An illuminating look at the monumental inventions of the Middle Ages, by the authors of Life in a Medieval Castle. change in historical theory that has come to perceive technological innovation in all ages as primarily a social process rather than a disconnected series of. LibraryThing Review. User Review – TLCrawford – LibraryThing. I truly enjoyed reading Frances and Joseph Gies’ Cathedral, Forge and.

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I was somewhat disappointed with this book. This book provides and excellent introduction torge the scholarship on the history of the middle ages, specficically as it relates to technology.

Not so, say the Gieses Cathedral building was the crucible in which t I read this book several years ago, and strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either medieval history or the history of technology.

The general belief is that during that time not much happened technology-wise until cathedrl showed up, but this book busts that myth. This fascinating book covers just about all areas in breadth and scope of technological advancement in the Middle Ages from cloth For those who still think the Middle Ages is a period of “dark ages” this book would be a good place to start to dispell that myth.

While there may have been a Dark Age in European history after the celebrated “fall of Rome”, it was over by the eighth century, for in less than one hundred years, Western Europe saw a tremendous agricultural revolution which permanently increased agricultural productivity and transformed land use.

The Gieses show how Europe synthesized its own innovations – the three-field system, water power in industry, the full-rigged ship, the putting-out system – into a powerful new combination of technology, economics, and politics. Jan 23, Mark rated it liked it Shelves: Leonardo [Fibonacci] perceived its enormous potential value and in undertook its wider diffusion by writing what proved to be a seminal book in the history of mathematics and science, the Liber abaci Book of the abacus.

An endless-chain drive slowly turned a celestial globe and an armillary sphere one revolution per day. Raw hides were converted into leather by scraping and soaking with tannin, derived from oak bark. The book gives a fascinating insight into the development of Europe – the Continent that defines our time – during this crucial period. Overall I found it fascinating and a good read on how tech spreads out.


This work is more academic than others that I have come across, but it remains very accessible to the non-medievalist reader.

Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages by Frances Gies

For more than a century following the publication in of Edward Gibbon’s massive tome, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages were indicted as “the triumph of barbarism and religion”. I took two years reading this book and it was worth it. Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel is full of information on all manner of technology, not just the invention and its applications but often how it came anc be created, who invented it, if the origins may have originally been conceived in Asia then advanced by Europe and more.

It is rare that we read a book about the things that came out of what is often called the Dark ages of Europe as it concerns technology and invention.

Husband and wife team of amateur? Jul 09, Kevin Bittner rated it liked it Shelves: View all 8 cathedfal. Medieval historians have long been fighting this notion, which is popularized by Renaissance and Enlightenment historians, and as a Medievalist I thought it was An incredibly important, valuable book that I couldn’t finish.

Nov 11, James Mietus rated it really liked it. Another gripe is that the “trip hammer” is mentioned several times before its operation is actually explained. The general impression about the middle ages is that the period from CE to about CE was one of darkness, justifying the term ‘Dark Ages’.

The book concludes with the voyages of Columbus and waterwwheel products of the genius of Da Vinci as the dawn of the Renaissance was on the horizon. Inventions made elsewhere, mostly in China, were quickly adopted and waterwhfel to Europe’s needs.


Waterwhedl in the present book the authors proffer evidence that the dark ages were not nearly so dark as assumed by many For more than a century following the publication in of Edward Gibbon’s massive tome, Waterdheel Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages were indicted as “the triumph of barbarism and religion”. Real stories and hard data about wxterwheel many water powered mills were operating in London or what kinds of problems had to be solved by a particular cathedral builder turn what could have been an abstract discussion into real, gritty nuts and bolts that you can get your hands on and sink your intellectual teeth into.

Indeed, the technological springboard from which Europe was propelled into modernity was built during the middle ages. However, this is a discipline-wide deficiency and should not reflect poorly on the authors. The spurriers spur makers were reputed to “wander about all day anf working,” getting drunk and “blow[ing] up their fires so vigorously” at night that they blazed, “to the great peril of themselves and the whole neighborhood.

Aug 24, SlowRain rated it really liked it.

Apr 02, Andy Todd rated it it was ok Shelves: Nimrods Tower Noahs Ark. The Triumphs and Failures of Ancient Technology.

Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages

Their research is dependable and they approach their source material with both respect and a critical eye. Not so, say the Gieses: Jul 20, Nick Rudzicz rated it really liked it. Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages, spells out, the focus is the manner in which technology and invention transformed society in the area soon to be known as “the West”.

In their latest medieval study, the Gieses Life in a Medieval Village,etc. Jul 07, Patrick rated it liked it.