Topic: Middle Ages
Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973 – after 1050) was a Persian scholar and polymath. He was from Khwarazm – a region which encompasses modern-day western Uzbekistan, and northern Turkmenistan.
Al-Biruni was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He studied almost all fields of science and was compensated for his research and strenuous work. Royalty and powerful members of society sought out Al-Biruni to conduct research and study to uncover certain findings. He lived during the Islamic Golden Age. In addition to this type of influence, Al-Biruni was also influenced by other nations, such as the Greeks, who he took inspiration from when he turned to studies of philosophy. He was conversant in Khwarezmian, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and also knew Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. He spent much of his life in Ghazni, then capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty, in modern-day central-eastern Afghanistan. In 1017 he travelled to the Indian subcontinent and authored a study of Indian culture Tārīkh al-Hind (History of India) after exploring the Hindu faith practiced in India. He was given the title "founder of Indology". He was an impartial writer on customs and creeds of various nations, and was given the title al-Ustadh ("The Master") for his remarkable description of early 11th-century India.
- "Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī -- Medieval Islamic Scientist, quite a read... " | 2008-09-15 | 55 Upvotes 50 Comments
Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Arabic: أبو العلاء المعري, full name أبو العلاء أحمد بن عبد الله بن سليمان التنوخي المعري Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sulaymān al-Tanūkhī al-Maʿarrī; December 973 – May 1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet, and writer. Despite holding a controversially irreligious worldview, he is regarded as one of the greatest classical Arabic poets.
Born in the city of Ma'arra during the Abbasid era, he studied in nearby Aleppo, then in Tripoli and Antioch. Producing popular poems in Baghdad, he nevertheless refused to sell his texts. In 1010, he returned to Syria after his mother began declining in health, and continued writing which gained him local respect.
Described as a "pessimistic freethinker", al-Ma'arri was a controversial rationalist of his time, citing reason as the chief source of truth and divine revelation. He was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation. He attacked religious dogmas and practices, was equally critical and sarcastic about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, and became a Deist.
He advocated social justice and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle. He was a vegan, known in his time as moral vegetarianism, entreating: "do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals / Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught / for their young". Al-Ma'arri held an antinatalist outlook, in line with his general pessimism, suggesting that children should not be born to spare them of the pains and suffering of life.
Al-Ma'arri wrote three main works that were popular in his time. Among his works are The Tinder Spark, Unnecessary Necessity, and The Epistle of Forgiveness. Al-Ma'arri never married and died at the age of 83 in the city where he was born, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man. In 2013, a statue of al-Ma'arri located in his Syrian hometown was beheaded by jihadists from the al-Nusra Front.
- "Al-Maʿarri" | 2019-06-20 | 103 Upvotes 55 Comments
Ala al-Dīn Ali ibn Muhammed (1403 – 16 December 1474), known as Ali Qushji (Ottoman Turkish/Persian language: علی قوشچی, kuşçu – falconer in Turkish; Latin: Ali Kushgii) was an astronomer, mathematician and physicist originally from Samarkand, who settled in the Ottoman Empire some time before 1472. As a disciple of Ulugh Beg, he is best known for the development of astronomical physics independent from natural philosophy, and for providing empirical evidence for the Earth's rotation in his treatise, Concerning the Supposed Dependence of Astronomy upon Philosophy. In addition to his contributions to Ulugh Beg's famous work Zij-i-Sultani and to the founding of Sahn-ı Seman Medrese, one of the first centers for the study of various traditional Islamic sciences in the Ottoman caliphate, Ali Kuşçu was also the author of several scientific works and textbooks on astronomy.
- "Ali Qushji" | 2017-03-26 | 19 Upvotes 8 Comments
The Bal des Ardents (Ball of the Burning Men) or Bal des Sauvages (Ball of the Wild Men) was a masquerade ball held on 28 January 1393 in Paris at which Charles VI of France performed in a dance with five members of the French nobility. Four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, Charles's brother Louis I, Duke of Orléans. Charles and another of the dancers survived. The ball was one of a number of events intended to entertain the young king, who the previous summer had suffered an attack of insanity. The event undermined confidence in Charles's capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and his brother Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide and sorcery, to offer penance for the event.
Charles's wife, Isabeau of Bavaria, held the ball to honor the remarriage of a lady-in-waiting. Scholars believe the dance performed at the ball had elements of traditional charivari, with the dancers disguised as wild men, mythical beings often associated with demonology, that were commonly represented in medieval Europe and documented in revels of Tudor England. The event was chronicled by contemporary writers such as the Monk of St Denis and Jean Froissart, and illustrated in a number of 15th-century illuminated manuscripts by painters such as the Master of Anthony of Burgundy. The incident later provided inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe's short story Hop-Frog.
- "Bal Des Ardents" | 2020-01-29 | 48 Upvotes 8 Comments
The Charter of the Forest of 1217 (Latin: Carta Foresta) is a charter that re-established for free men rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs. Many of its provisions were in force for centuries afterwards. It was originally sealed in England by the young King Henry III, acting under the regency of William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembroke. It was in many ways a companion document to Magna Carta, and redressed some applications of the Anglo-Norman Forest Law that had been extended and abused by William Rufus.
- "Charter of the Forest" | 2019-09-21 | 38 Upvotes 7 Comments
Cluny Abbey (French: [klyni]; formerly also Cluni, or Clugny) is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to St Peter.
The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural style, with three churches built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th centuries. The earliest basilica was the world's largest church until the St. Peter's Basilica construction began in Rome.
Cluny was founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910. He nominated Berno as the first abbot of Cluny, subject only to Pope Sergius III. The abbey was notable for its stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, whereby Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of western monasticism. The establishment of the Benedictine Order was a keystone to the stability of European society that was achieved in the 11th century. In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed, with only a small part surviving.
Starting around 1334, the Abbots of Cluny maintained a townhouse in Paris known as the Hôtel de Cluny, which has been a public museum since 1843. Apart from the name, it no longer possesses anything originally connected with Cluny.
- "Cluny: The Google of 1000" | 2008-10-13 | 15 Upvotes 13 Comments
An erdstall is a type of tunnel found across Europe. They are of unknown origin but are believed to date from the Middle Ages. A variety of purposes have been theorized, including that they were used as escape routes or hiding places, but the most prominent theory is that they served a religious or spiritual purpose.
- "Erdstall" | 2015-12-15 | 75 Upvotes 18 Comments
Badīʿ az-Zaman Abu l-ʿIzz ibn Ismāʿīl ibn ar-Razāz al-Jazarī (1136–1206, Arabic: بديع الزمان أَبُ اَلْعِزِ إبْنُ إسْماعِيلِ إبْنُ الرِّزاز الجزري, IPA: [ældʒæzæriː]) was a Muslim polymath: a scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, artisan, artist and mathematician. He is best known for writing The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (Arabic: كتاب في معرفة الحيل الهندسية, romanized: Kitab fi ma'rifat al-hiyal al-handasiya, lit. 'Book in knowledge of engineering tricks') in 1206, where he described 100 mechanical devices, some 80 of which are trick vessels of various kinds, along with instructions on how to construct them.
- "Al-Jazari" | 2014-09-07 | 286 Upvotes 122 Comments
Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (Persian: Muḥammad Khwārizmī محمد بن موسی خوارزمی; c. 780 – c. 850), Arabized as al-Khwarizmi with al- and formerly Latinized as Algorithmi, was a Persian polymath who produced works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography. Around 820 CE he was appointed as the astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.
Al-Khwarizmi's popularizing treatise on algebra (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, c. 813–833 CE) presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. One of his principal achievements in algebra was his demonstration of how to solve quadratic equations by completing the square, for which he provided geometric justifications. Because he was the first to treat algebra as an independent discipline and introduced the methods of "reduction" and "balancing" (the transposition of subtracted terms to the other side of an equation, that is, the cancellation of like terms on opposite sides of the equation), he has been described as the father or founder of algebra. The term algebra itself comes from the title of his book (specifically the word al-jabr meaning "completion" or "rejoining"). His name gave rise to the terms algorism and algorithm. His name is also the origin of (Spanish) guarismo and of (Portuguese) algarismo, both meaning digit.
In the 12th century, Latin translations of his textbook on arithmetic (Algorithmo de Numero Indorum) which codified the various Indian numerals, introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, translated into Latin by Robert of Chester in 1145, was used until the sixteenth century as the principal mathematical text-book of European universities.
In addition to his best-known works, he revised Ptolemy's Geography, listing the longitudes and latitudes of various cities and localities. He further produced a set of astronomical tables and wrote about calendaric works, as well as the astrolabe and the sundial. He also made important contributions to trigonometry, producing accurate sine and cosine tables, and the first table of tangents.
- "Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi" | 2016-04-06 | 14 Upvotes 1 Comments
The Pax Mongolica (Latin for "Mongol Peace"), less often known as Pax Tatarica ("Tatar Peace"), is a historiographical term modelled after the original phrase Pax Romana which describes the stabilizing effects of the conquests of the Mongol Empire on the social, cultural and economic life of the inhabitants of the vast Eurasian territory that the Mongols conquered in the 13th and 14th centuries. The term is used to describe the eased communication and commerce the unified administration helped to create and the period of relative peace that followed the Mongols' vast conquests.
The conquests of Genghis Khan (r. 1206–1227) and his successors, spanning from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe, effectively connected the Eastern world with the Western world. The Silk Road, connecting trade centres across Asia and Europe, came under the sole rule of the Mongol Empire. It was commonly said that "a maiden bearing a nugget of gold on her head could wander safely throughout the realm". Despite the political fragmentation of the Mongol Empire into four khanates (Yuan dynasty, Golden Horde, Chagatai Khanate and Ilkhanate), nearly a century of conquest and civil war was followed by relative stability in the early 14th century. The end of the Pax Mongolica was marked by the disintegration of the khanates and the outbreak of the Black Death in Asia which spread along trade routes to much of the world in the mid-14th century.
During this time, Mongol elements including the ʼPhags-pa script made numerous appearances in western art (see Mongol elements in Western medieval art).
- "Pax Mongolica" | 2014-12-29 | 51 Upvotes 24 Comments