The Plow and the Horse in Medieval Europe
1 One of the most important factors driving Europe slow emergence from the economic stagnation of the Early Middle Ages (circa 500000 BC) was the improvement of agricultural technology. One innovation was a new plow, with a curved attachment (moldboard) to turn over wet, heavy soils, and a knife (or coulter) in front of the blade to allow a deeper and easier cut. (A) This more complex plow replaced the simpler cratch plow that merely made a shallow, straight furrow in the ground. (B) In the lands around the Mediterranean, with light rains and mild winters, this had been fine, but in the wetter terrain north and west of the Danube and the Alps, such a plow left much to be desired, and it is to be wondered if it was used at all. Cleared lands would more likely have been worked by hand tilling, with little direct help from animals, and the vast forests natural to Northern Europe remained either untouched, or perhaps cleared in small sections by fire, and the land probably used only so long as the ash-enriched soil yielded good crops and then abandoned for some other similarly cleared field. (C) Such a pattern of agriculture and settlement was no basis for sustained cultural or economic life. (D)
2 With the new heavy plow, however, fields could be cleared, sowed, and maintained with little more difficulty than in the long-settled lands of Southern Europe, while the richness of the new soils, the reliability of the rains, and the variety of crops now possibly made for an extremely productive agriculture. The new tool, however, imposed new demands, technical, economic, and social. The heavy plow was a substantial piece of capital, unlike a simple hand hoe, and this had the same sorts of implications that capitalization always hasn’t favored the concentration of wealth and control. Moreover, making full use of it required more animal power, and this had a host of implications of its own. The full importance of this was even more apparent in the centuries after 1000, when oxen began to give way in certain parts of Western Europe to horses.
3 The powerful, rugged farm horse was itself a product of improvement during the Middle Ages, and it was part of a complex set of technical changes and capabilities. The introduction of new forms of equipment for horses transformed this animal into the single most important assist to human labor and travel. Instead of the old harness used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, there appeared from Central Asia the rigid, padded horse collar. Now, when the horse pulled against a load, no longer did the load pull back against its neck and windpipe but rather rode on the sturdy shoulders. When this innovation was combined with the iron horseshoe, the greater speed and stamina of the horse displaced oxen wherever it could be afforded. The larger importance of this lay not only in more efficient farmwork, but in swifter and surer transportation between town and countryside. The farmer with horses could move products to market more frequently and at greater distances than with only oxen, and the urban development that was to transform the European economic and social landscape after the eleventh century was propelled in large part by these new horse-centered transport capabilities.
4 Another indicator of how compelling and important was the new horse agriculture was its sheer cost. Unlike oxen and other cattle, horses cannot be supported exclusively on hay and pasturage; they require, particularly in northern climates where pasturing seasons are short, cropped food, such as oats and alfalfa. Unlike grass and hay, these are grown with much of the same effort and resources applied to human nourishment, and thus their acquisition represents a sacrifice, in a real sense, of human food. The importance of this in a world that usually lived at the margins of sufficient diet is hard to overstate. The increased resources that went into making the horse central to both the medieval economy and, in a separate but related development, medieval warfare, are the surest signs of the great utility the animal now assumed.
1. The word “stagnation” in the passage is closest in meaning to
B)lack of growth
C)dependence on others
(第1段)2. According to paragraph 1, what was the main advantage of the new plow over the scratch plow?
A)The new plow created straighter rows.
B)The new plow was easier for animals to pull.
C)The new plow could dig deeper into the soil.
D)The new plow was easier to make.
(第1段)3. According to paragraph 1, the scratch plow was particularly unsuited to
A)the lands around the Mediterranean
B)places where the soil was often dry
C)places where land was cleared and worked by hand
D)places where the soil was particularly wet and heavy
(第1段)4. Paragraph 1 implies which of the following about agriculture before the introduction of the new plow?
A)Limited rainfall had prevented large-scale agricultural development.
B)Most of Europe’s developed agricultural communities were located in the south.
C)Several other important innovations immediately preceded the development of the new plow.
D)Much of Europe’s forestland had been converted to agricultural use.
5. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
A)Tilling by hand was so difficult that cleared land in Northern Europe was often abandoned and allowed to return to its natural forested state.
B)Cleared land was probably tilled by hand, while the forests of Northern Europe were cleared only in small sections and used for short periods.
C)In the vast natural forests of Northern Europe, farmers had to work the land by hand, with little direct help from animals.
D)Fire enabled northern European farmers to enrich cleared land enough to cultivate their crops for short periods of time.
6. The word “implications” in the passage is closest in meaning to
(第2段) 7. What can be inferred from the information that the new plow favored the concentration of wealth and control?
A)Wealthy farmers in the south had a significant economic advantage over farmers in the north.
B)The production and sale of the new plow became an important source of capital.
C)The new plow was more popular in parts of Europe where oxen were used for farming than in parts where horses were used.
D)Greater economic equality existed in northern Europe before the introduction of the new plow.
(第3段)8. According to paragraph 3, which of the following contributed to the dramatic rise in the agricultural use of horses in Europe?
A)A powerful new breed of farm horse was brought to Europe from Central Asia.
B)Farmers began using rigid, padded collars that allowed horses to pull heavy loads more easily.
C)For the first time, horses became cheaper than oxen.
D)Farmers began studying the farming techniques used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
(第3段)9. According to paragraph 3, what role did horses play in the larger social changes of the eleventh century?
A)The raising and selling of horses became important economic and cultural activities in Europe.
B)Horses stimulated the growth of urban areas by providing quick, reliable transportation.
C)Owners of successful horse-based farms became influential members of society.
D)Horse transportation enabled Europeans to interact with other cultures like those of Central Asia.
10. The word “exclusively” in the passage is closest in meaning to
(第4段)11. In paragraph 4, why does the author emphasize the amount of effort and resources needed to grow alfalfa and oats?
A)To illustrate how valuable horses were by showing how much farmers were willing to sacrifice to keep them
B)To provide evidence that, in medieval Europe, both horses and humans lived at the margins of a sufficient diet
C)To argue that it made more sense to devote land to growing food for humans than to growing food for horses
D)To explain why oxen and other cattle that ate grass and hay continued to be more common than horses
12. The word “sustained” in the passage is closest in meaning to
13. Look at the four squares that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.
In fact, it sliced the ground so thoroughly that fields could be planted after only one plowing rather than the two needed before.
Where would the sentence best fit?
14. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some answer choices do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage.
A)Light rains and unpredictable winters had made most of the soil in Europe unsuitable for enough agriculture to sustain economic development.
B)Improvements in the design of plows opened up vast areas of land in Northern Europe that had previously been unusable for sustained agriculture.
C)Farmers switched from oxen to horses to pull their plows because inexpensive pasturage for oxen decreased significantly in the centuries after 1000 B.C.
D)With help from a new kind of harness from Asia, horses were able to pull the new heavy plow and to transport goods to market more quickly and frequently.
E)The introduction of iron horseshoes enabled farmers to transport goods farther than they could with the more expensive oxen.
F)The horse came to be valued so greatly that farmers devoted some of their land to growing crops for their horses rather than using this land to grow food for their families.
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