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The Medieval Machine By Jean Gimpel

657 words - 3 pages

The Medieval Machine by Jean Gimpel, shows information about the technological accomplishments of the middle Ages. The basic idea is that during the two centuries from around 1050 Western Europe went through a kind of industrial revolution that was just as important as of the nineteenth century’s.
In his book Jean Gimpel goes over medieval primary industry, which includes energy sources like the creation of mills that were moved by wind power or by water. In these cases, the turning of the wheels were used to drive the shafts that were connected to the gears used to operate the entire machinery. The agriculture revolution includes the creation of the plow. The plow was considered to be very important. It had existed before this time but was later improved. This new and improved version was able to plow through wetter and heavier soil. This change the way farmers cultivated their lands, before they were using a 2-field rotation but after the new plow ...view middle of the document...

Lead, silver and gold were also extremely important. The importance of mining is who has the Crown rights over mineral wealth throughout much of Europe
The following chapters are about the broader social aspects of medieval technology, one on environmental issues and one on working conditions in medieval industries. Work settings differed majorly between industries, like miners and mining groups, which are given privileges while working in the textile industry. They were under the strict control of commercial financial interests. The working areas in the building industry were much better in the medieval period than in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries and strikes were not rare. Also included in the book are chapters concentrating certain parts of medieval technology. One is the great architect-engineers and its construction of the cathedrals and in the development of the clock.
The last chapter compares medieval science and its relationship with medieval technology. In this section Gimpel is concerned about pointing out that Renaissance humanists, including Leonardo had many of their ideas from earlier writers, who have gotten bad reviews from the past. This last chapter is also particularly controversial because Gimpel goes in deeper and argues that the medieval industrial revolution was followed by a setback in the progress of technology known as the "Era of decay". It’s unclear how much fairness there may have been in the certain use of statistical analysis. This book has many graphs which show prices, wages, and were reliable sources for Gimpel's ideas. Another reason these ideas are controversial is because Gimpel's main idea is that the modern United States is going through the same cycle that medieval France had been through and he states that the U.S is now in their own process of decay. This is based on a theory of history and is supported by two fundamental properties of society "technological evolution" and "psychological drive”.
The Medieval Machine did successfully make me rethink my views of medieval Europe; the thing that stuck out the most was how entertaining it was to read. I defiantly recommend this book in medieval history or in the history of technology. The text was smooth to read and the black and white images were a big treat.

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