Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Wood-Burning Stove. The End of the Dark Ages? The Renaissance Stove.

Renaissance stoves.  Tiled. Ceramic.

Did the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Reformation, depend upon the development of this efficient, handsome wood-burning stove. See descriptions at ://www.castle.ckrumlov.cz/docs/en/zamek_oinf_renkac.xml/  These wood-burning stoves are an aesthetic far cry from those of today.  See collections of separate tiles, see ://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/index.php?op=18; then feast upon the great complete ones.

Now, sidle up. Here is a collection of some fine old stoves we have found, some tiled, some enamel, some ceramic, some ceramic tile, some humble, some gloriously excessive.

Renaissance stove, Wittenberg, Germany, in home of Martin Luther

See Martin Luther's Stove for issues arising from too much warmth. Gravity and whimsy around the heater.

Perhaps the rebirth of great thought did depend on availability of reliable, sustained, even heat. The old fireplaces sent that heat right up the chimney. Consider the effect of sustained, relatively even warmth on talk. Imagine the further difference that ductwork made in cold Europe and its colony appendages, bringing warmth elsewhere in the house. Can you really explore issues when you are shivering. Is warmth the reason civilization bloomed in warm places first.  Of course.

Read Gary Novak's suppositions at this site, that addresses morality issues - but that is not our focus here.  See FN 1 for a fair use quotation. In summary, the snowy parts of Europe specialized in outdoor activities like horses and wars, because they couldn't heat their houses - goes the idea.  Enter the wood stove, and intellectual activity grew, away from the chill, in the nice warm insides. Is that so?  An interesting thought. FN 1.  Finger on chin, tilt head, hmmm.

Missing:  stoves from Goethe's house, Weimar, Germany. We weren't interested at that time, and took no photo. -

In contrast to the fancy ones is this plain one - very plain and we recall elaborate ones, but here is a fair use thumbnail -and consider the gaps between rich and poor, whose lifestyles get touted, and whose do not.
See full size image

See it at  ://images.google.com/url?source=imgres&ct=ref&q=http://flickr.com/photos/your_teacher/147683919/

FN 1  Read Gary Novak's site, Why Thomas Aquinas Was Wrong (the site focuses on different issues not endorsed here, just this interesting notion that does apply to our love of wood-burning stoves). 

Rough summary:  Mr. Novak lays out that people in more northern Europe could not heat their houses in the dark ages, as could those in warmer climates such as Italy in the south. 

Then the northern Visigoths beat the Romans - and took up residence in the south - and ideas spread to the north.  

What difference did that make? This: If you are cold, you tend to stay inside to try to get warm -- and that may well foster "intellectual" pursuits, but on your own. Stay at one place, think, huddle, write, etc.  Outside is cold, stay inside, and that is cold, too.

If you can get warm inside after being outside, however, you may well do more outside -- with the security of a stove within.  Is that?  Head for soldiering, hunting and pestering your neighbor, horses and wars. Go ahead. Think up reasons to hunt other people. Is that so? 

Why didn't fireplaces do the job.  Fireplaces are inefficient because they require vent holes, and that lets in cold air. Open the window to get the smoke out, if the smokehole fails. And heat vacates with the smoke. 

So, it took enclosed stoves to make the difference. No air gets in except what is needed to keep the combustion going. Smoke stays in. Heat radiates out. 

Enter, the Renaissance! Dependent on the stove in the north. Is that so? That led to a joint scholasticism, not just the isolated intellect shivering over there. Share the warmth, share the ideas.  Next, the Reformation. Martin Luther's Stove made a difference.  See Martin Luther's Stove.