Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or  RTF formats.

A-Gear-o-Time-art - 9/1/99

"A Gear of Time" by Da`ved Man of Letters, Lord Xaviar the Eccentric.

NOTE: See also the files: bells-msg, clocks-msg, sundials-msg, med-calend-art,  calenders-msg, medieval-tech-msg.


This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called Stefan’s Florilegium.

These files are available on the Internet at:

Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.

While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.

                               Thank you,
                                    Mark S. Harris
                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous
                                         stefan at florilegium.org

                       A GEAR OF TIME

                    By Da`ved Man of Letters
                   Lord Xaviar the Eccentric.

     The first recorded mechanical clock in Europe seems to have been in Bedfordshire England in 1283.  It is listed as being built by Austin Canons and is believed to be a verge and foliot escapement style, which was the most common in this time period. This has not been documented well and has no other evidence to sustaniate the claim.  The first mechanical clock that was also the first striking clock, invented in Italy in 1335 and placed in a monastery in Milan to alert the sacristan to toll a bell that summoned the monks to vespers.  This style of clock had no hands or dials, the tolling of the bell gave the time.

     Clocks that chimed at hourly intervals soon spread rapidly throughout Europe, appearing predominantly in public places, adorning building and cathedral facades.  The oldest surviving clock at Salisbury Cathedral, England built in 1386, this clock was found and repaired in 1929.  The first French clock started ticking at Rouen in 1389.  The most prominent example of the mechanical clock of this period is one that was built for Wells Cathedral in England.  It is preserved in the Science Museum in London, it contained chimes that rang on the Quarter-hour. Several types of clocks of this period are pictured in a Flemish manuscript entitled L'Horloge de Sapience, dated around 1450.

     All early mechanical clocks were large and weight-propelled, and were usually constructed to fit cathedral towers.  It wasn't long after that smaller versions were built for domestic use. They were used only as ornamental timepieces for gonging at intervals, usually on the hour.  As they became popular, they removed one job of the town crier.

                           WORKS CITED

     Landes, D.S.; Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of
     the Modern World;. 1984.

     Loyn, H.R.; The Middle Ages: A Concise Encyclopaedia; Thames
     and Hudson. NY. 1989.

     Panati, Charles; The Browser's Book of Beginnings: Origins
     of Everything under, (and including), the Sun; Houghton
     Mifflin Co. Boston, Ma. 1984.

     Robertson, Patrick; The Book of Firsts; Clarkson N. P)otter,
     Inc.-Crown Pub. NY. 1974.

     Singer, C et al.; A History of Technology, Vol 2. 1956.

Copyright 1999 by Lord Xaviar the Eccentric, <medieval_man_inc at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and is notified by email.

If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.

<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org