c17eleventhag - Agricultural Revolution of the Eleventh...

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Unformatted text preview: Agricultural Revolution of the Eleventh Century Little Climatic Optimum • The northern hemisphere became warmer from about 750‐1215: the "little climatic optimum". This was followed by a cold spell to about 1350, and another cold spell from about 1550‐1850 ("little ice age"). • Proof can be seen in the Fernau glacier in the Tyrol, altitudinal limits of crops, and in tree rings, which all demonstrate that the climate was drier and, on average, about one to two degrees warmer. • Even the Norse colonization of Iceland and Greenland have to be seen in this context. Population Growth • After about 1000, Europe's population increased dramatically: • • • • • About 27 million in 700; 40 million in 1000; 50 million by 1150; 61 million by 1200; 73 million by 1300. Population (continued) • Much of the evidence is indirect: conquest of England, crusades, extensive colonization of lands. • Land that had been deserted during the Viking age was later reclaimed during the eleventh century; also new lands cleared east of the Elbe. • Frontier mentality and economy. A New Plow • The heavy plow (carruca) had important differences from the scratch‐plow (aratrum, “ard” in English) of Mediterranean. • Latter was unable to turn over effectively the heavy, clay soils of the north. • Ploughshare, coulter (to cut the sod), moldboard, axle and wheels. • It is not known when it was invented, except that it was common before 1000. Romans probably knew of the moldboard. • Required a larger team. Horse Collar (Shoulder Harness) • This idea has been challenged over the last 15 years. • Traditional interpretation: Ineffectual harnessing method employed by ancients strangled the horse and, therefore, severely limited the load that a horse could pull. • Since the horse eats twice as much as an ox, and under the inefficient system of harnessing could pull no more than an ox, horses weren’t used much as beasts of burden. Horse Collar (continued) • The shoulder harness was certainly known by 800. • The new harness allowed for 4‐5 times the pulling power. • 5000 kg to 6400 kg loads (for cart and load) are recorded as common by 1100. 500 Kgs were the load limit on Roman roads in antiquity. Shoulder Harness and Carruca • With the new plow and collar a farmer could plow twice the acreage than an ox could plow: horse moved 50% faster and it had greater endurance (on average a horse could work 2 hours a day longer). Thus, even though a horse ate more, and had a more expensive diet, horses became more economical to use. • That the horse moved 50% faster meant that fields further away could be reached. Three Field System • Two‐field system was common in antiquity: a farmer planted half his land and let the other half lay fallow. • The three‐field system became common in eighth century: • Two‐thirds of arable under cultivation instead of one‐half. • Two crops yearly instead of one. • Winter wheat, spring oats (or legumes), fallow. Comparison • One important aspect of the 3 field system was to turn under the weeds • Lets imagine a village community with 600 hectare (1 hectare (h) = 2.47 acres) of arable. Under the old 2 field regime: 300 h planted. Fallow was plowed twice in year, thus 300 + 600 = 900 h plowed, only 300 h planted. Under 3 field system 200 + 200 + 400 = 800 h plowed, but 400 h planted. Thus an assart (newly clear land) of 75 h could be added (25 + 25 + 50 = 100) and still no more than 900 h plowed but now 450 h planted. Water Wheel • The water wheel was known in antiquity, but not really exploited until the later Roman Empire. • Mills became a common sight by tenth century: The late eleventh‐century English Domesday Survey listed 5,264 mills in operation. • Uses also included iron‐making. Cam and trip‐ hammer, wheel could power bellows. ...
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