Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Luxury Beauty Gifts for Her Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Classics and Essentials in CDs & Vinyl Outdoor Deals on Tikes
Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages Reprint Edition

37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060925819
ISBN-10: 0060925817
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$10.75 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$13.85 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
27 New from $7.03 64 Used from $0.01 2 Collectible from $4.99
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Get Up to 80% Back Rent Textbooks
$13.85 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 8 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages
  • +
  • Life in a Medieval Village
  • +
  • Life in a Medieval City (Medieval Life)
Total price: $35.00
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews Review

Historians, write Frances and Joseph Gies, have long tended to view the Middle Ages as a period of intellectual and scientific stagnation, a long era of backwardness, ignorance, and inertia. Many scholars of the Renaissance era, however, thought otherwise; the mathematician Jerome Cardan, for one, held that three medieval inventions--the magnetic compass, the printing press, and gunpowder--were of such significance that "the whole of antiquity has nothing equal to show."

In their lively history of medieval technology, the Gies team writes of such advances as the heavy plow, the Gothic flying buttress, linen undergarments, water pumps, and the lateen sail. During the medieval millennium, they suggest, a great technological and social revolution occurred "with the disappearance of mass slavery, the shift to water- and wind-power, the introduction of the open-field system of agriculture, and the importation, adaptation, or invention of an array of devices, from the wheelbarrow to double-entry bookkeeping." Many of those inventions or adaptations, brought into Europe from China and the Middle East, have scarcely been improved on today.

The medieval technological revolution, the authors conclude, came at a cost: much of Europe was deforested to make room for cropland and to fire kilns and furnaces, and mechanization made obsolete many handicraft skills. Yet, they add, the workers and inventors of the Middle Ages "all transformed the world, on balance very much to the world's advantage." --Gregory McNamee

From Library Journal

Moving chronologically through a millennium (500-1500 A.D.), the authors (who have written numerous books on medieval life, including Life in a Medieval City , LJ 2/1/70) show that the term "Dark Ages" is a misnomer by deftly tracing the period's "main technological elements, . . . their known or probable sources, and their principal impacts." In addition to the technological developments highlighted in the book's title, the authors cover such topics as the textile industry and shipbuilding/rigging, plus obligatory topics like printing, engineering, and gunpowder. Throughout, they nimbly weave medieval cultural history into the discussion. Informative, readable, enjoyable, and well written, this work is directed to general readers. Highly recommended for all collections.
- Michael D. Cramer, Virginia Polytechnic & State Univ. Libs . , Blacksburg
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 70%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 6, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060925817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060925819
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Fred W. Hallberg on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book by the husband and wife team of Joseph and Frances Gies is a labor of love, and it shows. It provides an overview of the history of technology from pre-classical times to the Renaissance. It is a secondary source textbook, which guides the reader to whatever primary source material may interest him. I can keep this text on my shelf at home, and if I wish to seek out some more detailed account of a contentious point by historians such as Edward Gibbon, Henri Pirenne, Lynn White, or Joseph Needham, the Gies' book will direct me to these more extensive works at my public library.

I was led to this book by the argument over whether there ever was a "fall of Rome" of the sort described by Gibbon. Rodney Stark, for example, denies it in his "The Victory of Reason." Bryan Ward-Perkins, on the other hand, insists there really was a catastrophic collapse in the levels of population, literacy, and economic activity in the 5th Century Western Roman Empire. I am convinced by Ward-Perkin's evidence, yet I must agree with Stark that the Frankish "dark ages" were far more productive of inventions than was the entire world of classical civilization from 500BC to 500AD. The Franks invented (or at least perfected) the horse collar, the wheeled moldboard plow, three-field crop rotation, the stirrup, and the water wheel. The only original thing the Romans invented was concrete.

The Gies' provided me with a way of putting these seemingly paradoxical facts into a consistent whole. The structures of high culture which would support populous urban centers and a literate Senatorial Roman class disappeared after the 5th Century.
Read more ›
5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on November 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Correction to the Amazon listing: this book is authored by Frances and Joseph Gies, not just Joseph. It says so on the cover of the book.

Husband and wife team of (amateur?) scholars, synthesize recent scholarship (from mid 60's on) on the middle ages for your reading pleasure.

As the title hints at and the subtitle: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages, spells out, the focus is the manner in which technology and invention transformed society in the area soon to be known as "the West".

The broadest service this book provides is to cue the reader in to the massive scholarship on the subject that exists outside the English speaking world of academia. The French in particular have made many developments in this field of study, but their work seems to be only occasionally translated.

The Gies' are careful footnoters and their method is fairly rigorous. Because they rely on the scholarship that is anywhere from 10 to 200 years old, there are bound to be statements that are inaccurate. This does not effect the merit of the book.

This book provides and excellent introduction to the scholarship on the history of the middle ages, specficically as it relates to technology. However, the bibliography points the interested reader to a fuller picture of the available scholarship, and therfore Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel, is useful in that sense as well.

Probably not for strictly "general" readers, nor for scholars/academics, this book is best for the motivated lay reader.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris Schaefer on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Conventional wisdom once told us that there wasn't any technology in the Middle Ages. But Frances and Joseph Gies make a strong argument, with many examples, that technological developments from 500 to 1500 AD transformed Europe, and enabled both the Renaissance and the European conquest of the rest of the world.

At the fall of the Roman Empire, about 500 AD, Europe was little more than an illiterate, rural backwater. Except for a few items left behind by the Romans, virtually all of mankind's significant technology was in the hands and minds of the Chinese, Indians and Arabs. European towns north of Rome were small and dirty, and produced little except subsistence level farming.

However by 1500, the end of the Middle Ages, Europeans had thrown back a major Muslim invasion, lived in large cities and fortified castles, carried on an active trade with China, India and Arabia, had developed full-rigged ships and navigation instruments capable of crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and developed weapons that would soon enable them to conquer almost every other civilization on Earth. Admittedly much of the new technology originated in China and Arabia, but the Europeans refined it, improved upon it, and put it to practical uses such that by 1100 AD Europe surpassed its eastern neighbors in sea faring, agriculture, armaments and day-to-day business practices. Even mundane skills like bookkeeping, credit, and insurance proved important in that they created the means to finance undertakings far beyond the capabilities of any one merchant family or sea captain.

That said, Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel is a book that will appeal mostly to those who have an interest in the subject.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages
This item: Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages
Price: $13.85
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: metal spinning wheel, chinese inventions, northern italy in the middle ages, cathedral of reims, psalter trinity