The Fruits of Civilization (22-10) Clocks


Water and windmills required complicated gearing. This need drove empirical knowledge of practical mechanics, which was put to use in making clocks.

As early as the 12th century, the demand for water clocks flowed so strongly that there was a specialized guild of clockmakers in Cologne. The next century saw the mastery of gravity-driven clocks.

By the 14th century, every city in Europe with any civic pride had at least 1 large clock that not only tolled the hours, but also entertained with mechanical dancing bears, marching soldiers, or bowing ladies.

In 1364, after 16 years toil, Italian physician and astronomer Giovanni de’ Dondi completed building a clock that not only told time, but also tracked the movements of the Sun, Moon, and 5 known planets. This was 2 centuries before Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the universe was posthumously published.