Chances are, if asked approximately life within the Middle Ages, one may describe a landscape from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with mud-protected peasants throwing now not-quite-dead spouse and children into plague carts. And if asked about medieval science, one might certainly ask, “What’s that?” However, in The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science, Cambridge historian and lecturer Seb Falk famous how far from reality those perceptions are.
Instead of smothering science, Falk argues, the church honestly nurtured it all through the Middle Ages. Observance of every day devotions and holy days required correct techniques for measuring time, which required state-of-the-art mathematical abilities and particular astronomical observation. Astrolabes and other lovely medical contraptions at the start developed to inform time were discovered to be useful in other fields as well, triggering advances in optics, navigation and medicine. Friars, monks and priests went to universities, where, in addition to theology, they learned about medical and mathematical advances developed by way of Islamic scholars. The medieval pupil become a member of an worldwide society committed to the right know-how of creation, now not a benighted isolationist.
In The Light Ages, Falk makes use of the story of John Westwyk, a 14th-century monk-mathematician-astronomer-warrior, to discover the scientific explosion that took place well earlier than the Renaissance. Westwyk, an almost anonymous brother inside the Benedictine abbey of St. Albans, serves as the reader’s guide to the highbrow world of medieval Europe. This normal monk shows up inside the most splendid places: the University of Oxford, Chaucer’s London or even the middle of a doomed crusade. A talented mathematician and astronomer, Westwyk delicate the measurements necessary to locate precisely where a planet become on any given day in its revolution around the earth. Ironically, this elevated precision necessitated evermore difficult and unlikely explanations for the glaring discrepancies between the geocentric theory of the universe and observed truth.
The work of those early scientists discovered that the universe couldn’t revolve across the earth. Without their work, Copernicus’ calculations would have been neither viable nor important. In this magisterial and informative book, Falk makes a resounding argument that The Light Ages gave beginning to our own age.