Medieval Technology and Social Change
By: Melisa R. Marion
Medieval Technology and Social Change Oxford University Press first published Medieval Technology and Social Change in 1962. It discusses the technological advances during the medieval times and how these changes affected society. The book's author, Lynn White, Jr., was born in San Francisco in 1907. Educated at Stanford, Union Theological, and Princeton, White taught at Princeton and the University of California at Los Angeles. He was also president of Mills College in Oakland from the 1940s to the 1960s. His other works include Medieval Religion and Technology: Collected Essays, published in 1978 and Life & Work in Medieval Europe, the Evolution of Medieval Economy from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Century, published in 1982. White's work has been influential both in medieval history and the history of science. In Medieval Technology and Social Change, White examines the role of technological innovation during the rise of social groups in the Middle Ages. White begins with the invention of the stirrup. He shows how this innovation, in turn, introduced heavy, long-range cavalry to the medieval battlefield. The development thus escalated small-scale conflict to "shock combat." Cannons and flame-throwers followed, as did more peaceful inventions, such as watermills and reapers. White also reviews the development of the manorial system with the introduction of new kinds of plows and new methods of crop rotation. He reviews the evolution of the scratch plow into the heavy plow and explains the use of each type in different areas of Europe. White next discusses the social effects of feudalism and how it spread from the Franks to Spain and later to England. He shows that military service became a matter of class, with lands and titles being exchanged for the commitment to serve as mounted warriors. The concept of the knight's duty to his lord translated into chivalry and...
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