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What's this? Medieval science?!13 April 2012
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Bede is best known for his Historical Work 'The Ecclesiastical History of the English People' yet he was one of the most prolific writers in England of his time, his works including everything from Theology and hagiography (Saint's lives) to Biblical commentaries and this- one of the formative texts on astronomy and science of the Medieval period which is sadly all but unknown today.
That's correct; a work of science written in the 'dark ages' when everyone thought the earth was flat right? Not at all. Bede himself, in explaining why the length of the day varied in different parts of the world stated; ""The reason why some days are of unequal length in the roundness of the world...it is not merely circular like a shield, or spread out like a wheel but resembles more a ball, being equally round in all directions".
Such was, in fact common knowledge and as Bede's work became as virtual `textbook' for students of astronomy throughout the medieval period so his insights and opinions were shared with future generations.
Some today may argue that because The Reckoning of Time was written with a religious purpose in mind (to better enable churchmen to calculate key dates on the church calendar more accurately) it is not a truly `scientific' work, but this is to judge the work only by modern standards, and reject it because it does not measure up to them. Such is neither a fair, objective nor historically faithful appraisal of this important work, which deserves to be more widely read and appreciated.