Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel is one of a series of books written about the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies. Some of the others are about daily life in a village, a town and a castle. This one, however, has a much broader perspective. The subtitle is Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages, but it’s more even than that.
The book opens with a survey of the technology that was available in Europe at the beginning of the Middle Ages, mostly left by the Romans, and there’s also a visit to China to look at what was available there. The Chinese were more advanced technologically than the Romans in many areas and much of what the Romans left behind them was allowed to fall into disuse.
Eventually information started coming from China and, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the translations of works by…
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