Landscape of Medieval Bohemia

Hello everyone, this is my first post :slight_smile:
When watching the video about the world of KCD, I became curious about how well they had recreated the medieval landscape of Bohemia. What struck me was the shapes of the fields in the videos. Being familiar with the fields of medieval Britain, I was expecting to see field shapes optimized or resulting from the use of the heavy oxen-pulled plow used throughout medieval Europe. These are long strips, often with a vague S shape grouped in to large open fields. In the video though, the visible fields are all polygonal and of random shapes and sizes.

Of course, even in Britain there were significant regional variations of landscape use and field patterns. While many regions of Britain had those large open fields, others had smaller square fields from the Roman period or even smaller fields from as far back as the Bronze Age. To some extent, field patterns also reflected different regional patterns of social organization and agricultural practices.

Wondering what the case was in the Czech Republic at the time, I did some quick research. Unfortunately, since I don’t speak Czech my results were obviously rather limited. I did manage to find three articles in english from the Journal of Landscape Studies by a Kristina Molnarova about Czech medieval field patterns though (Linked at the end).

She calls them ‘pluzina’ (Pardon my Czech! Hopefully I used that right) and unlike in Britain the long narrow strips of farmland are each surrounded by their own hedgerows, making for some very interesting field patterns. I’m not sure how much these apply to the area the game is set in, as I’m obviously not familiar with any regional variations.

Of course, landscapes aren’t only fields. I haven’t looked in to how woodlands were distributed in this area during this period or anything else like that. This is something I hope they get right in KCD. While they’ve already mentioned they are trying to avoid ‘potato’ landscapes, it has always bothered me how ‘medieval’ fantasy RPG’s are always set in an untamed wilderness or jungle. Yet in many areas of Europe, by the middle ages landscapes were as clear and covered in fields as they are today.

I trust Warhorse will get it right to the best of their knowledge. Of course, they are only human and have limited time and resources. There may even be areas they just didn’t think about. Hopefully this didn’t come off as a lecture then, and more of a hint in to something that they could look in to! I’m really excited for KCD in any case!

‘Long-term dynamics of the structural attributes of hedgerow networks in the Czech Republic - three case studies in areas with preserved medieval field patterns’

‘Hedgerow-defined medieval field patterns in the Czech Republic and their conservation – a literature review’

‘Hedgerow-defined medieval field patterns in the Czech Republic: a case study of the dendrological and dendrochronological structure of hedgerows of varying ages in Northern Moravia’

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You are right! The fields were usualy long strips and the farmers used something called “three field agriculture” (I dont have clue how this should be translated to english properly :)). The countryside is not finished and doesnt look as its supposed to at the moment. We researched this, but I would say, that is going to be quite hard, to display for example forests as they really were at the time. Nobody knows, there are studies, but there was probably lot of variety as it is today.

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As Dan said, we used (like most people at that time) the three-field crop rotation system.

Czech landscape is generally hilly. Northern Bohemia has for example very thick forests, with threes extremely close to each other and constant fog. It of course looks all very differently in Central Bohemia, Moravia or Silesia.

You’ll have a village either near a castle or a water source, with big fields that are surrounded by forests.

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Those types of villages are called Waldhufendörfer. Houses were built along a street or a rivulet and behind each farmstead are the long and narrow strips of field till the edge of the forest (as Snowblade already said and depicted).
Those villages are very common where I live (Dresden, Saxony and Ore Mountains), but also Lausitz, North Bohemia and several other regions.

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Also, let’s not forget that majority of forests consisted of broad-leaved trees in Europe. Nowadays, there are pinophyte quite a lot, but those were planted during 18th century!

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Thanks for all the interesting replies everyone!

@Snowblade
I’m curious - What are those tower like structures attached to the ends of the houses in your second picture? Are they some form of granary? Were longhouse style houses the predominant type in the medieval Czech Republic as well, as they were in many other places in Northern and Western Europe?

@Ebu_diGriz
That’s an interesting and very good point!

@Hellboy
Thanks for the reply Daniel! It’s always hard to know what is and isn’t a placeholder in these early stages :slight_smile: Yeah, I can imagine it’s quite hard to get it exact, especially since the archaeological and historical record is rarely ever complete. It’s often a matter of interpretation. I know your pain, my Master’s was in (Roman) Archaeology. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be really interested to hear more about the research you guys have done for the game. I’m glad you guys have been doing so much of it. A bibliography or list of sources you consulted would be really cool to have as well! I’d imagine it will also be a useful resource for all the historical debates there will be on this forum :slight_smile:

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I think you are right, it’s either granary or a place for the hay.

This house is from Pfaffenschlag, a village that were burned by Hussites. It’s near Slavonice, at the South.

The granary looks like the tower like structures you were asking, though smaller. So I guess you are right.
Picture of the whole village: http://www.neradova.com/wpimages/wp6858136e_06.jpg

P.S: Note there are still no chimney.

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I can see a oven there. Guess thats the way they kept warmth in building.
Also is first picture corss-section through buildinding? Plus it seems that oven does have chimney but it leads to attic. Is there some explanation?.

(also i must say that this is most interesting topic here, it made me research plužinas but unfortunately i did not find out much new to add to the topic.)

UPDATE: I found this document that is focused on medieval houses around 1300-1500.
http://www.ruralia.cz/347-356.pdf

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As @EBU_DIGRIZ mentioned. Medieval forest/wood was very different from our recent forest.

  1. Composition was different. Dont know exact composition but much less of pinophytes like spruce (Picea abies). And a lot of for example hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), hazel (Corylus avelana), which corresponds with the management namely “coppicing”. Wood was used for heating and making of wood coal (so I am going to expect some charcoal/wood piles/milíř/Kohlenmeiler). Also you dont need high and thick trees for that. But smaller woods and quick growing trees.
  2. There were fever forest, like I have said due to the wood consuption. In lover parts were crops with lower yield compared to todays crop yields. Slopes were used as pastures and grasslands to supply with hay on winter. Todays Czech Republic is actually awfully overgrown with spruce.
  3. Also it is very interesting that grazin was forbidden by Mary Theresa in 18th century. And what is more funny, that the ban is still active even it is currently useless. Forest grazing has big influence on forest recovery it slows it down, and it was something very usual in middle ages.
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After quick search I have found that in urbary of Rosenberg manor from 1373 there should be a record of state of its forest. This record should include its size, the types (species?) composition of fauna and its assumed usage.

Here is my source, it in czech and it does not say much: http://www.czso.cz/csu/2014edicniplan.nsf/t/6E0031FC52/$File/32011840614.pdf

UPDATE: I have also found that there is book called “Rožumberský urbář” (Urbary of Rosembrg), it is academic book. Now I am trying to learn more.

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Well Warhorse are czechs, so yeah, they know what theyr doing.

Some points to adress - If you talking about shape of the fields and types of the buildings (for example) it looks exactly as in some older czech villages. Exactly spot on !

For the fields - All of czech republic and slovakia is rocky as hell. There isnt much flat space here now, and there wasnt basically any then. So you see fields go up and down the hill constantly. And in most areas there simply isnt nothing else but forrest, rocks, bad soil where you cant grow anything. And as a result of that you will see them in various shapes and sizes (where you have nowhere to grow, you arent picky). And there are other as well, like rain rain. Hell its rainy here. It rains constantly. And because the water runnig down the hill damaging your crops and flooding your seeds , taking them away. You simply cant have wast fields without any protection from that. You rather make some blocade against the water (plant trees, dig a canals and trenches) on a smaller scale.

The fields you saw in the trailers arent the typicall fields which fed the nobles, and the whole nation( as it was the farmers duty). Those were much larger, but rather the personall fields of the farmers that worked them in their free time (so they could eat or sell them). Or they had a cows, sheeps, pigs, chickens in those areas, (those with the mudd). It was just a private area of the family, or the village a secondary income if you will.

Yes, it’s corss-section of the building. There is source, where you can fing also ground plan (basicly what remain) http://silva-nortica.blog.cz/1307/pfaffneschlag-zanikla-stredoveka-ves-u-slavonic

They never let fire die out in medieval so oven wasn’t only heater, it keeps fire for people who use it in many tasks. Now, fire is also nice subject to talk about. They did not use torches as much as we think. They splinters were most common or candles (which stink as were made of fat - vax were expensive).

That short chimney is called “dýmník” (in Czech). It leads smoke to attic and then out trough covered holes on both ends of the roof (notice it on the first picture). Eventually it become long chimney, but wooden with clay spread on inner sides (https://scontent-b-fra.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/t31/1425397_679527875412800_1180456997_o.jpg). Those wooden one were common untill Marie Terezie ban them as they obviously cause many accidents with fire involved.

PS: Nice document, really.

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I’ve got a question about the map design:
will there be areas like swamplands or little lakes with reeds at water’s edge?
I don’t know the landscape of bohemia, so I just ask: If there is no swamp, then there shall be none.
In my opinion it’s just great to travel such areas in computer games. Perhaps a swamp fits in one of the acts, although i don’t know important bricks and clay were in this time period.
I’m sure the game will be awesome, with or without swamps and muddy feet. :wink:

cheers

We have something like swamps in Czech republic, but not in this area.

CZ is, or was in some cases full of swamps, lakes, rivers, mountains, forrests, hills and lowlands. And yes I think they mentioned that.

Not really, swamps were quite rare but since the first act is taking place near by the river and several streams, there could be at least some small swamps. There is the probalbe map of the act 1 - mostly forests, rivers and streams.

Good stuff guys! Lot’s of interesting info :slight_smile:

Yes I agree! Spruces were not main part of the forests in 15th century. Warhorse studio should calculate with this fact and redisgn their enviroment. I find this map:
It shows where should grow spruces if there wasn´t any reforestation by human. Grenn locations represent high concentration of spruces, yellow low concentration and brown are totaly without spruces. Location of this game is situated southeast of Prague in yellow location. So I think in game should be more oaks, beeches and other deciduous trees.

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What a great community. People come armed with images and everything. This thread has been very educational and I think will be of real value to the developers (the best that can come of this forum). Please keep it up.

That’s all I wanted to add.

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