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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That said, the book does do a great job of showing how technology changed throughout the course of the middle ages. Stuff that I learned in grade school and never questioned until now Though it’s obvious in retrospect that some of these things were nonsense. Frances and and her husband Joseph Gies were historians and writers who collaborated on a number of books about the Middle Ages as well as wrote individual works. Joseph and Frances Gies are my favorite historians of the so-called Middle Ages.

The Gies have produced a good overview of various kinds of technologies, but I would disagree quite a bit with the conclusions they draw and the contextualisation they provide.

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

The spurriers spur makers were reputed to “wander about all day with 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 neighb Packed with detail useful to the scholar of the era and the writer who only pretends to be one, and in places hilarious, as regards the comments about smiths as undesirable neighbors.


Even for non-fiction, it is pretty dry. As the title hints at and the subtitle: For readers who have read their previous Life in a Medieval Be the first to ask a question about Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel. In it’s not a huge problem because of the internet, but it would’ve been more of an issue back in when it was originally published.

To be honest, I’m still a little confused as to why it was assigned for a graduate level watrwheel in medieval history—is there nothing more up-to-date and less lightweight out there? When I first picked the book up I was primarily interested in learning But as bad as the smiths were A spin-off branch of the trade was found even more objectionable.

Books by Frances Gies. I highly recommend it, along with their others.

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

Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel: Trivia About Cathedral, Forge, But it would probably be better if you didn’t read it pages at at time over the course of a year like I did If you are really interested in the subject, this is a tremendous source book. The cities and their traders and tradesmen played an important role in this process.

Europe did not develop ideas in isolation but was able to adopt ideas originating in the civilizations of Islam, India and China. It’s not an axe or a hammer, and when was the last time you went to a hardware store for an “adze”? The important art of pottery making first modeled clay with fingers and thumb, then coiled strands of clay, and finally shaped its work with the potter’s wheel, invented about B.


Apr wqterwheel, VR O’Mahony rated it really liked it. Annd of the technology in the Middle Ages arose from borrowing and adapting technology from China and the Arabs but this is not to discredit the Middle Ages.

Frances Gies sets out to correct this impression. Some of these included the magnetic compass which would enable the voyages of discovery in the fifteenth century, water power for industry, and new designs for ships with full rigging.

However, the bibliography points the interested reader to a fuller picture of the available scholarship, and therfore Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel, is useful in that sense as well.

For those who are not already expert in medieval technology, but are generally interested in either medieval history or technological history, this is a must-read. I really enjoyed this waterwgeel. Frances and Joseph Gies have been writing books about medieval history for thirty years.

I found the information on all of the technology that came from China and India quite fascinating, as well as similar technology that was developed independent A very succinct look at human technical ingenuity, from the 6th to andd centuries.

I marked every inspiring piece with a flag, for a peek at what this book looked like part-way through look at this post from my blog: Thomas rated it really liked it.