Looking back at the sources Cracked used for the article “6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages that Everyone believes“, I found that none of their sources had a good list of references that I could find more information with. So, I decided that a trip to the library would be fruitful. At the library I found two books over my topic of Science in the Middle Ages. The books are Medieval Science and Technology by Elspeth Whitney and Science in the Middle Ages by David C. Lindberg. Both books had extensive reference lists, but I decided to focus on Medieval Science and Technology for this blog.
The reference list for Medieval Science and Technology is split into two parts: the annotated bibliography of books and the annotated bibliography of web sites. I got excited when I looked at the third web site on the reference list because is specifically mention astrolabes (the Cracked article also talks about astrolabes) ,but my enthusiasm dimmed when I started to read “A Treatise on the Astrolabe“. It dimmed because this is what I saw:
But natheles suffise to the these trewe conclusions in Englissh as wel as sufficith to these noble clerkes Grekes these same conclusions in Grek; and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Jewes in Ebrew, and to the Latyn folk in Latyn; whiche Latyn folk had hem first out of othere dyverse langages, and writen hem in her owne tunge, that is to seyn, in Latyn. – Geoffry Chaucer
Trying to read this was like trying to read Shakespeare. It felt like I should understand it but my brain just couldn’t comprehend. I did figure out that Chaucer was writing and instruction manual for a child he knew on how to use and astrolabe (Thanks to the non-old English summary at the top of the page). If nothing else this treatise proves that astrolabes were discovered in the Middle Ages as the Cracked article says.
On that same website I ran across the epic Beowulf. I was about to go on but then I realized that this would be an excellent source, because it is a prime example of the Monks dedication to preserving literature. In the Cracked article it mentions that the Monks had “massive libraries” full of books they had translated and copied. Monks were some of the only educated people and without them a lot of literature would have been lost.