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Thread: The age at death for the landed nobility in the medieval era?

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    First Lieutenant Kidneythump's Avatar
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    Question The age at death for the landed nobility in the medieval era?

    Hi, anyone know of any statistics for this? couldn't find any data using Google so I thought I would put the question to the more educated portion of the forum goers and hope that they have an answer readily available

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Kidneythump View Post
    Hi, anyone know of any statistics for this? couldn't find any data using Google so I thought I would put the question to the more educated portion of the forum goers and hope that they have an answer readily available
    Depends on some factors, but for the peasants it would be about an average of 30 to 40 and for nobles 50 to 60. Obviously this can be cut drastically short or extended by a bit. Infant mortality was huge during this time, for example. Even the nobles struggled to maintain their health because force marching armies through swamps and into sieges, followed by huge feasts of food and wine, are not terribly conducive behaviors to a long life.
    So the answer can vary quite a bit, but 60 is a good upper limit for the average life expectancy of nobles, 40 for peasants, and infant mortality was a problem for everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ziamatt View Post
    Depends on some factors, but for the peasants it would be about an average of 30 to 40 and for nobles 50 to 60. Obviously this can be cut drastically short or extended by a bit. Infant mortality was huge during this time, for example. Even the nobles struggled to maintain their health because force marching armies through swamps and into sieges, followed by huge feasts of food and wine, are not terribly conducive behaviors to a long life.
    So the answer can vary quite a bit, but 60 is a good upper limit for the average life expectancy of nobles, 40 for peasants, and infant mortality was a problem for everyone.
    Ah ok thanks for the quick reply, the reason I asked was because I thought the rulers in my games often survived for surprising amounts of time, I checked my last game and the rulers of my line lived for an average of 58 (7 rulers) years so it would appear to be spot on, I've seen many complaints about the long lifespans on the forum but it would appear that it usually evens out, I'm guessing when the monarch survives for a long periods of time this sticks more in ones memory than the 20 something that preceded him or her. I would be interested in hearing more opinions about this

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    BL-logic
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    I've seen figures showing a life expectancy in the early 50s for an English peasant in the later medieval period, but this depends on one surviving childhood first. As the above poster mentioned, infant and early childhood mortality was the big killer.
    Famine and epidemics were also still a semi-regular occurrence during this time period, and were big killers.
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    There was a great show called Supersizers Go that looks at food eaten in various time periods of England.

    They did a very good show on the medieval era and what your average noble would eat. Once you survived you could survive for a long time, but most people were not terribly healthy, if you were rich you ate lots and lots of meat, just cause you could.

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    That guy with the thing Dragnar's Avatar
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    The main factor people miss is that average life expectancy in no way gives you any indication on at which age people died. That may seem counterintuitive at first, but it's true.
    Average life expectancy was way lower then, because lots of things cutting your life short then are perfectly survivable now, which cut the average down. But people that didn't have deadly accidents or caught lethal diseases and got an ok calorie intake (so mostly nobility) could expect to live for almost as long then as they do now, before "natural death" occured.
    Look at the death dates of famous people of the era and you see that reaching your seventies, while less common than now, wasn't really unusual either.

    Averages are tricky like that. Always remember: Almost every single person on earth has a higher than average amount of legs... (because there are people with less than two legs, but none with more, so the arithmetic mean {the most commonly used "average"} is actually slightly below two)

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    Its an issue because you lose control over your dynasty the longer you live. The game doesn't even register Great grand kids as valid successors. Causes alot of issues.

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    In my research for Icelandic characters I found a lot with the age of 70 to 90. And this in Iceland.

    High ages wasn't so rare in the mediŠval tines. There live some nobles over 100. So...

    The bad living conditions in the middel ages are a lie of the Enlightenment to say "We are better!"

  9. #9
    Not a lie in the slightest. When you have 1 person living to 90 and 100 infants dying before they reach 5, of course your average is going to be low. Multiply that by several million and you have medieval europe in a nutshell. Nobles lived fairly long, but were the vast minority of the peoples of the time, leaving a small impact on the overall average.

    As an above poster implied, "averages" are actually an extremely inaccurate way to go about gathering date.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Crimen View Post
    Not a lie in the slightest. When you have 1 person living to 90 and 100 infants dying before they reach 5, of course your average is going to be low. Multiply that by several million and you have medieval europe in a nutshell. Nobles lived fairly long, but were the vast minority of the peoples of the time, leaving a small impact on the overall average.

    As an above poster implied, "averages" are actually an extremely inaccurate way to go about gathering date.
    What he said basically. The average itself is highly inaccurate due to infant deaths and, even if it were accurate, it still wouldn't say much about the life expectancy of a medieval lord, who lived a life filled with riches, comfort, had access to physicians and didn't have to deal with manual labour a single day in his life (while the average peasant lived a hard and stressful life, was malnourished and had to deal with the various diseases of the era, a lot of them quite deadly).
    Last edited by moldeh; 02-07-2012 at 09:41.

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    I once read a book about Death in medieval ages stating that life expectancy before year 1000 was around... 24. Yet it is possible this figure takes into account infant deaths, and all the population. I wouldn't know for nobles, but it's probably higher as they had better life conditions than peasants. Still, after 1500, the french King Francois II died before his 20, whereas some random noble (I forgot his name...) died at the battle of CrÚcy (1346) aged over 80... But overall life expectancy was much lower than now, just look how it's increased in the past 50 years!

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    When we talk about "life expectancy", we generally mean "life expectancy at birth". In that case, 24 sounds very reasonable, given the high number of infant and child deaths in the period.

    However, once you get past those difficult early years, life expectancy increases dramatically. That becomes a "life expectancy at adolescence" or whatever.

    I'm sure there are actuaries here who can give us more information, but take a look here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf#022.

    If you were male and born in 1950, you could expect to live 65.6 years, i.e. until the age of 65-66.

    However, if you were already 65 in 1950, you could expect to live another 12.8 years, i.e. until 77-78.

    Etc etc

    So, of course some people lived to be extremely old in olden times too. I suspect it was normally among the clergy, who encountered fewer life-threatening events such as tournaments or warfare or whatever.

    EDIT: CK2 effectively rules out infant and child deaths (they do happen, but not on the massive scale that they did IRL) and so, effectively, we have a survivor bias. But I don't think that's a problem.

    EDIT2: What has increased dramatically over the past century is life expectancy at birth, as infant mortality has plummeted. Life expectancy later on has also increased, albeit at a slower pace.
    Last edited by Emre Yigit; 02-07-2012 at 09:46.
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    CK2 effectively rules out infant and child deaths (they do happen, but not on the massive scale that they did IRL) and so, effectively, we have a survivor bias. But I don't think that's a problem.
    CK2+ increases infant and child mortality.

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    First Lieutenant Kidneythump's Avatar
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    Hmm maybe a nifty histogram would be in order?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kidneythump View Post
    Ah ok thanks for the quick reply, the reason I asked was because I thought the rulers in my games often survived for surprising amounts of time, I checked my last game and the rulers of my line lived for an average of 58 (7 rulers) years so it would appear to be spot on, I've seen many complaints about the long lifespans on the forum but it would appear that it usually evens out, I'm guessing when the monarch survives for a long periods of time this sticks more in ones memory than the 20 something that preceded him or her. I would be interested in hearing more opinions about this
    The developers made infant mortality lower than IRL, lifespans longer, and fertility lesser than IRL. All this on purpose. Making it like IRL would have no impact in the game (lower infant mortality and longer lifespans then IRL is balanced by lesser fertility) except that the game would be crowded with dead people making the game run far less smoothly (remember the game keeps track of EVERY character, no matter how insignificant. More babies mean far more characters, ven if they die being 5 years old)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragnar View Post
    The main factor people miss is that average life expectancy in no way gives you any indication on at which age people died. That may seem counterintuitive at first, but it's true.
    Average life expectancy was way lower then, because lots of things cutting your life short then are perfectly survivable now, which cut the average down. But people that didn't have deadly accidents or caught lethal diseases and got an ok calorie intake (so mostly nobility) could expect to live for almost as long then as they do now, before "natural death" occured.
    Look at the death dates of famous people of the era and you see that reaching your seventies, while less common than now, wasn't really unusual either.

    Averages are tricky like that. Always remember: Almost every single person on earth has a higher than average amount of legs... (because there are people with less than two legs, but none with more, so the arithmetic mean {the most commonly used "average"} is actually slightly below two)
    You are right about life expectancy. People usually mistakes the meaning. However, 65 (to say one age) was very old for those days standards. VERY rarely anybody (even nobles) reached 70 years. Even if you were a noble, your way of life (basically your diet) and the lack of medicines or true doctors made lifespans far shorter than nowadays.

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    from waht i've read:

    average livespan was about 30-40 for both nobles and peasants. there were 2 killers in this age: sickness and child deaths.

    child deaths hit peasants the most, eck they had much children and that greaty brought the expected livespan down. assuming you didnt get tuberculosus or so you could easly live until in the 70, even as a peasant.

    sickness hit nobles the most. why? because they could pay doctors. and doctors were often doing more bad than good. a german kaiser could have easly survived his sickness, IF he didnt call doctors in. he died from all teh bloodletting. if you didnt get sick, you could still very easy live well into your 70's, 80's or even 90's.

    im not really taking pandemic's or war into account with this. those would have brought it down a bit. but in a prosperous era you could become quite old.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thure View Post
    In my research for Icelandic characters I found a lot with the age of 70 to 90. And this in Iceland.

    High ages wasn't so rare in the mediŠval tines. There live some nobles over 100. So...

    The bad living conditions in the middel ages are a lie of the Enlightenment to say "We are better!"
    Then that stuff of icelandic characters living 70 or 80 years must have some genetical component (I mean, that they were genetically predisposed to be long lived persons. Or perhaps, living in Iceland, they ate far more fish and far less hunting meat, which is very greasy, than nobles in the continent, which helped them live longer).

    I tell it because very few Spanish, French or English kings lived beyond 70 years. I guess the same will be for German or Italian lords.
    Last edited by No idea; 02-07-2012 at 12:37.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by No idea View Post
    Then that stuff of icelandic characters living 70 or 80 years must have some genetical component (I mean, that they were genetically predisposed to be long lived persons. Or perhaps, living in Iceland, they ate far more fish and far less hunting meat, which is very greasy, than nobles in the continent, which helped them live longer).

    I tell it because very few Spanish, French or English kings lived beyond 70 years. I guess the same will be for German or Italian lords.
    Most doctors will agree if you just lose the overweight by eating more moderately, you will actualy achieve the same result as if you were eating healthier.

    It's not as much the greasy food that is bad for you, as the amount of calories that puts a stress on ur overweight body.

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