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Glass Windows

Discussion in 'Research' started by Fyle, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    So, I am not exactly sure when glass was invented, I do not think in mideval times there was glass.

    Curious if I can get away with that as well.

    Thanks for all this research help. Greatly appreciated. This is better than arguing in circles about politically correct stuff that boils down to opinion anyway...
     
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Um, I'm not sure whether you're asking, but glass was in windows in the Medieval times. Early glass windows were hand-blown disks set into a framework. The disks were called rondeles. Also, you could use cut glass in say, diamond patterns, rather than stained-glass type pictures.

    If you wanted to avoid glass, you could have open windows with either a leather shade that would roll up, or shutters.
     
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Glass existed in ancient times. The Carthaginians had a hand in its development, as I recall. The issue was that glass was super expensive.
     
  4. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Medieval peasants would have had very small holes in their walls with wooden shutters that were closed at night or during cold times of the year.

    The slightly better off might have fenestral windows, which were lattice frames covered in linen. The linen had been soaked in resin and tallow. Those frames could be removed.

    Nobility and the merchant class might have been able to afford windows made from panes of polished horn. These were cheaper than glass, but you would have had difficulty seeing through them.

    Only churches or royal palaces, and perhaps the absolute richest of the noble houses, could have afforded glass windows.
     
    TheokinsJ likes this.
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    The issue is not really whether there would have been glass, but rather the quality. Glass can actually be formed naturally - lightning strikes on silica sand. This is believed to be the genesis of the product. But it's about using sufficient heat on the sand to get an even surface on both sides - ie to melt it properly - then to cool it properly and to get the impurities out so that the glass is clear. Medieval glass existed, but if you look at common examples of it it was discoloured and uneven leading to distorted images and also very thick, because it was so brittle that thin glass would have shattered on heating / cooling / transport etc.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    There was glass in Roman times, at least. But it wasn't of especially high quality.

    In the New Testament, Paul at one point makes a comment about 'seeing through a glass darkly.'

    My world(s), glass working is far more sophisticated than in standard medieval settings. Has to do with optics and solar forges used to smelt metal.
     
  7. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I'm surprised at how recent our modern window glass is... Float glass system developed in the 1950s and commercial since the 1960s...
     
  8. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    Thanks for all the great responses...

    Seems like it was around, but makes sense it wasnt cheap and nobles and churches would have it.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The point of having glass in those times would've been letting in light. It would have been too opaque to rely on for visibility.
     
  10. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Yeah, it was mostly about lighting the inside of whatever building you're in. Churches' stained glass windows also served double duty as a visual tool for teaching Bible stories to the common folk, most of whom were illiterate.

    For the lower classes, we sort of forget how much time people spent outside during these eras. So it wasn't as big a deal for them.
     
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I think for lower classes, it makes more sense that they would have had window holes and shutters, because cook fires were inside and windows allowed ventilation for smoke and odors to leave. In my writing, I don't have paned windows because they're too modern, but I use hide shades, shutters, and glass rondele windows in my various books, depending on the setting. Oh, and stained glass in churches. Class determines what people have, and for most of the places where my characters live, it wouldn't make sense to have a modern window pane in the home.

    Big windows that let in a lot of light are pretty modern and older homes can appear uncomfortably dark to people now, where a couple centuries ago, it would have been perfectly comfortable to have a dark room illuminated by an oil lamp. A lot of cottages in the countryside were whitewashed and so relatively light in ambiance, reflecting lamplight rather than swallowing it.

    It's common knowledge that castles tended to be drafty, one of the reasons was because they had narrow window holes with no shutters or whatever.
     
  12. AndrewMelvin

    AndrewMelvin Scribe

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    It might be worth remembering that glassblowers would be few and far between, given how skilled the job is and how few customers they might have. If a glass window was broken, it could take a long time to replace properly.
     
  13. Manalodia

    Manalodia Sage

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    Glass windows have been around longer than one may believe, but they indeed were exclusive to the rich nobility for some time. The English (Old English) called them "eagphyrl" until the Germanic "window" replaced the term. Mullioned glass was used in Ancient Rome in 9th century and was still used in Europe for some time. By the time windows were common place, it was the 17th century, so if you story is within that timeline setting, then glass windows do exist.

    So the nobility had them for a long time while the poor or middle-class used animal hides, cloth or even paper-like material (which was more the expertise of the Far East).
     
  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Is "window" really a Germanic word? In German, it's "fenster", from which we draw the word defenestrated-being thrown from a window.
     
  15. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Yes, it is. It's actually derived from a Northern Germanic word used by the Vikings. I believe the original word meant "wind-eye" or something like that, because the Vikings thought that windows looked like eyes staring out from the house.
     
    Manalodia likes this.
  16. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    transparent glass - for spectacles - has been around since the thirteenth century. Small lenses, obviously, but not obviously unusable. I remembered that Galileo had used two spectacle lenses to invent the telescope, and worked back from there. Probably Italian - at a guess, Venice, where they also developed the technique of blowing glass into a cylindrical mould, then cutting it down the side while still soft and flattening it out - hardly the equal of float glass, but better than the blob techniques.

    Or try oiled parchment - lets through a surprisingly high percentage of the light.

    I've seen some lacemaker's lamps in Bruges (Belgium) from the fifteenth centuy, bowls (like goldfish bowls) of remarkably clear glass, filled with water. Then a candle between four of them, focusing the light to four points where four women would sit, making lace. Candles were expensive. Admittedly the light was going through as little glass, and as much water (that's relatively easy to make clear) as possible, but it's definitely still mediaeval.
     
    Shreddies likes this.
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