Encountering Early Medieval Time

This is a much-reduced summary of a lecture I gave at the Paris IMS Conference 'Le temps' in July 2019   What is time? A mystery? The calendar? The movement of the heavens? Money? One thing medievalists have long agreed on is that it is important to understand the senses of time societies used to… Continue reading Encountering Early Medieval Time

In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

Some medieval source material just doesn’t look promising. Researchers and their audience want a story. Preferably a big story. If not, everyone quickly wonders why they bothered. This is not a new thing: historical writing in the nineteenth century tended to be BIG history about chronicles, laws, states, nations. It is what people were and… Continue reading In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

The Case of the Mystery Eclipse of 811

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun. This can only happen at the New Moon (obviously) and therefore eclipses interested early medieval Christians – not because they were necessarily mysterious or portentous, but because they helped to check the accuracy of the calculations about luni-solar cycles for… Continue reading The Case of the Mystery Eclipse of 811

Frankish? Irish? Other? The Problem with Labels

How and why do you label an idea as belonging to a particular culture? I have been looking at a ninth-century collection of materials on history, calendars and the Easter reckoning which highlights the difficulties in answering this question. The collection (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, H 150 inf) is known as the ‘Bobbio Computus’ [1] because… Continue reading Frankish? Irish? Other? The Problem with Labels

Warntjes on Early Medieval Science

Anyone following this blog will know that I keep coming back to the subject of early medieval science and computus, and the groundbreaking recent work of Immo Warntjes in particular. Immo gave a fascinating lecture on this subject in Dublin in December 2015 which is now available on youtube, so I thought I would share:

King and Mayor, 699 (Fun with Merovingian Dates 2)

It is important to go and look at medieval manuscripts. Charles West reminded us about this yesterday in a blog post about his new project, ‘Turbulent Priests’. He had been in Brussels examining an twelfth-century manuscript of a text based on Pseudo-Isidore, and he had been struck by the marginal notices which had never really… Continue reading King and Mayor, 699 (Fun with Merovingian Dates 2)

Early Medieval Science in Galway: The Report

I’ve posted a couple of times about the 2014 International Conference on the Science of Computus. It took place this last weekend and was every bit as strong and stimulating as I’d hoped. (I also tweeted highlights as it unfolded). Computus is not mainstream, I think it’s fair to say. It is not ‘Kings! Power!… Continue reading Early Medieval Science in Galway: The Report

Early Medieval Futures

Yesterday I met THE Peter Brown. He was receiving an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews because he is quite simply one of the greatest historians of the last forty years. (The degree was bestowed on him by Sir Menzies Campbell and the other honorand was Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent… Continue reading Early Medieval Futures

Fun with Merovingian Dates

I meant to post about this a while ago, after I received an email from Professor Apocalypse, Richard Landes. He noted a discrepancy between how I had dated a text in a manuscript in London (British Library, Cotton A ii) and how Wilhelm Levison had done it. The manuscript is a compilation of odds and… Continue reading Fun with Merovingian Dates

Time-Reckoning and Science: The Fifth Galway Conference

Every two years since 2006, the National University of Ireland in Galway has hosted a big international conference dedicated to 'computistical science' in the Middle Ages. (Usually supported by IBM, believe it or not). The line-up for this year's conference has just been announced - in full below - and, quite frankly, it looks just… Continue reading Time-Reckoning and Science: The Fifth Galway Conference