Technology on Medieval Society and Culture

Discuss the impact of technology on Medieval society and culture and the impact of society and culture on the development of Medieval technology.

Strayer asks the question, “Why Europe?” Indeed, why did Europe experience the Scientific Revolution? How did this occur when Europe was so backward after the Sack of Rome? 

The term Middle Ages was invented during the Renaissance in order to heap opprobrium on what was seen as a sterile age in which government had degenerated into feudal anarchy, religion into superstition, and scholarship into pedantic quibbles of schoolmen over texts that they scarcely understood. 

Discuss the nature of the Medieval university and the ways in which its structure influenced the reception of Aristotelianism in the Latin West.

The intellectual history of the later Middle Ages has traditionally been described as decadent, autumnal, waning. Yet recently a few scholars have asserted that the period between 1250-1450 was one of innovation, change, possibility. Which view is more accurate and why? Medievalists tend to dismiss this argument out of hand. Take a fresh look at this argument and consider the extent to which the Middle Ages was an sterile age, merely passing on diluted versions of the heritage of antiquity, and the extent to which it contributed new and vital elements to the European tradition. 

Self-governing academic institutions known as universitas or stadium generale began to appear in the late eleventh century. These universities morphed from cathedral schools overseen by the Church and resulted in the concept of competition for fee-paying students and a drive for universities to attract and retain respected teachers. The first recognized universities were Bologna, Oxford, Paris and Cambridge. These educational establishments grew from secular law schools and associations of private teachers searching for new learning. University expansion continued and attendance continued to grow resulting in “the number of people gaining some sort of university experience in Western Europe before the Reformation is as high as 750,000 and they thus formed a substantial literate population”.

The works of Aristotle, along with much of the other surviving work of the ancient Greeks, had been recovered in the Latin West by the beginning of the thirteenth century. Full acceptance of Aristotle’s philosophies met resistance as many did not agree with his ideology and efforts to expunge his heretical ideas were enacted in 1210. Further efforts to condemn Aristotle’s philosophy continued throughout the 1200’s culminating in his theses being condemned by Tempier at Paris in 1277. The efforts proved ineffective and his works remained widely utilized in academia. Aristotle’s works were widely discussed due to the clear conflicts between his philosophy and the Church’s bible. This concept of challenging a body of work versus accepting was quickly grasped by scholars as they continued the push for new knowledge .


Hannam, J. (2009, December 08). Medieval Science, the Church and Universities. Retrieved from Bede’s Library: