Technical and engineering achievements of medieval Europe

The world of things surrounded by a medieval man was created primarily by hand. The technique was introduced slowly, first in handicraft production – thanks to the appearance of cities and the development of metallurgy. It was in the manufacturing industry that the first mechanisms appeared, which were set in motion either by the man himself, or by livestock, or by the force of water or wind. Although the benefits of such mechanisms were few, yet they had an impact on the development of technology and individual industries, primarily metalworking. Using ordinary bellows for blowing, medieval blacksmiths, whose work was very valued, produced household items, tools, weapons and military armor. They had their own professional secrets, so the smithy was built outside the village or on its outskirts, away from prying eyes, because of what the blacksmiths were considered almost witches. For the same reason, medieval people associated with “evil spirit” and millers.


craftsmen worked leisurely, but very qualitatively, their products amaze with their beauty and quality. They were very expensive, but they served a person for a long time, they were protected, handed over to the children, legends were written about them, they were given names as if they were living beings.

XII-XIII centuries. “Saga of Tidrek”, about the production of cold steel

The king said: “A good sword” – and I wanted to take it myself. The smith replied: “He is not good enough, he needs to get better, and I will not rest until I reach it.” The smith returned to the smithy, took the file, drew the sword into small shavings and mixed it with flour. Then he fed this mixture of domesticated birds, which they did not feed for three days. He melted the bird droppings in the furnace, got iron, cleared it of scale and forged a sword smaller than the first. The sword was just on the arm… The King… praised the sword and assured that it was the sharpest and best of all swords that he had ever seen. They went down to the river. The smith took a strand

of wool… and threw it into the water. Calmly lowered the sword into the river, and the blade cut the strand as easily as it cut through the current itself…

In the IX century. Europeans have already used a vertical loom, and in the next century – a water wheel in the cloth industry. The water wheel is also adapted for the production of paper, hemp fiber and leather processing, ore dressing. Europeans borrowed cotton from the Spanish Arabs, and the Chinese – sericulture. Venetian masters pleased European ladies with the production of mirrors.

In the XIII century. in Europe windmills have spread. At the same time, the first mechanisms appeared, such as bells and whistles, jacks, piston pumps. These technical innovations were introduced by people who in Europe were called “engineers”, that is, “capable”, “resourceful”.

The development of mechanics and machine-tool construction enabled the masters in the middle of the 12th century. to make for the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa a real miracle of the then technique – a prosthesis with moving fingers. In the XIV-XV centuries. the first mechanical watch appeared. At the same time, lenses, paper, typography, firearms, a compass were invented, which made it possible to swim in the open sea. These and other inventions and technical achievements were prepared at the end of the XV century. the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries.

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Technical and engineering achievements of medieval Europe