middle ages

The Cologne Cathedral – More than 600 Years of Construction

The Cologne Cathedral – More than 600 Years of Construction

On August 14, 1880, after more than 600 years the construction of the Cologne Cathedral, the most famous landmark in Cologne, Germany, was completed. The World Heritage Site is Germany‘s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires and largest facade of any church in the world. The Relics of the Three Kings The…
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Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

On August 11, 1464, German philosopher, theologian, jurist, and astronomer Nikolaus of Cusa (in latin: Nicolaus Cusanus) passed away. He is considered as one of the first German proponents of Renaissance humanism. His best known work is entiteled ‘De Docta Ignorantia‘ (Of the Learned Ignorance), where also most of his mathematical ideas were developed, as e.g. the trial of squaring the circle or calculating the circumference of a circle from its radius. “In…
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Petrarch and the Invention of the Renaissance

Petrarch and the Invention of the Renaissance

On July 20, 1304, Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) was born. He is considered to be one of the earliest humanists and also the “father of the Renaissance.” Petrarch’s sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. He is also known for being the first to develop the concept of the “Dark Ages”. “I rejoiced in my progress, mourned my weaknesses, and…
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Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

On July 11, 1382, significant philosopher of the later Middle Ages Nicole Oresme passed away. As for many historic people of the middle ages, his actual birthdate is unknown and can only be fixed to a period between 1325 and 1330. Nicole Oresme besides William of Ockham [7] or Jean Buridan — a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe [6] — is considered as one of the most…
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Alcuin of York – Architect of the Carolingian Renaissance

Alcuin of York – Architect of the Carolingian Renaissance

On May 19, 804 AD, English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher Alcuin of York passed away. At the invitation of Charlemagne, he became a leading scholar and teacher at the Carolingian court. He wrote many theological and dogmatic treatises, as well as a few grammatical works and a number of poems. According to Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, Alcuin was “the most learned man anywhere to be found“. “And those people should not…
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Herrad of Landsberg and the Garden of Delights

Herrad of Landsberg and the Garden of Delights

Herrad of Landsberg was a 12th-century Alsatian nun and abbess of Hohenburg Abbey in the Vosges mountains. She is known as the author of the pictorial encyclopedia Hortus Deliciarum (The Garden of Delights). Abbess of Hohenburg Abbey It is assumed that Herrad of Landsberg was born around 1130. Hohenburg Abbey, also known as Mont St Odile, was run by Abbess Relinda, a nun sent from the Benedictine monastery of Bergen in Bavaria.…
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Anna Komnena – Byzantine Historian of the First Crusade

Anna Komnena – Byzantine Historian of the First Crusade

Anna Komnena was a Byzantinian Princess in the 11th century. She is considered one of the world’s first female historian and a major source of information about the reign of her father, Alexius I. in the times of the crusades. Of course this is rather unusual for the time being, that a princess writes about the life of her father, The Alexiad, and even more that this piece of writing should become…
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Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim – The Most Remarkable Women of her Time

Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim – The Most Remarkable Women of her Time

Although her date of birth is not known exactly, today’s post features “the most remarkable woman” of the early middle ages, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (in German also often referred to as Roswitha, and attributed as ‘the mighty voice‘ or the ‘Nightingale of Gandersheim‘). Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim was a 10th-century German secular canoness, as well as a dramatist and poet who lived and worked at Gandersheim Abbey in modern-day Bad Gandersheim, Lower Saxony, Germany,…
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Hildegard of Bingen – More than the ‘Sybil of the Rhine’

Hildegard of Bingen – More than the ‘Sybil of the Rhine’

Although her exact birthdate is uncertain, we dedicate today’s article to an extraordinary woman in science: German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath St Hildegard of Bingen. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine“, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of…
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Ulman Stromer and the First Paper Mill North of the Alpes

Ulman Stromer and the First Paper Mill North of the Alpes

On January 6, 1329, German long-distance trader, factory owner and councillor of Nuremberg Ulman Stromer was born. Stromer established the very first permanent paper mill north of the Alpes, at the Pegnitz river not far from the city of Nuremberg. Paper Predecessors The story of paper as a writing material dates back to ancient times. Papyrus as its predecessor was introduced in Egypt most probably already in the 3rd millenium BCE. Papyrus differs from…
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