The Gregorian calendar

Despite stabilizing the Roman calendar for many centuries, the Julian reforms did not fully succeed. Eventually there was a perceptible disagreement between the Julian calendar and the solar year. Pope Gregory reformed the calendar in 1582 to the form used in the West to this day. The Julian Calendar is still used in some parts of Europe, notably by various branches of the Orthodox Christian Church, celebrating Christmas on 25 December, Julian calendar, which corresponds at this time to 7 January, Gregorian calendar.

Medieval Europe

The development of a linear view of time in Western Europe has been attributed to the appearance of church clocks. In the early fourteenth century, big mechanical clocks began to appear in Italian city church towers. These clocks were driven by gravity rather than the flow of water. Over the centuries, various improvements were made, such as the use of springs to power the movement and the pendulum as a regulator.

Before the appearance of clocks, Western Church authorities divided the day into 12 daylight hours and 12 night-time hours. As time-keeping became more accurate, the ringing of church bells synchronized with ever more reliable and accurate clocks would have impacted on the ordinary person’s perception of time. In particular, labourers and their employers would have had a better basis to define and monitor the hours of paid employment.

Time was generally poorly synchronized until the development of railways, which showed up differences in local time standards across the country. Greenwich Mean Time was set up as the legal standard in Britain in 1880, driven by the needs of the railways.

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