Six kingdoms are on the verge of war with a larger, imperial force that is impinging on their lands. The empire is eventually driven out, but not before one kingdom A is caught in the crossfire. A nearby kingdom B offers to take in many refugees, out of kindness and perhaps other reasons, resulting in a sudden population shift.

Ultimately, kingdom A and B unify as one kingdom AB and surge into the forefront as a technological and innovative leader. But I think such a population shift would probably introduce some difficulties as well, so I ask: what kind of difficulties could arise? How could the kingdom prevent, manage, or solve such difficulties?

The setting is realistic in that it takes place in a similar world with similar physics and universal laws and such, and it only matters that everything is plausible, if not exactly very likely, and that everything is well-explained.

Not quite sure about technology level. The setting is probably closest to late medieval, or a mix of late medieval and early modern. The idea for how they dealt with the empire was that Kingdom A or B found out how to cultivate and use a disease to destroy the empire's major food crop in that area, and so they sent a special task force to plant/spread it, ultimately crippling the empire's food source and weakening them to attack. So the six kingdoms would probably be fairly recently formed, far enough along the line of development that they are unified sort of states and there's not much civil fighting, but they don't have any sort of guns or anything quite yet.

The idea is that this event sort of sparks a surge in technological advancement in the kingdom AB, putting them in the forefront by the time the story actually takes place. It also sets the kingdom and its ruler's lineage in a favorable light. The first king of this new kingdom AB is charismatic, benevolent, clever, and powerful. (This is all sort of background and lore to the actual story)

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    $\begingroup$ What century are we looking at tech wise? $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Apr 9 '17 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't thought about the specifics as far as tech goes, but I expanded on that subject as best I could. $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 9 '17 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ I could be wrong, but I think you are being way too present day when thinking of "refugees". National identity and all the associated atrocities like ethnic purges is a fairly modern concept. In Medieval times you won't get people fleeting their homes just because there's new sovereign. Only exceptions were religious wars, but otherwise for regular people it was life under oppression as usual, no matter who won recent war of succession. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Apr 9 '17 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Also, you are completely forgetting that concept of high intensity "total war", a war which subjects entire country to the wartime conditions, shifting industry and everything else to fuel war, is XIX century concept. Even then, before XX century, war was something that happened, rolled through and went away, like an artificial disaster, not something that lingered for years or decades like plague. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Apr 9 '17 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ There were four great (more than 15-20000 inhabitants) cities in Europe: Constantinople (by far the largest), Rome, Paris and London. None of them had a castle. (OK, London had the Tower, but that's not exactly what people think of when they say "castle". Castles were military constructions, not the kind of Early Modern folly shown at the beginning of Disney movies.) Constantinople had a magnificent palace. Rome was Rome, with remarkable but much less magnificent palaces. Paris and London had much less remarkable palaces. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 9 '17 at 18:57

The answer to this question is going to be: depends on everything else at that moment in country B.

First question is going to be this: WHY is this country open to taking in refugees? Refugees don't come with money and they don't come with food most of the time (even if they do come with money, foreign coin is likely to be looked upon with suspicion and local lords won't like it). They do bring labor. Lots of labor. So, Country B is going to have to have a labor shortage before they take in the masses of County A (reasons can include a sudden plague leaving fields fallow and a need for warm bodies to help with harvest, and also eat the harvest or a sudden need because they have discovered a mining prospect and don't have enough people to mine).

The way you've framed this question leads me to believe that you don't quite have an understanding of Medieval times. Things were...far more segmented and isolated without trade opportunities. Leave Medieval behind completely. You want the Renaissance--half the stuff people actually think of when they are picturing Medieval times in their heads actually comes from the Renaissance anyway...(you know those pointy cone hats princesses wear for instance? that's more Renaissance than Medieval.) Local lords were more important, by far most of the time, than rulers over, say, whole countries. A king had privileges, sure, but there were lords with more wealth and better lands than kings. Kings were called upon as a way for lords to get their neighbors to fight with them against any invaders, as they, as neighbors had agreed that they were in the same country, and it's a your problems are my problems kind of thing. This is why boarders were often determined by insurmountable obstacles, and natural features.

So pretty much, if, say a Foreign dude or group of Foreign people come into a country, they would more likely be dealing with the local lord where they landed rather than with the King--so if they all landed in one place, the lord might say "we are full up here, move on to the next county." Locals might worry about their kingdom/country being taken over, and lords might then appeal to the King, who might then see where labor is needed and distribute accordingly. If there's a labor shortage, lords may well be COMPETING for people...and he may be asked to settle those disputes.

But I think such a population shift would probably introduce some difficulties as well, so I ask: what kind of difficulties could arise? How could the kingdom prevent, manage, or solve such difficulties?

So, if this is just after a plague event, or something like, this might be an ANSWER to problems rather than the creation of them. And since I cannot see allowing this many people in unless there was a need...might not be a problem to solve. Again, what problems they might have will all depend on the conditions there in the first place.

The idea is that this event sort of sparks a surge in technological advancement in the kingdom AB, putting them in the forefront by the time the story actually takes place. (This is all sort of background and lore to the actual story)

If the country A people want to be seen as worthwhile, they may specifically try to appeal to individual lords with war tech or tech in general. If the king or some lord likes the idea of education, they might take advantage of it and start building schools, which will lead to your surge.

OH and if helping country A folks leads to country B folks taking over country A's lands and ruling over said lands, then hell yes country B would do it. Maybe do a couple of token marriages to keep country A folks if they matter, at all..

EDIT the poster answered the question in the comments, saying:

main reason was that the kingdoms were rather close to eachother anyway, and that King B is benevolent enough to offer refuge to those whose lives are in danger.

But there have to be other advantages if the King is going to sell this to the other nobles. They can't just hunt and forage where ever they would like--local lords will get mad about that, and it isn't like it is today, where we have plenty of people to donate and take people in.

With this many people, even if the Kingdoms were close, they would fear being taken over as well--the promise that they can later take over all of the other country's land if they fight the invaders should help--but that will mean that the lords of the King's country will want land given to them in the other country. As another poster pointed out, national governance isn't really a thing in Medieval times, not really. It's going to be a fight to get each local lord on board--they don't just automatically do what the King says, there has to be a benefit/something they need/want.

That's why I am advocating for the country having a dip in the population just before they ask to be let in. Otherwise, the effects will be devastating to the economy, as others have pointed out. I would say a plague just took a bunch of people (1/2 to 1/3) and those people planted crops, but aren't alive to collect them.

Giving Country B a labor shortage just before they take people in solves what would ordinarily be a terrible blow to the economy and make people more welcoming of helping hands. It doesn't mean that some local lords won't argue against it, but it will make things easier, and will make it less likely that someone is going to try to depose the king.

Just after the harvest, especially if they only lost 1/3 to plague, Country B might want to go directly to war to capture the lands of country A, filling in their ranks with country A people. They'd do this because they might think that if they allow it, they'll be next, and a good war will kill some of the population, which would still be over their former levels before plague hit. It has the benefit of eliminating mouths to feed (eventually, going to war can be expensive) getting them new territory to divvy up and eliminating fighting a force that will eventually show up on their doorstep anyway.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes I might be look towards late medieval ages or renaissance period. Just that I thought the tech level would probably be closer to medieval than renaissance, at the time of this event. As for the reason they accept the refugees, my main reason was that the kingdoms were rather close to eachother anyway, and that King B is benevolent enough to offer refuge to those whose lives are in danger. I'm trying to use this event to paint the first king of AB in a relatively charismatic, powerful, and benevolent light for story reasons. $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 10 '17 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Jay- This isn't just a matter of benevolence. It's a matter of food and resources. There will be enough land to develop, but crops take time to grow and refugees gotta eat. Kings don't do things just because they are nice. They do things that they can see will be advantageous for their own people. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 10 '17 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ Alright thank you for the insight. I probably will have to explain a surplus of resources and probably rations still, as I can see how food would be an issue in the short term since crops take time to grow. $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 10 '17 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think perhaps inter-kingdom trade and/or some kind of rationing (maybe incentivized or something) would help feed the extra mouths as well? $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 10 '17 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Jay- Rationing implies more control than most Kings would have at this time, and even in Medieval times. The people would be resentful of rationing. As to trade--movement of goods before spoilage can be tricky at this time (although if you move it to Renaissance times, it's nominally better). A better idea would be to spread the PEOPLE of A to where the resources are, rather than to move the goods to them. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 10 '17 at 16:54

I assume that by Medieval you mean Western or Central European Medieval, say around the 10th to the 12th century. People often forget that history happened worldwide and that the Middle Ages lasted for a thousand years... I also assume that by "kingdom" you mean a generic monarchical medieval state; there were not that many actual kingdoms in medieval Europe -- most states had lesser titles, such as principality (ruled by a prince or some native title, e.g., voyvode), grand duchy (ruled by a grand duke), duchy, march (ruled by a marquess or some native title, e.g., margrave), county etc.

Theoretical considerations

So, a European Medieval state suddenly finds its population and territory ("kingdom A and B unify as one kingdom AB") doubled. Big deal. Unless you are speaking of one of the very few large countries (initially only France, then England, then Spain), medieval states were perpetually short of inhabitants: low workforce, low tax base, tiny army... This runs against our modern perception: we live in a world with a surfeit of humans; but in the Middle Ages Europe had very few people, even without bringing the Plague into discussion. A locality with 15000 people was a very large city; the typical town had maybe one thousand, usually fewer. There was ample uncultivated and unclaimed land -- in most places, if a group of people banded together and cleaned off the forest to start agriculture the law and custom gave them title over the land.

For example, let's say that the Barony of Parchim united with the County of Schwerin, resulting in the Landgraviate of Parchim-Schwerin: without using Google, do you even have the faintest idea where was the Barony of Parchim? Yet it existed, and it was a member state of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation; and yes, it had a border with the County of Schwerin.

But what if you are speaking of two largish countries? Say that Denmark and Norway and Sweden got united. Guess what, they did: it was the Union of Kalmar, which lasted from 1397 to 1523. Nothing much came out of it.

You see, in the European Middle-Ages states did very little for their inhabitants. Essentially, they did exactly three things: they provided justice (including record-keeping, the most important thing they did), they provided defense (as well as they could), and they imposed social peace (sort of, mostly by hanging thiefs and murderers provided somebody caught them and brought them to justice). Nothing more. No social security, no pensions, very very little in terms of infrastructure (mainly the occasional bridge), no education, no health care; what little education and social security were available, not much, were provided by the Church. Remember that medieval states were perpetually starved of workforce and tax base.

Moreover, there was no concept of "nation" in the Middle Ages, or, to put it in a better way, the word "natio" (Latin, from nascere, nat-, to give birth) simply meant "people who speak sort of like the same language" and had no political dimension. It was perfectly reasonable for a state to have inhabitants speaking different languages; it was actually expected that peasants from different provinces wouldn't be able to communicate: they were peasants after all, and did not know Latin, which was the only actually useful human language; administration was done in Latin, justice was done in Latin (except in England, were justice was done in an obsolete form of French for some reason), religious services were done in Latin. Nobody cared what language the peasants spoke, if the noises they made could even be called human speech. And linguistic identities were very fluid; people were not sentimentally attached to languages, and were perfectly willing to learn the dominant language of the place.

All right, but was would happen in practice?

In practice what would happen is that a handful of noblemen from the newly incorporate land would present themselves at the court of the new ruler, and perform homage, declaring themselves vassals of the new king. They would then have a talk with the treasurer of the new king, who would incorporate the revenue of their lands in the tax base, and possibly with the top generals, who would take their levies into account for the host. Everybody would be speaking Latin, of course, or some sort of German, or French, or Toscan.

Some time later, maybe a few months, maybe one year, some noblewomen from the newly incorporated land would appear at court. They would likely speak some sort of German, or French, or Toscan, or even, shudder, the local language (women are feeble-minded, you see, and few of them know Latin).

And that's all. Ordinary people had very little interaction with the state, and couldn't care less whether they were ruled by the Freiherr von Parchim or by the Graf von Schwerin. Life, contracts, marriages, baptisms, trade, would continue exactly as before. Maybe the new united state would have a little more military power, maybe it will have a little better financial position. Maybe. The medieval world is in a large part a mosaic made up of many many tiny little pieces, which have little interaction between them. It is possible that the new united state will develop faster, but it is not certain, and not even likely.

  • $\begingroup$ So you're saying even if the territory remained largely the same but the population doubled and their leader was extraordinary, it would be totally implausible for anything to really come out of it? Also I used the word kingdom because the six are largely independent to eachother, and their rulers are the highest in the hierarchy. I assumed something like a duchy or other would imply that the six are co-dependent or otherwise related to eachother. $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 9 '17 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ The territory doubled too: the OP says "kingdom A and B unify as one kingdom AB". As for titles, no, they did not mean subordination; their only practical use was in establishing the precedence at joint events, such as diplomatic events, weddings, funerals or tournaments. Not implausible; it's quite possible that something would come out of it -- it did in France and Spain, after all. But in those cases it wasn't two states, but rather more. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 9 '17 at 18:03

Economic Effects:

The economy would be destroyed and standard of living would be terrible. The aggregate demand curve of the economy would shift right until quantity of production would move way past long term aggregate supply. Since there is no "Fed" in the medieval times there would be no one to control this and the result would be a decrease in supply as firms move out of the increasingly competitive market which will cause long term extreme inflation. Wages would also plummet making the inflation even worse. So likely the value of gold would be utterly destroyed due to the inflation and people would resort to bartering goods or using commodity money such as grains and spices.

Social Effects:

There would be likely hatred towards the newcomers as they are at the root of the downfall of the economic system. These people would also be stealing a lot jobs and resources from the "natives" of the kingdom. Hence the backlash could include lynchings of the refugees.

Ways to prevent:

This could prevented if the King fosters a sort of welcoming attitude among his people. If the King inspires his people before hand, they will think their suffering is merely a sign of their courage and they will secure themselves in heaven. In addition, if the King makes sure to quickly expand the Kingdom, he could prevent conflict. He could open up more farms on the outskirts and begin large projects to build houses which would both employ the newcomers. In addition in order to propogate research, he could hold "science fair" type competitions where whoever, for example, comes up with the best automated farming unit gets 100 bags of rice.

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    $\begingroup$ What does "aggregate demand" even mean in a medieval context? "Firms"? "Market"? The medieval economy had little use of money and was made up of many autarkic estates. Very little exchange took place across estate boundaries, and none of it was essential. People did not move more than a few miles from where they were born. Mass exodus was impossible due to lack of transport infrastructure. (When the most Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella expelled about 50000 Jews from Spain, the Ottoman Empire sent the navy to transport about half of them.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 9 '17 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Weren't there traders or anything? Wagons and horses? You could cover 15-30 miles in a day just walking, even. $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 9 '17 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, there were merchants. They sold luxury goods, or spices, or maybe salt. There was no reasonable way to transport staple good over more than a few miles; what this means is that if the local estate did not produce enough grain or wool to feed or clothe the local people they were out of luck -- there was no way to bring enough wheat or wool from far away. And there was no money to buy it anyway. There were no banks. No insurance. There were customs duties to be paid at each frakking estate boundary... Ah, and there were no highways. Try driving a wagon cross-country through the forest. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 9 '17 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ There wouldn't be dirt roads or anything at least? There should be some sorts of paths, at least within the kingdoms if none exist between the kingdoms $\endgroup$ – Jay - Apr 9 '17 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Jay: The point is that you do not want "Medieval". You want "Renaissance" (1500s) or maybe "Early Modern" (1600s). There are still kings and noblemen, but there are also banks, and insurance, and a monetary economy, and reasonable long distance trade, and the beginning of a national conscience. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 9 '17 at 19:24

Look at modern day refugees. You get an influx of people who don't speak the language, have a different culture and are likely to be severely traumatized. That's forgetting they have nothing, no tools, no homes. A blacksmith without a forge is just a mouth to feed.

Outsiders are easily blamed. Poor harvest? Must be the evil refugees with their witchcraft. Losing your apprenticeship? Must be because that refugee that recently joined stole it. No matter he used to be a master back home and just wants to enroll in the guild.

You either gotta pay money to get these people back on their feet or let them fend for themselves. Wouldn't cost you a thing personally but you likely get a rise of banditry and witch hunts.

  • $\begingroup$ I feel like this answer would benefit greatly from being fleshed out more. Plus: apart from a few extremely poor countries, noone has experienced an influx of a group of refugees as large as the "native" population, at least not in the last 70 years or so. $\endgroup$ – Burki Apr 11 '17 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ Last 70 years? Sure but we're talking mediëval era here. As for being fleshed out, what would you add? $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Apr 11 '17 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ Not exactly sure what to add... anything that makes it sound less than quoting stereotypical semi-racist views about "strangers", i guess. And anythign that actually reflects the enormous numbers (which your answer doesn't, imho. It would be fairly valid for some 1-5% of the original population, but not for 100%, i think) $\endgroup$ – Burki Apr 11 '17 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ But people, especially in mediëval Europe were incredibly racist. I'm not saying it's right but it's what they would likely think. $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Apr 11 '17 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not saying you're wrong there. BTW: the downvote wasn't mine. Yet i still thing their reactions will be different when the "other" group equals their own in numbers. $\endgroup$ – Burki Apr 11 '17 at 11:26

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