Brits at their Best.com: British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors

THE INGENIOUS TIMELINE

15TH CENTURY

Musical score and violin

The Brits introduce the captivating notes of the musical chord called the triad. Western composers – Byrd, Handel, Mozart, hymn writers, the Beatles – have been playing them ever since.

SUPERB HORSES,
MECHANICAL
CRAFTS,
THE FOOD OF LOVE

Shire horse and child

Over many generations, Brits breed the native Shire Horse, the largest and most powerful horse in England. It is possible the Shire's ancestry includes the horses that ancient Britons used to pull their chariots.

Photo: shire-horse.org.uk

1400s SHIRE HORSE COMES OF AGE

By the early 15th century, the Brits have perfected the Shire breed of horse, which is also called the Great Horse of England. It is thought that ancestors of the Shires were used by Britons fighting Caesar's legions. During the reign of King John (1199 - 1216), a hundred stallions of large stature were imported into England from Flanders, and it is possible that the English bred them with English breeds to create the 'Great Horse'.

Rider on white Shire horse

The Shire may be bay, brown, black, white or grey in colour.  Very strong and big-barrelled with long legs, the Shire stands around 19 hands (21 is the record) and has a fine head in comparison to its overall size. Medieval manuscripts suggest the Shire is the great horse that carried knights in armour.

Shires once ploughed heavy soil and moved the commerce of Britain. An average Shire weighs one ton and is capable of moving a 5-ton load. It is a gentle creature and very good with children.

1450 BRITS DISCOVER THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCK OF WESTERN MUSICAL HARMONY

Somewhere in Britain a musician discovers the musical chord of the triad. The notes travel from hand to hand and ear to ear, sweeping the island and Europe with their beauty.

Triads create our most beautiful songs. They are composed of three notes – a root note, a note that is a third above the root and a note that is a third above the third, called the fifth. Played together they form a chord, from the English word accord, and create music’s minor and major scales. This is the music Shakespeare will call "the food of love."

1470s-1480s INVENTING A WATER-POWERED BELLOWS AND WATER HAMMER; MASTERING CRAFTS

Anyone who knows a man who spends evenings and weekends working on his truck or some other mechanical machine which he invariably calls “she” (as in “I don’t know why she isn’t working”) will have one idea why Brits keep fiddling with machines and inventing new ones. In the 15th century they achieve an advance with the invention of a water-powered bellows and a water hammer. (There are no patents, and the dates are uncertain.) These contribute to their mastery and efficiency in making iron implements.

Craft guilds – associations of master craftsmen, journeymen, apprentices, and traders – had formed so members could give each other mutual aid and protection. The professional and creative skills required of their members is very high.

Visiting London in the 1480s, an Italian writes to a friend, "There are also other great buildings, and especially a beautiful bridge over the Thames, of many marble arches, which has many shops built of stone, and mansions, and even a church of considerable size. Throughout the town are to be seen many workshops of craftsmen in all sorts of mechanical arts. The working in wrought silver, tin, or white lead is very expert here, and perhaps the finest I have ever seen.” Alas our Italian visitor found the roads execrable.

1470s-1490s CAXTON PRINTS UP A STORM

William Caxton adopts Gutenberg’s printing press (invented in 1450) and prints the first advertisement, the Sign of the Red Pale. Caxton goes on to publish more than ninety books, which create a wide audience for British artistry and national myths. Among his volumes are Malory’s Morte d' Arthur, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and The Golden Legend, featuring St. George.

Happily for book lovers, Caxton moves from printing advertisements to printing books.

To 16th Century

 

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English bulldog puppy

 

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass