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)

For the Love of Beer

Ask any college student and they are most likely to tell you that beer is great. It is cheap and a good way to drink, reminds us of some of our favorite past times like tailgating and barbecues. But there is little talk about the significance of beer to human development.

In Joshua Mark’s article, Beer, he talks about how beer has been found in the oldest civilizations of Mesopotamia.  He writes, “Sumerians loved beer so much they ascribed the creation of it to the gods and beer plays a prominent role in many of the Sumerian myths” (Mark). Beer brewing also helped the health of the cities as through the brewing process, the boiling of the water and the fermentation of the alcohol purified the water. This helped prevent waterborne illness.

Beer did not maintain its popularity however once the technology of beer-making spread to the Greeks and Romans who preferred their wines and considered beer, “an inferior drink of barbarians” (Mark).

Early Sumerian beers were made from barley and water. It was not until the Germans started making beer that hops were added. Nowadays, the four main ingredients of most beers are hops, water, yeast, and some form of grain such as wheat or barley.

For anyone interested in learning how to make their own beer there are several sites that provide information. One site is

This site provides tutorials, information on ingredients and equipment, seminars, and recipes.

Or for an article on the Beer Archaeologist,

Also, if there is anyone interested in learning about new beers and styles of beers there is a podcast called The Beerists who try beers from around the world and talk about them.

Daniel Cissel (Word Count 284)