No More Lands To Conquer
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a troubled king. This kind used to rule his land with an iron fist, as the kings before him. This had led to peace and prosperity, but very little freedom. The people who had been born into families that made money continued to do so, and the families that were born into poor peasant families continued to be poor.
But because they had little choice in the matter, most accepted their lives as destiny. To argue against them, to try and “move up” through he social ladder meant certain death. It was strictly prohibited by royal decree, punishable by death, to take on a vocation different from your fathers.
This continued for several generations. The taxes of the kingship increased year after year, and the farmers produced more and more crops. Without giving any thought to changing their way of life, the workers were free, so to speak, to focus on their given vocation. Horseshoe makers developed the best horseshoes in the land, and soldiers developed the finest fighting skills and technologies of war that any kingdom had ever seen, and this particular kingdom was unrivaled.
But this particular king had sensed that he people were unhappy. When he’d toured the villages, and the barracks, and the farms, he didn’t see anything in their eyes except for duty.
One day he was having a discussion with his eldest and most trusted advisor (who, of course, came from a long line of advisors).
“When I look at my horse, all I see is fear and obedience. When I look at the people, all I see is fear and obedience. Are not men more important than horses?” he asked his advisor.
“Both men and horses are important. They belong to the kingdom, and produce results. But men are capable of creating better ways and more efficient ways to produce the same results. A horse relies only on its master.”
The king thought.
“But what if a farmer thought of a better way make horseshoes, or what if a horseshoe maker thought of a better way to make war?” the king asked. His advisor thought.
“That would be impossible. Destiny has chosen the horseshoe maker to make horseshoes because that is all he knows to do. Likewise for the farmer and the soldier.”
The king thought. The advisor was growing nervous; no king had ever asked such questions.
“But what of long ago? How did the first horseshoe maker come to be? And the first farmer?”
The advisor thought. He tried his best to pacify the troublesome inquisitiveness of this young king.
“The horseshoe maker has always been. It is only now, so why question before?”
He could immediately tell that the king didn’t like this answer. The king turned and left. Three days after, the king called a council meeting with his top advisors, lawgivers, and several leading members of the community from different areas of responsibility.
“Today, my people, we will be trying a grand experiment. I do not want our citizens to be shackled to the trade of their fathers. If a farmer wants to become a solider, he can do so. If a horseshoe maker wants to bake bread, so be it. However, I will allow changes to only be made during the first week of every third year. Once the changes are made, they must be obeyed, according to the laws. Those that do not maintain their positions, will, of course, be put to death.”
There were several concerned murmurs at this decree. Some seemed happy, others appeared distressed.
“The first open period starts today, and lasts for one week. Make sure that all understand this new law. That is all. Dismissed.” The king said, and left.
A few jumped up and ran off to tell the people of the villages, surely they would be overjoyed. A few reluctantly stood, sure that the king had brought certain doom to his well functioning land.
Within the next week, there was much commotion among the people. Several would have liked to change vocations, but feared what would come to pass if things didn’t work out. But a few changed. A few bread makers became warriors, and a few horseshoe makers became farmers.
Curiously, none of the soldiers left their calling. Their pride wouldnâ€™t let them. The army enjoyed the largest influx of people, while farming suffered the largest exodus.
This presented the king with a new set of problems. With a much larger army, conquering new lands was much easier. But with less farmers, there was less food, and sometimes there was even shortages, and rationing was required. The king seemed to be highly distraught. While his kingdom was swelling in size, it was becoming poorer and poorer, with few farmers to till the fields, and produce the energy to fill the bellies of the warriors.
“I have made a mistake.” The king complained to his advisor.
“Have you?” asked the advisor. The king looked at him curiously.
“You’re army is bigger than ever. You have no need to grow your own food. You can simply take from other lands what you need.â€
“But won’t that make the problem worse? Wont’ we have even more people to feed, and less food to go around, after we conquer new lands, and increase the size of our population.” The king asked.
“So long as you continue to expand your empire, the soldiers will take what they need from the newly conquered lands. And the farmers, not needing to produce for the soldiers, will produce enough for the citizens here.”
The king thought. It seemed like a good plan, for now.
“But what about when there are no more lands to conquer?” The king asked.
“My king, by allowing people to change vocations, you have changed history. Who knows the future will bring. Surely there will always be new lands to conquer.
The king thought. And smiled. It was a good plan.
And so the age of conquest, and tyranny, had begun.