Technology in the Middle Ages Many historians mention the medieval period of Europe as ‘Dark ages,’ a period when reason and logic was sidelined with belief and religion. However, the late medieval period offered a great advancement in technology. While many of these technological advancements weren’t inventions of medieval Europeans, they successfully refined these technologies and benefitted immensely by using them politically and economically. Medieval East and West Compared in Technical Innovations The west produced most of the major technological inventions Elements peculiar o Occident: 1 .
Roman Gaul seems to have been somewhat more inventiveness. Perhaps this mood of innovation carried over into the Western Middle Ages and expanded. 2. The West was much more deeply shaken by repeated invasions and chaos. The greater the travail of the West during the early Middle Ages may well have rusted traditional ways so deeply that people were generally more open to technological change. 3. The West monks were closer to worldly concerns than the East. The Latin monks came to feel far more responsibility for preserving not only religions but also the culture. . The Eastern churches give importance to “illumination”, while the west gives importance to “activity’. Technology involves doing things, and the mood of the Roman Church fostered it by encouraging activism and practicality in Western society. Military Technology Stirrups Stirrups gave the rider greater control and give him greater leverage when swinging his sword or thrusting his lance. The use of paired stirrups is credited to the Chinese Jin Dynasty and came to Europe during the Middle Ages.
Some argue that the stirrup was one of the basic tools used to create and spread modern civilization, ossibly as important as the wheel or printing press. The Crossbow The Middle Ages invention of the crossbow applied engineering to the short bow. The weapons used during the Middle Ages included the Crossbow. The correct term for a crossbow is an Arbalest. The crossbow applied engineering to the short bow. The crossbow bolt, unlike a light flying arrow, was short with a deadly point. Trebuchet A weapon used during the Middle Ages ( Medieval period ) in siege warfare.
The Medieval Trebuchet was similar to a catapult, or stave sling, which was used for urling heavy stones to smash castle or city walls. Agriculture Moldboard Plough This plough had an iron ploughshare that could cut through the earth and a mold- board that turned the sod over. The moldboard plough that produced a deep furrow and turned the earth after it had been cut by the coulter and share. The moldboard was the device for guiding the plough and turning the earth over. Three-field system The three field- system replaced the two-field system in Europe during the Middle Ages.
In the traditional two-field system one field was used for the sowing of crop, hile another field of equal size was left fallow. The use of the two fields was rotated during the following year. In the three-field system the sequence of field use involved an autumn planting of grain (wheat, barley or rye) and a spring planting of peas, beans, oats or barley. This reduced the amount of fallow fields to one third. The legumes planted in spring improved the soil through the fixation of nitrogen. At the same time the variation of crops improved the peasants’ diet.
The three-field system was possible wherever there were reliable summer rains. Having two harvests per year instead of one gave better protection against crop failure and famine. The additional harvest of oats allowed the replacement of oxen as work animals by the more agile horses. This led to the invention of the padded horse collar that allowed horses to be used for pulling heavy cartloads. Horse collar Rather than harnessing the horse under its belly and in front of the chest, the horse collar was draped over the horse’s shoulders, away from the neck, and hung in a large circle.
The horse collar allowed for the weight of the load to rest on the horse’s reasts and shoulders allowing the neck to be free from pressure. This invention allowed for stronger more powerful horses in the farming process. Transportation Horseshoes and Whippletree The horseshoe was invented to help valuable horse work more effectively. A whippletree is a piece of wood, approximately 2 x 4, attached to the draw pole of a plough or cart at its center. The horse’s harness was then attached to the whippletree at convenient places.
Used in conjunction with the heavy plough, the whippletree allowed for more flexibility and maneuverability when farmers used orses to pull ploughs. Carriages Carriages and wagons were used for travel. Around that time, springed carriages were also invented, which were used by persons with wealth. The springs in the carriages greatly reaucea Jolting wnen tne carrlage travels over (mostly uneven) roads. Lateen Sail Triangular sail that was of decisive importance to medieval navigation. The ancient square sail permitted sailing only before the wind; the lateen was the earliest fore-and-aft sail.
Rudder The rudder was also invented around this time. The rudder was hinged to the ship’s ternpost and operated by a horizontal lever. This was capable of standing the buffeting of great waves, and it could be used on vessels of any size. This allowed the ships to travel into the ocean in relative safety. Magnetic Compass The compass allows ships to steer a selected course. By taking bearings of visible objects with a compass, the navigator is also able to fix a ship’s position on a chart. Arts and Crafts Windmills They were the first in many attempt to harness different types of power.
They are descibed in a manuscript by Estakhri, a Persian georgrapher of that period, as having orizontal sails, like the blades of a helicopter, directly linked by a vertical shaft to the millstones turning below. Diffusion in Technology The development and diffusion of a technology depends not only on its invention but also on the social and cultural climate in which it was invented. For example, as discussed above, the rapid population declines of the 13th century, for example, led to an increase in sheep farms, which led to an increase in textile production. Not all technological change is as readily traced.