Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science

Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science

Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science

Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science

Excerpt

The history of European science in the Middle Ages is twofold. On the one hand it is concerned with the recovery and assimilation of the science of antiquity, little known at first and only gradually brought into the West, to some extent as enlarged by the Arabs, in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; while on the other hand, it has to take account of the advance of knowledge by the processes of observation and experiment in western Europe. The first phase deals primarily with translation from the Arabic and the Greek, in Spain, Sicily, North Africa, and the East, as a preliminary to the full assimilation of these successive increments of ancient learning and the Arabic additions thereto. The second, more obscure, has to trace the extension of knowledge by such means as the observation of plants and animals, especially dogs, hawks, and horses, the actual treatment of disease, geographical exploration, and the growth of the experimental habit. On both these sides a consecutive and comprehensive history still remains to be written, while at many points monographic investigation is entirely lacking.

Toward the materials for such a history the present volume is meant to offer a contribution. It is limited to the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, the period of scientific revival, and to certain specific topics worked out primarily from the manuscript sources. After a survey of the place of Spain in the introduction of Arabic science into Europe, the pioneers of the new learning are studied in the person of Adelard of Bath, tutor of King Henry II, that extraordinary traveller in distant lands and student and translator of the mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and philosophy of his time, and in his immediate and little known succes-

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