Technology of the Medieval Crusades
What you'll learn
- Students will encounter the varied mechanical technology of Medieval East and West and observe how the thecrusades led to an influx of new technology to Europe.
- Technology transferred into Europe as a result of Western and Eastern contact during the Crusades included fountains, moving sculpture (automata), and more.
- Students will appreciate the intersection of art, technology, craftsmanship, and engineering in this unique course.
- A comprehensive vocabulary slide is included at the end of the course.
- Curiosity and interest are the only prerequisites for this special topics course on Medieval art and technology.
This course examines the various avenues by which ideas and technology filtered into Western Europe and Latin Christian culture from the eighth through the thirteenth centuries, broadly. Whereas in the early days of the Carolingian dynasty we observe diplomacy and strategic alliances resulting in the introduction of water clocks (and an organ, from the Byzantine emperor), by the eleventh century hostile crusades became the driving factor in the exposure of Franks, Normans, and other groups to the more technologically-developed civilizations of the Islamic world. A certain irony can be appreciated that at the same time that these armies fought an enemy that they perceived as an infidel, the other, and worthy of extinction, they were nevertheless taking notes and incorporating their developments in hydraulic and mechanical engineering into their own works, when their resources permitted. We can also appreciate a spectrum in the crusaders’ mentalities as well; we find sheer plunder with no understanding of an object’s original mechanism when we consider spoliated objects like the Pisa Griffin mounted silently on the Cathedral, but we also come across inventive mechanical re-purposing of an Islamic aquamanile into a screeching weathervane with the Lucca Falcon. For those Normans who subjugated the former Emir of Sicily, a spirit of tolerance and cooperation fostered a distinct style of art, architecture, and culture which set an entirely new bar for comfort and innovation. The palaces of Maredolce, La Zisa, and Hesdin in Picardie are the direct results of the spirit of collaboration and the Western European desire to incorporate the wonders of the Islamic Golden Ages into its own emerging leisure spaces. This very concept was new, and ultimately when we encounter the lavish hydraulic villas of the Renaissance and Baroque centuries later, we should not be surprised to encounter familiar variations of themes we first see imported by these medieval crusaders.
Who this course is for:
- This course is ideal for university-level students with an interest in art, history, and technology.
Dr. Lily Filson has held the title of Assistant Professor for both private as well as state universities in the United States. She received her Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Formative Sciences and her M.A. in Italian Renaissance Art History; her educational fellowships include a European Research Council Grant Fellowship at the Universita' Ca Foscari in Venice, Italy, the Katerina Duskova Memorial Fellowship from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and the Syracuse University Florence Fellowship. She has more recently won a Short-Term Grant from the Renaissance Society of America and a Research Award from the University of Oxford.
Her studies and career have brought her into contact with numerous artworks and sites that go beyond traditional art history survey courses; her lectures feature unique content and fresh perspectives on the greatest story ever told: why and how art is made and how we relate to it over time. She brings first-hand experience and a warm delivery style to her video lectures which bring ancient artworks to life.