Lets Think Back to History Class

Delving into a new book I got from the library, called The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages by Edward Grant, I discovered new information about the early schools and universities. In blog post 4 I talked about cathedral schools and universities, but my main focus had been on the curriculum and translation of ancient Greek and Arabic works. In this book I got more information of why schools were started and who the prominent people were.


Map of Divided Roman Empire, Third Century

Some historical information: The Roman empire was split into two halves in the third century, the eastern Greek speaking half and the western Latin speaking half. When the division happened  the Latin speaking half slowly lost all connections to the Greek language which meant that all the scientific Greek works were lost to them for a long time. Fast forward a few centuries and you will find that most education and learning happen in monasteries around Europe. Then in the late eighth century Charlemagne mandated that all cathedrals and monasteries establish schools to educate the clergy. By the twelfth century the cathedral schools were becoming recognized centers of learning.


This picture should look familiar from blog post 1. It is a picture of Chartres Cathedral. Chartres, France was one of the cities that had a prominent Cathedral School.

One famous cathedral school master was Gerbert of Aurillac. Gerbert used his contacts in the Catholic Church to get a Latin translation of an Arabic treatise which gave him knowledge about the astrolabe. I mention the astrolabe once again because the Cracked article 6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages Everyone Believes also mentions astrolabes and how their discovery helps prove that scientific progress was not dead. The Cracked article also talks about how the first universities were started in the Middle Ages, which I can confirm with this book and Medieval Science and Technology. So far I have only found evidence to support all the claims that the Cracked authors have made.


Oh yeah, another cool fact about Gerbert of Aurillac, he became Pope Silvester II!

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