Image is of a moldboard plow.
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WHAT CAUSED THE “DARK AGES”?
Nearly all historians blame barbaric tribes for the decline of cities and long-distance trade during the “Dark Ages”, but John J. O’Neill blamed Muslim conquests and Muslim pirates for ruining the economy of Christian Europe, and in the year 641 cutting off most of the supply of Egyptian papyrus needed to create inexpensive books.
Muslims claim Europe was “dark” from the time of the fall of Rome to Gothic barbarians in the year 476. until about 1156.
Except for a few medical books translated by Constantine the African in the 11th century, books translated from Arabic into Latin did not appear in Europe until 1156. This is about 680 years.
Most people call this period the “Dark Ages”, but Scholars prefer to use the term “Early Middle Ages”.
Life became rural with little trade, travel, or manufacturing.
During this period, scientific books were preserved and copied at monasteries and at the Vatican.
More Greek and Roman books that we have today were preserved in monasteries scattered throughout Europe than were translated into Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age.
The building of monasteries preserved the technology of Roman architecture.
Schools at monasteries and cathedrals and schools established by Charlemagne (who ruled from 800 to 814) taught the Greek classics.
In Rome, Boethius (475-526) translated Aristotle’s logical works from Greek into Latin, and wrote commentaries on them and wrote textbooks on logic. His writings influenced Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).
THE SHIP MILL
The ship mill was a type of waterwheel popular in 6th century Europe. It consisted of a water wheel attached to the hull of a ship moored to a bridge, thus allowing it to operate regardless of the water level. Use of the ship mill spread from Europe to the Islamic world.
Around the year 600, the moldboard plow for turning over the soil was invented in eastern Europe, greatly increasing the amount of land one person could plow. By the year 1000 it had spread to parts of western Europe. [A similar plow had been used in China in the 1st century BC.]
7TH CENTURY CATHEDRAL
In the year 647 in England, a small cathedral now called “Old Minster” was built.
The first known use of a rotary grindstone to sharpen metal tools is from the early 9th century in what is now Germany.
Stained glass windows were invented by Christians prior to 675 AD when Benedict Biscop imported workmen from France to create the windows of the monastery of St Peter.
THE MUSICAL STAFF
The musical staff with notes on horizontal lines was invented by Guido d’Arezzo (990 – 1050) and other Italian Christians.
Pope Gregory VII in 1079 issued issued a papal decree establishing a cathedral school in every cathedral for educating priests in the Greek classics. One of these schools eventually broke its ties to the Paris cathedral and became the University of Paris.
In the late 1th century, Christians rebuilt a span of the Roman bridge of Ávila that had been destroyed earlier during fighting between Muslims and Christians.
The very pointed arch was invented by European Christians shortly after the year 1120. (Slightly pointed arches, only pointy enough to prevent the keystone from falling out, had been used in the Byzantine Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built in the year 335.)
RIBBED VAULT REPLACES THE ROMAN GROIN VAULT
The ribbed vault (invented by Christian builders of late Romanesque churches of the 11th century and used in Gothic architecture in the 12th century) forms a cross shape where the supporting ribs meet at the center of the intersection between barrel vaults.
When the counterweight-powered trebuchet was first used by the Catholic armies of the First Crusade in 1096, Muslims were shocked because they had never heard of a machine that could throw such large rocks. Later, Saladin referred to it as an infidel invention.
Around 1100, a bell-ringing device was invented in Europe, using an invention which would later evolve into the verge escapement, which was the key invention that made pendulum clocks and watch spring watches possible.
ROUND CASTLE KEEP
Crusaders brought use of the round castle keep from the Donjon de Houdan, built in France in the year 1120 to Kerak Castle they built in what is now Jordan. Not only did the castle keep provide a last line of defense, but a round corner at every corner of the castle was stronger than square corners because there was no “end” stone to be knocked loose.
Around the year 1120 or 1130, Christian masons invented the flying buttress, which prevented tall walls from collapsing outward.
The Suger of Saint-Denis in France, built in 1137, contained the first rose window.
The Chartres Cathedral in France (completed in 1160), was taller than any Muslim building at the time. During the entire span of the “Dark Ages”, the tallest Roman or Christian building was always taller than the tallest Muslim-built building.
building (excluding the great pyramids of ancient Egypt) was held by a Christian-built building, at first by the (Byzantine Christian) Hagia Sophia, and later by cathedrals.
THE END OF THE DARK AGES
Some Muslims falsely claim the “Dark Ages” lasted for a thousand years (from the year 476 until 1476), falsely implying that the “Late Middle Ages” were dark.
EUROPEAN “DARK AGES AFTER 1156
BORROWING FROM MUSLIM ASTROLOGY, ALCHEMY, AND PHILOSOPHY
In the 12th century, John of Salisbury sent secret agents to Spain to obtain the philosophical and religious writings of Averroes and then have them translated into Latin.
The European copying of books of Muslim Spain was mostly astrology and alchemy nonsense, not books about science or technology..
Trade during peaceful times in between Crusades mostly brought to Europe products that had earlier been acquired by Muslims from non-Muslim lands.
A few products spread in the reverse direction from Europe to Muslim lands, such as some types of woolen and linen cloth.
Construction of Notre Dame Cathedral began in 1163.
Old London Bridge was built from 1176 to 1209. It was about 250 meters long, and contained 19 arches.
In the 13th century, trading ships of (Christian) Venice brought books, including books about art, in the original Greek from the Byzantine Empire to Western Europe.
In the late 1200’s a Christian in Portugal named Ramon Llull was the first to write about improvements to the Greek-invented astrolabe that made it practical to use it aboard a ship to determine the position of stars, which made it practical to determine longitude aboard a ship.
The Byzantine Empire was the eastern half of the Roman Empire, and it did not collapse when Rome fell to the barbarians. The Byzantine Empire had many universities teaching many subjects. Most of the science and technology of the Islamic Golden Age was copied from the (Christian) Byzantine Empire.
image by Henry Shaw (1800–1873) who redrew an image from a medieval Anglo-Saxon manuscript
image credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ploughmen_Fac_simile_of_a_Miniature_in_a_very_ancient_Anglo_Saxon_Manuscript_published_by_Shaw_with_legend_God_Spede_ye_Plough_and_send_us_Korne_enow.png#mw-jump-to-license