Was there ‘scientific method’ in the early Middle Ages? This was a question posed on Twitter yesterday. It is a good question. I am also going to give a paper that addresses this at the University of Kent next week so it is hard for me to compress quite what I want to say into… Continue reading Was There ‘Scientific Method’ in the Early Middle Ages?
One of the most famous manuscripts of the eighth century is Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 10837. It is famous because it contains the calendar of St Willibrord (d. 739) – an Englishman from Northumbria whose early story is told by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History (731). Willibrord travelled to Rath Melsigi in Ireland… Continue reading Willibrord’s Astronomical Horologium
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
Did the “Christian Dark Ages” suppress scientific knowledge and does it matter? You can find some great graphs on the internet that suggest so. Some even suggest that Europe managed to hit 0% science. You can imagine the argument without reading anything: people in the Middle Ages – all of them – made no technological… Continue reading On ‘Progress’ in Early Medieval Science
One of the many accepted assumptions about the end of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages is that Roman science died, suppressed by belief and ignorance until at best the twelfth century and the rise of ‘reason’. There were a few exceptional figures capable of relatively sophisticated natural philosophy, notably Isidore of Seville and… Continue reading Early Medieval Science is Changing
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:
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
One of the most important cultural dynamics of the early Middle Ages was supplied by the Irish (and later English) religious men and women who travelled to the continent. There, they set up new foundations, joined existing ones, taught, brought and copied books, and so forth. Irish learning may or may not have 'saved civilization'… Continue reading Ireland and the Continent: New Resource