By about 1000, Europe was undergoing an economic revival. Over the next few centuries, remarkable changes greatly strengthened Western Europe. These changes began in the countryside, where peasants adopted new farming technologies that made their fields more productive. The result was an agricultural revolution that transformed Europe.
New farming technologies changed medieval Europe. In the fields, a new type of harness distributed pressure along the shoulders of the horse, which allowed the plowing of heavier soils.
By about 800, peasants were using iron plows that carved deep into the heavy soil of northern Europe. These plows were an improvement over wooden plows, which were designed for light Mediterranean soils rather than heavier northern soils.
Also, a new kind of harness allowed peasants to use horses rather than oxen to pull the plows. Faster moving horses could plow more land in a day than oxen could, so peasants could enlarge their fields and plant more crops.
Other changes brought still more land into use. Peasants adopted a new way of rotating crops: the three-field system. They planted one field with grain; a second with legumes, such as peas and beans; and the third they left unplanted.