This is part of the Medieval European History Metanode.

There is a common misconception that the Middle Ages were a dark age, in which society regressed, superstition ruled the common mind, and technology went backwards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many important things were invented in the Middle Ages - have you ever heard of beer? - and there were many technological advances as well. Lynn White's Medieval Technology and Social Change outlines many of these advances, including:

The heavy plough, which revolutionized agriculture. The heavy plough consisted of a coulter, a ploughshare, and a mouldboard, and it had many advantages over the previous ploughs. It made crossploughing unnecessary, allowing peasants to cultivate much more land in a short period of time. Because of this, the fields became long and narrow, as opposed to square. This allowed for excellent drainage (better crops). White proposes that these "strip" fields became open fields in the manorial system, which led to communal agriculture. The Slavs invented the heavy plough in the sixth century; the Franks were using it by the seventh century. Some historians propose that the use of the heavy plough led to a population explosion among Scandinavians, precipitating the Viking invasions that plagued the Carolingian Dynasty and Medieval England.

The horse-collar and the horseshoe: Harnesses for horses were invented by Turks in the ninth century. The harnesses used for oxen and cattle could not be used on horses; they chafed against the horses' necks and cut off circulation. Horse-collars allowed peasants to plough the land much more quickly than they could with oxen and cattle. Horseshoes were also invented in the ninth century, and they allowed horses to be ridden for much longer periods of time without harming the horses' feet.

The three-field crop rotation method was also a product of the ninth century, and it made fields much more productive. The assartine movement was a result of this, and nobles removed trees to make new fields on new estates. The peasants on these estates were not serfs, but were free. Thus, the invention of the heavy plough, the horseshoe, the horse-collar, and the three-field crop rotation method caused social change: peasants were more productive, formed new agricultural societies, had more free time, and had a greater degree of freedom.

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