possible that they would have opened up the land to homesteading? Soldiers have historically received land for faithful service after a victory. A great settlement of the North Kingdom would have a large economic impact in a generation or two.

Might Elessar have issued a "baby bounty", where the state paid a bonus or gave tax releif to any married couple who had a child in the years right after the war? The US had a baby boom after WWII. I don't know if that happened in Europe.

Modern wars leave the victor with excess manufacturing capability when a vast army no longer needs equipment. In the ancient world would the same be true? Might there be a surplus of craftsmen who would turn to other products to supply a society that has done without for many years?

At what point did the Dwarves re-open the road through Khazad-dûm? That would become a big trade route between East & West. they would quickly be able to charge healthy tolls, and the trade route would grow business to support the traffic.

Would the above forces help to envigorate the economy?

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

I think you undersestimate the trade possibilities of the North, and the size of northern populations. It is not a self-sustaining area, but once the trade routes are safe, there could be a great deal of agricultural goods and raw materials from both sides of Hithaeglir.

1. The Shire. The Shire may be the single most stable, productive growing region connected to the restored kingdom, now that Pelennor has been laid waste. Saruman obviously had been trading fairly intensively with it for some time. They have had one very bad year of occupation, but this comes on the top of many years of calm prosperity due to the death of Smaug. Their male population has not been decimated by war, and is not likely to be called up for foreign campaigns. They also have a brand new and addictive export crop greatly prized by the new king - pipeweed. Further, the three most important political actors in the Shire - Mayor Samwise, Thain Peregrim and Meriadoc, Master of Buckland - are all close friends (and in Pippin's case, a true vassal) of the King. Aragorn is going to take one look at the devestation around Minas Tirith, and quickly make business arrangements for transport of grain, cured meats, cloth, leaf, root vegetables, and other basic goods.

2. Dwarves. They are not just the best source of portable wealth in ME, they are the best construction crew. They have a substantial colony in Aglarond, and, given that they do retake Khazad-dum not too long after the Ring War, their population must be increasing mightily. The drop in the Orc populatiuon will mean fewer casualties among their adult male population. Aragorn's human capital is freed up by this contigent of engineers and laborers. Besides which, given the Aglarond colony and the friendship Gimli reestablished between the Children of Durin and the Lady of the Golden Wood, the Dwarves will be traveling up and down the west bank of the Anduin, keeping an eye out for any stray orcs in the mountains. An instant (and free) mobile army for northern problems.

3. Erebor/Dale/Esgaroth. Like the Shire, this area has been isolated, but not under attack. The Elves would have been bearing the brunt of Dol Guldur's depredations because of their position in Mirkwood. So, here is an economically strong location, friendly to Gondor, and in a good position to keep an eye on the plains of Rhovanion. Trade would be carried by pack mule either through the Old Forest Road to Anduin, and boated from that point, or taken along the eastern eaves of Eryn Lasgalen and put onto boats at the North Undeep. I do agree that Osgiliath would probably be rebuilt and replace Harlond as the major port of Central Gondor. The portage stair at Rauros would be repaired and well manned, as trade from the northeast to both Rohan and Gondor would have to come down it. Woodmen would probably float log rafts down the river, as well.

It is interesting to speculate on whether any of the horse-tribes of Rhovanion still exist, and whether they could be brought into an alliance (perhaps with the negotiationg help of Rohan?) to help watch and guard against invasions from Rhun across the plains. There are miles and miles of miles and miles there, and horsemen would rule the region.

4. Breelands/Tharbad. This area is not as deserted as you might think, though it is thinly populated outside of the Breelands proper. The Hobbits learn at the The Prancing Pony that people are coming north out of Dunland and the regions of Isengard, fleeing danger. Not all the peoples of that area would be in league with Saruman, and many would fear the orcs of Isengard. Also, there may be a long memory of the Hobbits (Stoors) who used to live in DUnland, and how they went away north. In any event, the northern population has been increasing due to migration. There are lands open, mostly south of Bree along the North-South road and down to Tharbad. Aragorn will certainly want that area populated again, and the bridge rebuilt. (Dwarves from Aglarond and perhaps Belegost in the Blue Mountains, would come in handy). I can even see Lond Daer being rebuilt, but that probably would not happen until a later reign.

5. A good year. As Una pointed out, the Shire was probably not the only locaion to have a mild and pleantiful growing year. While the Pelennor is in ruins, the sea-fiefs are relatively untouched aside from coastal raiding. They were not depopulated by the war as they held their fighting forces back. These are the locations where Aragorn is going to draw troops, and where you will see women become important economic and political actors. The deplacement of men returning from war will be a phenomenon of Aragron's middle-reign, and by that time, the effect of Dwarven rebuilding and trade from the North is going to have expanded economic and employment opportunities for the general population. Add into that the increased trade from the south as former enemies become trading partners, and Gondor is set for a great rebirth.

The first year after the Ring War will be rough - new regime, war aftermath, social disruption - but they will not be plunged immediately into war as their enemies will be in a similar condition. By the time Harad or Rhun can mount a new offensive, Gondor will be stable.

I don't think you really need to sacrifice "reality" for "story" in ME. It is a stunningly real world, and pre-modern, pre-industrial economics work very well within it.

Ang

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Just a few more thoughts.

1. Dwarves. Regarding Moria becoming a major trading post, I'm not sure. I agree that for east-west trade it is a good alternative route when the passes of the Misty Mountains become blocked, but for most of the year other trade can go over the mountains just as easily now that Orc numbers have been reduced. Any attempt to put a toll on trade would drive the trade away to other routes. Certainly they would get some trade - safer route maybe, better provisioning etc -but not a monopoly over it.

Regarding the Dwarf population - what does Tolkien say on this? Or does he? The Elves are disappearing and the Fourth Age is the age of men. What is the place for Dwarves in that? Do they grow again? Do they dwindle in comparison to the more numerous men? (And if that isn't a nuzgul for someone...)

2. Erebor and Dale. Have to disagree about the ability of these to have an economic impact immediately. They were under assult during March of TA 3019 for all of the second half of the month - King Brand and King Dain were both killed and the dwarves and men had to retreat into the Lonely Mountain for a 14 day seige. Given that, it could be assumed that Esgaroth was pillaged while unprotected and that they suffered major casualties. Again, yes, they'd recover but for the first year or so their attention would be inwards.

3. The North. Interesting idea about giving the land out in rewards - certainly there's enough to go around! Aragorn does mention that he will return there, but I'd argue that from the point of view of major economic centres the south will far outweigh the north. Agriculture could become the basis of economic support for the area (assuming enough people can be convinced to relocate there and work the land) but more than that... I can see it being an area of supply but economic development will be mainly in the south where the people - and money - is.

4. Rhovanion and the 'East Lands'. Not sure about this one. If my memory isn't too faulty, most of the horsemen got driven out by the Wainriders, killed by The Great Plague, or lost their land to the Balchoth. Think many of the Rhovanion Northmen had gone to Gondor and mixed with the populace there. Would be interesting though if some remnants of the populace remained... It's possible that there could be population settelments in the area, though if there were I'd guess they might be on the river between Esgaroth and the Sea of Rhun. Anyone any ideas on what the land was like there? Is it good for agriculture?

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

And more:

Idea of a 'baby-boom' is an interesting one. Yes, most of Europe had one after WWII. Given though that soldiers would be returning home after war, I doubt Aragorn would need to give any incentive for couples to have children. Probably be quite a few about nine months later whether he did or not.

Surplus production: good idea. Gondor has been at war for decades so there presumably would have been a build up of expertise in the design and production of military equipment. When the war ends that would be cut back (in the abscence of any immediate threat) - what would they go into? Certainly there might be the requirement for rebuilding but what would the 'consumer goods' at the start of the Fourth Age be?

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Computer problems while posting, please ignore this and read the proper post, below.

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

I don't think you really need to sacrifice "reality" for "story" in ME. It is a stunningly real world, and pre-modern, pre-industrial economics work very well within it. ~ Ang

You misunderstand me, Ang, I did not mean to say that "reality" needs to be in any way sacrificed for "story" in ME, just that when a situation can produce a variety of outcomes, the outcome that serves the story better is the one that occurs. ME is hardly unique on that respect, as that is after all the basis of all literature (at least the entertaining one; kitchen-sink social realism may be more true to the often non-sensical nature of life, but I find it dull, dull, dull). That doesn't make it any less real. Look at Terry Pratchett's Discworld, in which the issues of "reality" and "story" are one of the central themes of the series - it's an amazingly real and realistic world, nonwithstanding the fact that every book has a happy ending and million-to-one chances crop up (acknowledgely) nine times out of ten.

For instance, in real-world conditions, it is as likely for Frodo and Sam to be killed by a falling tree or some other mishap in the Shire as actually reaching Mt Doom. But which one makes a better story?

Back to the economics issue, would anyone care to comment on immigration? An open borders policy in the Reunited Kingdom would possibly attract a great deal of foreign workers willing and eager to fill the void left by those killed in the war, improve trade conditions and introduce previously unknown work methods and expertise. And then there's the Dwarves, of course - would they go directly to Minas Tirith to pitch their wares? Would some of them actually start living in the city?

----AM (who's read far too much more on economics than what she should)

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

No, I didn't misunderstand you - I was agreeing with you and disagreeing (slightly) with Matt. I don't think that the reality of economics is at odds with the demands of story in the JRRT universe. Quite to opposite - one of the points of genuis in LOTR is how mudane it is. People care about ordinary stuff, like having a nice home, getting married, where the next meal will come from, and so on.

While I think Matt has some really good points about economic production in a post-war period, I think his conception of it is too modern and too coherent for ME. I also think people are over-estimating the amount of damage inflicted outside of Gondor - yes, Dale & Erebor were over-run. Do you really think King Dain & King Brand have not been planning for war for months, and haven't had a very good system for storing food stuffs and other necessary goods in the biggest strong box in all ME - Erebor itself, for example? Give characters some points for intelligence and foresight.

Ang

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Thought on general war damage: we're not given that much information about the impact of the war outside of Gondor. Dale and Erebor as an example - all we know is that they were overrun. I agree, Dain and Brand weren't idiots, so they probably did stockpile. That the populace retreated to Erebor itself and held out for 14 days indcates they did have sufficient supplies to last there and then to be able to fight again (immediately after Sauron's fall when they drove his forces off.)

What I'm saying is that if (if, as I've no idea if it's in canon or not) Esgaroth, for example, was pillaged or sacked - which isn't unlikely - it would take time to be rebuilt and that while that was happening and people were recovering, their focus would be inwards. They might want to establish trade routes - but these would be limited initially by the amount of resources that they could afford to trade, given that their main focus would be rebuilding their own communities.

We are rather caught on a hook here as we don't know in detail the precise damage that the war inflicted outside Gondor. If it wasn't that bad then trade, interaction etc. could begin quite quickly; if it was bad, then it could be delayed. So I guess, you can pick which ever thread you would like to for the reality you want to impart in the Fourth Age.

Another thought (slightly more optimistic one): employment during the early modern period in Europe was very much tied to Agriculture. Given that the war was ending in March that would release men to go back into the fields immediately (given that they have to get discharged, get home and so on.) Either way though it's a thought and it's a way of accounting for a 'Year of Plenty'...

(No idea if this idea would work, as I know positively nothing about agriculture.)

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Hey, I get to test the new forum application *and* reply to you at the same time! How cool is that?

No, we aren't given that much info about war damage, aside from the description of the Pelennor, the vision of the Shire, the Rohirrim's account of farmsteads being burned, and the very brief mentions of battle in Lorien, Dale/Erebor, and Mirkwood. I think we can assume that the year following the Ring War was mild and good for growing.

I think I've become confused with time frames, too: I am talking about the year 3020 "The Great Year of Plenty" as JRRT identifies it. I assume that 3019 - the Ring War year itself - is going to be a clean-up year for all involved. Trade will be spotty at best, Gondor will be pulling resources from the Sea-fiefs for the most part, and physical accomodations will be crowded. Aragorn will be concerned with two things - raiding bands left over from the opposing armies and preparing for the coming winter.

The Dwarves would not have lost much infrastructure, as it was all within the mountain; thus, they are ready to begin trade by the following Spring. 3019 will see them primarily concerned with succoring the humans of Dale & Esgaroth. One thing to consider is that the Lakemen (vs. the Dale men) probably broke their bridge to the mainland, which would have made attack more difficult. Thus, though they were undoubtedly besieged, the town itself may have survived reasonably intact. Water has always been a deterrent to the Shadow. Dale would have been burned, but it is not unreasonable to think that they stored huge amounts of food, livestock, and belongings in Erebor - just as the Rohirrim did at Helms Deep.

I don't think they would have done much trade in the first year, but could have begun doing quite a bit by mid year of 3020, the Dwarves more than the Lakemen or the Dale folk. You are right that the vagueness allows both best-case and worst-case scenarios to be written. The base economy is agricultural, and the growing conditions were good, so I think basic needs would be covered.

I think we can make another reasonable guess that the first 16 years of Argorn's reign (3019 - 3035) were reasonably dangerous, with much war and external threat, but that he was done with his major campaigns by 3036. Why? Because in 3036, he rides north "and dwells for a while by Lake Evedim." (Appx. B, Tale of Years). He would not risk travel to the north for an extended period of time unless things were reasonably pacified in Gondor. It probably took that long for the realm to recover from the War.

So, this is all great speculation for future 4th Age stories! :-)

Ang

 

 

Re: Economical changes in the Fourth Age

Regarding agriculture following the War of the Ring, I can say a thing or two about this because my mother comes from a family of farmers (though she pursued a career in history), and when I say farmers I don't mean tractors and harvesters, I mean an extremely isolated rural community with an ethos and pratices that hadn't changed a great deal since the Visigoth invaders became settlers (my mum still looks quite a bit like a Visigoth settler, to be honest ^_-).

Anyway, the rules of crop growth are one of those things that haven't changed much since the time in which corn was a tiny yellow-green thing growing on a thin little stalk. There is ploughing, seeding, quickening and harvesting - of course science and technology have greatly improved yields and now it is possible for some crops to have two or even three yields a year, but the cycle is still the same, and I somehow doubt that there was agricultural biotechnology in Middle-Earth ^_^

So, in the year 3019, since the War of the Ring finished in March, it is likely that the fields in which conflict actually took place wouldn't produce anything - however, this devastation was by no means generalised: I would think that, if we are focusing on Gondor, the agricultural terrains under the Dol Amroth sphere of influence would be largely unscathed, and are likely to be particularly productive thanks to the previous influx of refugees from Ithilien. The varying accoutrements of the levies mustered to the defense of Minas Tirith also indicates that some of the fighting forces had evidently spent a lot more time with a plough than with a sword. Secondly, Gondor is not only close to Mordor, it has been preparing for war for a long time now. I think it is logical to conclude that there has been a great amassing of supplies in order to withstand attack and besiegement. The people of Gondor appear to be sturdy and well-prepared, and the ancestors of some of them survived the downfall of Numenor. I would find it incredible if there hand't been a storage of large amounts of long-lived foodstuffs, and these would be used in the areas more affected by the fighting, and would be enough to survive the winter of 3019/3020.

The non-affected areas aren't likely to have suffered a significative drop in productivity despite the loss of life, as the women would still be there to carry out the farming activities. In the pre-Industrial world, women carried out vital economical activities alongside the men, and this was very probably the case in Tolkien's world. The typical farmwife would be used to a 12-hours day of work already. As for the affected areas, I would assume the work of rehabilitating them for agriculture would have begun immediately in order to have them suitable for ploughing and seeding as soon as possible. From a sheer phyisical point of view, this rehabilitiation wouldn't take a great deal of time, as no one put land-mines in the Pelennor Fields, nor were they sown with salt. It could be argued that the land abhors the presence of Orcs and it would take time to recover, but their impact would fade with the destruction of the Ring, and if the Shire recovered in enough time to have the Year of Great Plenty, it is very likely that the Pelennor also recovered in time for the ploughing and seeding in late 3019/early 3020. Assuming that the Year of Great Plenty wasn't a localised phenomenon, then Gondor's crops had a very good yield in 3020 - enough perhaps to export excedents and begin a happy cycle of trade.

I think we can make another reasonable guess that the first 16 years of Argorn's reign (3019 - 3035) were reasonably dangerous, with much war and external threat, but that he was done with his major campaigns by 3036. Why? Because in 3036, he rides north "and dwells for a while by Lake Evedim." (Appx. B, Tale of Years). He would not risk travel to the north for an extended period of time unless things were reasonably pacified in Gondor. It probably took that long for the realm to recover from the War. ~ Ang

I think there's a good possibility that Gondor and the surrounding lands were pacified a few years before that, as it doesn't seem likely that Aragorn would travel to the North immediately after the end of any unrest. Why? Because he wouldn't know it would be the end to that unrest or not. I think he wouldn't undertake such an extended absence from Minas Tirith if things hadn't been on an even keel for a few years. True, this is mere guesswork, but I think the case can be made for the end of any noteworthy campaigns around 3029. Not that I think these campaigns would be of a very large scale in any case - after all, after Sauron's downfall, the chain of command in his human followers would be broken, and it is unlikely that the inhabitants of the more distant areas would be inclined to engage in war with Gondor all of a sudden. So I think these campaigns would not be comparable to the War of the Ring, but rather fights against raiders, pacification of border troubles, etc. The formerly unfriendly lands surrounding Gondor had just been defeated, so I think they'd react in the desired manner to a bit of "gunboat dimplomacy."

----AM

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to Economics in Middle-earth