middle ages

Gerbert of Aurillac and the Popularization of Science

Gerbert of Aurillac and the Popularization of Science

On May 12, 1003, Gerbert of Aurillac aka Pope Sylvester II passed away. A prolific scholar and teacher, he endorsed and promoted study of Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy, reintroducing to Europe the abacus and armillary sphere, which had been lost to Latin Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era. He is said to be the first to introduce in Europe the decimal numeral system using Arabic numerals. Gerbert…
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Avicenna – The Most Significant Polymath of the Islamic Golden Age

Avicenna – The Most Significant Polymath of the Islamic Golden Age

At about 980, Persian polymath bū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Sīnā, also known as Avicenna, was born. Avicenna is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age. His most famous works are The Book of Healing – a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine – a medical encyclopedia, which became a standard medical text at many medieval…
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Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

On December 10, 1198, medieval Andalusian polymath Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd, better known as Averroes, passed away. Averroes wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the mediæval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics. Averroes had a greater impact on Christian Europe: he has been described as the “founding father of…
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Omar Khayyam – Mathematics and Poetry

Omar Khayyam – Mathematics and Poetry

On December 4, 1131, Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet, Omar Khayyam; born Ghiyāth ad-Dīn Abu’l-Fatḥ ʿUmar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām Nīshāpūrī, passed away. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential scientists of the middle ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy. Early Years Omar Khayyám was born in Nishapur, in Iran, then a Seljuq capital in Khorasan, which rivaled Cairo or Baghdad in cultural…
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Al-Biruni and his Contributions to Astronomy

Al-Biruni and his Contributions to Astronomy

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. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni was born in Khwarazm now better known as Karakalpakstan.…
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Ulugh Beg – Astronomer

Ulugh Beg – Astronomer

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. Ulugh Beg was…
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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. Alfonso was born in Toledo, Spain. It is not much known about his early life. However, it is widely believed that he started his career as a soldier when he was…
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Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi – The Prince of Astrologers

Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi – The Prince of Astrologers

Probably on August 10, 787, Persian astrologer, astronomer, and Islamic philosopher Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (Abu Ma’shar Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al-Balkhi) was born. He is thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid court in Baghdad. He wrote a number of practical manuals on astrology that profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through translations, that of western Europe and Byzantium. We’ve realized that our daily blog on History of Science somehow…
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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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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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