Documentation from the Middle Ages I find interesting.
In European history, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century.
It began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.
The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: Antiquity, Medieval period, and Modern period.
The Medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, the High, and the Late Middle Ages.
Depopulation, deurbanisation, invasion, and movement of peoples, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages.
The barbarian invaders, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire.
In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East—once part of the Eastern Roman Empire—came under the rule of the Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors.
Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with Antiquity was not complete.
The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire survived in the east and remained a major power.
The empire's law code, the Code of Justinian, was rediscovered in Northern Italy in 1070 and became widely admired later in the Middle Ages.
In the West, most kingdoms incorporated the few extant Roman institutions.
Monasteries were founded as campaigns to Christianise pagan Europe continued.
The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire during the later 8th and early 9th century.
It covered much of Western Europe, but later succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions—Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens from the south.
During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase.
Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages.
The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims.
Kings became the heads of centralised nation states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant.
Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities.
The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the architecture of Gothic cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period, and into the Late Middle Ages.
The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 1347 and 1350, the Black Death killed about a third of Europeans.
Controversy, heresy, and schism within the Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms.
Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period.
Galileo Galilei 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642, was an Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance.
Galileo has been called the "father of observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", and the "father of science".
His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots.
Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.
Galileo's championing of heliocentrism and Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system.
He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax.
The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact.
Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.
He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
It was while Galileo was under house arrest that he wrote one of his finest works, Two New Sciences.
Here he summarized the work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.
Nicolaus Copernicus 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543 was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe.
The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just before his death in 1543 is considered a major event in the history of science, triggering the Copernican Revolution and making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.
Copernicus was born and died in Royal Prussia, a region that had been a part of the Kingdom of Poland since 1466.
He was a polyglot and polymath who obtained a doctorate in canon law and also practiced as a physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist.
Like the rest of his family, he was a third order Dominican.
In 1517 he derived a quantity theory of money – a key concept in economics – and in 1519 he formulated a version of what later became known as Gresham's law.
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Sir Isaac Newton 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27 was an English physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.
His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics.
Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus.
Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries.
By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, and then using the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System.
This work also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles.
His prediction that Earth should be shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, which helped convince most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.
Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the visible spectrum.
He formulated an empirical law of cooling, studied the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid.
In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.
Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
He was a devout but unorthodox Christian and, unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England, perhaps because he privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.
Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of biblical chronology and alchemy, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death.
In his later life, Newton became president of the Royal Society.
Newton served the British government as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint.
The Labyrinth Resources for Medieval Studies
About the Labyrinth - Deborah Everhart and Martin Irvine, Co-Directors
Sponsored by Georgetown University
The Labyrinth provides free, organized access to resources in medieval studies. The Labyrinth’s easy-to-use links provide connections to databases, services, texts, and images around the world. Each user will be able to find an Ariadne’s thread through the maze of information on the Web.
Ariadne’s Thread and the Labyrinth in Classical Mythology
Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Minos had Daedalus build a Labyrinth, a house of winding passages, to house the bull-man, the Minotaur, the beast that his wife Pasiphae bore after having intercourse with a bull. (Minos had refused to sacrifice a bull to Poseidon, as the king promised, so the god took revenge by causing his wife to desire the bull–but that’s another story.) Minos required tribute from Athens in the form of young men and women to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.
Theseus, an Athenian, volunteered to accompany one of these groups of victims to deliver his country from the tribute to Minos. Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him a thread which he let unwind through the Labyrinth so that he was able to kill the Minotaur and find his way back out again.
Ovid says that Daedalus built a house in which he confused the usual passages and deceived the eye with a conflicting maze of various wandering paths (in errorem variarum ambage viarum) (Metamorphoses 8.161): “so Daedalus made the innumerable paths of deception [innumeras errore vias], and he was barely able to return to the Library: so deceptive was the house [tanta est fallacia tecti]” (8.166-68).
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