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HIST365/STS203: History of Technology

Unit 3: The Not-So-Dark Ages   Scholars of the Renaissance Movement were the first to describe their medieval predecessors as living in a “dark age” of cultural impoverishment. These humanists believed that Christian theologians had neglected much Greco-Roman (pagan) learning and privileged impractical disciplines like theology and logic. But this was a harsh judgment, considering their interest in Roman law, the technological interests of monks, and innovative Cathedral building of the late medieval period. Indeed, a veritable agricultural revolution was underway in the North. Horses and plows boosted production, and the population boom that ensued was only checked by the onset of the Great Plague in 1348. In this unit, you will see that the medieval period was anything but dark – what defined the gothic Cathedral better than light?
 
This unit will challenge the popular conception that the medieval West was a “dark” age. You will explore the agricultural innovations behind the feudal social structure, women’s work, Cathedral building, and the general rebound in Western Civilization, which occurred during the height of Roman Catholic power in Europe. 

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 9.75 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 4.25 hours
☐    Subunit 3.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.1.3: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 2.25 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- explain the social and political importance of the horse-drawn plow; - compare and contrast male and female work in the medieval West; - define and identify a primary source; - identify major functions of the guild; - explain and critically examine the theory that the stirrup promoted feudalism; and - compare and contrast Romanesque and Gothic Cathedrals.

3.1 Technology on the Manor   3.1.1 Manorialism   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Innovations in agriculture are essential to the
history of technology more broadly. Click on the link above, and
read Dr. Kreis’s lecture on the changes in European agriculture of
the medieval period. Notice how the social structure was tied
closely to new farming techniques.  
    
 Studying this reading should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
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3.1.2 Plowing and Weaving   - Reading: San Jose State University: Patricia Backer’s Technology in the Middle Ages: “Part 2: Medieval Technology” Link: San Jose State University: Patricia Backer’s Technology in the Middle Ages“Part 2: Medieval Technology” (HTML) 
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, scroll down to Part 2, and read “Agricultural Tools,” “The Harnessing of Time,” and “Weaving and the Textile Industry.” Feel free to explore any embedded links. Again, notice the important social contexts and implications of new technologies: the population boom that followed new agricultural tools, changes in work patterns related to the clock, and the guild structure surrounding textiles.
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 1 hour.
 
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3.1.3 The Stirrup Controversy   - Reading: Engines of Our Ingenuity: John H. Lienhard’s “Stirrups” Link: Engines of Our Ingenuity: John H. Lienhard’s “Stirrups” (HTML or M3U)
 
Instructions: Technological determinism is the theory – now mostly discredited – that technologies shape human history by making particular developments inevitable. For example, some have argued that the introduction of the stirrup in European history was the cause of the feudal social structure. Read this short account of the most popular expression of the theory, that of historian Lynn White. Note that you may also click on the link available on the webpage to listen to the episode. The reading below will take issue with this theory.
 
Reading and note-taking should take about 15 minutes.
 
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  • Reading: CLIO Journal: John Hood’s “Significance of the Stirrup in Medieval Warfare” Link: CLIO Journal: John Hood’s “Significance of the Stirrup in Medieval Warfare” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the entire essay. The essay discusses the shortcomings of Lynn White’s stirrup thesis and offers an alternative theory for the importance of mounted cavalry in medieval warfare. Based on what you have learned from this reading, write a brief explanation of why White’s theory is weak.
     
    Reading, note-taking, and writing the explanation should take approximately 2 hours.
     
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3.2 Guilds and Women’s Work   3.2.1 The Guild   - Reading: SUNY Oneonta: Art History Department’s “Medieval Guilds and Craft Production” Link: SUNY Oneonta: Art History Department’s “Medieval Guilds and Craft Production” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, read this account of the guild, and take notes on its economic functions. Also, note the role that women had in the workshop. Cennini’s The Craftsman Handbook, the source at the bottom of the webpage, shows how craft skill was becoming something more than a lowly enterprise in the Renaissance and in some ways akin to the liberal arts (Unit 4). Historians distinguish between primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources are the articles, textbooks, and other more contemporary writings generated by historians themselves about events of the past. A primary source dates to a specific historical moment, such as an ancient Roman legal code, the correspondence between a medieval King and his advisors, a schoolbook of the nineteenth century, or even an anonymous diary of the early twentieth century. Cennini’s The Craftsman Handbook is a primary source. As you read this piece, think about what makes this a primary source and why they are more challenging to read than secondary sources.
 
Reading and note-taking, and considering the reading as a primary source should take approximately 3 hours.
 
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3.2.2 Women’s Work   - Reading: Mary Czarnecki’s “Working Women in the Middle Ages” Link: Mary Czarnecki’s “Working Women in the Middle Ages” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and scroll down to read the section “Urban Working Women.” This provides a more focused look at women’s work and how it compared to men’s work during the Middle Ages. Also, notice how the guild structure served to lower the status of women in society.

 Reading and note-taking should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.3 Gothic Architecture   3.3.1 The Gothic Style   - Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Julien Chapuis’s “Gothic Art” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Julien Chapuis’s “Gothic Art” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this introduction to Gothic architecture. Pay close attention to the engineering challenges behind this development and the role of Saint-Denis Church near Paris. Be sure to study all the images (click on “View Slideshow” at the top of the webpage), taking notes especially on the Saint-Denis and Notre Dame Cathedrals. You may click on the thumbnails of the images in the slideshow for more information on each artifact.
 
Reading, viewing the images, and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours.
 
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3.3.2 Romanesque versus Gothic   - Web Media: YouTube: mrborup’s “Romanesque versus Gothic Architecture” Link: YouTube: mrborup’s “Romanesque versus Gothic Architecture” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and listen to this short account of the engineering challenges behind the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture in Cathedral building. You should list the important technological innovations involved.
 
Listening to the lecture and note-taking should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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Unit 3 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 3 Assessment” (HTML)

 Instructions: Complete the linked assessment.  
    
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will be able to create one, free of charge, after clicking the
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