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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

7. The Middle Age and Early Renaissance / Le Moyen age et la Pré-Renaissance

21. The Arabians and Latin Speaking Nations

Texte intégral

EMBLEM OF THE WORK OF THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE. From the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert (volume3, plate XVIII, 1763).

  • 1 [Ghebert-ibn-Moussa-Djaffa-al-Sufi, or Jabir ibn Hayyan, Abu Musa (born c. 721, Tus, Iran; died c.(...)

1The first of the learned Arabians to acquire celebrity was Ghebert-ibn-Moussa-Djaffa-al-Sufi.1 Alchemists called him King Geber. He wrote several essays, entitled Research into the Property of Metals, On the Art of Making Gold and Silver, and On the Philosopher’s Stone. As one may well imagine, Geber did not tell how to make gold, but he did reveal some important experiments and useful methods of causing various substances to react with one another.

  • 2 [Alembic, an apparatus used in distillation.]

2It is to him we owe the art of distillation, then unknown in the West but probably long practiced in India –at least it would seem so from a passage in Strabo where he speaks of a liqueur that the Indians made from rice. The word alembic,2 which was invented by Geber, is Arabic, as is the word alcohol. We also owe to Geber our knowledge of corrosive sublimate, composed of chlorine and mercury [mercuric chloride], a violent poison used with great success in certain maladies. He also discovered nitric acid.

3None of the mineral acids were known to the ancients. The Arabians discovered aqua regia, an active mixture of two acids, hydrochloric and nitric, which has the property of dissolving gold; the infernal stone, or silver nitrate, a substance extremely important in itself and for its chemical properties, which are of great avail in surgery; red precipitate of mercury; and several other chemical compounds of lesser value.

4One can see by these various discoveries the importance of the science the Arabians called alchemy, a science that was offering a new path to the observers of nature, since the ancients had had no idea of transformations produced by combining one body with another.

  • 3 [Naphtha, any of various volatile, highly flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixtures used chiefly as so (...)
  • 4 [Bezoar, also called bezoar stone, any of various calculi found chiefly in the gastrointestinal or (...)

5The Arabians enriched the field of medicine with many pharmaceutical preparations. Syrups, juleps, naphtha,3 and bezoar4 are all still designated by the names given them by the Arabians when they introduced these substances into medicine. These preparations became known in Europe through the Arabian schools in Spain, whence they were introduced by Jewish physicians into France, Germany, and Italy.

  • 5 [Hellebore, a member of either of two genera of poisonous herbaceous plants, Helleborus and Veratr (...)
  • 6 [Black currant, a shrub of the genus Ribes of the gooseberry family (Grossulariaceae), the piquant (...)
  • 7 [Senna, any of several plants, especially of the genus Cassia, in the pea family (Fabaceae), mostl (...)
  • 8 [Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), an evergreen tree, of the pea family (Fabaceae), native to tropical (...)
  • 9 [Jujube, either of two species of small, spiny trees of the genus Ziziphus (family Rhamnaceae) and (...)
  • 10 [Myrobalan, the dried astringent fruit of an East Indian tree (genus Terminalia of the family Comb (...)

6Upon exploring areas unknown to the ancients, the Arabians made valuable discoveries in botany. Until then, only violent purgatives were known, such as hellebore5 and other drastics. The Arabians brought about a complete revolution in medicine by using black currant,6 senna,7 and tamarind.8 Medicine is also indebted to the Arabians for jujubes9 and myrobalans.10

  • 11 [Mesue the Elder is Yuhanna ibn Masawaih, also written Ibn Masawaih or Masawaiyh (born 777; died 8 (...)
  • 12 [Rhazes, see note 15, below.]

7Mesue the Elder11 is the most ancient of the Arabian authors whose medical works are known to us. He was a Syrian Nestorian, and physician to Harun ar-Rashid, who entrusted him with the education of his son. It is through Rhazes12 that the fragments of his writings have come down to us.

  • 13 [Honein, son of Assac (died 873), physician, philosopher, historian, grammarian, and lexicographer (...)

8Honein, son of Assac,13 was a student in the Nestorian school, who lived in 804; he translated at Harun-ar-Rashid’s command, from Syriac into Arabic, the works of Hippocrates and Galen. This physician is especially famous for having refused to supply a caliph with a poison he demanded.

  • 14 [Serapion the Elder is Yahya ibn-Sarafyun, of the second half of the ninth century, a Christian ph (...)

9Another Nestorian, Serapion the Elder,14 originally from Syria, lived in the same century but we do not know exactly when. He has left us almost nothing in the way of science.

  • 15 [Rhazes or Ar-Razi, in full Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya’Ar-Razi (born c. 865, Rayy, Persia, now (...)

10The first Arabian physician to publish a complete work untranslated is Rhazes-Abbeker-Mehamed-Rhazi;15 he was superintendent of the hospital of Baghdad and was considered one of the most able physicians of his nation. He died in 923. The work we have under his name seems to have been put together from his lectures by one of his students; at least, that is what it seems to be, from the lack of order and the frequent gaps apparent in it. He speaks at length about the useful plants of India, Persia, and Syria that were unknown to the ancients. In this book we find the description of small pox, a dread disease, communicated to the West by the Arabians, and a sad price to pay for the benefits of the new medicine propagated by that nation.

  • 16 [Serapion the Younger, surnamed Aggregator, one of the most important mediaeval botanists and a ch (...)

11Around 1002, Serapion the Younger, surnamed Aggregator,16 wrote a book entitled De Simplicibus, in which he follows Dioscorides in describing Greek plants, and many plants that were observed later on Indian soil.

  • 17 [Avicenna, Arabic Ibn Sina, in full Abu ‘Ali Al-Husayn Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Sina (born 980, Bukhara, (...)
  • 18 [Ispahan, city in the district of Jabal, Persia, situated on the Zendarud River. The Jews are said (...)

12Avicenna,17 one of the princes of Arabian physicians and a very distinguished philosopher, was born in 978 at Bukhara in the northeast of Persia. It is said that his memory was so prodigious that at the age of 12 he knew the Koran by heart. He studied in Baghdad under Mesue the Elder. He became the sultan’s physician and minister and fulfilled the highest duties. He was banished after falling from favor, and took refuge with an apothecary where he hid himself for some time working as an assistant pharmacist. Eventually, he slipped away to Ispahan18 to the caliph who ruled in that city. The date of his death is uncertain, sometime between 1036 and 1050. It is thought that he died a victim of his own obstinacy in insisting on treating himself in his final illness.

  • 19 [Sogdiana, ancient country of Central Asia centering on the fertile valley of the Zeravshan River, (...)
  • 20 [Asafetida, gum resin prized as a condiment in India and Iran, where it is used to flavor curries, (...)

13Avicenna studied the botany of Bactria and Sogdiana,19 regions rich in medicinal plants and where the asafoetida grows,20 which he was the first to recognize.

  • 21 [The Rule or Canon of Medicine (al-Qanun fiat-tibb) is the most famous single book in the history (...)

14His principal work, entitled The Rule,21 was introduced into Spain when the Ommiads established an independent caliphate there; his work was followed in the schools of Cordova during the tenth and eleventh centuries. Spain, which was under Arabian domination, enjoyed at that time a civilization much superior to that of the rest of Europe. The medical schools of Cordova especially had a tremendous reputation; from every part of the East, from Baghdad, Cairo, Persia, scholars went there for instruction.

15Avicenna’s writings were brought from Cordova to Montpellier by the Jews, who founded the famous medical school of that city, using the Arabian school as a model. From Montpellier Avicenna’s works spread throughout the rest of Europe, notably in Italy and France.

16Avicenna belonged to the Peripatetics and left a translation into Arabic of his master Aristotle. He is the most extraordinary of all the Arabian philosophers.

  • 22 [Mesue the Younger, in full, Masawaih al-Mardini, compiled a large dispensatory that was immensely (...)
  • 23 [Mondino dei Luzzi, also called Raimondino dei Liucci, or Mundinus (born c. 1270, Bologna, Italy; (...)

17We shall end our examination of the eastern Arabian authors with Mesue the Younger of Baghdad.22 He was a Christian but was never persecuted for his beliefs, for the Arabians at that time were still far from the intolerance that would be introduced into Mohammedanism after the invasion of the Turkish hordes. Mesue went to Cairo, which had become the residence of a special caliphate, and became the Fatimite caliph’s physician. He died in 1015. His work entitled De re medica was translated first by Mundinus,23 then by Sylvius, and served as a manual in all the schools of Europe until the Renaissance. Today he is almost completely forgotten.

  • 24 [Leon, Spanish León, medieval Spanish kingdom. Leon proper included the cities of León, Salamanca, (...)

18The school at Cordova maintained its brilliant reputation for a long time; even Christian princes went there to be treated, in particular a king of Leon24 who had himself transported there for treatment by Arabian physicians.

  • 25 [We have been unable to identify Alboulc-Alza-Kaaris.]
  • 26 [Ibn Zuhr, in full Abu Marwan ‘Abd Al-Malik Ibn Abi Al-’ Ala` Zuhr, also called Avenzoar or Abumer (...)
  • 27 [Averroës, medieval Latin Averrhoës, also called Ibn Rushd, Arabic in full Abu Al-Walid Muhammad I (...)
  • 28 [Ibn (or Ebor) Taitor of Malaga, Arab botanist who traveled in to Asia to study plants and eventua (...)
  • 29 [Abdalla-Tif, see Lesson 20, note 48.]
  • 30 [Isaac-Louis Le Maistre de Sacy (born 1613, died 1684), an important figure in the Jansenist relig (...)

19Among such physicians, we should note the following: Alboulc-Alza-Kaaris,25 who died in 1122; Avenzoar-Ibn-Ror,26 born at Seville, physician to the king of Morocco after having been his preceptor (at that time the kings of Morocco governed part of Spain); Averroes,27 a student of Avenzoar and who was high judge at Cordova and high sheik –that is, religious leader: he possessed wide knowledge and taught philosophy, medicine, surgery, and law; Ibn Taitor of Malaga,28 who traveled throughout the East and settled at Cairo, where the caliph made him his minister (in Haller’s judgment, he was the best of the Arabian botanists); and Abdalla-Tif,29 who lived at the end of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth. Abdalla-Tif’s work was translated into French by Monsieur de Sacy;30 included in his writings on Egypt are descriptions of plants and animals of that country that are more accurate than any recorded by the ancient authors, especially the description of the hippopotamus. Abdalla-Tif took care, after having examined a skeleton opportunely rescued from a collapsed tomb, to correct some errors overlooked by Galen on human osteology.

20This Arabian physician also left several commentaries on the ancients. We have finished our history of the natural sciences in antiquity and have shown them as continuing in the Byzantine empire, where they languished, with no sudden interruption, until the fifteenth century; and have also shown how the sciences were introduced among the Arabians, who preserved them from the eighth to the thirteenth centuries and cultivated several of them with success. Now we shall follow these same sciences in the different nations that rose from the ruins of the Western empire.

21In the seventh century, the Germanic peoples had definitively established their dominion over all of Western Europe. The Franks possessed not only the territory that composes present-day France, but also almost all of Germany, so that the region called Francia comprised all of Gaul and southern and middle Germania. Italy was occupied by the Lombards, England by the Saxons.

22These divers peoples –united by the same religious faith, under the spiritual sway of the bishop of Rome, and possessed of some instruction, including the Latin language, fortunately preserved by the popes in the liturgy– may be counted as one nation as regards the sciences. Men who pursued the sciences in the West in the Middle Ages communicated with ease among themselves: they traveled and they settled, as it were with indifference, in one or another part of Europe.

23The religious orders, which were multiplying then in Europe, contributed mightily to this ease of communication, which produced a sort of unity in the scientific world.

24As you recall, Saint Benedict in 543 founded the first monastic order in the West. After that, convents sprang up everywhere. All had libraries, schools, permanent copyists; arising from one head, who lived at Monte Cassino, all worked in one and the same spirit. For the space of two centuries, not a single author is found that did not belong to one of these monastic orders.

  • 31 [Saint Isidore of Seville, Latin Isidorus Hispalensis (born c. 560, Cartagena or Seville, Spain; d (...)

25The first author of the Middle Ages is Saint Isidore,31 whom one might also consider the last writer of antiquity. He was named bishop of Seville in 601, died in 636, and wrote under the domination of the Visigoths. His work is entitled Etymologicon, sive de Originibus, a kind of systematic dictionary arranged by subject matter –anatomy, physiology, zoology, geography, mineralogy, agriculture. In it he writes a little about many things, in a highly superficial way and not very judiciously. The author is only an unscholarly compiler. In fact, his work is mentioned in the history of sciences only as a reminder of the ignorance of the times in which he lived. However, the volume on metals contains some rather interesting documents, including the description of procedures employed at the time for making glass. The Etymologicon of Saint Isidore, despite its being of little value, was used for instruction in the schools until the twelfth century.

26At the beginning of the eighth century, there was wide devastation; science obtained from tyranny no sort of favor. If a few monks were devoted to scholarship, it was entirely from motives of religion and piety.

27Ireland led an existence apart and was the sole region of Europe where, in those times, ignorance did not increase. It had not been subjected to Roman domination; also, as we have mentioned, it was free from barbaric invasions, kept at a distance by its geographical location. Missioners carried the Christian religion to Ireland.

  • 32 [Dynasty of Clovis, the Merovingian line of Frankish kings, 486-751, which dominated much of weste (...)

28In France, for the duration of the dynasty of Clovis,32 the crown was not inherited through right of primogeniture. As each king died, the country was divided among his several children into as many kingdoms, the reuniting of which would, however, form one nation, a sort of federated state.

29The same mode of succession was maintained throughout the reign of the Merovingian race, which ended in a series of indolent rulers.

  • 33 [Saint Gregory of Tours, original name Georgius Florentius (born 30 November 538/539, Augustonemet (...)
  • 34 [Frédégaire, Latin Fredegarius (fl. seventh century A.D.), the supposed author of a chronicle of F (...)

30The frequent struggles that arose between the palace ministers and their Merovingian masters were scarcely conducive to the spreading of science. Gregory of Tours33 is in a way worse than the writers who preceded him, and yet one finds in his narratives a certain coherence and a sufficient progression. But in Frédégaire34 and the writers after him, one finds only frightful Latin and insufficient ability to record a fact. Thus, the successors of Alexander are a thousand times better known to us than are those of Clovis.

  • 35 [Pepin III, byname Pepin the Short (born c. 714; died 24 September 768, Saint-Denis, Neustria, now (...)

31Accordingly, all that remained of antiquity slowly disappeared under the dynasty of the Merovingians, and it was not until after the usurpation by Pepin35 and Charles Martel placed the palace ministers on the throne that the desire to emulate the ancients was reborn in France.

  • 36 [Charlemagne, also called Carolus Magnus or Charles the Great (born 2 April, probably in 742; died (...)

32The happy impetus produced by these two kings was prodigiously seconded by Charlemagne,36 one of the greatest geniuses to have ruled the Franks. This prince united under his empire Saxony and Italy, and under his rule the Frankish monarchy surpassed in power and extent every monarchy since established in Europe.

  • 37 [Eginhart, also spelled Eginhard or Einhard (born c. 770, Maingau, Franconia; died 14 March 840, S (...)

33It has been said, according to Eginhart,37 that Charlemagne, the protector of learning, was so ignorant that he could not even read; the passage supporting this assertion has clearly been misinterpreted. The same Eginhart informs us that Charlemagne spoke very good Latin in his responses to the embassies sent to him. Moreover, it is certain that he strove constantly to resume the thread of civilized knowledge. In this regard, Germany owes him much; there, he spread the sciences in lands where they had never penetrated before.

34Charlemagne founded schools the length and breadth of his vast empire, and in places where they could survive –in monasteries and cathedrals. Every rich monastery was to maintain at its expense a free school, and the canons were responsible for teaching courses in the cathedrals. After conquering the Lombards, he founded schools at Bremen and Hamburg that still bear his name.

  • 38 [Alcuin (born c. 732, in or near York, Yorkshire, England; died 19 May 804, Tours, France), Anglo- (...)
  • 39 [Saint Bede the Venerable, Bede also spelled Baeda, or Beda (born 672/673, traditionally Monkton i (...)

35Charlemagne concerned himself especially with France. Recognizing that the Italians were superior in music, he brought in singing masters from Italy. It was in the latter country that he encountered Alcuin,38 an English ecclesiastic and student of an Irish monk named Beda.39 Alcuin aided Charlemagne in establishing many schools and institutions of use to the sciences and letters, and particularly in forming an academy that met at Paris in the very palace of the king, and of which the king himself was a member. Each member of this academy chose as a device for himself the name of a person in antiquity. Charlemagne had taken the name of David. It was also under Alcuin’s direction that the king of France established at Paris many public schools outside the convent walls.

36Charlemagne’s correspondence with Alcuin offers numerous proofs of that prince’s love for the sciences. We have a letter of his in which he complains of negligent copyists and the mistakes they made on manuscripts.

37Charlemagne’s efforts to bring about the conversion of the Saxons would also favor the spread of enlightenment.

  • 40 [The seven liberal arts, see Lesson 17, note 46.]

38Such care for the sciences, especially the founding of so many schools, caused Charlemagne to be considered the founder of universities, but this opinion, although widely held, is quite erroneous: the numerous schools opened under the reign of Charlemagne were no different from those that had existed before him; they were isolated schools where students were taught according to the ancient method of the trivium and the quadrivium, which together composed the seven liberal arts.40 Schools of this sort, however numerous they may be, do not make up a university. Such an institution results only from the establishment of a common discipline for all the schools, from the uniting of the schools under a single, special jurisdiction, and from the obtaining of promotion after certain examinations. Now, none of this existed in the schools in the West until the thirteenth century. The title of Master of Arts was unknown in Charlemagne’s time. During his reign and afterwards, until the thirteenth century, jurisdiction of the schools was accorded to bishops and heads of convents, and no regular method was set up to ascertain the students’ knowledge.

39If Charlemagne’s successors had profited from his momentum, it is likely that they would have rekindled interest in the sciences in the West, the interruption would not have been so long, and the thread of tradition would have been taken up again in an age when the totality of ancient works was still extant.

  • 41 [Louis I, byname Louis the Pious (born 778, Chasseneuil, near Poitiers, Aquitaine; died 20 June 84 (...)
  • 42 [Lothaire I (born 795; died 29 September 855, Abbey of Prüm, Germany), Frankish emperor whose atte (...)

40Such was not the case, unfortunately for humanity. Louis the Pious41 fell victim to the ambition of his sons, who divided his lands among them. Lothaire,42 to whose lot Italy fell, acknowledged that all instruction had been extinguished in that country, where he himself had founded some schools. The rest of Europe was in no better plight: several Councils were needed to rule against the ordination of priests who could not read the catechism. If the clergy had descended to such a degree of ignorance, one can imagine what the rest of the population was like. The kings’ capitularies [or ordinances], which are virtually the only records we have from this epoch, reveal the degree to which barbarianism had been carried. And yet, we find in some written records certain notions of interest for the sciences; we have already mentioned the one that prescribed the method of farming in the crown’s domains, evidence that the productions of our soil at that time differed little from those of today.

41Charlemagne died in 814. The Norman invasions in several areas of Europe, and those of the Danes in England, contributed greatly in the ninth century to Europe’s reversion to barbarianism.

42The strife and violence accompanying the decline of feudal institutes increasingly deepened the shadows that covered Europe and almost entirely destroyed the cultivation of science and letters.

Notes

1 [Ghebert-ibn-Moussa-Djaffa-al-Sufi, or Jabir ibn Hayyan, Abu Musa (born c. 721, Tus, Iran; died c. 815, Kufah, Iraq), alchemist known as the “father of Arab chemistry.” Shortly after Jabir was born, his father was beheaded for the part he played in a plot by the Abbasids to depose the Umayyad dynasty. Jabir was sent to Arabia, where he became a member of the Shi’ite sect. Apparently, he studied most branches of learning, including medicine. After the Abbasids defeated the Umayyads, Jabir became a court physician to the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid. Jabir was a close friend of the sixth Shi’ite imam, Ja’far ibn Muhammad, whom he gave credit for many of his scientific ideas. More than 2,000 works are attributed to Jabir. The Muslim Isma’iliyah sect published a large body of alchemical and mystical works under his name. In the fourteenth century a Spanish alchemist placed the name Geber (the Latinized form of Jabir) on his own manuscripts, possibly to attribute them to Jabir and thus gain greater authority.]

2 [Alembic, an apparatus used in distillation.]

3 [Naphtha, any of various volatile, highly flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixtures used chiefly as solvents and diluents and as raw materials for conversion to gasoline. Naphtha was the name originally applied to the more volatile kinds of petroleum issuing from the ground in the Baku district of Azerbaijan and Iran. As early as the first century A.D., naphtha was mentioned by the Greek writer Dioscorides and the Roman writer Pliny the Elder. Alchemists used the word principally to distinguish various mobile liquids of low boiling point, including certain ethers and esters.]

4 [Bezoar, also called bezoar stone, any of various calculi found chiefly in the gastrointestinal organs and formerly believed to possess magical properties, especially as an antidote for certain poisons.]

5 [Hellebore, a member of either of two genera of poisonous herbaceous plants, Helleborus and Veratrum, some species of which are grown as garden ornamentals.]

6 [Black currant, a shrub of the genus Ribes of the gooseberry family (Grossulariaceae), the piquant, juicy berries of which are used chiefly in jams and jellies, but also in lozenges, for flavoring, and are occasionally fermented.]

7 [Senna, any of several plants, especially of the genus Cassia, in the pea family (Fabaceae), mostly of subtropical and tropical regions. Many are used medicinally; some yield tanbark used in preparing leather. Some sennas are among the showiest flowering trees.]

8 [Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), an evergreen tree, of the pea family (Fabaceae), native to tropical Africa. It is widely cultivated in other regions as an ornamental, and for its edible fruit widely used in the Orient in foods, beverages, and medicines.]

9 [Jujube, either of two species of small, spiny trees of the genus Ziziphus (family Rhamnaceae) and their fruit. Most are varieties of the common jujube (Z. jujuba), native to China, where they have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years.]

10 [Myrobalan, the dried astringent fruit of an East Indian tree (genus Terminalia of the family Combretaceae) used primarily in tanning and in inks.]

11 [Mesue the Elder is Yuhanna ibn Masawaih, also written Ibn Masawaih or Masawaiyh (born 777; died 857, Samarra), an Assyrian physician from the Academy of Gundishapur. The son of a pharmacist and physician from Gundishapur, he came to Baghdad and studied under Jabril ibn Bukhtishu. Later, he became director of a hospital in Baghdad where he composed medical treatises on a number of topics, including ophthalmology, fevers, headache, melancholia, diatetics, the testing of physicians, and medical aphorisms. It is said that he regularly held an assembly of some sort, where he consulted with patients and discussed subjects with pupils, attracting a wide audience.]

12 [Rhazes, see note 15, below.]

13 [Honein, son of Assac (died 873), physician, philosopher, historian, grammarian, and lexicographer, who was among a number of Nestorians who enjoyed the favor of the caliphs of Baghdad and well known among Christians and Muslims for their medical works and their translations into Syriac and Arabic of the works of Dioscorides, Hippocrates, Galen, and Paul of Agima.]

14 [Serapion the Elder is Yahya ibn-Sarafyun, of the second half of the ninth century, a Christian physician who wrote two medical compilations in Syriac. One of these was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona (born 1113 or 1114, died 1187) as Practica sive breviarium sometime before 1187. Its last book, which dealt with antidotes, was very popular during the period.]

15 [Rhazes or Ar-Razi, in full Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya’Ar-Razi (born c. 865, Rayy, Persia, now in Iran; died 923, Rayy), a celebrated alchemist and Muslim philosopher who is also considered to have been the greatest physician of the Islamic world. Rhazes’s two most significant medical works are the Kitab al-Mansuri, which he composed for the Rayy ruler Mansur ibn Ishaq and which became well known in the West in Gerard of Cremona’s twelfth-century Latin translation; and Kitab al-hawi, the “Comprehensive Book,” in which he surveyed Greek, Syrian, and early Arabic medicine, as well as some Indian medical knowledge.]

16 [Serapion the Younger, surnamed Aggregator, one of the most important mediaeval botanists and a chief source of Arabic plant knowledge. He formed in his writings a link between the Greek world of thought and that of the caliphate. Several editions of his Liber Serapionis aggregatus in medicinis simplicibus appeared in the fifteenth century (for example, see Serapion the Younger, Liber Serapionis aggregatus in medicinis simplicibus, Milan: Antonius Zarotus, 1473, [373p.])]

17 [Avicenna, Arabic Ibn Sina, in full Abu ‘Ali Al-Husayn Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Sina (born 980, Bukhara, Iran; died 1037, Hamadan), Iranian physician, the most famous and influential of the philosopher-scientists of Islam (see Siraisi (Nancy G.), Avicenna in Renaissance Italy: The Canon and Medical Teaching in Italian Universities after 1500, Princeton (New Jersey): Princeton University Press, 1987, xii + 410p.) He was particularly noted for his contributions in the fields of Aristotelian philosophy and medicine. He composed the Kitab ash-shifa’(“Book of Healing”), a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopedia (Avicenna, The metaphysics of The healing: a parallel English-Arabic text [translated, introduced, and annotated by Marmura Michael E.], Provo (Utah): Brigham Young University Press, 2005, xxvii + 441p.), and the Canon of Medicine, which is among the most famous books in the history of medicine (Avicenna, The general principles of Avicenna’s Canon of medicine [ed. by Mazhar H. Shah], Karachi: Naveed Clinic, 1966, 499p.)]

18 [Ispahan, city in the district of Jabal, Persia, situated on the Zendarud River. The Jews are said to have founded Ispahan, declaring that it was built by the captives whom Nebuchadnezzar transported thither after he had taken Jerusalem.]

19 [Sogdiana, ancient country of Central Asia centering on the fertile valley of the Zeravshan River, in modern Uzbekistan. Excavations have shown that Sogdiana was probably settled between 1000 and 500 B.C. and that it then passed under Achaemenian rule. It was later attacked by Alexander the Great and may have been included in the Bactrian Greek kingdom until the invasions of Shaka and Yüeh-chih peoples in the second century B.C. Sogdiana remained a prosperous center until the Mongol invasions. Under the Samanid dynasty (ninth-tenth century A.D.) it was an eastern focal point of Islamic civilization.]

20 [Asafetida, gum resin prized as a condiment in India and Iran, where it is used to flavor curries, meatballs, and pickles. It has been used in Europe and the United States in perfumes and for flavoring. Acrid in taste, it emits a strong onion-like odor because of its organic sulfur compounds. It is obtained chiefly from the plant Ferula foetida of the family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae).]

21 [The Rule or Canon of Medicine (al-Qanun fiat-tibb) is the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West (see note 17, above). It is a systematic encyclopedia based for the most part on the achievements of Greek physicians of the Roman imperial age and on other Arabic works and, to a lesser extent, on Avicenna’s own experience (his own clinical notes were lost during his journeys).]

22 [Mesue the Younger, in full, Masawaih al-Mardini, compiled a large dispensatory that was immensely popular in mediaeval Europe. For centuries it remained the standard work on the subject.]

23 [Mondino dei Luzzi, also called Raimondino dei Liucci, or Mundinus (born c. 1270, Bologna, Italy; died c. 1326, Bologna), Italian physician and anatomist whose Anathomia Mundini (written in 1316; first printed in 1478) was the first European book written since classical antiquity that was entirely devoted to anatomy and was based on the dissection of human cadavers (see Wickersheimer (Ernest) (ed.), Anatomies de Mondino dei Luzzi et de Guido de Vigevano, Paris: Droz, 1926, 91p. + 16 pls, in-4). It remained a standard text until the time of the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius (born 1514, died 1564).]

24 [Leon, Spanish León, medieval Spanish kingdom. Leon proper included the cities of León, Salamanca, and Zamora –the adjacent areas of Vallodolid and Palencia being disputed with Castile, originally its eastern frontier. The kings of Leon ruled Galicia, Asturias, and much of the country of Portugal before Portugal gained independence about 1139.]

25 [We have been unable to identify Alboulc-Alza-Kaaris.]

26 [Ibn Zuhr, in full Abu Marwan ‘Abd Al-Malik Ibn Abi Al-’ Ala` Zuhr, also called Avenzoar or Abumeron (born c. 1090, Seville; died 1162, Seville), one of medieval Islam’s foremost thinkers and the greatest medical clinician of the western caliphate. An intensely practical man, he disliked medical speculation; for that reason, he opposed the teachings of the Persian master physician Avicenna.]

27 [Averroës, medieval Latin Averrhoës, also called Ibn Rushd, Arabic in full Abu Al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Rushd (born 1126, Córdoba; died 1198, Marrakech, Almohad Empire), influential Islamic religious philosopher who integrated Islamic traditions and Greek thought. At the request of the caliph Ibn at-Tufayl he produced a series of summaries and commentaries on most of Aristotle’s works and on Plato’s Republic, which exerted considerable influence for centuries (see Averroës, Averroës’commentary on Plato’s Republic [edited with an introduction, translation and notes by Rosenthal E. I. J.], Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1956, xii + 337p.; Averroës’ three short commentaries on Aristotle’s “Topics,” “Rhetoric,” and “Poetics” [edited and translated by Butterworth Charles E.], Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977, xi + 206p.)]

28 [Ibn (or Ebor) Taitor of Malaga, Arab botanist who traveled in to Asia to study plants and eventually becoming a minister of the Caliph at Cairo.]

29 [Abdalla-Tif, see Lesson 20, note 48.]

30 [Isaac-Louis Le Maistre de Sacy (born 1613, died 1684), an important figure in the Jansenist religious movement in France, a member of the Arnauld family. Le Maistre de Sacy, also a student and follower of Saint-Cyran, was ordained in 1649. He became the confessor to the nuns and solitaires of Port-Royal and was held in high esteem by the Jansenists as a spiritual director. He is best remembered, however, as the principal author of the translation of the New Testament known as the Nouveau Testament de Mons (see Le Maistre de Sacy (Isaac-Louis), Le Nouveau Testament de notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, traduit en françois sur la Vulgate, par Monsieur Le Maistre de Saci..., Paris: Guillaume Desprez & Jean Desessartz, 1717, xii + 706 + [2] p., in-12).]

31 [Saint Isidore of Seville, Latin Isidorus Hispalensis (born c. 560, Cartagena or Seville, Spain; died 4 April 636, Seville; canonized 1598; feast day 4 April), theologian, last of the Western Latin Fathers, archbishop, and encyclopedist, whose Etymologies, an encyclopedia of human and divine subjects, was one of the chief landmarks in glossography (the compilation of glossaries) and was for many centuries one of the most important reference books (Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, Livre II: Rhétorique et dialectique [transl. in french and notes by Marshall Peter K. ], Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1983, 186p.)]

32 [Dynasty of Clovis, the Merovingian line of Frankish kings, 486-751, which dominated much of western Europe in the early Middle Ages (see Lesson 19, notes 18, 23, 24).]

33 [Saint Gregory of Tours, original name Georgius Florentius (born 30 November 538/539, Augustonemetum, Aquitaine; died 594/595, Tours, Neustria; feast day 17 November), bishop and writer whose Historia Francorum (History of the Franks) is a major source for knowledge of the sixth-century Franco-Roman kingdom (see Gregory of Tours, Histoire des Francs [tr. from latin to french by Latouche Robert], Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1963, 2 vols) The complicated political situation of that period actively involved Gregory himself in numerous political events and in open dispute with the king. He also wrote Lives of the Fathers, seven books of miracles, and a commentary on the Psalms (Gregory of Tours, Les livres des miracles et autres opuscules de Georges Florent Grégoire, évêque de Tours, Paris: J. Renouard, 1857-1864, 4 vols; Lives of the Fathers [translated with an introduction by James Edward], 2nd ed., Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991, xxv + 143p.)]

34 [Frédégaire, Latin Fredegarius (fl. seventh century A.D.), the supposed author of a chronicle of Frankish history composed between 658 and 661. All the extant manuscripts of this chronicle are anonymous, and the attribution of it to “Fredegarius” dates from the edition of it by Claude Fauchet (French historian and antiquary, born 3 July 1530, died January 1602) published in 1579 (see Fauchet (Claude), Les antiquitez gauloises et françoises, augmentées de trois livres, contenans les choses advenues en Gaule et en France, jusques en l’an 751..., Paris: J. Perier, 1599, 2 part. in 1 vol.,-in-8; Les Antiquitez et histoires gauloises et françoises, contenant l’origine des choses advenues en Gaule et es annales de France, depuis l’an du monde MMMCCCL jusques l’an IXCLXXXVII de Jésus Christ, Genève: P. Marceau, 1611, 125p.) The author set a fairly detailed history of his own times in the framework of a universal chronicle, drawing, for early Merovingian times, on information derived from the Historia Francorum of Gregory of Tours (see note 33, above), which ends at the year 591, three years before Gregory’s death.]

35 [Pepin III, byname Pepin the Short (born c. 714; died 24 September 768, Saint-Denis, Neustria, now in France), the first king of the Frankish Carolingian dynasty and the father of Charlemagne. A son of Charles Martel, Pepin became sole de facto ruler of the Franks in 747 and then, on the deposition of Childeric III in 751, king of the Franks. He was the first Frankish king to be anointed–first by St. Boniface and later (754) by Pope Stephen II.]

36 [Charlemagne, also called Carolus Magnus or Charles the Great (born 2 April, probably in 742; died 28 January 814, Aachen, northwestern Germany), as king of the Franks (768-814) conquered the Lombard kingdom in Italy, subdued the Saxons, annexed Bavaria to his kingdom, fought campaigns in Spain and Hungary, and, with the exception of the Kingdom of Asturias in Spain, southern Italy, and the British Isles, united in one super-state practically all the Christian lands of western Europe. In 800 he assumed the title of emperor. (He is reckoned as Charles I of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as Charles I of France.) Besides expanding its political power, he also brought about a cultural renaissance in his empire. Although this imperium survived its founder by only one generation, the medieval kingdoms of France and Germany derived all their constitutional traditions from Charles’s monarchy. Throughout medieval Europe, the person of Charles was considered the prototype of a Christian king and emperor.]

37 [Eginhart, also spelled Eginhard or Einhard (born c. 770, Maingau, Franconia; died 14 March 840, Seligenstadt, Franconia), Frankish historian and court scholar whose writings are an invaluable source of information on Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire.]

38 [Alcuin (born c. 732, in or near York, Yorkshire, England; died 19 May 804, Tours, France), Anglo-Latin poet, educator, and cleric who, as head of the Palatine school established by Charlemagne at Aachen, introduced the traditions of Anglo-Saxon humanism into western Europe. He was the foremost scholar of the revival of learning known as the Carolingian Renaissance. He also made important reforms in the Roman Catholic liturgy and left more than 300 Latin letters that have proved a valuable source on the history of his time (see Alcuin, Alcuin of York, c. A.D. 732 to 804: his life and letters [translated from the Latin; ed. by Allott Stephen], York: William Sessions Ltd., 1974, x + 174p.)]

39 [Saint Bede the Venerable, Bede also spelled Baeda, or Beda (born 672/673, traditionally Monkton in Jarrow, Northumbria; died 25 May 735, Jarrow; canonized 1899; feast day 25 May), Anglo-Saxon theologian, historian, and chronologist, best known today for his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (“Ecclesiastical History of the English People”), a source vital to the history of the conversion to Christianity of the Anglo-Saxon tribes (see Bede the Venerable, Bede’s Ecclesiastical history of the English people [a historical commentary by Wallace-Hadrill John Michael], Oxford: Clarendon Press; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, xxxv + 299p.)]

40 [The seven liberal arts, see Lesson 17, note 46.]

41 [Louis I, byname Louis the Pious (born 778, Chasseneuil, near Poitiers, Aquitaine; died 20 June 840, Petersaue, Germany), son of the Frankish ruler Charlemagne; he was crowned as co-emperor in 813 and became emperor in 814 on his father’s death. Twice deprived of his authority by his sons (Lothair, Pepin, Louis, and Charles), he recovered it each time (830 and 834), but at his death the Carolingian Empire was in disarray.]

42 [Lothaire I (born 795; died 29 September 855, Abbey of Prüm, Germany), Frankish emperor whose attempt to gain sole rule over the Frankish territories was checked by his brothers. Ruler in Italy from 822, Lothair was crowned emperor by Pope Paschal I in 823. In 833 discontent with the rule of Louis the Pious ended in a revolt of the three elder sons, led by Lothair, and Lothair replaced the deposed Louis. Louis was restored to power the following year, however, and Lothair’s rule was restricted to Italy.]

Table des illustrations

Légende EMBLEM OF THE WORK OF THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE. From the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert (volume3, plate XVIII, 1763).
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