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Bethelamon
February 16th, 2006, 03:59 PM
How long would it take to build a medieval city?

What about rebuilding a deserted and broken city, one that already has walls and stone buildings but needs repopulating and turning back into a great town.

How long does it take to build a city from scratch, with walls and stuff?

How long did huge structures such as cathedrals take to build?

Sid_Fallon
February 16th, 2006, 04:49 PM
I'm not sure how important exact details for your story would be. From what I've read, building something like one of the famous cathedrals alone would be around a decade depending on resources and the state of the nation/country/whatever.

For medieval cities...my understanding is that building a 'great' city would take at least a couple generations people (father-son..not 100s of years I mean). I seem to recall cities have more than one set of defensive walls, each higher and further out to encompass the growing city. Defensive walls are fairly important; the bigger the city the more need for defense, and the greater the resources for making them.

Really though, a rough estimate is all I would foresee needing for any fiction story.

You may want to look up medieval architecture at a book store or library. I've found wonderful books for medieval warfare/strategy and such, but I haven't had much need to focus on the actual historical construction of such cities.

Holbrook
February 17th, 2006, 01:42 AM
Cities develop and grow from smaller settlements over time. They contain a mix of houses from various time periods.

A medieval walled city is somewhat constrained by its walls, so the process of tearing down and rebuilding/altering would be ongoing. In time a city would spread beyond its walls, like York or Chester did. If the times were still such where a defensive wall was still needed then a new one would be built. This would be costly and time consuming.

Cathedrals, you are talking upwards of a 100 years in many cases, the work progressed in fits and starts, due to lack of money, war and skilled workforce. Even then they kept being added to and repaired, even to day.

Take a look here.

http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/history.cathedral.php

The development of a settlement into a city depends on many things, industry, trade, position in the land, greed and the desire for power by its rulers/population.

Folks just don't march off and decide to create a city unless driven to do so by governments and rulers. Usually such cities/settlements are abandoned in future generations unless there is something more to hold the population there. A future ruler might decide to wipe out a city "created" by a former one.

BrianC
February 17th, 2006, 06:59 AM
There are far too many variables involved for there to be any definitive answer to this question. If you gave some of the variables (availability of resources and materials, level of technology, availability/willingness of workforce, motivation of builders, location of construction, transportation, etc.) then perhaps opinions here could be more concrete. But one thing is certain, as the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day." Whatever is done, it will take time.

KatG
February 17th, 2006, 11:31 AM
If the city already existed as a ruin, the question would depend on how damaged it was. Assuming there was no fear of plagues, supernatural beings or that all the buildings were likely to collapse in an earthquake or from burned out damage and such, there would likely be squatters living in parts of the city, and they might have livestock in the buildings too, or even be growing small crops. If the buildings and any walls were relatively intact, a small portion of the city could probably be up and running in a few years, assuming there was sufficient manpower to do rebuilding and run things, and that there were not outside threats or problems bringing in supplies. If the city buildings and walls were really ruins, though, it would probably take at least a decade to get even a small portion of it in workable order, again only if there were no outside threats and supplies and manpower at ready hand. Any sizable rebuilding of larger portions of the city would probably require at least 50 years or more, which is at least two generations.

The city could not be rebuilt to be larger than a small town unless it gets trade, and unless natural resources were available close by. It has to be able to attract sufficient number of people to have a city watch force and provide trade for shops and artisans. It has to be able to provide food or successfully and cheaply ship food into the city. A noble with an army, which is used to foraging and setting up camps on the road, might do better than a bunch of civilians in restoring the city to decent operation.

A cathedral takes a lot of money, manpower and skilled workers to create. Most cathedrals took several decades to produce and some much longer. A cathedral that already exists, though, and just needs to be repaired, might be operational much sooner, assuming the restorers had the skilled workers they needed and enough money, with no outside threats.

It's an interesting question, actually. Is this central to the plot, or just background detail?

Bethelamon
February 17th, 2006, 12:45 PM
It's an interesting question, actually. Is this central to the plot, or just background detail?

Its background detail.

Thanks for all the information and comments! Its always good just to hear people's vague opinions and knowledge on things, I learn alot from it.

The story of the city is this... Hundreds of years ago the sewer network got infested with goblins. Now these are not LOTR-style orcs, but more like angry chimpanzees in nature (though without the fur). Malicious little animals. Anyway they start eating babies, burning houses etc, people start to leave the city until eventually it is deserted and left as a playground for these goblin/ape things. On their own goblins are just animals, but under the leadership of their patriarch, who has a kinda psychic connection over them all, they can become dangerous. Anyway, several hundred years later, some exiled southern Duke appears with his men, enter the city, have some scraps with the goblins, then track them down into the sewers and find the big fat Patriarch. They kill it, and without his willpower the rest of goblins are reduced to animals, and can be wiped out and driven off over a period of a couple of years.
Anyway, the Duke then claims the city for himself and people living in the surrounding countryside come to live under his protection.
The walls etc are still intact, the city is not destroyed by war damage, its just left to decay. So it just needs patching up.

I just wanted to know roughly how long it would take to get the city back in working order, and roughly how long it would take people to have a town in livable conditions, starting from scratch. Thanks to your thoughts, I've realised its a very gradual process, and all cities have grown from what original were villages.

And about the cathedral, I just wanted to know roughly how long a big impressive stone building like this takes. I didnt know whether it would be a decade or 500 years. I think I can be safe to say these big buildings took a century to build then.

Michael B
February 20th, 2006, 12:48 PM
I just wanted to know roughly how long it would take to get the city back in working order, and roughly how long it would take people to have a town in livable conditions, starting from scratch. Thanks to your thoughts, I've realised its a very gradual process, and all cities have grown from what original were villages.
Actualy you can build a city in the middle of nowhere very quickly if you pour supplies and people. That is how Alexander the Great build a number of his cities. The Romans and the Spanish in America also built cities very quickly.

On the other hand, they weren't very big to start off with and only remained where they had been sited in a "good" location.

KatG
February 21st, 2006, 08:37 AM
That's true. The Romans built up London very quickly, for instance. And if the buildings were not largely damaged, then it would mostly be a matter of having people and supplies. If the Duke's got an army, he'd have the manpower to develop things much faster than a random group. And if there were people living in the countryside and the Duke liberates the city, I would expect he'd get a fair amount of cooperation from them and some of them would probably move into the city where there's a better chance of money.

Since it's historical background, you can also be somewhat vague about a lot of the details of the reconstruction and take it to the level of development that best suits your story. But you might want to have these areas of the city where they haven't yet got it up and running and there may be a stray goblin or two lurking -- areas for nefarious dealings and the criminal underworld and such.

TheGhost
February 21st, 2006, 09:02 AM
The Duke's money might go a long way toward improving the city structures, but one thing to keep in mind is how the people in the countryside respond to this. Do they have any incentive / motivation to pick up their things and move into a formerly creepy town? Families and households don't always act as their ruler would like them to. I can imagine quite a number of people would stay where they were, especially if there was enough to eat.

Perhaps the Duke could locate a key industry in the newly improved city, thus quickly boosting the economy.


Ghostie

Michael B
February 21st, 2006, 12:25 PM
Do they have any incentive / motivation to pick up their things and move into a formerly creepy town? Families and households don't always act as their ruler would like them to.Ghostie
Absolutely. However there is a number of things that the Duke can do. First is the old trick of settling veterans and their families. The second is political rights/priviledges for "freemen" of the city, eg only "freemen" can set up stalls in the cities or be exempt from feudal dues.