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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Would only recommend forte you’re seriously studying this period for a paper or something, not for any kind of passing interest readers. There is also some interesting discussion as to what allowed China to take an initial technological lead, but why Europe eventually surpassed it.

Topics that could be dry and boring are presented in a way that lend them life and spirit and make for an interesting read. This book dispells the myth that the modern age arose merely from Aristotle and shows rather that the rise of modern science “a child of medival science. Frances and Joseph Gies have been writing books about medieval history for thirty years.

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

Just a moment while we sign you in to vathedral Goodreads account. Feb 04, Scott rated it really liked it Shelves: Jan 16, James rated it really liked it Shelves: The nominal scope is Europe in the middle ages, but they only stick to that topic for about a quarter of the book.

The book concludes with the voyages of Columbus and the products of the genius of Da Vinci as the dawn of the Renaissance was on the horizon. On the contrary, the authors report, many of Europe’s most important inventions – the horse harness, the stirrup, the magnetic compass, cotton and silk cultivation and manufacture, papermaking, firearms, “Arabic” numerals – had their origins outside Europe, in China, India, and Islam.

Using archaeological research published as recently asthe authors describe how “specialized trading settlements called ’emporia’ and ‘gateway communities’ sprang up near the North Sea and Channel coasts” in the seventh and eighth centuries p.

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.

But as bad as the smiths were A spin-off branch of the trade was found even more objectionable. These can often be figured out from context, but I’d prefer to have real definitions to hand. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. The general belief is that during that time not much happened technology-wise until daVinci showed up, but this book busts that myth. Not so, say the Gieses That said, the book does do a g To be fair, I should preface this review by saying that this book has been my bathroom reading for the better part of a year.


The development of the pointed and segmented arch permitted wider bridges to The Middle Ages are often considered a time of stagnation in human cultural and scientific development. An endless-chain drive slowly turned a celestial globe and an armillary sphere one revolution per day. Medieval historians have long been fighting this notion, which is popularized by Renaissance and Enlightenment historians, and as a Medievalist I thought it was my duty to read it.

If I had to find a quibble, it would be the very minor one that I expected a bit more on building technology, waterwhee, that is very minor indeed. Sep 13, Mary Rose rated it liked it Shelves: If I had to find a quibble, it would be the very minor one that I expected a anv more on building technology, and that is very minor This book is an excellent study in the general progress of technology during the Middle Ages, debunking the centuries-old conventional wisdom that the period was somehow a step backwards or idling vis-a-vis the Romans.

The book is also broken up into only a handful of chapters which means reading it is a chore when there aren’t enough places to stop. Overall I found it fascinating and a good read on how tech spreads out. If you like insightful historical trivia, you can’t do much better than this book. The record of a legal proceeding in against the estate of Sire Jehan Boinebroke, cloth merchant and notorious skinflint, by forty-five clothworkers and other claimants illuminates the human as well as the economic aspect of the system.

This book provides and excellent introduction to the scholarship on the history of the middle ages, specficically as it relates to technology. While this perspective is not completely punctured–witness, for instance, the potent ambivalence with which Church fathers regarded stonemasons–it seems inarguable that the Benedictine and Cistercian monastic orders in particular were responsible for making many technological innovations and dispersing even more throughout Christendom.

In their latest medieval study, the Gieses Life in a Medieval Village,etc. 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. The wheel and axle appeared in Mesopotamia between and B. Frances GiesJoseph Gies. Aug 01, Timothy Bertolet rated it really liked it.

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. 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 to b I must confess, I’m not sure how to review a non-fiction book, I’ve read plenty but never reviewed. Nov 01, Riversue rated it really liked it.


If you just want to learn something about the subject and the themes, this is a very hard book to read. Probably never if you’re not a carpenter.

Still, it’s an informative read and probably the best of their books that I’ve read. The descriptions of weaving technique were fairly diligent but could have used even more careful explication to modern eyes for whom clothing comes from hangers at a department store.

Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages. The broadest service this book provides is to cue the reader in to the massive scholarship on the subject that exists outside the English speaking world of academia.

So maybe my issue is that it’s a good book written poorly, but honestly I skimmed most of the last chapter and avoided all of the long technological drivel sections. The Middle Ages are often considered a time of stagnation in human cultural and scientific development.

Jul 20, Nick Rudzicz rated it really liked it. These imports include the trio of gunpowder, the printing press, and the magnetic compass. Want to Read saving…. This is a very good reference book. Paperbackpages.

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

I think Gies also lost out on the opportunity to have a final chapter summarizing and explaining more clearly the implications of Medieval technology, but the book ends cathesral abruptly at the end of a chapter on Leonardo with a couple paragraphs of summation. Aug 22, Cat rated it liked it Shelves: Inventions made elsewhere, mostly in China, were quickly adopted and adapted to Europe’s needs.

This corge 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. I put this book into two shelves as it belongs both to the Ahd group and the history group.