What is an "average" population for a city?

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decker423
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What is an "average" population for a city?

Postby decker423 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:24 pm

First off, I've got the "Cities of Hyboria" book and I've read some of the supplements and read the Conan books. I"m wondering as to what actual number (more or less, in the ball park figure) is needed for a population center to be a "city".

If you read the Road of Kings, you'll have some cities with populations in the 30,000-50,000 range while if you read up on The Border Kingdom, some "cities" have 3,000 or so. Admittedly, this came out before the "Cities of Hybroia" but there seems to be no rule of thumb to say "this is a city, this is NOT.". Every decent population area tends to be a "city".

Is this because it's part of the world setting or more in tune with the "world" of Conan that any population center that can hold its own is a "city" regardless of actual population?

For my game, I've decided that the "cities" of the Border Kingdom aren't actually cities but are towns with grandiose egos and self-perceptions. I've also taken it to be that "cities" are actually any large, decent population center that can hold it's own versus external threats/self-sufficiency.

Anyone's thoughts?
Demetrio
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Postby Demetrio » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:32 pm

I'm not certain that cities necessarily need bigger populations than towns. the distinction between town and city in the UK for instance is not size but instead the possession of the relevant charter. What confuses things is that is generally true that cities are bigger than towns.

So I'd say one can basically make one's own definition for the Hyborian Age...

If one goes the UK route then a 'Royal Charter' granting the rights and privileges of a city would be sufficient for the small Border Kingdom cities. The same settlement in Aquilonia might be cnsidered too mean to get a city charter and have to make do with a town charter, or even suffer the (admittedly unlikely for a settlement that size in a 'Middle Ages' economy) ignimony of remaining a mere village.
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Kortoso
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Postby Kortoso » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:48 pm

Or you looking for an average or a statistical mean? ;)
I am not sure if a census has been performed.
Anyway, those numbers seem a little large, actually, for ancient cities.
Demetrio
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Postby Demetrio » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:58 pm

30 000 would be a very high population for a western European city in the 'Dark' or Middle ages but was more frequent in 'Ancient' times - at least in areas where there was an at least nominally stromng central authority - The Roman empire for instance contained many large cities, some of which had been large before coming under Rome's government. Even in later times cities like Damascus were huge.
Last edited by Demetrio on Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cbrunish
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Postby cbrunish » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:58 pm

In Pennsylvania, a city has to have a population of 10,000. Anything less is a borough.
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Vortigern
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Postby Vortigern » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:38 am

While I think the distinction of chartered or not doesn't really answer the question it is a very important cultural point that I don't think a lot of people integrate into the setting.

Chartered cities can have a large array of rights and obligations to their ultimate lords and change the political landscape of the region quite a bit.
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Demetrio
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Postby Demetrio » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:41 am

Again, in some nations any settlement with more than a couple of hundred people is a 'city' and there is no differentiation between towns and cities. For example Denmark today. In ancient Greece anywhere with its own self-government (even if under another overlordship) was effectively a city (and thus might have a population measured in the low- mid hundreds or in the thousands). In others as I say, pure size is only one (and amongst the least important) factors in status. Much as I hate to sound like a social scientist, cities are entirely defined by culture. One culture's city is an adjacent cultures town or (even) village. Even in modern times.
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Kortoso
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Postby Kortoso » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:26 pm

For gameplay, it would probably be helpful to tag these smaller settlements with descriptive and evocative terms such as village and hamlet. In a nation with a semi-feudal agricultural arrangement, these could be small clusters of farm houses, In areas such as Corinthia with city-states, these would have to be larger for defense.
sbarrie
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Postby sbarrie » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:08 pm

The excellent page Medieval Demographics Made Easy seems appropriate here, as the Hyborian kingdoms seem pseudo-medieval.

http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm
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