Silver and Gold: Hodgett on Mining

Although you may have opened the mine and hired the miners to work in the mine, the ore you dug up did not belong to you in the medieval period. The ore belonged to the lord of the land in some places and to the king in other places like France and England. Because of this, they would had the ability to take a percentage of the best ore, were paid royalties on the ore, and were paid for the use of the land.

A few problems that came about from mining were that as they dug deeper, they increased the chance of flooding the tunnels with ground water. A few ways they did this was to dig trenches to drain the water into lower areas, or to have people filling buckets with water and taking them to the surface.

The theme of this paper was how technology increased the depths of mines and what could be mined. Better furnaces could smelt harder metals, and waterwheels could help crush rocks using the force of water.

This link talks about the lives of miners at the Minera Lead Mine In England and gives a good view on what the miners did and went through.

This link is a doctoral thesis on mining in the Black Forest of Germany and is a good look at mining in Germany and the effects on communities.


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The Great Stirrup Controversy

With a name like the Great Stirrup Controversy, images spring to mind of some of the early silent films like The Great Train Robbery. However, this is nowhere as fun.

The Great Stirrup Controversy is according to the Wikipedia article, an “academic debate about the Stirrup Thesis, the theory that feudalism in Europe was largely the result of the introduction of the stirrup to cavalry”. This theory came about thanks to Lynn Townsend White, Jr in his book, Medieval Technology and Social Change.

Through this book he sees the stirrup as being the cause of feudalism but other historians disagree with this technological determinism. Some critics like Peter Hayes Sawyer and R.H. Hilton say that, “‘the most serious weakness in this argument is that the introduction of the stirrup is not in itself an adequate explanation for any changes that may have occurred. The Stirrup made new methods possible, not inevitable”‘.

Was the stirrup responsible for feudalism on its own? Probably not, but it did affect change during the medieval era in combat, fashion, and transportation.


Daniel Cissel (Word Count 176)