Chiara Frugoni's BOOKS, BANKS, BUTTONS, AND OTHER INVENTIONS FROM THE MIDDLE AGES
Beautifully translated by William McCuaig from the original Italian, this lavishly illustrated book tells the surprising story of the many important inventions that emerged from Europe during the Middle Ages. Eyeglasses, stirrups, books, cannons, articles of clothing, forks — all are displayed in illustrations drawn from contemporary paintings. An added bonus is the frequent review of the research into the identity of the inventors themselves and the fascinating role that written language played in defining the identity of different inventors.
The translator does a masterful job of representing in English the nuances of a variety of historical references drawn from a variety of languages. What emerges from the book, too, is a sense of wonder about a time when these inventions were new. The reader realizes that the period of inventiveness that stretched across hundreds of years could now be so highly compressed given our modern communications and transportation technologies.