middle ages

Ulugh Beg – the Mongolian Astronomer Prince

Ulugh Beg – the Mongolian Astronomer Prince

On March 22, 1394, Mongolian astronomer, mathematician and sultan Mīrzā Muhammad Tāraghay bin Shāhrukh, better known as Ulugh Beg was (probably) born. Although the only important Mongol scientist, he was the greatest astronomer of his time. Pursuing this interest he built an observatory at Samarkand. In his observations he discovered a number of errors in the computations of the 2nd-century Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy, whose figures were still being used. “Religions scatter like…
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Ibn Battuta and the Marvels of Traveling the Medieval World

Ibn Battuta and the Marvels of Traveling the Medieval World

On 24 February 1304, Muslim Berber Moroccan scholar, and explorer Ibn Battuta was born. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the Islamic world and many non-Muslim lands, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, India and China. Near the end of his life, he dictated an account of his journeys, titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling. “I arrived at…
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The Encyclopaedia of Rabanus Maurus

The Encyclopaedia of Rabanus Maurus

On February 4, 856, Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet, encyclopedist and military writer Rabanus Maurus Magnentius passed away. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis (“On the Natures of Things“). He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible. He was one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age, and was called “Praeceptor Germaniae,” or “the teacher of Germany.” How Rabanus…
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Giotto di Bondone – Making a Decisive Brake with the prevalent Style

Giotto di Bondone – Making a Decisive Brake with the prevalent Style

On January 8, 1337, Italian painter and architect Giotto di Bondone passed away. He is regarded as the decisive pioneer of the Italian Renaissance (Rinascimento). Geniuses are Born as such Sources indicate that Giotto grew up in Florence as the son of the blacksmith Bondone. Most experts believe that Giotto was his real name. Others think that it is a short form of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto) or Angelo (Angiolotto). His life is attested…
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Francois Villon –  Rogue, Vagrant and Poet

Francois Villon – Rogue, Vagrant and Poet

On January 5, 1463, the Death sentence to Francois Villon, best known French poet of the late Middle Ages, was remitted by a pardon from King Charles VII into 10 years of banishment. Villon is best known as a ne’er-do-well who was involved in criminal behavior and got into numerous scrapes with authorities. Nevertheless, Villon wrote about some of these experiences in his poems and became famous. Through wind, hail or frost…
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Giovanni Boccaccio and his Famous Decameron

Giovanni Boccaccio and his Famous Decameron

On December 21, 1375, Italian author, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and important Renaissance humanist Giovanni Boccaccio passed away. He is best known for his masterpiece ‘The Decameron‘ told as a frame story encompassing 100 tales. You haven’t heart about the ‘Decameron‘? You definitely should, simply because it is the masterpiece of European Renaissance literature. In its 100 stories it provides us with an intimate contemporary view into medieval and early Renaissance European…
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Trotula of Salerno and Women’s Health in the Middle Ages

Trotula of Salerno and Women’s Health in the Middle Ages

Although neither her birthday nor her date of death is known to us, today we want to point out a rather prominent woman in science of which you might never have heard of unless you know your way around in the history of medicine. Trotula of Salerno lived in the 11th or 12th century AD and was a female physician, alleged to have been the first female professor of medicine, teaching in…
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John Duns Scotus – the Subtle Doctor

John Duns Scotus – the Subtle Doctor

On November 8, 1308, Scottish Catholic priest and Franciscan friar, university professor, philosopher, and theologian John Duns aka Duns Scotus passed away. He is one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of Western Europe in the High Middle Ages, together with Thomas Aquinas [1] and William of Ockham.[2] Amongst others, he is best known for the “univocity of being”, that existence is the most abstract concept we have, applicable to everything that exists;…
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The Legend of Klaus Störtebeker, Privateer

The Legend of Klaus Störtebeker, Privateer

On October 20, 1401, Klaus Störtebeker, representative of a companionship of privateers known as the Victual Brothers, was executed by order of the senate of Hamburg. His life has become legend and he often is compared to other historic freedom fighters such as Che Guevara or Robin Hood, because he fought the rich in the name of the poor. Klaus Störtebeker Roots The exact roots of Klaus Störtebeker are unknown, but several…
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Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy

In the night from September 13 to 14, 1321, major Italian poet Dante Alighieri passed away. His Divine Comedy is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. Together with his poet colleagues Petrarch [7] and Boccaccio,[8] Dante – the ‘supreme poet’ (il Sommo Poeta) – is referred to as “the three crowns” or “the three fountains”. Moreover, he is also called the “Father of…
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