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Let's imagine a very tiny medieval village with a population of 20 to 50 people.

This is the furthest village, the land next to it is very difficult to use. It is in the rough part of the country, and the population density is extremely low around. The closest villages (which are around 10 times bigger) are at 1 day (and a half) walking distance. There are a few large towns located at 3 days distance. It is complicated (but still possible if slowly and carefully) to use horses on the difficult path to the tiny village.

People mainly farm the land and occasionally hunt in the forest nearby. This forest is even more isolated than the village. Being so tiny, there are very little activities in the village. One leader, and people mainly worried about food.

The location was not always that bad, and the village used to be bigger a few generations ago. An earthquake destroyed the road, most of the village and the surroundings. Some people died, most left the area, and just a small amount of people (~50) chose to stay and rebuild, but they are slowly in decline. Some of the surrounding soil is suited for growing some crops and the forest is home to a variety of animals, plants and mushrooms, but I don't think that they are trading much anymore, they collect for themselves.

There is no church, and no organized religion in the area. There is no magic in this world. Those villages are part of a large kingdom. It is a time of peace.

So the question I would have is, how often would people from outside the village visit it? For what reasons would they come? What could be the longest duration where nobody would come to see them?

For the context, we assume that this is not in Winter, the weather is ok to travel, there is no flood, no unusual obstacle, nothing special that makes it harder to come than what I described before. So the road is not totally blocked. Wild animals are numerous, but not dangerous at all. No predators.

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    $\begingroup$ What reason does this village have for being here? Is there a resource nearby that is relatively scarce elsewhere? Usually if there is a population center in such a remote area it's because there is something there to attract settlers, not "just because". Maybe the surrounding soil is well suited to support a specific type of crop? Maybe the forest is home to a myriad of truffles, which they can sell to the occasional trader that passes through. If the village is as you described it with very little going on and no nearby resources that they can harvest then I dont see how it would even exist. $\endgroup$ – Jason Desjardins Jul 18 '18 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ The location was not always that bad, and the village used to be bigger a few generations ago. An earthquake destroyed the road, most of the village and the surroundings. Some people died, most left the area, and just a small amount of people (~50) chose to stay and rebuild, but they are slowly in decline. Yes, some of the surrounding soil is suited for growing some crops and the forest is home to a variety of animals, plants and mushrooms, but I don't think that they are trading much anymore, they collect for themselves. $\endgroup$ – Dreamk33 Jul 18 '18 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ Although it varies from period to period and country to country a population of 20-50 was actually quite normal for many medieval villages. $\endgroup$ – Sarriesfan Jul 20 '18 at 23:09
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I think it depends on the specific country. For example, in late medieval Wallachia such a village would get the following visits:

  • Four times per year the tax collectors would come to collect the quarter-taxes. (That's in principle; in practice, they would likely come only two or three times, because nobody travelled in winter time if they could avoid it.)

  • Any time some sort of unlawful act is committed on the territory of the village a low-ranking official will come to assess and collect the statutory fine.

  • If the village belongs to a boyar or boyaress they, or more likely their administrator, will come at harvest time to assess the harvest and collect their share.

  • If the village has a church, there would be periodic visits from the local diocese/episcopal see.

  • There would be one or two visits per summer by itinerat merchants.

  • There would be random visits by Gipsy caravans, mostly in summer and autumn. (Even if the caravan would not pass through the village, a few Gipsies will come to check whether there is business in the village -- the Gipsies provided tinning, copper working etc.)

  • Occasionally a posse will pass through the village in pursuit of some outlaw. (How often is hard to say, depends very much of where the village is.)

  • In case of war there will be somebody from the nearest town to gather men to fight in the army.

And that's about it for non-family-related visits. The village would probably not see any stranger from late October to late March.

But family-related visits would be more important: weddings, baptisms and funerals. Inter-village marriages did happen regularly. Depending on the specific circumstances, it would be either the woman moving to the man's village, or vice-versa; but anyway, occasionally there would be an event in the village where a lot of people from other villages would come a visit for several days, to celebrate a wedding, to assist at a baptism, or to mourn at a funeral. For a village of 10 families, I'd say that at least once per year they will have guests from outside.

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Even remote/isolated villages are visited.

  • Tax collection
  • Rent (frequently due to the land-owning noble)
  • Bandits
  • Relatives who relocated for better employment but wanted to visit
  • Peddlers
  • Soldiers chasing the bandits
  • Census
  • Recruitment (nobles always need nore soldiers and the complaints of isolated villagers can't be heard)

Would it be frequent? Not likely, but 4-6 visits per year on average would be well within the realm of possibility. If the residents are good customers of the peddlers, they'll visit regularly. Please note, criminals really like isolated villages,[Citation Needed] so as word gets around you should expect them to show up. Of course, once your villagers complain to the local lord (who's glad to hear they survived the winter, they owe more taxes) abou the criminals, he'll quickly send the soldiers to clear them out.[Another Citation Needed] So a lot of visits are cause-and-effect.

How long would they stay? Just long enough to finish their business. The community may have a local pub, but other than that, there's not much to do.

And then there's the zombies. Never forget the zombies. They're everywhere.[Yup, 'nother citation needed]

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