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Western Civilisation

Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  

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Monday, December 10, 2012

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Medieval Technology and Social Change, Lynn White Jr., Oxford Press, 1968

The Dark Ages ? Or the creation of the modern world ?

by Ferdinand III


This is a seminal book in the history of the medieval era. White's works are still acclaimed for their thoroughness, exactness and historical veracity [along with their very small font size alas]. Anyone interested in the changes in technology, machinery, culture and the inventions which changed the world and built the platform for the modern era should read White and Edward Grant, along with books by the Gies' and Regina Pernoud. The Dark Ages did exist from the Moslem invasions of the Mediterranean [638 AD] for about 2 centuries [see Pirenne], but after 900 the European Christian world commenced an epoch of unparalleled development, superseding all eras up the invention of electricity.


It is rather obvious to any lay student of history that information and cultural exchange between 'East' and 'West' had long predated Roman times. The flow was decidedly two-way – a fact many historians ignore. While Islam itself invented little, it did transmit to the West, as a squatting empire between the two spheres of activity, some important artifacts of Chinese and Hindu genius, namely, paper, gunpowder, magnetic compass, Hindu numerals, and Hindu ideas and devices of perpetual motion. But even much of the above list is now in dispute [excepting the Hindu zero, and paper]:


Yet there is no evidence of Chinese stimulus to, or precedence over, the European developments. Indeed, one of the earliest Moslem formulae for gunpowder indicates a Frankish source. Although the Chinese are reputed to have perfected festival fireworks of extraordinary quality the elaborate pyrotechnics...show no sign of Chinese inspiration.” [p. 97]


It is simply untrue to ascribe to the Chinese for example various inventions such as firepower, or the astrolabe. These were created independently first, in Europe. For example, Greek-fire was a Byzantine 7th century invention and is a rocket based propellant, akin to a modern flame thrower, but with a denser weight and more distance. Neither the Moslems nor the Chinese were ever able to replicate the propulsion of Greek-fire, and neither would use the explosive quality of salt-peter, sulphur and carbon, to create a new military technology. Jet propulsion, which is the basis for Greek-fire was only re-invented or elaborated upon bu early 15th century Italians [used to fire balls, and cannon pieces].


By the High Middle Ages [900-1300] it is quite clear that the flow of ideas from West to East became more pronounced and obvious. The Moslem created 'Dark Age' was followed by many Renaissances, given short-shrift by egos and ignoramuses in the so-called 'Age of Reason' [an age which saw quite a bit of unreasonable and absurd activity]. The cultural flow from West to East included military developments:


Nor was Islam exempt, even before the First Crusade, from the contagion of Frankish military ideas. In 1087, when Armenian architects built the Bab an-Nasr, one of the three great gates of Cairo, it was decorated with a frieze of shields, some round, but some rounded above and pointed below such as we see the Normans carrying in the Bayeux Tapestry....admiration with which al-Herewi (d. AD 1211) describes the carefully coordinated battle tactics of the Franks, and the way that calvary and infantry gave mutual support.” [p. 35]


Notice how it was the Christian Armenians and not Moslem masons who built the great gates of Cairo. Further it is now pretty clear that the era from 900-1300 saw the greatest accretion in wealth, living standards, political and economic development, and technological invention in human history.

Yet it is practically unknown that northern Europe from the sixth to the ninth century witnessed an earlier agricultural revolution which was equally [compared to the Industrial Revolution] decisive in its historical effects.”


and

...historians of agriculture [now believe] that the medieval peasantry used an amount of iron which would have seemed inconceivable to any earlier rural population, and that the smithy became integral to every village. What this meant for increased productivity cannot be demonstrated; it must be imagined.” [pp 40, 41]


Heavy ploughs [p. 57]; the harness, the nailed horseshoe, the replacement of oxen by more productive horse labour, 3 field rotations, genetically enhanced crops, rotary grindstones [p. 110], and all manner of cranks, shafts, cams and gearing – most of these were in use by the 9th century in some manner: 'Likewise in the late ninth century Alfred the Great notes, clearly with surprise, that on the northern coast of Norway horses were used for ploughing.' [p. 61] No other location on the globe could boast of the above.


In the 12th to 14th centuries the Christian Europeans invented the spring, rotary motion, complex gearing to support vertical and horizontal milling; mechanical clocks, sawmills, and astrolabes [wrongly attributed to the Arabs]:


Beginning probably with the fulling mill on the Serchio in 983, the eleventh and twelfth centuries had applied the cam to a great variety of operations. The thirteenth century discovered spring and treadle; the fourteenth century developed gearing to levels of incredible complexity; the fifteenth century, by elaborating crank, connecting rod and governor, vastly facilitated the conversion of reciprocating into continuous rotary motion. Considering the generally slow tempo of human history, this revolution in machine design, occurred with startling rapidity.” [p. 129]


What other 'culture' produced the above ? None. What is White's conclusion ?


Indeed, the four centuries following Leonardo, that is, until electrical energy demanded a supplementary set of devices, were less technologically engaged in discovering basic principles than in elaborating and refining those established during the four centuries before Leonardo.”


The Dark Ages were anything but dark, except in our modern imaginations. This was an era of faith, massive monuments, dikes, canals, new roads, the axle, the brake, new methods of transport and the list of inventions given above by White. This 'Dark Age' is of course juxtaposed to the current post-modern era of genius, including cultural relativity, reality TV, Oprah, GlobaloneyWarming and the worship of the state as the default theology and morality, uber-alles. The medieval period likewise had its hobgoblins and superstitions, just as the 'Age of Reason' burnt witches. But it is rather absurd for moderns, like Gibbon, to look back and pour scorn on Christian Europeans who built the platform for the modern world. We would not have our modern world without the Middle Ages.

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