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SmashTheState's avatar

Would a medieval nation or a modern industrial nation fare better in the zombie apocalypse?

Asked by SmashTheState (14228points) August 4th, 2015

Who would fare better in the zombie apocalypse: a modern, industrialized nation with tanks and guns and bombers, or a medieval European nation with solid stone-walled castles and experience using hand-to-hand weaponry?

You might think the modern military is the clear winner, but modern cities have no defences. Once a single zombie gets in, it’s all over; the entire population becomes zombified and all those awesome weapons of mass destruction are useless in house-to-house fighting. Medieval cities, on the other hand, have walls, bulwarks, towers, and ample defences, along with large armies of trained, disciplined warriors in heavy armour who are experienced in fighting ground wars.

What do you think? Would the Teutonic Knights have an easier time in the zombie apocalypse than the US Marine Corps?

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18 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

One suit of armor costs the equivalent to one million dollars. There wouldn’t be enough axes to equip all of the population. Both time lines would be hard pressed to fight off a zombie hoard. Also on a side note, I would like to know how medieval soldiers would handel north American first Nations aboriginal pre gun powder.

SmashTheState's avatar

@talljasperman Medieval European cities were constructed around castles so that in times of war the population could retreat inside, behind secure walls. They don’t need to arm every peasant; unlike a modern industrial city, a European city has staunch stone walls (or a protected earthen berm) to protect it. Zombie hordes can be funnelled through gates where they can be decimated with arrows, bolts, pitch, and oil through murder holes. And the men-at-arms can leave through sally gates to attack the hordes before they even get close, assuming the hordes are small enough to handle, then retreat back behind the walls to rest and re-arm at regular intervals.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My guess is that modern times would fare better than the medieval residents only due to internet access, transportation, and housing. Otherwise, it might be similar. Here is why: 7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly).

talljasperman's avatar

@SmashTheState But how would you communicate plans without the Internet. I agree but it depends on if you have the slow zombies or the modern fast and thinking kind. Either way great question.

stanleybmanly's avatar

A Zombie hoarde combined withTeutonic allies could be torn to shreds by 3 squads of 8 year olds with modern weaponry.

rojo's avatar

It would depend on if we were talking walkers or runners.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have faith in technology.
I’d set up motion sensing, thermal imaging cameras and couple them to CO2 lasers mounted on gimbals. I’d then use facial recognition software to find the head and eyes. Any moving humanoid shape with eye temperatures 3 deg C below normal body temp would be automatically subjected to a 10kW burst . The thresholds would be adjusted daily to accommodate weather and ambient temperature.
With an effective kill range of up to 1 km, people will be hoping the horde visits so they can post the videos on Instagram.

By the way, my company will make and sell the devices to every household and apartment building .

ragingloli's avatar

I think it is a very bad idea to go into melee combat with a zombie, especially if you do not know how the infection spreads.
A knight in heavy armour might fare well against a zombie who only zombifies people through bites, but less well armoured people may not.
And once you are dealing with large hordes of zombies, it becomes very easy to get swarmed and overwhelmed.
No matter if they are slow or fast, ranged weapons, tanks, artillery, airstrikes, bombing runs, and if need be, nuclear weapons, will be a thousand times more effective than meeting them on the battlefield with swords, polearms and axes.
Then there is the issue of paths of infection.
What if you are dealing with an airborne virus, or a virus transmitted through coughs and sneezes?
Or a waterborne virus, or one carried by animals.

One thing about medieval societies is that they know shit about germ theory.
They have no plans or coordination ability to spot and effectively quarantine the infected.

Also, to quote Mr. T.:
HA HA! If their blood is coagulated, and their lungs do not absorb oxygen, then their bodies could not produce adenosine triphosphate, a vital catalyst for muscle contraction! Zombies are impossible, and Max Brooks is a faggot.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oooo. @ragingloli just brought up a good point : Infection and the spread of pathogens.

I will modify my Zombie Stompie© Ver 1.0 and announce the ZS 2.0. It comes with a selectable sterilization feature. 300 us after every CO2 IR pulse it will send a high power burst of UV-C to obliterate any DNA or RNA lifeforms in the vicinity of the exploding body part. Particles will be sterilized before they have a chance to spread more than 10 cm from the source.
Unfortunately this burst is also hazardous to all DNA-based life forms, including humans, so the operator must consider collateral damage before engaging the sterilize function.

I do not care if the hordes are fast or slow Zombies. They can’t outrun a laser.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In order to design a workable system I need some design parameters. For a first order approximation i will assume they are mostly water based with a thermal mass and heat capacity similar to ballistic gel.
How many to I need to pop? That tells me the total energy required and give me an idea of the energy storage capacity needs. How fast do I need to pop them? That tells me the power level I need to maintain. Will I be on the grid or off the gird?. If off the grid how many shot capacity do I need to maintain for how long: one day, one week, one month, indefinitely? If indefinitely, do I have wind and solar available? The energy storage and charging system will be specific for each location since each area has different wind and solar availability. That will determine the size of the solar cells, wind turbines and backup generators needed to charge the ultracapacitors and battery banks.
The optics will be a function of the distance. Do you want to get them at 1 km away or do you let them get as close as 50 meters before stopping them. Do they have places for cover? Will “mechanical” means be required to quickly remove obstacles used to block the laser?

Yep, I want this contract.

SmashTheState's avatar

@LuckyGuy English longbowmen were expected to be able routinely to hit something the size of a playing card at 200+ yards. Give me a line of trained medieval archers with warbows supported by heavily-armoured halberdiers and we’ll be leaving mountains of zombie corpses long after your laser is scrap metal.

Berserker's avatar

Inevitably, I’m going to return to this later, but I’d love to see a medieval army against a horde of zombies…if that Braveheart movie is any actual indication of how disciplined and effective the English were, that would be interesting.

There’s this movie called Knight of the Living Dead, which is basically that, medieval dudes against zombies. Haven’t seen it, but it might be worth checking out. But I think it’s a handfull of knights aganist zombies, rather than an army.

talljasperman's avatar

Like in Army of Darkness with Bruce Campbell.

Berserker's avatar

I wanted to return to this, and I’ve actually thought about it, but I really don’t know, because aside from movies, I don’t know about medieval life much. I think you have a point about modern cities and people being rather without defense though. A full scale zombie outbreak would wipe out a modern city pretty quickly, and after that, only an atomic bomb or something equally destructive would destroy the zombies, and any survivors…the military would be extremely efficient at stopping the problem if it was percieved before the outbreak starts, if it can be destroyed by human hands.
Say, a virus, finding the lab or what have you. If it was a curse or the Apocalypse though, forget that.
Our towns and cities are not built for war like medieval ones were, they’re made for working and convenience. We’d have to make do with what we have, and hope the military can neutralize the problem before it gets out of hand.

Medieval places however have great defenses, you could probably stay hauled up in a walled city indefinitely. In fact, what would wipe out the people within would be hunger and disease rather than the zombies. However, if one zombie gets in and spreads the infection inside, everyone is fucked, and quickly. Those great defenses would be the undoing in the end. Where would you escape to if the walls were breached? You’re fucked out of luck out in the fields and forests. As long as the city remains safe though, it’s probably a much safer bet than modern cities.

So yeah, archers and armored soldiers could dispatch the zombies pretty good, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. If the source of the problem must be eradicated, then modern ways win over medieval because of technology. Even if most of it stops working, movies taught me that radio broadcasting will last at least a little while even in the heart of an outbreak. Mind, not that it would help much lol.

The medieval folk, they could defend themselves efficiently until the cows come home if they’re careful, but they could never leave. They could never establish contact with anyone else unless they had messenger pigeons. And even if they did, anyone else out there would probably be stuck like they are. I think people back then would have opted for staying put rather than unleash their armies against zombies. I know medieval folk were probably mostly god fearing folk, but they weren’t dumb. As great and as mighty as say, were the English, their armies were made to fight humans, not monsters. Just like ours today. Great big squares of marching soldiers, trebuchets and shit, they would have to change their tactics, methods and maneuvers greatly to win, and would probably all die while learning to fight these things.

In conclusion, I don’t think it matters much who is doing the fighting, or how, or when…zombies always win.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Symbeline It depended on the city, but many medieval European cities were designed to withstand sieges lasting years. They had underground rivers to supply water, years or even decades of food stored (because famine, flood, fire, and drought were always a possibility, and there was no such thing as the Red Cross), and whole generations worth of weapons stockpiled. If these were 28 Days Later zoombies, they could simply wait it out. If these were Walking Dead shamblers they could either wait for winter to freeze the walkers (assuming it got that cold) or begin farming in gardens and on rooftops.

I’m not so sure they’d be doomed if the infection got inside, either. Have you seen depictions of medieval European cities? They’re cramped, dark, and heavily crowded, with buildings build haphazardly right up against each other. That makes it much easier to seal off affected areas, especially since they usually had interior barriers with gates to both prevent fires from engulfing the entire city and to make it harder for invaders to move freely.

Looking at the medieval reaction to lepers and the plague, it’s also clear they understood the necessity for quarantine even if they didn’t understand why. Whether it spread like a 28 Days Later virus or a Dawn of the Dead magical curse, they could stop the spread by sealing potentially infected people into their homes and then marking the homes to warn people away.

And they had a number of ways of communicating. A fast, mounted scout could probably get past the zombies if they were shamblers. Otherwise they could use pigeons as you mentioned or smoke signals. And of course… Gondor calls for aid!

If nothing else, even if the rest of the world fell, there would still be a handful of totally impregnable places where humanity would survive. Derinkuyu for example.

Berserker's avatar

That’s all pretty interesting actually, as I told you, I don’t know much about medieval times. A little about Vikings and northmen, but they didn’t have the same type of domiciles. :/

But good point about Winter, where applicable. Never thought of that. And even if the zombies don’t freeze, the snow will still hinder them, making them easier to kill or peg off with arrows.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

How many medieval towns were protected by a fortress wall? How many townsfolk owned a suit of armor? Did everyone own a bow and arrows? What happens when the arrow supply runs out? Did the huts have glass windows or shutters? How much food and water was accessible after a short period of time holed up in their abode? What happens to their body waste if they can’t leave their home to dispose of it? These are just some of the questions that come to mind when considering how a zombie apocalypse in medieval times might play out successfully.

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