BROADCASTING IN THE MIDDLE AGES | 2004-08-14
One publisher has a logo that shows a peasant with a bag at his belt throwing seeds out on the fields. He looks like a fat, jolly fellow. He must be fat, since he can afford to thrown wheat away like that.
That was the way peasants used to sow seeds in the Middle Ages. They just threw wheat out in the field and hoped some would grow. Most of the seeds fell in bunches so that only a few germinated. There were large empty patches. The peasants were not fat and jolly, many of them literally starved to death.
This method of planting is called "broadcasting." No modern farmer would even think of such a thing. But back when every bit of wheat lost meant going hungry, this was the only means of planting.
Modern farmers, who have plenty by that Middle Age peasant's standards, would consider this kind of planting insane. It was the hungry peasant who cold not afford to waste a single grain of wheat who used that wasteful broadcasting method. This sounds strange until you turn it around. The modern farmer doesn't starve because he would never use such insane methods.
And the entire society, from the king to the nobles to the tradesmen to the church, all rested on what that peasant broadcasting in the fields produced. He had to have enough wheat to feed himself and his family and then give the rest to take care of everybody else.
Meanwhile, the church and the king and all the rest talked to each other in French and Latin and ran around in costumes and told each other how Holy or Royal they were.
Today we have much the same situation. Working people and inventors produce things while academia and minorities ride around on their backs, just as all those kings and bishops rode around on the peasant's back. The only difference is that today the peasant's back is broader, and more people can ride.