"The Middle Ages were a time of intellectual stagnation, superstition and ignorance" - this is a myth completely rejected by modern academia, without the contributions of medieval scholars, Galileo, Newton, and the scientific revolution would not have occurred. For example, medieval people did not think the earth was flat, and Columbus did not "prove" that it was a sphere. The Inquisition did not burn anyone for their scientific ideas or discoveries; in fact, the Church was a major sponsor of scientific research, and several popes were noted for their knowledge of science; Copernicus did not fear persecution; Nor did the Pope try to ban human dissection; The famous trial of Galileo at the Inquisition was about politics, not science. The Middle Ages was a time of great intellectual progress, with Christian and Islamic influences contributing to scientific advances far beyond those of the classical world, as well as technological achievements. Europeans independently invented eyeglasses, mechanical clocks, windmills and blast furnaces, and craftsmen and scientists improved printing, gunpowder and the compass from the East beyond what their inventors could have imagined. Lenses and cameras, as well as almost all types of machines and the industrial revolution itself, can be traced back to the forgotten inventors of the Middle Ages.
An epic journey spanning six centuries, this book reviews the discoveries of overlooked geniuses such as Jean Buridan, Nicole Orem, and Thomas Bradwading, and puts the contributions of more familiar figures such as Rogier Bacon, William of Ockham, and Thomas Aquinas into historical context.
The Middle Ages was a time of invention and innovation. Modern science and technology have more to do with the so-called "dark" Middle Ages than we realize.
About the author
James Hannam holds a BA in Physics from the University of Oxford, an MA in History from Birkbeck College, London, and a PhD in the history of Science and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. He is passionate about the history of science and has written for a variety of newspapers. The Origins of Science, his popular work for the general public, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize in 2010.
Liu Chongling (translator), Master of Arts in Russian Language and literature from Liaoning University, is now a freelance translator in English and Russian.