SC-NATS_1775_Lecture_4_-_Technology_in_the_Renaissance_and_Early_Modern_Period.doc

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
School
York University
Department
Natural Science
Course
NATS 1775
Professor
Page:
of 8
2009 © Vera Pavri
Derivative Technology in the Renaissance and Early Modern Period
I. Science and Technology in the Renaissance
- “rebirth”; interest in newly recovered classical texts – humanists
- travel, adventure and navigation
- increased use of military technology results requires lots of money:
increased taxation, wealth
- leads to formation of new nation-states that can afford to engage in such
enterprises (i.e. France emerges as state in 15th century)
- costs associated with producing technologies (i.e. gunpowder), building
and maintaining armies
- many texts recovered after fall of Constantinople to Turkish army in 1453;
transferred to Italy and retranslated
- Catholic church challenged with Protestant Reformation; increased role of
patronage and royal courts
- Higher status for role of engineer
- change in values: knowledge for wealth, power and status over standard
theological considerations and attaining salvation
- natural philosophers: justify search for knowledge on utilitarian (believings
value lies in usefulness/practical) and not just theological reasoning; this
signals a changing relationship between science and technology
- another important development was creation of linear (geometrical)
perspective: three dimensional images onto two dimensional canvas is
new method of drawing and painting images
- Leon Alberti (1404-1472) known as “father of perspective”: while he did
not invent linear perspective, did help to perfect the art by providing a
structured theory for artists learning the technique
II. Technology, Patronage and the Royal Courts
- While royal courts all over Europe (i.e. France, Spain, England) supported
and sponsored many technological enterprises, nowhere was this more
evident than in Italy
- Medici family dynasty in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries sponsored
many technical projects
- Did not do so for commercial or industrial reasons; technical projects
revolved around warfare, city-building, entertainment and “showing off”
power and wealth
- status of engineers in these courts increases with new political and military
projects
- Court patronage necessary for “Renaissance men” like Leonardo da Vinci
and Galileo Galilei; courts provided vast resources, access to figures in
power
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2009 © Vera Pavri
A. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
- little is known about da Vinci’s early life
- illegitimate son, raised by grandparents
- at age of 14 he began ten year apprenticeship with Andrea del Verrocchio
who was sculptor and painter
- learned about mathematics, architecture, painting, sculpture; during his
time with Verrocchio helped with construction of Florence cathedral
- Da Vinci had perfected technique of three dimensional drawing: used this
skill to recreate and produce images of many technical machines in his
notebooks and was greatly influenced by Alberti
- Da Vinci established his own career by accepting an assignment from the
Medici family; worked as engineer for powerful Sforza family for ten years
- Highlighted importance of his engineering designs for both military and
civilian purposes but emphasized the importance of his designs for war
- Notebooks have many images of gunpowder weapons, firearms,
crossbows, cannons, bridges, chariots with rotating daggers, etc…
- Re-creations versus new inventions like submarines and airplanes (i.e.
“technological dreams”)
- Da Vinci also created many new mechanisms for courtly entertainment;
had fascination for “automata”
- After Sforza family is ousted by French in 1499; traveled Italy and worked
as military engineer for hire
- At beginning of 16th century da Vinci returns to Florence and works on
several projects; at this time also begins anatomical (relating to physical
structure) studies
- Eventually returns to Rome and accepts patronage of Medici family until
death of Giuliano de Medici
- Last years of life spent in French royal court doing painting, engineering,
architecture, philosophy
- As both an engineer and natural philosopher, da Vinci represents new
type of individual who was familiar with both fields of study
- Investigation of scientific problems via experimentation
B. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
- professor at Padua university, had wide range of interests
- relied heavily on court patronage of Medici family
- skilled rhetorician; wanted to influence public opinion
- interest in experiment, observation, measurement and design
- created and built own telescope (original inventor of telephone an
unknown Dutchman)
- used his telescope in support of the Copernican system which was the
idea that the sun was at the center of the universe
- prior to this, common belief was that the earth was at the center of the
universe
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2009 © Vera Pavri
- Galileo also used telescope to gain prestige: named his discover of
Jupiter’s moons after his patrons, the Medici family so that they would
support him
- It worked! Galileo becomes very important figure in Medici court; gains lots
of status and prestige
- gave away telescopes to wealthy and powerful individuals that would
support cause; not to those that necessarily supported ideas (i.e. Kepler)
- important to understand observations not indisputable truth
- problems with telescope: how to confirm what Galileo was seeing
- difficulties interpreting observations; vision problems, accusations of
trickery
- still, use of telescope one example of growing relationship between
science and technology via the use of new instruments
III. The Printing Press
- Johannes Gutenberg (c.1397-1468)
- Printing press technology based on wooden press, moveable type
characters made of metal, paper, oil-based ink
- moveable type printing and paper introduced into Europe from China;
paper was being made in Europe by 1189
- while most parts invented in China; however, many social, cultural and
economic factors prevent the art of printing for publication: pictographic
type of language; threat to scribes who had monopoly on writing
- in contrast, European scribes few and costly; Gutenberg only needs 24
letters (no “j” or “u”)
- first publication was Gutenberg Bible in 1450
- printing of indulgences help finance Church
IV. Debating the Impact of the Printing Press on Society
- The advent of the printing press led to a greater demand for books and
other printed materials
- between 1450-1500, 8M books sold in Europe
- price of books also reduced: for triple the cost, a printer could produce
thousands of copies as compared to a scribe who could produce only one
- According to historian Elizabeth Eisenstein, the printing press brought
about new era of “openness” and “accessibility” in science and
technological information because:
a. more information made available to larger audience
b. rapid dissemination of information
c. books decrease in price; more people can afford to own them and literacy
rises
d. tables and indexes allow reader greater control over reading material
e. allows for comparing and contrasting similar texts
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Document Summary

Derivative technology in the renaissance and early modern period: science and technology in the renaissance. Many texts recovered after fall of constantinople to turkish army in 1453; transferred to italy and retranslated. Catholic church challenged with protestant reformation; increased role of patronage and royal courts. Leon alberti (1404-1472) known as father of perspective : while he did not invent linear perspective, did help to perfect the art by providing a structured theory for artists learning the technique. While royal courts all over europe (i. e. france, spain, england) supported and sponsored many technological enterprises, nowhere was this more evident than in italy. Medici family dynasty in italy in the 15th and 16th centuries sponsored many technical projects. Did not do so for commercial or industrial reasons; technical projects revolved around warfare, city-building, entertainment and showing off power and wealth status of engineers in these courts increases with new political and military projects.