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Author Topic: WIP: The level of science and technology in 1650 & 1500s  (Read 885 times)


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WIP: The level of science and technology in 1650 & 1500s
« on: March 20, 2018, 02:34:31 PM »
This is very much WIP atm, released for early feedback and so that I don't forget it and can continue from work. Please leave comments if you think this would be helpful. Also suggestions taken for improving the format and adding to inventions and other details. :)


This is a small info packet about the kind of technology and science one could expect if one wanted to be faithful to certain periods of history. I'll compare two dates; 1650, which is the latest date for Gothic Earth characters that we allow, and 1500s. In Ravenloft, these dates roughly correspond to Renaissance culture level, which is applicable to domains such as Dementlieu and Lamordia and to Chivalric culture level, which applies to domains such as Borca and the more advanced parts of Darkon.


1650: Slightly predates Newton. Such thinkers as Copernicus, Galilei and René Descartes had influenced the world of science. This was late Renaissance and the high point of the Scientific Revolution, which led to the Age of Enlightenment. The idea that analysis and experimentation should be backing facts up was gaining foot. Grammar schools started to be relatively common in some countries and learning to read and write was possible for the less privileged.

1500: Galilei and Descartes had not yet lived. The greatest thinkers of the time, such as Leonardo da Vinci, foreshadowed the empirical method; "If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings." Movable type printing had been invented roughly 50 years earlier, which made information vastly more available, though mostly to nobility, clergy and those privileged to get into an university. Grammar schools started to become more common, but weren't available everywhere.

Scientific thinking

1650: By this time, all that remained for scientific method was for someone to formalize it; This would be Newton, but his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica wouldn't be published until 1687. Before Newton, Descartes, Galilei and Francis Bacon had all approached the empirical method from their own point of view. For Descartes, he primarily believed in deduction. Facts must be proven true by logical analysis. Francis Bacon and Galilei put more emphasis on experimentation and observation in their approach. Bacon believed particularly strongly in empirical observation. Things would be observed and experimentations conducted from which facts could be inducted. Compared to Newton, Bacon's method was comparably complicated and described in rigid detail. It was, in essence, the scientific method, but with a lot of fluff and unnecessary extra.

In physics, the ideas of inertia and momentum and velocity did exist at some level, but weren't formalized into a common theory as would later be done by Isaac Newton. Many thinkers still believed in natural qualities of objects; For example, heavenly objects travel in circles because it's the quality of heavenly objects to travel in circles. This was however countered in part by the work of Galilei and Johannes Kepler.

1500: Aristotelian thinking in regards of science was still common. In this thinking, the principle - or theory - was put before the observation and experimentation. The goal of any scientific effort was to produce neat principles. Without Galileo and Bacon, experimentation wasn't yet the primary means of verifying information. It was common to believe in natural qualities of objects.

Mathematics And Physics

1650: The Cartesian coordinate system was developed by Descartes. Cubic equations could be solved. Analytic geometry had been introduced by Descartes, though calculus would not be created until Newton. In La Géométrie, Descartes used modern mathematical formulas; The last letters of the alphabet, x, y, z, would be used to denote unknown variables. Descartes recommended that equations be solved by moving the right side to the left and equaling them with 0 to faciliate solution. i.e. 5 - 8 = x + 2 to 5 - 8 - x - 2 = 0.

The concept behind pendulum was proven by experimentation and formulated into a mathematical solution by Galileo. He couldn't, however, build a succesful prototype in the form of a functioning clock, which appeared in 1658. (there are pendulum clocks ingame though, I believe)

In optics, the law of refraction became established.

1500: Modern mathematics in the form taught today didn't quite yet exist blah blah


1650: Telescope,  the first mechanical calculator (for addition and subtraction), barometer, revolver, the newspaper, ...

Common deviations in the Ravenloft campaign setting
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 03:15:46 AM by tzaeru »
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