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.


Daniel Cissel (233)

2 Replies to “Silver and Gold: Hodgett on Mining”

  1. Daniel, nice summary. I found the bit about using waterwheels to crush rocks to be a rather interesting use for them. I have also been reading some blog posts about steam engines and how they were often used to pump water out of the mines. This use of steam engine technology seems to be very valuable compared to the methods you described. Although, it makes me wonder about some of the details of these pumps, how reliable they were, how efficient, and how powerful.

  2. This article explains why entrepreneurs were pressed by the feudal system of Europe to dig deeper rather than wider. If miners were to dig wider mines, then more land would be considered used by the feudal lord, meaning they could legally impose a larger royalty fee for land usage. The same train of thought occurred in the oil industry in the Midwest during the 20th century. Originally, oil barons would try to gyp the land owner by saying that they would only use a small patch of land to build and operate a well when, in reality, some oil pockets were many square miles wide. However, the feudal lords knew better and the miners couldn’t do this. So, they dug deeper and claimed they were only using a small cut out of land to lessen operating costs. Unfortunately, the cost of running the mine would actually increase due to the presence of water and extra power needed to pull stone upwards at great distances. This problem actually helped develop the steam engine.

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