AN03e_Formation of Western Europe- Agricultural Revolution (Ch.14)
Timeline: ~10th – 14th C (~1000 – 1300)
FQ: How did technology and innovations spark an agricultural revolution that will sustain urban growth in Medieval Europe?
The stable feudal period did witness technological innovation. Increased contact with non-Europeans fostered a profound revolution in several sectors of European feudal life, not the least of which was food production. Change in the productivity of the feudal peasant will ﬂower into commercial growth, societal turmoil, and political upheaval.
I. Vocabulary (refer to the Word Puzzle)
II. Activity: R03e_The Growth of Urban Centers
III. Agriculture and Innovation
A. The “Three Field System” and “Crop Rotation” replaced the “Two Field System” in Europe during the Middle Ages.
1. Traditional two-ﬁeld system: one ﬁeld was used for the sowing of a crop, while another ﬁeld of equal size was left fallow. The use of the two ﬁelds was rotated the following year.
2. Three-ﬁeld system & Crop Rotation: The division of land was changed to 33% fallow (Used as pasture for livestock. Animal manure became a fertilizer), 33% cultivated with a soil enhancing crop (peas, beans), and the remaining 33% dedicated to a staple grain (wheat, barley or rye). In addition to improving the soil quality, the variation of crops improved the peasants’ diet.
3. The three-ﬁeld system was possible wherever there were reliable summer rains. Having two harvests per year instead of one gave better protection against crop failure and famine.
B. Horses can now replace oxen as quality and quantity of fodder improves (oats, instead of grass/ hay). The animal can do more work and thus increase production.
IV. Agriculture and Technology
A. Metal blade plow (from China) replaces wooden (or bone) blade plow.
B. Shoulder and chest harness (from China), along with the invention of the padded collar, replaces the neck ‘Yoke’ commonly used with oxen. The horse proves a better and more versatile work animal than the ox (efﬁciency, speed, endurance).
Population growth skyrockets as crop surpluses grow. The number of urban centers multiply as fewer farmers are necessary to support more people.
Ponder: What would account for the sudden appearance of the technology that made agriculture so fecund?
What happens when there is “no jobs out on the farm”?
- World History: Patterns of Interaction
- R03e_The Growth of Urban Centers
- Flinders University (http://www.es.flinders.edu.au/%7Emattom/science+society/lectures/illustrations/lecture13/threefield.html)
- Millennium Video Series, The 12th Century: Century of the Axe, CNN Productions, Inc. 1999. [~8 Min. total]
- Pr03de_High Middle Ages-Change and Turmoil