Heaven and Earth in the Middle Ages

November 1996
26 black and white, 9 line illustrations
176 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851156088
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

Heaven and Earth in the Middle Ages

The Physical World before Columbus

Rudolf Simek

Translated by Angela Hall

A discussion of European understanding of the physical world from the 9th century to the 15th, ranging from astronomy to zoology — and refuting the more recent notion that the world was thought flat.
What were the ideas held by medieval man concerning the size and shape of the earth? How many planets were there, and of what material was the universe constructed? What was the relationship between the sky and Heaven? How were snow, thunderstorms and comets explained?
In this fascinating book Dr Simek shows that though nature was thought to be permeated by the will of God, there were numerous explanations for unknown phenomena, from the simple theories of the early middle ages to the more sophisticated ideas of the centres of learned scholasticism in Paris and Oxford. He presents a cross-section of the medieval knowledge of the physical world as deliberated and discussed by authors from the 9th to the 15th centuries. He touches on fields as diverse as astronomy, geography, physics, botany and chemistry, and shows how medieval knowledge combined `scientific' explanations with others from popular mythology and folklore. RUDOLF SIMEKis Professor of Medieval German and Scandinavian Literature at the University of Bonn in Germany.


This lively and informative study surveys the medieval view of the world before Columbus. MEDIUM AEVUM Extraordinarily useful. ARTHURIANA

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