One of the most important branches of medieval learning was computus, the science of calculating times and dates using a combination of mathematics and astronomy. This manuscript made in Lyon in the 11th century contains one of the most popular computistical textbooks of the Middle Ages, On the computus by Helperic of Auxerre (fl. c. 900). It also includes poems about the months and years by Bede (b. c. 673, d. 735), and a poem about the stars by the Latin grammarian Priscian (fl. c. 500).
The use of poetry to transmit scientific material would have made it easier for students to memorise, while tables and diagrams are used throughout the manuscript to present the complex ideas clearly and to assist readers in their calculations.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Taylor McCall
- Science and nature, History and learning
Taylor McCall discusses early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’, as well as those subjects taught in the earliest universities, including mathematics and astronomy.