Revised Research Paper: Horseshoes

Beginning centuries ago, the use of horses made many aspects of society more efficient, especially agriculture.  The horseshoe as a new piece of technology resulted in the increase in food production.  Starting as a simple cloth boot, the horseshoe developed over time as the use of horses became more advanced.  The horseshoe proves its importance as a piece of technology because it developed to meet the needs of the time period.

Horsemen in Asia first used the horseshoe.  The need for horseshoes arose as the use of horses became more useful in Asian culture.  In order to maximize the utilitarian value of the horse, hoof protection became a necessity.  Created out of animal hides and plants, these materials once woven together made a soft, comfortable, cloth shoe for the horse.  Though made with the intention of protecting the horse’s feet, the material wore away quickly, and, as a result, one single horseshoe did not serve its purpose for a long duration of time. 1

Taking after the people in Asia, the Romans created a version of the horseshoe, the hipposandal in 8th century BCE.  Horses traveled by Roman roadway instead of grassy field, which required a more durable way to protect horses’ hoofs.  Shaped to fit the horse’s hoof and held on by leather straps, the hipposandal required a piece of metal, usually iron.  These sandals made removal of the shoe easier than the previous cloth shoes because of the straps that held it in place. 2 Although more durable, the soft, wet climate of northern Europe made it difficult for the hipposandal to stay fastened to the hoof during travel. 1

Developing again to meet the labor-intensive needs of the Medieval Ages in the fifth century AD, horseshoes became more permanently attached to the hoof.  During the Medieval Ages, iron nailed to the bottom of hoofs created a more durable shoe.  The nailing of iron became a staple craft of the time-period and contributed to the growing industry of metallurgy. 3 By the beginning of the twelfth century, this improved horseshoe began mass-production.

Protecting hoofs from wear and tear has been the ultimate goal of the horseshoe throughout history; however, with each new development, several underlying purposes existed as well.  War tactics and strategies began to change in the tenth century AD because of the horseshoe.  Knights did not exist until the metal horseshoe developed. 4 Horseshoes also served as weapons in the twelfth century during the Crusade Wars because injury could be inflicted if struck or trampled with the iron horseshoe of the medieval times. 5 Horseshoes contributed to the development of metallurgy as one of the first pieces of technology that required forging. 6

Throughout its redevelopment, the horseshoe became one of the most critical and widely used pieces of technology; “iron shoes had become one of the vital necessities of war, transport, and agriculture.” 7 Without the adaption of the horseshoe, the agricultural and manufacturing industries would have failed to become major industries.

Word Count: 495


(1)          The History of Horseshoes – Dressage Today (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(2)          Roman Horseshoe/Hipposandal and Kureisen (cure shoe) (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(3)          Horseshoe | (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(4)          Life in the Middle Ages: Horses and Horseshoes for Medieval Knights (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(5)          Horseshoe Origins (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(6)          How horseshoe is made – material, making, history, used, parts, dimensions, machine, History, Raw Materials (accessed Dec 5, 2018).

(7)        Gimpel, Jean. The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages. London:   Pimlico, 1992

John R. Harris: The Rise of Coal Technology

Though coal had been around for centuries, it did not become a major energy source until the Industrial Revolution.  In the Middle Ages prior to the Industrial Revolution, coal was used only by blacksmiths and other metalworkers.  As the advantages of coal became more well-known throughout the centuries, it became more prevalent in industrial society.  Coppersmiths and gunsmiths began to use coal in the 16th century.  In the late 17th century, coal began to be used for making soap, gunpowder, and refining saltpeter.  By the 18th century, the use of coal had reached an all-time high and spread to a wide variety of industries.  In his article The Rise of Coal Technology, Harris addresses the technological development of coal that took place during the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution continued the increase in coal usage.  As Britain became a more industrialized country, more coal was needed than ever before.  With the improved Watt steam engine and the development of factories during the Industrial Revolution, the demand for coal increased dramatically.  Because of the high demand for coal, the Newcomen engine and the process of smelting iron using coal developed and became extremely popular.  As a result of the Industrial Revolution, the uses of coal became more widespread and refined in Europe.

Abraham Darby was the inventor that first started smelting coal to produce iron.  In 1708, Darby founded the Bristol Iron Foundry Company which began to use coke to smelt iron for the first time in 1709.  Instead of using charcoal for smelting, it was discovered that coal could be used for smelting to produce iron.  Once heated at a high temperature without contact with air, the residue left from the decomposition of coal became known as coke.  Darby found that smelting coke produced pig iron, which was a material that was in high demand in the 18th century.  Though pig iron was in high demand, wrought iron was even more useful during the period of industrialism, and because pig iron could not be turned into wrought iron, Darby’s discovery did not become widely used for some time.  However, the switch from charcoal to coal increased the efficiency of smelting, which was considered a huge success during the Industrial Revolution.

Another major piece of technology that used coal during the Industrial Revolution was the Newcomen engine.  Unlike the Savery engine, the Newcomen engine was fueled by coal in the early 1700’s.  The popularity of the Newcomen engine during that time period increased the amount of coal needed to fuel the engines.  Not only was the engine dependent on coal, but it allowed extreme growth in the coal mining industry.  Because the steam engine was used to extract water from mines, the more steam engines were used, the more coal was being extracted from mines to be used.  The popularity of the engine made coal mining a very profitable industry in the 18th century.  Without coal to fuel the Newcomen engine, the entirety of the coal industry would not have been successful during the Industrial Revolution.


Word Count: 506

E. R. Chamberlin: Changes in English Agriculture

Agricultural efficiency has been continuously improving since the very beginning of food production.  In the 1700’s, land enclosure was a major factor in this increase in efficiency.  In his article Changes in English Agriculture, Chamberlin addresses the part that English government played in regulating the enclosure of land.  Because of the government’s role in land enclosure, agricultural food supply in 18th century England increased dramatically.

Throughout the mid 1700’s, Parliament helped increase agricultural efficiency, passing hundreds of private Bills of Enclosure.  It became clear that larger pieces of land were easier to farm than individual plots, and for this reason, Bills of Enclosure became very popular.  Prior to these bills, land was publicly shared and enclosed as smaller plots through informal agreements between neighbors.  However, a Bill of Enclosure served as a formal way to share farming land while individually owning smaller pieces.  With a Bill of Enclosure, all land holders specified in the bill combined their smaller plots, making one larger enclosed land plot.  Instead of several smaller plots, one shared larger plot made farming much more efficient.



The landscape of England changed dramatically as a result of the new enclosure of land.  Towns that had been composed of vast, communal fields were now broken up by hedges or fencing to separate pieces of land.  Although the shrubbery made for a more attractive landscape, it also made for a more secluded feel compared to the once open, unbroken view.

Though Bills of Enclosure did a great deal to increase food production, maintaining hundreds of individual bills became a tedious job for the English government.  To make bill maintenance easier, Parliament passed the General Enclosure Act in 1801.  Under the General Enclosure Act, entire villages could enclose their land as long as three-quarters of the population was in favor of doing so.  Parliament now only had to regulate a single bill from each village instead of the multiple that they had to maintain previously.  The General Enclosure Act led to increased efficiency in agricultural and organizational areas.

In addition to immensely increasing agricultural efficiency, the General Enclosure Act brought an increased sense of community.  Towns had to collectively advocate for and share land instead of smaller groups of individuals sharing land prior to the General Enclosure Act.  Other positive effects of the General Enclosure Act included decrease in land wastage, decrease in labor, and the usage of crop rotation, which added to the increase in food production.  With larger plots for farming, more land was occupied, leaving less wasted space.  Farming also became more efficient as larger land plots were easier to maintain, thus decreasing the amount of labor needed to supply food.  Because of the efforts made by the English government in the 18th century, food supply and agricultural efficiency increased dramatically. 


Word Count: 463