middle ages

Marco Polo – The Great Traveler and Merchant

Marco Polo – The Great Traveler and Merchant

Around 1254 (according to some sources on September 15, 1254 [1]) Venetian merchant traveler Marco Polo was born. He is best known for his journeys to Central Asia and China, narrated in the book “Il Milione” (‘The Book of the Wonders of the World‘). “I have not told half of what I saw.” – Marco Polo, On his death-bed, when urged to retract “some of the seemingly incredible statements he made in his…
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Al-Biruni – Mathematician, Astronomer and Founder of Indology

Al-Biruni – Mathematician, Astronomer and Founder of Indology

On September 4, 973, Muslim scholar Al-Biruni was born. He is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He is referred to as the founder of Indology for his remarkable description of early 11th-century India. “You well know … for which reason I began searching for a…
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The Viking Raid on the Abbey of Lindisfarne

The Viking Raid on the Abbey of Lindisfarne

On 8 June, 793 AD, Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, a centre of learning that was famous across the continent. This event also is considered as the beginning of the Viking Age, when Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids and conquest. Recently, this first Viking assault has gained more public interest because of the popular tv series “Vikings” (“Wrath of the Northmen“), in which the…
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Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition of Scholasticism

Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition of Scholasticism

On March 7, 1271, Thomas Aquinas, Italian Dominican friar and priest and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, passed away. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived in development or refutation of his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. “All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been…
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Alfonso X from Spain and the Alfonsine Tables

Alfonso X from Spain and the Alfonsine Tables

On November 23, 1221, Spanish King and astronomer Alfonso X of Castile was born, who encouraged the preparation of revised planetary tables. These “Alfonsine Tables” a revision and improvement of the Ptolemaic tables, were the best available during the Middle Ages. “Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe.” – Alfonso X, after studying Ptolemy’s treatise on astronomy.[10] Alfonso…
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Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours and Poitiers

Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours and Poitiers

On October 25, 732 AD, the Battle of Tours and Poitiers between the united Frankish and Burgundian forces under Austrasian Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel, against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus, ended the Islamic expansion era in Europe. It is argued among historians that Charles Martel’s victory was one of the most important events in European or even world history. The…
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Widukind of Corvey and his Saxon Chronicles

Approximately around 925, medieval Saxon chronicler Widukind of Corvey was born. His three-volume Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres is an important chronicle of 10th-century Germany during the rule of the Ottonian dynasty. Widukind’s Life Possibly Widukind was a descendant of the Saxon Duke Widukind, the opponent of Charlemagne, because of the similarity of names.[1] Widukind entered the Benedictine monastery Corvey before 942, still under Abbot Volkmar I. According to older…
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Life and Legend of Frederick Barbarossa

Life and Legend of Frederick Barbarossa

On June 10, 1190, Frederick I, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and better known as Frederick Barbarossa passed away. He died by drowning in the river Saleph during the Third Crusade. He got the name Barbarossa from the northern Italian cities he attempted to rule: Barbarossa means “red beard” in Italian; in German, he was known as ‘Kaiser Rotbart‘, which has the same meaning. There was a time, when every German…
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Saint Anselm of Canterbury – Father of Scholasticism

Saint Anselm of Canterbury – Father of Scholasticism

Probably on April 21, 1109, Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church Anselm of Canterbury passed away. He was canonized, is often considered the founder of scholasticism and is the main representative of early scholasticism. Since 1720 he has carried the honorary title “Father of the Church”. “Ergo domine…credimus te esse aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari possit.” (Therefore, lord…we believe that you are something than which nothing greater can…
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The Encyclopaedia of Saint Isidore of Seville

The Encyclopaedia of Saint Isidore of Seville

On April 4, 636, Saint Isidore of Seville, Archbishop of Seville, passed away. He is referred to as “the last scholar of the ancient world. In his encyclopaedia Etymologiarum sive originum libri XX he compiled the knowledge of antiquity still existing in the west of the Mediterranean around 600, combined it with patristics and made it available to his time. Isidor was one of the most widely read authors of the Middle…
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