Science and Religion in the Middle Ages

Science and Religion in the Middle Ages

Why did science and natural philosophy suffer such disparate fates in the two great civilizations of Christendom and Islam?

Anselm on Free Will

anselm book

New book explores medieval philosopher’s contribution to current debate

To See with the Eyes of the Soul: Memory and Visual Culture in Medieval Europe

The Triumph (or Wisdom) of St Thomas Aquinas, fresco in the Chapter Hall of the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, by Andrea di Bonaiuto from 1366/1367.

In this article I shall therefore take a closer look at how people thought about the subject of memory and why memory was considered so important in the Middle Ages.

The Importance of Being Good: Moral Philosophy in the Italian Universities, 1300–1600

medieval university teaching

This paper therefore explores how important moral philosophy was, during the Italian Renaissance, as an independent university subject, and whether its status had a direct relationship with that of rhetorical studies

Flee the loathsome shadow: Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) and the Medici in Florence

Marsilio Ficino - (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This article examines the changing political landscape of Medicean Florence, from Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) to his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), through the letters of the celebrated neo-Platonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99).

The Sophistication of The Consolation

Detail of a miniature of the Wheel of Fortune, at the beginning of book 2 of the De Consolatione Philosophiae.

‘In spite of the variety and difference of opinion, still all men agree in loving and pursuing the goal of good.’

Religious Education as the Basis of Medieval Literature

The figure of Grammatica, the first stage of medieval education, threatens an inattentive student with her birch - south portal, Chartres cathedral, c.1150. Photo courtesy University of Leicester

The medieval literature was written with a purpose to teach Christian dogmas to the masses. The prose and poetry of the time meant to show men the ugliness of sin and the beauty of goodness.

Emotions and Cognitions : Fourteenth-Century Discussions on the Passions of the Soul

Detail of a miniature of the Castle of Love, with the lover addressing three women. Photo courtesy British Library

Medieval philosophers clearly recognized that emotions are not simply “raw feelings” but complex mental states that include cognitive components. They analyzed these components both on the sensory and on the intellectual level, paying particular attention to the different types of cognition that are involved.

The Medieval Understandings of Participation

Medieval Understandings of Participation

Richard Cross, Stephen Gersh and Douglas Hedley speaking at the University of Notre Dame

‘Protecting the non-combatant’: Chivalry, Codes and the Just War Theory

Medieval War - Royal 16 G VI f. 427v Civil war in England - image courtesy British Library

The concept of chivalry, a traditional code of conduct idealised by the knightly class relating to times of both peace and war, dominated the medieval period and many of the scholars who contributed to the principle of jus in bello were in fact writing about chivalry.

Boethius’s Misguided Theodicy: The Consolation of Philosophy


Anicius Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy (c. 524) is a bold attempt to reconcile the gravity of the author’s imprisonment and impending death with a world governed by a just God.

Hobbes, Augustine, and the Christian nature of man in Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes

Scholars of Thomas Hobbes can be loosely divided into two camps: those who believe Hobbes retained strong medieval elements in his philosophy and those who argued that Hobbes’ philosophy marks a clear break from both Ancient philosophy and Christianity.

Res et significatio : The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages

Sacramentary of St. Gereon, Cologne,

This essay serves as an introduction to Friedrich Ohly’s life and work and offers an analytic orientation to the methodological and historical questions taken up by this special issue of Gesta dedicated to medieval conceptions of significationes rerum (the signification of things).

Cecco D’Ascoli and Church Discipline of Natural Philosophers in the Middle Ages

Cecco D’Ascoli

Probably the only natural philosopher of the Middle Ages to be burnt at the stake at the behest of the Church was one Francisco degli Stabili (c. 1269 – 1327) in Florence in late 1327.

Do Animals Go to Heaven? Medieval Philosophers Contemplate Heavenly Human Exceptionalism

Reynard the Fox, wearing a bishop's mitre and carrying a crozier, preaching to birds, including falcons, chickens, geese, a stork and a swan.  From British Library Royal 10 E IV

Beginning in about the second century C.E., Christian philosophers reflected upon the nature of human beings, our purpose on earth, and our path to the promised afterlife. In the course of these reflections, they considered our relationship to nature, and the non- human animals that share our world.

‘The Torrent of the Human Race:’ The Concept of Movement in the Works of Saint Augustine and Its Impact on the Medieval Imagination


For Augustine, movement was essential in four respects. First, it described the nature of the relationship between an eternal God and a finite, temporal, material world. Second, movement constituted the basic imperative of the Christian message: man’s soul is compelled to move toward God or perish eternally.

Marvels and Allies in the East. India as Heterotopia of Latin Europe in the 12th Century

Medieval India

It has long been said that Latin Europe lost its connection to the East, specifically to Asia, in the early Middle Ages. But this is only part of the truth. From late Antiquity on, there were Christians in many places between the Mediterranean Sea and China.

Reading the Ancients: Remnants of Byzantine Controversies in the Greek National Narrative

Michael Psellos (left) with his student, Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas. Codex 234, f. 245a, Mount Athos, Pantokrator Monastery/ Κώδ. 234, φ. 254α, Άγιον Όρος, Μονή Παντοκράτορος

In the eyes of his contemporaries, as Anna Komnene suggests in her Alexiad, Italos was a pagan wolf in the clothing of a Christian sheep, anxious to overcome Christianity in favour of Hellenic (i.e. pagan) philosophy

The medieval principle of motion and the modern principle of inertia

1476 --- St. Thomas Aquinas from  by Carlo Crivelli --- Image by © National Gallery Collection; By kind permission of the Trustees of the National Gallery, London/CORBIS

Aquinas’s First Way of arguing for the existence of God famously rests on the Aristotelian premise that “whatever is in motion is moved by another.” Let us call this the “principle of motion.” Newton’s First Law states that “every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.” Call this the “principle of inertia.

Leonardo’s Literary Writings: History, Genre, Philosophy

Leonardo da Vinci

This dissertation, conceiving Leonardo as a moral philosopher, provides interpretations that lead to the conclusion that his thought pervades both his major and minor works and that these literary writings must be viewed as an extension (and result) of Leonardo’s greater notions of the world and of how all parts relate to one another.

Literature, Logic and Mathematics in the Fourteenth Century

An illustration depicting the ‘wolf, goat, cabbage’ puzzle, in the Ormesby Psalter (Oxford,  Bodleian Library MS Douce 366, fol. 89r ).

This thesis assesses the extent to which fourteenth-century Middle English poets were interested in, and influenced by, traditions of thinking about logic and mathematics.

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