Technical developments in feudal society , Science

Technical Developments in Feudal Society:

Other innovations used and improved by  the Europeans were the lenses  and the spectacles. This gave an  impetus to the further study of optics and there were some contributions to Ibn al-Haitham's optics, as mentioned wilier. The demand for spectacles also gave rise to the profession of  lens grinders and spectacle makers. 

Distillation of  perfumes and oils was already known in Europe through the Arabs. To this was added the distillation of alcohol, which gave rise to the first scientific industry, that of  distillers, and laid the foundation of modem chemical industry. 

Of all the innovations  introduced m the West from  the East, gunpowder  had  the greatest effect politically, economically and scientifically. With its use  in cannons and hand guns, gunpowder enormously altered the balance of power. In science, the making of  gunpowder,  its explosion, the expulsion of  the ball from the cannon and its subsequent flight, furnished many practical problems. Solutions to these problems and the accompanying explanations occupied the attention of medieval scientists for many centuries and led to sciences  like mechanics and dynamics. The preparation of  gunpowder required a careful separation and purification of nitre giving rise to the study of  solutions and crystallisation. Nitre provides the oxygen needed for explosion of  gunpowder. So, unlike ordinary fire, it does not require air. Studies  related to the explosion of  gunpowder  led  to attempts to explain combustion, i.e. burning. These attempts were later extended to studies on breathing which provides the oxygen needed to convert food into energy inside the animal body. These explanations were not easy at that time and taxed the ingenuity of medieval chemists most. 

Two other technical introductions from the East had a far greater effect in  the West than in the land of  their origin. They were the inventionspf paper and printing. The need  for a writing material cheaper than parchment became urgent with the spread of  literacy. Linen rags provided the basis for the first paper of quality. Paper turned out to be so good and cheap that its increased availability led  to a shortage of copyists. This contributed  a lot to the success of printing, originally a Chinese invention of  the eleventh century. 

Printing, with movable metal types, was first used by KoreaAs in  the fourteenth century. It was introduced into Europe in  the mid-fifteenth century and  it spread rapidly, first for prayers and then for books. The new, cheap, printed books promoM reading and created increased access to education for a larger number of people. This, as we shall see, became a medium for great technical and scientific  changes as well as changes in  the society during the Renaissance. To sum up, we have seen above that by  the fifteenth century a number of  small technical changes had  taken place. Before we move on to the study of  Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, let us assess the effect  of all these technical advances on the economy and ideas of the late Middle Ages. This is necessary because the feudal system contained the see& of  its own transformation.  

Posted Date: 9/27/2012 8:54:06 AM | Location : United States

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