Anyway something kind of interesting with regards to the horseman Conquest being replaced in the public consciousness by Pestilence: My first assumption was that it happened in the aftermath of the Black Plague, but when I looked it up it sounded like it developed much later, in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Certainly it’s not a well recorded idea until the 1900s.
But that kind of makes more sense? To medieval Christians, the spectre of Conquest would likely hold much more weight (given the higher likelihood of war with a neighboring power or invasion by an eastern power), not to mention that there was probably less room, either in the theological realm or the secular, to shake things up in such a weirdly specific way.
In the Industrial era, though, Europe and the (sometimes-former, sometimes-not) colonial empires might not see Conquest as enough of a concern, or enough of distinct concept, for it to capture the imagination. But in increasingly-dense and often terribly unclean cities, before what we now consider to be basic worker rights had been achieved, before so much of what we take for granted in modern medicine… THAT is an effective image that can’t so easily be written off as “so what he’s got a bow instead of a sword?”
This is all armchair history and sociology mind you but idk. It’d be interesting to read a study on how “Pestilence as horseman” actually took hold.