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The Lever of RichesTechnological Creativity and Economic Progress$
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Joel Mokyr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074772.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 August 2021

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages

(p.31) Chapter Three The Middle Ages
The Lever of Riches

Joel Mokyr

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the medieval Western technology that drew from classical antiquity, Islamic and Asian societies, and its own original creativity. It observes that diffusion of new technology was usually slow, and that the old techniques often stubbornly survived and coexisted with the new for decades and even centuries. The chapter notes that in terms of direct contribution to aggregate output, changes in agricultural technology were particularly important, as the bulk of the population was engaged in farming. It also discusses energy utilization as the second area in which early medieval Europe was successful. The chapter notes that wind power had been used in sailing ships, but had not been harnessed in the West in other ways until the first windmills were built there in the twelfth century. In waterpower, radical improvements came early, and during the Merovingian and Carolingan eras, better and bigger waterwheels spread through Europe.

Keywords:   medieval technology, classical antiquity, Islamic societies, original creativity, agricultural technology, farming, energy utilization, medieval Europe, Merovingian era, Carolingan era

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