Heaven and Earth in the Middle Ages: The Physical World Before Columbus

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Boydell Press, Jan 1, 1996 - History - 164 pages
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What were the ideas held by medieval man concerning the size and shape of the earth, the extent and position of her continents? 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 crude 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, not just the knowledge of a single learned medieval author, but rather the sum of what was deliberated, discussed and rejected by authors from the 9th to the 15th centuries. It touches on fields as diverse as astronomy, geography, physics, botany and chemistry, showing how medieval knowledge combined scientific' explanations with others from popular mythology and folklore; importantly, it corrects the misconception that medieval man thought the earth was flat and disc-shaped, demonstrating that medieval authors always considered the earth round.

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