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W.73, Cosmography


Created in England in the late twelfth century, this manuscript was intended to be a scientific textbook for monks. The manuscript is brief at nine folios, and was designed as a compendium of cosmographical knowledge drawn from early Christian writers such as Bede and Isidore, as well as the later Abbo of Fleury. Those writers, in turn, drew on classical sources such as Pliny the Elder for their knowledge but adapted it to be understood through the filter of Christianity. The twenty complex diagrams that accompany the texts in this pamphlet help illustrate them, and include visualizations of the heavens and earth, seasons, winds, tides, and the zodiac, as well as demonstrations of how these things relate to man. Most of the diagrams are rotae, or wheel-shaped schemata, favored throughout the Middle Ages for the presentation of scientific and cosmological ideas because they organized complex information in a clear, orderly fashion, making this material easier to apprehend, learn, and remember. Moreover, the circle, considered the most perfect shape and a symbol of God, was seen as conveying the cyclical nature of time and the Creation as well as the logic, order, and harmony of the created universe. England is especially notable for the production of illustrated scientific textbooks, with the earliest examples produced during the Carolingian period under the influence of the noted Benedictine scholar Abbo of Fleury, who taught at Ramsey Abbey for two years. Although the grouping of texts and diagrams here is unique, the manuscript is related to other scientific compilations from this era, such as British Library, Royal Ms. 13 A.XI, Cotton Ms. Tiberius E.IV, and Oxford, St. John's College, Ms. 17.

Manuscript Description (in a new window) | TEI (XML format) | View at art.thewalters.org

Persistent URLs (PURLs)

The following URLs are assured to route to the named resources. For more information see the ReadMe file.

  • http://purl.thewalters.org/art/W.73/browse
  • http://purl.thewalters.org/art/W.73/TEI
  • http://purl.thewalters.org/art/W.73/description
  • http://purl.thewalters.org/art/W.73/data
    1. Upper board outside

      W.73, Upper board outside
    2. Upper board inside

      W.73, Upper board inside
    3. Front flyleaf ir

      W.73, Front flyleaf ir
    4. Front flyleaf iv

      W.73, Front flyleaf iv
    5. fol. 1r

      W.73, fol. 1r
    6. fol. 1v

      W.73, fol. 1v
    7. fol. 2r

      W.73, fol. 2r
    8. fol. 2v

      W.73, fol. 2v
    9. fol. 3r

      W.73, fol. 3r
    10. fol. 3v

      W.73, fol. 3v
    11. fol. 4r

      W.73, fol. 4r
    12. fol. 4v

      W.73, fol. 4v
    13. fol. 5r

      W.73, fol. 5r
    14. fol. 5v

      W.73, fol. 5v
    15. fol. 6r

      W.73, fol. 6r
    16. fol. 6v

      W.73, fol. 6v
    17. fol. 7r

      W.73, fol. 7r
    18. fol. 7v

      W.73, fol. 7v
    19. fol. 8r

      W.73, fol. 8r
    20. fol. 8v

      W.73, fol. 8v
    21. fol. 9r

      W.73, fol. 9r
    22. fol. 9v

      W.73, fol. 9v
    23. Back flyleaf ir

      W.73, Back flyleaf ir
    24. Back flyleaf iv

      W.73, Back flyleaf iv
    25. Lower board inside

      W.73, Lower board inside
    26. Lower board outside

      W.73, Lower board outside
    27. Spine

      W.73, Spine
    28. Fore-edge

      W.73, Fore-edge
    29. Head

      W.73, Head
    30. Tail

      W.73, Tail

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