The Middle Ages are a period in the history of Europe that lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It is also referred to as the medieval period. It started once the Western Roman Empire fell and lasted until the beginning of the Renaissance period. It is often divided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Age period.
While the period is known for negative events that marked it, such as population decline, wars, famine, and the plague, it was also a time of major discoveries and inventions. It was especially notable during the High Middle Age period when the population started increasing again, and a large number of agricultural and technological innovations were made. In the remainder of this article, we will name a few significant inventions from that period, some of which are still used today.
Gunpowder is another invention that left an important mark on the history of the world. It was developed in China between the 9th and 11th centuries and was used as a tool for warfare almost immediately. It arrived in Europe sometime during the 13th century, where it revolutionized the way people approached warfare. Today weaponry advanced further, so gunpowder is not as used as it was before. However, it is still used in hunting and certain shooting competitions.
The first reference to eyeglasses was made in the 13th century. Although it is not completely clear who invented them, most historians agree that it was most likely an Italian called Alessandro di Spina who lived in Florence. The fact they could correct vision makes them one of the most important inventions in human history, still relevant today, and will probably remain so for quite some time.
3. Public Libraries
One invention of the Middle Ages that is still in existence today is public libraries. The first one was opened in Italy in 1452, which was near the end of this time period. Up until then, libraries were closed and used only by the selected people. This building, opened in the town of Cesena, was owned by the city municipality and allowed people to borrow and read books that were collected in it freely.
2. Paper Money
Paper money is another invention of the Middle Ages that changed the world significantly. However, paper money did not originate in Europe, but China. It was used there starting from the 11th century. The reason for the usage of paper money back then was to reduce the amount of precious metal that needed to be carried around. Paper money served only as a replacement. Marco Polo was impressed by this finding during his travels, but paper money was not implemented for use in Europe until the 16th century.
1. Mechanical Clock
One important invention that left a massive mark on every period following the Middle Ages was the mechanical clock. People were using various devices to keep track of time until then, but once the technology was developed that made mechanical clocks possible, nothing was the same.
Being able to know the exact minute and second of what time it was changed the way people were leading their lives. Mechanical clocks are still used today, despite us having access to digital clocks and smartphones. People use mechanical clocks as decoration in their houses, which also serve as a secondary way to keep track of time, and of course, as wristwatches.