David M. Perry writes in The Atlantic about How History Can Help Us Predict the Next Pope. I like his first point, “Voting is Medieval”:
Voting is a quintessentially medieval activity. Sure, popular representations of the Middle Ages focus on kings and knights, princesses and peasants, but medieval people, especially in cities, loved to vote. They organized themselves into groups — guilds, religious fraternities, charitable organization, drinking societies — and wrote complicated bylaws governing elections. Many cities embraced various kinds of representative government during the High Middle Ages. Even the army outside the walls of Constantinople in 1204 took time to develop a voting system to elect the next emperor.
It’s easy to characterize the Conclave of Cardinals as an authoritarian relic of the past. It’s not. It’s the same kind of democratic tradition that permeates modern American and European life, from board rooms to union halls to church groups to town councils.
As they say, Read The Whole Thing.