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Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

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The Light Ages: A Medieval Journey of Discovery, by Seb Falk

St. Albans Monastery and the creation of the Mechanical Clock.

by Ferdinand III







The ‘Dark Ages’ as a term was first concocted by Plutarch in the 14th century.  The poorly named ‘humanists’, or ‘renaissance’ societies of Italy and elsewhere, looked past the medieval era, back to the Roman, to ‘rediscover’ ‘civilisation’.  This is about as intelligent as looking past Charles Babbage or the IBM ENIAC when discussing modern computing and dismissing both as ‘dark’, ‘uninformed’, and ‘superstitious’.  As with the modern era, the current ego and self-inflated importance of someone living off of other’s travails from past epochs is astounding.  If Plutarch’s forebears had not fought and often defeated the Muslims for example in various campaigns including the Crusades, would Plutarch have existed? 


Plutarch’s utopia was anything but.  The Roman empire was built on white-slavery (Do White Lives Matter?), 90% of the population would have been illiterate, close to poverty and without basic rights and freedoms; and most men would have been poor tradesmen, or employed in the army.  Outside of some engineering practices, technological advance was minimal, art and writing basic and simple most of it premised on existing Grecian forms.  It was a military fascism and over time corrupt, nepotistic, deranged and confused.  The Roman empire was not the idyll of sophistication portrayed by ‘humanist’ sympathisers.  It was a brutal iron-age empire, highly centralised, and only humanised by its general conversion to Christianity in 315 AD under Constantine.  Plutarch, the Enlightenment, the ‘sophisticated’ view of Rome is and was romanticised and fairly ignorant, not based on facts, but fancy. 


Back to the reality of the post-Roman world.  Times change and Europe was much better off without the dead weight of the Roman empire and military to carry.  Innovation proceeded aplenty, even as the Europeans fought endless wars against the Muslims, the Avars and Magyars, the Vikings and Mongols.  The ‘humanists’ and ‘enlightened’ thinkers wrongly and simplistically stated that a belief in God, meant a disavowal in progress, technology or invention.  This ignorant claim is rather shocking, especially from people who work to a clock or wear eye-glasses or used common household tools.


Naturalist science was created in the Medieval era, well developed by the time of the first universities (12 century):

But belief in God never prevented people from seeking to understand the world around them. Loyalty to texts and traditions never meant the rejection of new ideas. Channelling money and creative energies into religious art and architecture never restricted the range of medieval people’s interests. The relationship between faith and the study of nature was – and remains – a complex one…


For medieval people, study of the world – that is, the whole created cosmos – was a route to moral and spiritual wisdom. As Isaac Newton – hardly himself medieval, but standing on the shoulders of several medieval giants – wrote in an afterword to his monumental Principia mathematica, ‘thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy’.


One of the greatest Christian medieval inventions amongst the hundreds that can be listed is the mechanical clock.  The clock is the foundation of modern work, the regulator of time and labour, the basis of productivity and production.  Only in Christian Europe is the mechanical clock invented and disseminated.  It is a key – but never mentioned reason – why European civilisation begins to dominate the world by 1500.  The clock allows time, effort and productive usage of both day and night to be implemented, measured, agreed upon in different locations and countries and is directly tied to naturalism, astronomy and mathematics. 


St. Albans’ 14th century masterpiece:

…world’s most advanced astronomical clock, set on a raised platform in the abbey church of St Albans...its inventor, Richard of Wallingford to be elected abbot in 1327, though its spiralling costs meant that it was still incomplete at his death – from leprosy – in 1336.


The mechanical clock was surely the most significant invention of the Middle Ages. Imagine our lives today without timekeeping.


…..(pre-dating St. Albans) a clock at Norwich Cathedral priory, surely mechanical, and records survive from the following decade of clocks in Dunstable, Exeter, London, Westminster and Oxford. Of all these clocks, not a single fragment survives. Again, and again we will see the irresistible medieval drive to tinker, to redesign, to incrementally improve or upgrade technology. When that happened, the attraction of reusing or recycling components – and the limitations of storage space – left little material evidence. Historians are dependent on descriptions, drawings and financial records.


Instead, what defines the mechanical clock – and excludes most of the water-based devices which had been used worldwide and developed over millennia – is its reliable, self-regulating driving mechanism. (I say ‘most’ because water-based clockwork mechanisms had been used to power astronomical devices in China for over three hundred years).


The genius of the clock at St. Albans would have been lost except:

North (English historian 1930s-1950s) dedicated much of his career to studying and publicising Wallingford’s work. The result of North’s research is that Wallingford … has been recognised as the greatest English astronomer of the later Middle Ages (though he is still hardly the household name he should be). Wallingford’s achievements signal the important role of monks in the story of science and remind us how religion and science went hand in hand. They also help explain why St Albans was such a centre for scientific study in the decades following his death…..


Such hour-striking is so familiar to us – albeit only from one to twelve – that it may seem trivial, but it required a clever piece of technology, which Wallingford invented: a barrel with pegs that released the striking mechanism and stopped it after the correct number of strokes.  The same principles of hour-striking, as well as a strob-type escapement, were used in designs sketched out 150 years later by Leonardo da Vinci, so it seems Wallingford’s ideas spread widely.


Could Plutarch or Gibbon invent a hour-striking mechanical clock?  Of course not.  Fat, insolent, self-absorbed, they invented nothing of note.  But the monks by the late 13th century in England did invent a masterpiece of engineering – something the mythologised Romans never bothered to attempt.  Slave societies don’t need clocks.  Societies which innovate, which have energy, which are creative, do.  And the monks of England were at the forefront of engineering science.  All modern sneers aside.



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