[LMB] Dark Ages [not], was, What makes ...

Pat Mathews mathews55 at msn.com
Wed Aug 21 15:53:43 BST 2019

The study of medieval technical innovations - and they were many - is a fascinating field in itself. One of the stories in a 1632 anthology - by David Brin - had a village from 1632 transposed 1st Century AD Rome, and Brin expected the gunpowder weapons of the 17th century folk to wow the Romans with how advanced they were. When actually, the public baths and huge civil engineering projects and comfortable villas with central heating (did anybody ever rediscover and use the hypocaust?) and indoor plumbing would have blown away the Early Moderns with *their* level of advancement.

And of course, Brin assumes that technical advancements would be the criteria everyone would use, whereas I'm sure religious matters would mean a lot more to 17th Century people than he can possibly think. But the educated ones would expect that - and might even set out to bring The True Faith to an  officially polytheist, polyglot empire. Now, there would be a story worth writing.
From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk <lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk> on behalf of Parish, James <jparish at siue.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 6:51 AM
To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
Subject: Re: [LMB] Dark Ages [not], was, What makes ...


> There were technologies lost. However, two inventions had profound impacts on society. The smaller impact was the stirrup which enabled heavy calvary. No stirrups, no knights and probably no development of the larger breeds of horses. Does anyone know when horse sandals became actual horseshoes?
> The second invention had a greater effect, the horse collar. (It always bugs me when I see a “sword and sandals” movie where the actors ride horses with stirrups or chariots pulled by horses with collars.) I’ve read that the invention of the horse collar was one of the first things that started the decline of slavery. Before the horse collar, slaves and horses were used equally for traction. A horse attached to a load with straps could pull as much as 5 slaves but was 5 times as expensive to maintain. With a collar, the horse could pull 15 times as much with the same maintenance costs.

One could also mention the moldboard plow and three-field crop rotation.
The first made it easier to plow the thick soils of Northern Europe, and
the second was considerably more productive than the earlier two-field

Jim Parish

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