Presentation on theme: "The Byzantine empire. Despite a general negative assessment of Byzantine contributions, there were periods during the eleventh century, and especially."— Presentation transcript:
Despite a general negative assessment of Byzantine contributions, there were periods during the eleventh century, and especially during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, even as the empire was disintegrating, that Byzantine intellectual life burgeoned forth to such an extent that scholars have labeled these periods “renaissances”. In the first half of the fifteenth century, some Byzantine scholars brought knowledge of Greek and Greek manuscripts to Italy, helping to spark what has been called the Italian renaissance. Although during these “renaissance” periods we find much greater interest in Greek literature and science, no significant works were composed that had any detectable influence. Edward Grant 2004
The Islamic Empire Cf. 2 videos about the development of : alchemy (=chemistry, notably distillation) and medicine in the Arabic world
Jabir ibn Hayyan al Azdi, known in the West as Geber (c.721-c. 815) al Khwarizmi (c.780-c.850) al-Kindi, known in the West as Alkindus (c.801-873) al-Farghani, known in the West as Alfraganus (9th century) ibn Zakariya Razi, known in the West as Rhazes or Rasis (865-925) al-Batani/Battani, known in the West as Albategnius, Albategni or Albatenius (c.858-929) al-Zahrawi, known in the West as Abulcasis (936-1013) ibn al Haytham, known in the West as Alhazen (965-c.1039) ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna (981-1037) ibn Rushd, known in the West as Averroes (1126-1198) al-Betrugi/al-Bitruji/ al-Bitrogi/al Bidrudschi, known in the West as Alpetragius (?-1204) Several outstanding Islamic scholars particularly well known in the West
By the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the locus of educational activity had moved from monasteries to schools connected with cathedrals. Since cathedrals were in the major cities of dioceses, the emergence of cathedral schools marks a significant shift of education from the countryside to the cities of Western Europe. Among cathedral schools, those at Paris, Liège, Rheims, Orleans, Laon, and Chartres achieved great fame in their day. Established initially to educate secular clergy, the cathedral schools soon attracted laymen who wished to learn Latin and other subjects useful for professional purposes in medicine, law, or civil or ecclesiastical administration. Many famous teachers were associated with cathedral schools, from Gerbert of Aurillac, founder in the school at Rheims in the late tenth century, to Peter Abelard of the cathedral school of Paris in the first half of the twelfth century, who was perhaps the most famous teacher in the Middle Ages. Sandwiched between these two was Fulbert of Chartres, who is the patriarch among the masters of the great cathedral schools, and who was the first to form a school with distinctive tradition which persisted long after his death. Grant, 2002, p.26
Mary throne of Wisdom, is surrounded by wise men of the antiquity. Insead of the usual progression : Triduum: grammar, rhetoric, logic Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, one finds in the cathedral of Chartres, starting from below in the second (external) arch, on the left: Aristotle + Dialectic (= Logic) Cicero + Rhetoric Euclid + Geometry starting from below in the second arch, on the right: Aelius Donatus (known for his Latin grammar) + Grammar Ptolemaeus + Astronomy Boethius + Arithmetic In the first arch, starting from below, on the right: Pythagoras + Music
"Philosophy has two main instruments", wrotes Thierry of Chartres, "namely intellect (intellectus) and its expression. Intellect is illumined by the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy). Its expression is the concern of the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric)".
Boethius (c. 480 – c. 525) has been called “last of the Romans, first of the scholastics”. He was instrumental in preserving and transmitting several essential Greek works in Latin. His greatest contribution was in Logic.
In the twelfth century schools, Boethius’ influence reached its peak. His works became central to the syllabus of instruction, and strongly stimulated that thoroughgoing study of logic for its own sake which becomes so prominent a hallmark of the mediaeval schools. The Opuscula Sacra taught the theologians that they did not necessarily need to fear the applications of rigorous logic to the traditional language of the Church. He made his readers hungry for more Aristotle, and prepared the welcome given to the new twelfth century translations of the Analytics and the Topics, although his own versions were scarcely known at all. From the first of the Opuscula Sacra mediaeval philosophers learnt to draw up a hierarchy of the sciences and to see the different departments of knowledge, now being pursued together in community as the newly founded universities set themselves to their common task, as an organized and coherent scheme in which the various parts could be seen to be rationally related to each other. Chadwick, Boethius, pp 252-253
The cathedral school was an evolutionary step on the path to the formation of the university, which was a wholly new institution that not only transformed the curriculum but also the faculty and its relationship to state and church. Grant 2002, p.29
Lecturing in a Medieval University by Laurentius De Voltolina (14th Century)
An example: the foundation of the university of Oxford. At the beginning of the 13 th century, just as the Oxford schools were beginning to develop a sense of identity, the whole educational structure at Oxford nearly collapsed because of a murder that triggered an exodus: Three Oxford students had been sharing a house. Although the students were supposed to maintain a chaste life they had not taken a vow of chastity, and one of them had a mistress. One cold night in December 1209, after a heated argument, he killed his mistress and fled, leaving the house and Oxford far behind. The girl was local, and news of her death brought an angry mob onto the streets. The mayor and officers of Oxford panicked. They decided that action was quickly needed if they were to keep control of the town. They swept into the house, seized the other two students who lodged there, and dragged them away to be hanged in front of the mob. The masters of the Oxford schools were appalled. It wasn’t that they considered themselves above the law, rather that they expected to be left to themselves to handle a crime in which one of their students was implicated. Because every student in Oxford was a cleric in the minor orders, students should be subject to the law enforcement of the Church, not that of the town. In protest, seventy masters departed from Oxford with remarkable swiftness, taking hundreds of students with them. Many of the deserters moved to the newer, then much smaller group of schools in the quieter and presumably safer East Anglian town of Cambridge. […] Only after the king had submitted to the pope in 1213 was there an opportunity to restore the town’s schools. The papal legate, Cardinal Nicholas, was sent out to England to sort out the details of king John’s submission. He restored order in Oxford, and in 1214 set in place the structures that effectively established the university. He gave the Oxford schools a chancellor and drew up a binding charter with the town, which henceforth had to keep its legal hands off the masters and scholars. The penalties for the town were detailed and financially crippling. Rents on lodgings provided by townspeople for the students were slashed to half their previous values for the next ten years. The town was obliged to provide 52 shillings a year – the cost of building a couple of typical houses in perpetuity for the support of poor scholars. It also had to give a dinner for 100 of the poorest scholars each St Nicholas Day (6 December), probably the anniversary of the hanging. Those who took part in the killing were forced to do penance at their graves. […] The schools were granted corporate rights in a charter that the town was forced to renew each year. Technically, though Oxford was not referred to as a university until 1231, Nicholas made it such in all but name. from: Brian Clegg, The First Scientist, a life of Roger Bacon
Gregory VII (1073-1085) began the process that culminated in 1122 in the Concordat of Worms, whereby the Holy emperor agreed to give up spiritual investiture on bishops and allow free ecclesiastical elections. The process manifested by the Investiture Struggle has been appropriately called the Papal Revolution. With control over its own clergy, the papacy became an awesome, centralized, bureaucratic powerhouse, an institution in which literacy, a formidable tool in the Middle Ages, was concentrated. Grant 2001
The Papal revolution allowed the Church to create an autonomous legal order.[…] But the Papal Revolution achieved more than that. By insuring that secular authorities were excluded from ecclesiastical involvement, the Church inadvertently helped create a more positive environment for secular affairs. It enabled Western civilization to avoid the pitfalls of Caesaropapism, which had bedeviled the Byzantine empire. It had helped create secular governing entities within which reasoned discourse, without revelation, could be carried on. In time, these secular governments would assume responsibility for most of the universities of Europe and assume many functions that had previously been conducted by the Church. Grant, 2002 Despite their legal autonomy, universities in the thirteenth and fourteenth century were subject to some ecclesiastical influence and pressure, but they were also recipients of ecclesiastical benefits. Grant 2004
Another key ingredient of the 12 th century Renaissance: the study of Greek and Arabic science
Among the most prominent actors of the Latin translation of Greek and Arabic texts in the Middle Ages figure: Constantine the African (c. 1020 – 1087), Adelard of Bath (c. 1080 – c. 1152) Gerard of Cremona (c. 1114–1187), Robert of Ketton, Herman of Carinthia, Michael Scot, John of Seville, Plato Tiburtinus, James of Venice, Robert of Chester, etc Gerard of Cremona was the most prolific translator in Toledo. In total, he translated at least 71 books from the Arabic language, including such originally Greek works as Ptolemy's Almagest, Archimedes’ On the Measurement of the Circle, Aristotle’s On the Heavens, and Euclid's Elements of Geometry; such originally Arabic works as al-Khwarizmi's On Algebra and Almucabala, Jabir's Elementa Astronomica, and works by al-Razi (Rhazes)
In continuity with translations from Arabic, a rediscovery of Greek sources paved the way for the Renaissance spirit of the 14 th /15 th centuries. At the request of Thomas of Aquinas, so it is assumed (the source document is not clear), the Dominican friar William of Moerbeke (c. 1215 – 1286) undertook a complete translation of the works of Aristotle directly from the Greek or, for some portions, a revision of existing translations. The reason for the request was that many of the copies of Aristotle in Latin then in circulation had originated from Arabic whose texts had often passed through Syriac versions before being re-translated into Arabic. By the thirteenth century there was concern that the Arabic versions had distorted the original meaning of Aristotle, and that the possible influence of the rationalist Averroes could be a source of philosophical and theological errors. William of Moerbeke was the first translator of the Politics (c. 1260) into Latin, as the Politics, unlike other parts of the Aristotelian corpus, had not been translated into Arabic. William's translations were literal (de verbo in verbo), faithful to the spirit of Aristotle and without elegance. For several of William's translations, the Greek texts have since disappeared: without him the works would be lost. Source: Wikipedia In Umberto Eco’s puzzle-mystery set in the 1320s, The Name of the Rose, Eco imagines that a Benedictine monastery possesses the last remaining manuscript of the Poetics of Aristotle.
The period between 1175 and 1300 sees the birth of five large encyclopedias. Chronogically, the first of these is the De Naturis Rerum of the Benedictine abbot of Cirencester Alexander Neckam (1157-1217). The beginning of the 13rd century also coincides with the birth of two religious orders of an original, itinerant type, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, whose mobility was particularly well suited to the circulation of ideas between the universities founded during the same period. After the encyclopedia of Alexander Neckam, the three next largest encyclopedias were composed by Franciscans or Dominicans: the Opus de Natura Rerum, whose composition lasted from 1228 to 1244, was written by the Dominican Thomas de Cantimpré (1201-1272); the De Proprietatibus Rerum, composed between 1230 and 1250, was written by the Franciscan Bartholomeaus Anglicus (ca. 1190-1250), and the Speculum Majus (dealing with theology, psychology, physiology, cosmography, physics, botany, zoology, mineralogy, agriculture), finished around 1257-1258, was written by the Dominican Vincent de Beauvais. The fifth large encyclopedia of the same period was the Compendium Philosophiae, finished around 1300, whose author is unknown. Konrad von Megenberg (1309-1374) translated the encyclopedia of Thomas de Cantimpré in German; his edition includes original printed botanical illustrations.
Speculum naturale of Vincent de Beauvais (c. 1190 – 1264?) (right) followed by the Buch der Natur of Konrad von Megenberg (1309-1374)
As the Middle Ages entered the thirteenth century, universities were already in operation at Oxford, Paris and Bologna, and the translations of many of Aristotle’s books were available in Latin. In the course of the thirteenth century, Aristotle’s treatises on logic and natural philosophy were adopted as the basic curriculum in the arts faculties of medieval universities. They became the common property of students and teachers over the whole of Europe for almost four centuries. However, the reception of Aristotle was accompanied by tensions raised in Paris by conservative leaning theologians.
The teaching masters in the arts faculty of Paris sought to avoid any possible dangerous entanglements with theology by demarcating the boundaries between natural philosophy and theology. They did this in 1272 by making it mandatory for all members of the arts faculty to swear an oath in which each agreed not to consider theological questions – as for example, the trinity and incarnation – in their treatises on natural philosophy. If for some reason an arts master was unable to avoid a theological problem, he was sworn to resolve the issue in favor of the faith. Grant 2004
Certain of the Paris articles reveal the deep antagonism that had been engendered between arts masters and theologians, as is apparent from the following six articles: 37 That nothing should be believed unless it is self-evident or could be asserted from things that are self-evident 40 That there is no higher life than philosophical life 152 That theological discussions are based on fables 153 That nothing is known better because of knowing theology 154 That the only wise men of the world are philosophers 175 That Christian Revelation is an obstacle to learning. Grant 2004 The condemnation of the diocese of Paris in 1277
The 219 articles were apparently drawn up hastily and with little regard for any proper order. Many repeated the same error in different guises – especially with respect to the eternity of the world, of which there seem to be approximately twenty-seven different articles. Almost anything that occurred to the members of the selection committee seems to have been worthy of inclusion. Indeed, some, if not many, of the condemned articles were probably not even drawn from written texts, but may have been derived from conversations involving teachers or students in a classroom or dormitory, or simply from hearsay. Many, if not most, of the condemned articles were in some way drawn from Aristotle’s natural philosophy. Two of the most important themes relevant to that natural philosophy involved articles about the eternity of the world, and limitations on God’s absolute power to do anything he pleases, short of logical contradiction. Grant 2004
Condemned articles concerning the eternity of the world include: 9That there was no first man, nor will there be a last; on the contrary, there always was and always will be generation of man from man. 87 That the world is eternal as to all the species contained in it; and that time is eternal, as are motion, matter, agent, and recipient; and because the world is [derived] from the infinite power of God, it is impossible that there be novelty in an effect without novelty ion the cause. 91 That the argument of the philosopher [i.e. Aristotle] demonstrating that the motion of the sky is eternal is not sophistical; and it is amazing that profound men do not see this. 93 That celestial bodies have eternity of substance but not of eternity of motion 101 That an infinite [number] of celestial revolutions have preceded which it was not impossible for the first cause [that is, God] to comprehend, but [which are impossible of comprehension] by a created intellect. 107 That elements are eternal. However, they have been made [or created] anew in the relationship which they now have. 202That the elements have been made in a previous generation from chaos; but they are eternal Grant 1974
Condemned articles concerned with limitations of God’s power include: 34That the first cause [that is, God] could not make several worlds 35 That without a proper agent, as a father and a man, a man could not be made by God [alone] 38 That God could not have made prime matter without the mediation of a celestial body 48 That God cannot be the cause of a new act [or thing], nor can He produce something anew. 49 That God could not move the heavens [or world] with a rectilinear motion; and the reason is that a vacuum would remain 63 That God cannot produce the effect of a secondary cause without the secondary cause itself 141 That God cannot make an accident exist without a subject nor make several dimensions exist simultaneously 147 That the absolutely impossible cannot be done by God or another agent – An error, if impossible, is understood according to nature Grant 1974
After 1277 The oath of 1272, which was in effect for much of the fourteenth century at the University of Paris, forbade arts masters from involvement in theological issues. As a result, arts masters usually sought to avoid introducing theology into their commentaries and questions on the books of Aristotle’s natural philosophy, and none of them seems to have significantly suffered from the 1277 Condemnations, with the possible exception of the Franciscan Roger Bacon. Those articles of the 1277 Condemnations considered to be connected with St Thomas’ theological views were declared “deprived of canonical value” by the bishop of Paris in 1325. By the end of the fifteenth century, the oath of 1272 had become obsolete and was no longer required.
A characteristic of the Middle Ages is that theologians as well as arts masters employed a questioning approach toward a wide range of problems involving nature, the supernatural, and hypothetical and imaginary conditions. They were as interested in the way things might have been if God had made the world differently, or if he had created other worlds, as they were about phenomena in the real world. This inquiring spirit was a major development in the Western world during the Middle Ages. It was a spirit of “probing and poking around”. Grant 2004
Several outstanding medieval Latin scholars Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert d’Aurillac) (c. 946- 1003) Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175-1253) Peter Peregrinus of Maricourt Roger Bacon (c. 1214-1294) Nicolas Oresme (c. 1323-1382)
Pope Sylvester II (c. 946-1003) He sought out Arabic knowledge, and later became a great teacher at the cathedral school of Reims, teaching astronomy, math, and logic. He reintroduced the use of the abacus in the Latin West and built clocks, organs, and astronomical instruments. His outstanding knowledge led some of his contemporaries assume that he was either a magician or had made a pact with the devil !
Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175-1253) Grosseteste, De Natura Locorum, refraction of light by a glass full of water, Grosseteste reformulated the general methodology for experimental sciences already grasped by Aristotle, along the scheme: Observations → generalization → new observations, etc. He was a pioneer of optical sciences. Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln
Pierre Pelerin de Maricourt /Peter Peregrinus of Maricourt (13 th century) Peter Peregrinus of Maricourt wrote the first extant treatise describing the properties of magnets. His work is particularly noted for containing the earliest detailed discussion of freely pivoting compass needles, a fundamental component of the dry compass soon to appear in medieval navigation. He transmitted his knowledge about practical experiments to Roger Bacon. Pivoting compass needle in a 14th century handcopy of Peter's Epistola de Magnete (1269)
Roger Bacon, o.f.m. (c. 1214-1294) Roger Bacon, also known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: "wonderful teacher"), was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar. Sometime between 1277 and 1279, Bacon was placed under house arrest by Jerome of Ascoli, the minister-general of the Franciscan Order who wished to clamp down on sympathies towards Joachim de Fiore. Sources are lacking to ascertain the place, duration and conditions of Roger Bacon’s detention. At the latest, Bacon was freed around 1290 when Raymond of Gaufredi succeeded to d’Ascoli at the head of the Franciscan order.
Bacon’s Opus Majus contains treatments of mathematics and optics, alchemy and the manufacture of gunpowder, the positions and sizes of the celestial bodies, and anticipates later inventions such as microscopes, telescopes, spectacles, flying machines, hydraulics and steam ships. Here are a few excerpts from the Opus Maius: It is possible that great ships and sea-going vessels shall be made which can be guided by one man and will move with greater swiftness than if they were full of oarsmen. […] It is possible that a car shall be made which will move with inestimable speed, and the motion will be without the help of any living creature. […] It is possible that a device for flying shall be made such that a man sitting in the middle of it and turning a crank shall cause artificial wings to beat the air after the manner of a bird’s flight.
[…] Similarly it is possible to construct a small sized instrument for elevating and depressing great weights, a device which is most useful in certain exigencies. For a man may ascend and descend and may deliver himself and his companions from peril of prison by means of a device of small weight and of a height of three fingers and a breadth of fours. It is possible also easily to make an instrument by which a single man may violently pull a thousand men toward himself despite the opposition, or other things which are tractable. […] It is possible also that devices can be made whereby, without bodily danger, a man may walk on the bottom of the sea or of a river. Alexander used these to observe the secrets of the sea, as Ethicus the astronomer relates. […]
[…] We may read the smallest letters at an incredible distance, we may see objects however small they may be, and we may cause the stars to appear wherever we wish. So, it is thought, Julius Caesar spied into Gaul from the seashore and by optical devices learned the position and arrangement of the camps and towns of Brittany. […] But of more sublime powers is that device by which rays of light are led into any place that we wish and are brought together by refractions and reflections in such fashion that anything is burned which is placed there. And these burning glasses function in both directions, as certain authors teach in their books. […] The wonders of refracted vision are still greater; for it is easily shown by the rules stated above [demonstrating the workings of lenses] that very large objects can be made to appear small, and the reverse, and very distant objects will seem very close at hand, and conversely. For we can so shape transparent bodies, and arrange them in such a way with respect to our sight and objects of vision, that the rays will be refracted and bent in any direction that we desire, and under any angle we wish we shall see the object near or at a distance. Thus from an incredible distance we might read the smallest letters and number grains of dust and sand owing to the magnitude of the angle under which we viewed them…
Roger Bacon understood the fundamental significance of mathematics for all sciences (which was to become one of the keys of the future Scientific Revolution): He who is ignorant of mathematics cannot know the other sciences and the things of this world… Moreover, what is worse, men who are ignorant of mathematics do not perceive their ignorance, and therefore seek no remedy. While, on the other hand, knowledge of this science prepares the mind and elevates it to a sure knowledge of all things, so that if it perceives the roots of wisdom which surround this science and applies these roots to an inquiry into other sciences and things, then it will be able to know all things in sequence without doubt or error, and in ease and power. Bacon, Opus Maius
Roger Bacon also understood the crucial role of experiments for building up knowledge (this was to become another key of the future Scientific Revolution): There are two modes of acquiring knowledge, namely by reasoning and experience. Reasoning draws a conclusion… but does not make the conclusion certain, nor does it remove doubt so that the mind may be confident it has reached the truth, unless the mind discovers [the conclusion] by path of experience. Opus Maius, part 6, chap1 […] He therefore who wishes to rejoice without doubt in regard to the truths underlying phenomena must know how to devote himself to experiment. Opus Maius, part 6, chap1
Oresme (c. 1323 - 1382), pupil of the philosopher Jean Buridan, bishop of Lisieux Like other medieval philosophers, Oresme was interested in measuring "forms". Forms were an idea of Aristotle's; they included qualities like the velocity of a moving object and the temperature at different places in a material. The medieval discussions of these concepts were very long and complicated. Oresme decided to simplify them by drawing a picture. Oresme made a graph of velocity versus time for an object moving with constant acceleration, like a falling ball. He marked moments of time, which he called longitudes, along a horizontal line. For each moment he drew a bar or latitude whose length represented the object's velocity at that moment. Except for the fact that he drew bars instead of points, Oresme's picture was just like a modern graph of a line. He even noticed that his graph had constant slope. But Oresme didn't graph curves besides lines, and he didn't know enough algebra (lots of algebra hadn't been invented yet!) to graph an equation. Still, Oresme's book on "latitudes of forms" was fairly popular. People made many copies, and once the printing press was available, several editions were printed. Nicole Oresme in his study. The instrument is an armillary sphere used in the study of astronomy. Miniature from Oresme’s French translation of Aristotle’s Latin text of On the Heavens.
Technological advances during the Middle Ages Cf. http://scholar.chem.nyu.edu/tekpages/Subjects.html
Three of the four Great Chinese discoveries (paper making, compass, powder) entered in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Chinese invention of the horse collar harness (Northern and Southern dynasties, 5th century) spread to Europe circa 920 AD, and became universal by the 12th century. The stirrup (also coming from Asia) was also an important element in the development of medieval European societies. The appearance of the horizontal loom in Europe is also probably due to an importation of this idea from China.
In the year 1098, the Cistercian monastic order was formed. By the middle of the 12th century the order rode the cutting edge of hydro-power and agriculture. A typical Cistercian monastery straddled a millrace (artificial stream). This stream ran near the monastery shops, living quarters, and refectories, providing power for milling, wood cutting, forging, and olive crushing. It also provided running water for cooking, washing and bathing, and finally sewage disposal. Cistercian monasteries were, according to John Lienhard, “the best-organized factories the world had ever seen - versatile and diversified” Fountain Mill, an early (12 th century) Cistercian corn mill in Great Britain)
Artesian wells are named after the town of Artois in France, where the first one was drilled in 1126 by the Carthusian monks. The bore was only a few inches in diameter, but the well penetrated strata impermeable to water reaching a lower layer of strata containing water under pressure. The water rose in the bore hole and flowed spontaneously out of it.
The whippletree (also known as splinter bars, or swing bars) is a simple piece of wood attached to the drawpole of a plow or cart at its center. The horse’s harness then attaches to the whippletree at convenient places. The whippletree first appears in the eleventh century. Whippletree in use (Illustration from Herrad of Landsberg, Hortus Delicarim from about 1170 AD.) The whippletree allows for flexibility in harnessing arrangements, makes harnessing in file much easier, and increases manoeuverability. Here below is a whippletree for three horses, two to be hitched on the left, one on the right. Note how the length of the bar "A-C" is adjusted on each side of the drawpole "B" to equalize the effort of the three horses.
The first mention of "glass" mirrors seems to have been made by Alexander Neckham about 1180. A.D. Holmes quotes him: "Take away the lead which is behind the glass and there will be no image of the one looking in." Of course, what the glass does is to protect the highly polished surface of the metal from scratches and corrosion.
Eyeglasses have been invented in Florence in 1285 or a few years later, most probably by Salvino D'Armato (1258-1312). These were convex lenses, of help only to the far-sighted. It is not clear when knowledge of the properties of lenses came into Europe. The properties both of lenses and plane, spherical, and parabolic mirrors were known to the Moslem mathematician and natural philosopher Alhazen (Ibn al-Haitham) (ca. 965-1039). Alhazen's works were known both to Robert Grossteste (1168-1253) and Roger Bacon (1214-1292). Bacon is known to have experimented with convex lenses for correcting vision. This painting by Tommaso da Modena, a 1352 portrait of the cardinal Hugh de Provence reading in a scriptorium, is the earliest known artistic representation of eyeglasses.
Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) The Renaissance man cardinal Nicholas of Cusa thought that the cosmos might not be bounded and might not have a center. He also emitted the idea that the earth moves, and that the orbits of celestial bodies are not perfectly circular. He made interesting contributions to the field of mathematics by writing about the concepts of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. He was the first to use concave lenses to correct myopia.
One area in which engineering made significant advances was the construction of cathedrals, castles, and other large structures. Cathedrals were built across Europe beginning in the fourth century and continuing into the present. In medieval Europe, cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style (in the tenth and eleventh centuries) and later in the Gothic style (in the twelfth through sixteenth centuries). Romanesque buildings are characterized by thick walls, round arches, and large towers. Gothic buildings are characterized by thinner walls with large windows, pointed arches, and flying buttresses. Several technological advances made the Gothic cathedral possible. The use of pointed arches and ribbed vaults (such features had already been used in Arabic architecture) transfers forces to columns instead of the walls. In addition, flying buttresses transfer the gravitational forces from roofs and upper stories to external pillars; this allowed walls to be thin with large windows. In addition,
Pointed arches and ribbed vaults figure among the characteristics of the Basilica of St Denis, located in the north of Paris. This church, dedicated in 1144, was the first major structure of which a substantial part was designed and built in the Gothic style. The ambulatory built by Abbot Suger remains unchanged.
Another aspect in which engineering made significant progress in medieval Europe was the design and construction of sailing vessels. In Scandinavia, the Viking longship reached the height of its development during the Middle Ages. These ships were very fast; they were used to carry cargo as well as transport Viking raiding expeditions over long distances. Longships had a single mass that was rigged with a square sail. image from the Bayeux tapestry showing a longship in the invasion of England.
Progress on sailing vessels in medieval Europe, particularly by Spain and Portugal, set the stage for European distant explorations. The two types of sailing vessels that had the largest impact on this exploration were the caravel and the carrack. The caravel was a small, highly maneuverable ship with two or three masts invented in Moorish Spain and used in the Mediterranean from the 13th century.
The carrack was a ship type invented in southern Europe in the 15th century which was larger vessel than the caravel. Columbus’s ship, the Santa Maria, was a famous example of a carrack.
Conclusions The Latin word scientia was invented in the West during the Middle Ages. At that time, “technology” and “science” were still only loosely connected. “Technology” was developed by secular artisans and by monks more than by Arts masters. During the so-called Medieval Renaissance of the 13 th century, Latin scholars made a great effort of translation which rendered the Greek and Arabic intellectual legacy accessible in Latin. The Arabic library of Toledo (Spain) provided them with a great number of precious manuscripts in 1086. The invention of universities constitutes one of the most valuable legacies of the Middle Ages. New foundations were often initiated by thriving semi-autonomous corporations which desired to be placed under Papal protection, and whose juridical statuses let them enjoy a strong degree of autonomy.
The equilibrium between civil and ecclesiastical powers, Episcopal and religious (Franciscan, Dominican, Augustinian orders) powers, Theological faculties and Arts faculties powers remained fragile, as is exemplified by the condemnations of 219 propositions signed by the bishop of Paris in 1277. In spite of such occasional tensions, globally, Arts and Medicine university faculties thrived during the Middle Ages. The best explanation for this overall success may simply lie in the fact that most scholars, including ecclesiastic scholars who were strongly represented in Arts Faculties, were deeply motivated by a quest for rationality. As Grant puts it: “from the standpoint of the relations between science and religion, one of the most noteworthy features of the new Europe was a remarkable emphasis on reason and rationality. Why this occurred is perhaps ultimately inexplicable, but the desire for reasoned explanations and analyses is a fact of the European society that emerged after the barbarian invasions.” According to Grant, masters in the faculties of arts viewed themselves as the custodians of philosophy. They certainly did not regard natural philosophy as a handmaiden to theology, but as a subject to be studied for its own sake, because it was the only way to understand the workings of the physical world. In fact, neither arts masters nor theologians desired to Christianize Aristotelian natural philosophy. For instance, highly admired figures such as Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas and Jean Buridan all avoided the intrusion of theology and religious matters into natural philosophy. As a result, theology had a relatively small impact on natural philosophy during the Middle Ages, whereas natural philosophy, logic, and mathematics had so great an influence on theology that they reshaped the discipline, transforming its subject matter more nearly into natural philosophy than theology or religion.
Bibliography Frances and Joseph Gies, Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages, Harper Perennial, 1995 cf. in particular chap. 4 entitled The Asian Connection, pp. 82-104 Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts, Cambridge University Press, 1996 Brian Clegg, The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon, Da Capo Press, 2004 David C. Lindberg, Roger Bacon and the Origins of Perspectiva in the Middle Ages, a critical edition and English Translation of Bacon’s Perspectiva with Introduction and Notes, 1996
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