Medieval monks' groundbreaking discoveries laid bare as ‘modern science ...

SCIENCE had its "age of wonder" in the Middle Ages through monks who made groundbreaking discoveries which could be lost as modern science "disparages" previous findings, a historian has warned.

PUBLISHED: 12:38, Thu, Oct 29, 2020 | UPDATED: 12:50, Thu, Oct 29, 2020

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The Medieval era is often dismissed as the 'dark age'. It was the time before the splendours of the Renaissance graced the world. Yet, many disagree with this assertion, and instead claim the Medieval period to be full of light and creativity in the field of sciences.

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Although there was nothing like our modern science which is a distinct discipline, there were signs in the Medieval period of a burgeoning field.

As historian Dr Seb Falk explained during an interview with BBC History Magazine, "the word science comes from the Latin root scentia" interpreted in the Middle Ages as any field of knowledge that was a discipline of serious study.

He describes the period as an "age of wonder" for science and, in his new book 'The Light Ages: A Medieval Journey of Discovery', he points out that the idea of science as the study of nature separate from other kinds of intellectual endeavour - theology, for example - is a modern concept.

In the Middle Ages, the unlikely figure of Monks were actually pushing a scientific agenda in their religious schools and universities, teaching what we would now call astronomy, mathematics or geometry; we might group them together as "natural philosophies".

Medieval science: Monks led the way to scientific enlightenment during the Middle AgesMedieval science: Monks led the way to scientific enlightenment during the Middle Ages (Image: GETTY)

Roger Bacon: The English philosopher and Franciscan monk placed emphasis on empiricismRoger Bacon: The English philosopher and Franciscan monk placed emphasis on empiricism (Image: GETTY)

Monks, in practising this "natural philosophy" did so in a bid to become closer to God, not to discover what we today would class as the intrinsic value of the natural world.

Dr Falk explained: "All the way through the Middle Ages, the study of science was done by religious people - monks in universities."

He said that naturally, these pious monks would often, accidentally, stray into teaching sciences that clearly contradicted the church, and would be reprimanded for doing so.

Yet, it was these monks who laid the foundations for the hundreds of years of scientific progress to come, adding the link in the chain that connected the ages before and after them.

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Thomas Aquinas: The Italian was one of the most influential thinkers of his timeThomas Aquinas: The Italian was one of the most influential thinkers of his time (Image: GETTY)

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They had this privilege to become experts in natural philosophy because they were the most educated people in society.

They were literate, "primarily to read scripture, but that didn't stop them reading other things as well," Dr Falk said.

He explained: "Initially monks tended to want to keep themselves apart from the world and didn't want to be involved in urban life.

"But that

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