Medieval Period

Knowledge Base > Medieval Period

The medieval period was a world of iron. The age of Bronze was over for most of the world and the age of Steel had yet to completely come. During that time, the majority of metal tools and weapons were made of this alloy of copper and tin (Bronze). It could be melted and forged into numerous shapes. It could work relatively easier to take an advantage and also was really harder than pure iron. Bronze at that time could possibly be refined with complete ease from ore. In fact, it was this refining process which may have been the origin of “magic” in which one common substance could be changed into another more valuable substance through mysterious and hard to understand methods.

The iron was being sent to the armorers and sword makers while some part of the iron was too soft that it was useful to make everyday objects. An important part of being a blacksmith was understanding how to ascertain which iron was a good choice for what. An important technique a blacksmith required was the creation of steel from iron by diffusing carbon into the heated iron. Another technique was the hardening of steel. Introducing carbon into the iron allowed the resulting steel to be hardened, often by heating it and then rapidly cooling it.

Finally, it was essential for a smith to know how to anneal the steel. This was a combination of reheating, slow cooling, and continued hammering that drew some of the brittleness out of the steel, allowing it to regain some of the flexibility of the iron while retaining most of the hardness of steel. With the development of the world, blacksmithing evolved. In Britain and other larger areas, the iron makers became experts and specified their fields. Some were only making nail only while the others were making horseshoes. Where there was water for power, bellows would be mechanized, allowing hotter fires that could actually melt the iron. There were blowers primarily based on induction of air into water falling through a tube. Germans created a machine to make wire and coal in 1300’s.