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blog History for Fantasy Writers: Do You Have a Moment?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    skip.knox submitted a new blog post:

    History for Fantasy Writers: Do You Have a Moment?
    by E.L. Skip Knox


    This is the second part of a two-part article on how time was perceived and measured in ancient and medieval Europe.

    In the last installment of History for Fantasy Writers I addressed years, months, weeks, and days. Now I turn to shorter lengths: days, hours and still shorter periods. I’ll close with a more general consideration of time and the awareness of time.


    We carve the day into twenty-four hours, but in the past the hour was a malleable thing. There were twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, regardless of the season. The day began with zero at sunrise. Then came the first hour, the second, and so on. The twelfth hour fell at sunset. A winter daylight hour was therefore shorter than a summer hour.

    This feels a little nuts at first, but it’s actually pretty sensible. At least the word midnight makes sense in that system—it’s the mid-point of the night, regardless of how long is the night. All we have to do is abandon the notion that an hour is a unit of time, to consider it as marking portions of a day. The first part, second, third, and so on.

    The malleability of the hour could cause difficulties, sometimes. The historian Marc Bloch tells the story of two men who agreed to have a duel at...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Greater time: 12 months of 28 days each plus 4 special days corresponding to the Solstices and Equinoxes. Days and months are numbered, not named. Reflects a slightly tighter orbit for the planet.

    Lesser time: old style, hours that varied with the length of daylight. New style, 24 hour day, each hour divided into sixty minutes. Big, ornate clocks, usually on churches or civic buildings are fairly common, the more elaborate ones marking the hours with drums, bells, and mechanical trumpets, often played by mannequins. One such, a bit unusual, plays a minor role in 'Empire: Metropolis.'
    Black Dragon likes this.

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