Frequently Asked History: How did Ancient/Medieval Borders Work? (Short Animated Documentary)

Frequently Asked History: How did Ancient/Medieval Borders Work? (Short Animated Documentary)



in the town of balanus ow there is a line on the floor if you're on one side of this line you're in the Netherlands with this fancy windmills if you're on the other you're in Belgium with this convenient access for German armored division's nowadays many a nation is easily recognizable by its silhouette within the borders of a nation we can easily determine who its people are and all that good stuff the obvious question is was it so clear in the ancient or medieval world let's say you're a Roman peasant congratulations during the reign of Emperor Hadrian who brought Rome at its greatest territorial extent if you simply walked north from Rome when if ever would you know that you'd left the Roman Empire see Rome is a good example when discussing borders because it had a centralized government a professional army whose job it was to protect the Empire and also the Romans had a good sense of borders which they called lemurs unsurprisingly much of Rome's lemur stopped at natural barriers like mountain ranges or perhaps most notably the Rhine or Danube in rivers the border was sporadically lined with watchtowers and wooden fortifications where possible but this was a long border and so naturally much of it was unmarked the biggest exception to this was of course Hadrian's Wall maps like this make it look like these areas were firmly in Rome's controlled and that those outside were entirely foreign to put it bluntly this simply wasn't the case there were settlements close to the Empire's borders who made quite a living trading with Rome and many of those within the Roman Empire didn't really see themselves as being Roman looking at you Britannia so traveling in and out of the Empire wasn't too difficult too many traders did so regularly even via hard borders like Hadrian's Wall this ease of travel is why there's so many Roman items and coins found throughout central eastern and northern Europe of course in the south of the empire basically the north african coast in egypt the southern borders were much harder to patrol egypt's southern frontier was one such difficult border but it did bring great profits here the Romans had to deal with tribes like the blem yeah you may have heard of them before because the Romans believed that these were a people who didn't have heads the Romans had a good trading relationship with the plumie a who acted as intermediaries between Rome in the south of Africa but the blame would occasionally raid – perhaps Rome's most important border was that with the Parthian later sassani and Persian Empire here the border was a series of fortifications with many many legions waiting for any Persian invasion but again people could and did travel between them none of what I've told you was stagnant though Rome's borders and the look of them fluctuated massively over the centuries until it all came crashing so moving forward over a thousand years from Hadrian we reached the medieval period and here we'll focus on the anglo-scottish border formalized in the 1237 Treaty of York just to let you know the anglo-scottish border is not marked by Hadrian's Wall the entirety of which lies in England this may come as a shock to you but throughout history England and Scotland have not been the best of friends the borderlands known as the marches played host to many arrayed or military campaign over the centuries as both sides sought to bring the other into a permanent state of non-existence during times of peace the two lands had to coexist and local Lords came to agreements such as allowing livestock from either kingdom to graze on each other's lands that's not to say things were peaceful bandits or Reeves as they were known would raid across the border often in fact the practice of Scottish Raiders extorting money from Englishmen gave birth to the word blackmail roughly translated as meaning illicit rent policing these raids was basically impossible since there was no government capable enough to oversee the roughly 100 mile border the law of the land on both sides was essentially try not to die in needs of the Scottish nor the English crowns were able to do much about it needless to say the border between the two kingdoms in 1237 wasn't simply this line it was blurred and much of it wasn't defined by natural barriers to conclude borders in the modern sense didn't exist either in theory or in practice in the ancient or medieval world what we think of today is borders those things which can block individuals from moving into a political entity simply weren't feasible a thousand years ago instead of strict borders there were franc tears which marked a gradual shift from one polity to the next the frontiers were primarily used by empires or kingdoms to keep out mass movements ie armies instead of individuals and in that sense they worked quite well I hope you enjoyed this episode and thank you for watching and a special thanks to all of these patrons you see on screen for their generosity in supporting the show and a particularly special thanks to James Bissonnette party-boy Co Michael Reynolds Gustav Swann Winston K wood Skye Chappell Adam Harvey Gable airy and azekah flash you