Farming methods were primitive and ineffective in the early part of the Middle Ages. At planting time, peasants tossed out seeds and plowed fields. Only few plants grew and yields were low. However, people gradually adopted new methods and technology. A new farming method was developed. Improvements in agriculture began in 8th and 9th century CE and became widespread in the year 1000. One advancement was the three-field system, a method of crop rotation. On the manor, there were usually several large fields. Each fall, peasants planted one field with winter crops such as wheat or grapes. In spring, a second field was planted with summer crop such as oats, peas, beans and barley, The third field was left fallow or uncultivated to allow the soil to rest. The following year, the crops were rotated, and a different field was left fallow. The three-field system worked better than earlier farming systems. It spread planting and harvesting over the year, and it did not wear out the soil. The peasants’ diet also improved. With the use of new inventions, peasants also grew more food. The heavy plow could turn the dense, moist soils of Northern Europe. The invention of the horseshoe and better horses could be used for plowing. The watermill and windmill provided new sources of energy for grinding grain. In Northen France and England, miners began producing large quantities of iron, which was used for farm implements as well as weapons. Changes in farming had the most effect in Northern Europe.
During the Renaissance, people realized that education had more uses. Its goal, still aimed mostly at men, became that of making people well rounded. The ideal Renaissance aristocrat was well mannered and witty. He had learned enough to understand good literature, painting and music. The so-called Renaissance man was well formed in body and good in sports. In the arts of war, he was a brave and an able soldier....
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