Summary of Hodgett, “Mining and the Metallurgical Industries in the Middle Ages”

In Hodgett’s Mining and the Metallurgical Industries in the Middle Ages, he explains the rise of mining and metallurgy throughout the middle ages while also explaining the social impact mining had.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, mining took a major hit. Before the fall, Roman mines produced tin, lead, copper, and coal, but in the early Middle Ages, only iron, tin, and lead were mined in meaningful quantities.

The region which makes up modern-day Germany was the first region to began expanding mining. In the early tenth century, copper and lead mined. In the eleventh and twelfth century, gold, silver, lead, copper and iron mines became very common in the local mountains. Also in this region, silver-bearing ores were also mined.

The driving force behind the push for more gold, silver, iron, lead, copper and tin mines was the growth in population as well as the demand for these metals for commerce, industry, and the arts.

The rise of mining in the middle ages led to significant social developments as well. Landowners of the time would open their land up to everyone but demand a share of the output. These landowners would also require that they had the right to buy these metals from the miners at significantly lower prices than they would get out of an open market. Governments also claimed the rights to metals. The Holy Roman Empire tried (and failed) to enforce the view that mining rights belong to the ruler of the empire rather than landowners. However, they did hold the view that the rights belonged to the princes and lords of the land, but this wasn’t always enforce, especially in cases involving coal and iron rather than gold and silver.

Another social development was that miners joined together and formed special courts similar to modern-day unions. The miners dealt with disputes involving mining and metallurgy, and they also established rights and privileges for miners. Lastly, mining codes were also developed, showing an early example of industry regulation.

 Gold, silver in Medieval Europe, reinforces a few of Hodgett’s claims. Her article also claims that the fall of the Roman Empire led to a decrease in mining, and that the region of modern-day Germany would be among the first areas to get back into mining. Davenport’s article also mentions the social impacts mining had by explaining the “emancipation of the miner from slavery and serfdom” into a position where their services were a necessity.

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