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No joke. We burn a bunch of lightbulbs with candle powers measured in the hundreds, have several kinds of entertainment of the highest quality that's ever existed anywhere available at the literal press of a button or with the right spoken command, have a librarian-scribe who can fetch us most any info we like nearly instantly even if it's just a passing whim, our food is abundant, cheap, outstanding, and for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.

If anything it's surprising we're not even fatter and even less well-rested. We live in a friggin' world-class carnival. Describe some medieval monarch living in some kind of environment like that and we'd simply assume they'd be a wrecked, fat drunkard with perpetual bags under their eyes in short order, even if they had the best of intentions and pretty decent character. But we wonder why we're fat and tired and write and read books about it and try not to see the obvious cause, and the cost of fixing the problem.






> for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.

kitchens are expensive. the historical urban poor often lived in a corner of a room and bought their food from someone who had a kitchen. it makes eating home cooked meals feel absolutely decadent!

(one thing i haven't yet understood: food was cheaper than a penny, but there were no farthings or ha'pnies till much later. indeed, a penny bought about $20 worth. so did they buy meals a week at a time, and get a pastie a day or something?)


I imagine that you could run a tab with your local grocer and settle up for full pennies later.

They used to cut coins in halfs, fourths, and maybe smaller to get lower denominations.

Comparisons between modern mundane luxury and the lives of ancient royalty rarely take into account the different stressors present in either case. Maybe the life of a medieval sovereign would still be preferable to that of a modern serf, if nonmaterial considerarions were included.

My assays at Crusader Kings II—squaring remarkably well with fictional and historical accounts of similar figures in roughy the same time period, see e.g. King Lear and Hamlet for good examples of the former—do not make being a medieval lord seem low-stress. Full of creature comforts and experiences unknown to most of the population at the time, yes. Though I think the environment of medieval Europe was a particularly rough one for the ruling class and at other times and places before and after, yes, it indeed would have been unreservedly "good to be the king".

Something I've noticed in my kids; because they do have this access to "entertainment of the highest quality", real-world experiences struggle to measure up.

For instance, going to the circus was fun, but quickly forgotten. A local stunt pilot flying overhead only gets a quick glance.

A few minutes of a YouTube compilation gives more amazing entertainment moments than my entire childhood.




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