How Carolingian Was Bede’s Irish Computus?

One of Bede’s most celebrated works is his On the Reckoning of Time (725). It is a work that is often characterised a schoolbook that sets out how to calculate that pesky movable Easter and to situate that calculation within the crossfire of natural laws, human custom, and divine mystery. It is also partly polemical… Continue reading How Carolingian Was Bede’s Irish Computus?

Science & Medicine at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

Medieval histories of science and medicine were well represented at the Medieval Academy of America this year. And with a few big (or biggish) projects getting funding in the field recently, it was a good opportunity to take stock of some of the things that are going on. ‘Networks and Exchanges of Science and Medicine’… Continue reading Science & Medicine at the Medieval Academy of America 2019

Was There ‘Scientific Method’ in the Early Middle Ages?

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?

Willibrord’s Astronomical Horologium

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

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

Me Talking About Medieval ‘Science (& Belief)’

Yesterday I gave a short talk about my new project to the Late Antique Work In Progress seminar in the School of Classics at St Andrews. You can hear me burbling here: The two manuscripts I discuss are both available online if you want to play along: Bamberg, Msc.Patr. 61. Bern, MS 611. Some good… Continue reading Me Talking About Medieval ‘Science (& Belief)’

On ‘Progress’ in Early Medieval Science

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

Early Medieval Science is Changing

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’.[1] There were a few exceptional figures capable of relatively sophisticated natural philosophy, notably Isidore of Seville and… Continue reading Early Medieval Science is Changing

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: